It Happens at Comic-Con

Ethnographic Essays on a Pop Culture Phenomenon


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About the Book

This collection of 13 new essays employs ethnographic methods to investigate San Diego’s Comic-Con International, the largest annual celebration of the popular arts in North America. Working from a common grounding in fan studies, these individual explorations examine a range of cultural practices at an event drawing crowds of nearly 125,000 each summer. Investigations range from the practices of fans costuming themselves to the talk of corporate marketers. The collection seeks to expand fan studies, exploring Comic-Con International more deeply than any publication before it.

About the Author(s)

Ben Bolling is a Jacob K. Javits Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Matthew J. Smith is professor and director of the School of Communication at Radford University, where he teaches courses in media studies, including graphic storytelling. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Ben Bolling and Matthew J. Smith

Foreword by Matthew Pustz
Afterword by Randy Duncan and Peter M. Coogan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7694-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1447-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword: Visiting Comic-Con, Revisiting Comic Book Culture (Matthew Pustz)  1
Introduction: The Pilgrimage to Comic-Con (Matthew J. Smith)  9

Part I: Identity and Play at Comic-Con

Actualized Fantasy at Comic-Con and the Confessions of a “Sad Cosplayer” (Kane Anderson)  15
“Love to Mess with Minds”: En(gendering) Identities Through Crossplay (Catherine Thomas)  29

Part II: Gendered Fandom
Queer Conversations: LGBTIQ Consumer/Producer Interface at Comic-Con and the Intransitive Writing of Comics (Ben Bolling) 40
Soaring to New (?) Heights: Cute, Tough, Geek Girls and Post-Feminist Discourse (Lisa H. Kaplan)  52
You Don’t Own Me: The Representation of Twilight Fandom (Melissa Miller)  63

Part III: Negotiating Fandom Through Communicative Practice
“What Can You Tell Me About [Blank]?” Exploring the Social Rules of Fan Talk (Brian Swafford)  76
Facing Front True Believers: Panels as Exercises in Image Management (Jon Judy and Brad Palmer)  88
“You are not a true geek, I am”: The Role of Communicative Aggression in Geek Culture (Chad Wertley)  102

Part IV: Technology and Participation
“Ask me about my zombie plan”: Fan Dissection and Female Participation in RedvsBlue (Cameron Catalfu)  116
Where Are the Web Shows? (Tanya D. Zuk)  128

Part V: Attending Con
What Are We Waiting For? A Look at Line Culture (Regina C. Gasser) 142
Tense Proximities Between CCI’s Comic Book Consumers, Fans and Creators (Christian Sager)  153
The Volunteer Experience: Meaning, Motivation and Role Conflict in a Temporary Organization (Michael J. Tornes) 169

Afterword (Randy Duncan and Peter M. Coogan)  183
References  187
About the Contributors  195
Index  199

Book Reviews & Awards

“engrossing…. Comics fans will find this a fine, if not scholarly, assessment of the culture involved”—Midwest Book Review.