ComiqueCon: Wonder Women in Comics

A illustration of a young woman, eyes closed, smoking a hookah. Smoke swirls around her.
Illustration by Margueritet Dabaie

I grew up in the early 90s with beloved female characters such as Rogue, Jean Grey, and Storm from the popular comic book series, the X-Men as well as Wonder Woman from the Justice League. In video games, I fell in love with characters like Lara Croft from the series Tomb Raider. Such powerful women in comics were not always the case. And even now, women in video games and comics are not always portrayed as strong, powerful heroines who are fully developed characters with elaborate backstories like their male counterparts. Female characters are still often created to be sexual objects for male readers or merely supporting characters for the heroes of the story, which are assumed to be male. Some graphic novels are better at creating fully evolved female characters who no longer only fulfill the purpose of being ogled by their mostly male audience and can support an entire storyline, sometimes with men in the supporting roles. However, there still is much ground to cover to make comic books and graphic novels a much more diverse medium that can effectively and creatively tell a female-based story, and that’s what ComiqueCon is for.

Held on November 7, at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, and presented and sponsored by Green Brain Comics and the East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority with contributions by many other organizations, ComiqueCon is the first comic book convention to feature and celebrate women comic book creators and women in the comic book industry. At this convention, there were a multitude of activities that you could participate in such as attending the many panels like “How Men Can Support Women in Comics” and “Graphic Activism: How We’re Going to Change the World with Comics.” Another panel discussed the portrayal of Arab-American women in comics and there was even a panel on how to break into the comic book industry, which can be extremely difficult for those who do not know which avenues to take. You could also attend individual workshops that covered a variety of topics and dealt with publishing your own comic books and provided useful tips about the benefits of group publishing and writing comics like the pros. Comic book signings were also held at the convention by noteworthy comic book artists, many of which were either self-published or published by an independently owned publisher. There was even a cosplay contest!

I attended numerous panels and honestly, I cannot tell which one I enjoyed more. The panel hosted by Marguerite Dabaie and Leila Abdelrazaq, who wrote the comics “The Hookah Girl” and “Baddawi” discussed graphic activism and really solidified the thought that comic books can be a form of entertainment as well as a medium that provoking deep political thoughts about current issues.

Such compelling and informative panels really reinforced the idea that the comic medium has an untold power to reflect, and more importantly, influence society in positive ways. ComiqueCon in Dearborn shows that the future of the comic book industry, given the efforts of these pioneers, is dynamic and transformative by generating fantastic content and eliciting important conversations about our society and how we approach diversity in all of its aspects.

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