With less than two weeks to go until The Galaxy’s Greatest – the free online convention celebrating 45 years of 2000 AD, there’s now more guests announced – from legends of comics all the way through to an MP!
We’ve already covered the convention here, with the announcement of guests from comics – John Wagner, Garth Ennis, Sean Phillips, Rob Williams, Alex de Campi, Anna Morozova, John McCrea, Dan Cornwell, and Aleš Kot, comedy – Robin Ince (The Infinite Monkey Cage), Desiree Burch (Taskmaster, Unf*ckable), Dane Baptiste (Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown) Mitch Benn (The Now Show), plus scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford (BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science), bestselling authors Ian Rankin OBE (Rebus) and Louie Stowell (Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good), and political commentator Ian Dunt (i newspaper, How To Be A Liberal).
Now we have even more guests announced, with comic legend Mike McMahon, plus comics writers Michael Carroll and Ramsey Hassan, and comics artist Sean Philips. And from other fields, there’s bestselling author Lauren Beukes, author and founder of Games Workshop Ian Livingstone, and MP and campaigner Stella Creasy.
So, a diverse and interesting group of guests, some from inside comics, legends, writers, artists, and some from outside comics able to offer a unique and different viewpoint on the medium we all love.
I think one of those to best sum it up was Henry Flint, 2000 AD artist, who said this on Facebook:
“I’m loving these panel guests. As a creator I feel like I have a million things to say but put a microphone in front of me and I can’t string two words together without sounding like a stuttering fool. I love the idea of bringing in guests and hosts who are expert communicators, hearing what they have to say about the comic will be interesting.”
Unfortunately, not everyone shared that view. Because, you know, comics… right?
So, every announcement of these celebrities and personalities who weren’t obviously connected to 2000 AD was discussed on the various 2000 AD forums and online groups with variations of these: “Well, why are they there?’ and ‘never heard of them,” and “What do they know about 2000 AD?”
Essentially, the worst sort of gatekeeping, something that’s a toxic thing in comics. As Henry Flint pointed out perfectly, these are expert communicators – writers, comedians, an MP, all of them are professional communicators and, more than that, ALL of them, with just the slightest googling, are big comics fans.
Worse, it was plainly obvious that the women being announced were getting far more criticism than the men, even down to body shaming and horrible statements obviously designed to be hurtful and insulting.
Thankfully, in comics we have many incredible women who love comics every bit as much as those self-appointed (and seemingly universally male) gatekeepers who spend their time looking to belittle others to make themselves happy and increase their popularity amongst their troll-like peers in their little groups. One of these is Stacy Dutton-Whittle, one of the greatest 2000 AD fans, who regularly wrote about the comic and presented many wonderful panels over many years at many different conventions.
Here’s what she had to say…
“The comments on the FREE 2000AD online con are really awful. No wonder woman still refuse to do panels, or stress because they aren’t qualified or good enough. At the height of my panel hosting days these comments directed at me would have put me right off. It is so disappointing. How about instead of ‘ durrrr whats their connection eh?” Try “I didn’t realise X was interested in the thing I’m interested in, isn’t that cool!” Or yah nah, just stop being a radgie self entitled git.” – Stacy Dutton-Whittle
She is, as always, absolutely right. Maybe just for once these alleged 2000 AD fans – and I say alleged because they’re the worst sort of fan, immediately criticising anything that isn’t exactly the sort of thing they enjoyed about 2000 AD when they first read it – would just look at the guests and celebrate the fact that the comic is getting wider attention. But then again, that’s not what they like, because wider attention means that more and more people with viewpoints different to them will come to the fore and then they wouldn’t get to feel like the big men screaming out to their pathetic followers cheering them on.
Anyway, enough. I’m with Stacey, I’m with Henry, having a wide variety of guests and panellists for the 2000 AD Galaxy’s Greatest online con is undoubtedly a great thing. And the more diversity and inclusivity we get in comics is always going to be a good thing, because comics should be for everyone and we need to tell all of those doing this toxic gatekeeping that they’re so so wrong.
The convention will stream over 26th and 27th March on Youtube, Twitch, and Facebook with more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics, culture, and politics over almost half a century – as well as announcements and new merchandise.