Andrea Dulanto- Writer and Editor

Lavender Review Nominates “Dear Virginia” for Pushcart Prize

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One of my poems, “Dear Virginia,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Lavender Review, an online lesbian poetry & art journal.

This work appeared in Issue 7: Gender.

The editor, Mary Meriam, says that the Gender theme was “inspired by Ingrid Jungermann’s web series F to 7th.”

To read the complete issue online, please visit Lavender Review.

Unconventional: South Florida’s Creator Owned Expo 2013

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This event took place in August 2013.  Unfortunately, computer problems got in the way of my writing and publishing this article at the time.  However, I feel like Creator Owned Expo and its organizers have a lot of potential, particularly because they focus on building more connections between independent artists and fans.  
Unconventional:  South Florida’s Creator Owned Expo 2013
By Andrea Dulanto

Comic book conventions are big business.  Superhero and sci-fi films, video games, and the rise of the graphic novel (and of course, comics) have transformed comic cons into massive pop culture events.  What used to be geeky is now trendy.

But The Atlantic Wire’s “How the Nerds Lost Comic-Con” argues that the “mainstreaming and co-opting of ‘nerd culture’” has transformed the most prominent comic book convention, San Diego Comic-Con, into a Hollywood marketing event—one driven by revenue more than anything else.

Yet at the same time, independent creators (artists, writers and publishers who own the rights to their work) are developing alternatives to what used to be the alternative.  For example at Comic-Con, events outside of the main convention such as Trickster provide a place for artists not only to share and sell their work, but to interact with other artists and build more of a community.

This movement towards celebrating independent creators was also seen in South Florida at the first annual Creator Owned Expo (COE), which debuted on August 3, 2013 at the Universal Palms Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

Ron Kerronian

Ron Kerronian, Main Organizer of Creator Owned Expo
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

In an interview during COE, the main organizer, Ron Kerronian of Lucid Element Entertainment, who is also an artist himself, emphasized that “this is not a convention; it’s an expo… people can be educated and walk away with connections.”

Later in a follow-up email after the event, Kerronian elaborated on what motivated him to start COE:  “I wanted to create a place where… [independent creators] could have a platform to present their work to old and new fans alike.”

During the planning process for COE, Kerronian met writer/ artist Laura Diaz who became the COE anthology designer; artist/ cosplayer ZipperTan who became the COE events coordinator; and artist Mervyn McKoy who became the COE branding specialist.  Through social media and grass roots marketing, they worked to promote the event.

Their efforts paid off because over forty independent creators offered their work at COE; furthermore, an estimated 341 fans came out to support them.

One drawback was the limited amount of space.  Only two conference rooms had been reserved at the hotel, and each room served multi-functional purposes, placing artist booths on the main floor, and discussion panels on a small stage.

ZipperTan

ZipperTan, COE Events Coordinator
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

Yet, the space never felt overcrowded and Kerronian was omnipresent, ready to resolve any issues.

Events coordinator, ZipperTan, 26, of Fort Lauderdale, hosted the costume contest for the cosplayers at COE.  A self-taught seamstress who has been to over thirty cons, ZipperTan has won awards for her own costumes.  She noted that events such as comic cons and COE are “a great way to meet new people.”

Artist/ writer/ fashion designer Gmoss, an independent creator at one of the artist booths, expanded on what brings individuals to these events:  “People have a love for comics, animation… they have a passion, and want to share that through stories and art.”

With the help of his father, Robert Moss, Gmoss promoted his illustrated science-fiction novel, The Chronicles of Ann & Lo, as well as his clothing line inspired by the book.  He appreciated that COE “is for individual artists…to give us exposure.”

When dealing with larger comic cons, this exposure can often be limited to the days of an event.

However, the publication of the COE anthology, Love.Resistance Parts 1-3—a collection of short stories, comics and illustrations from COE artists—provides an opportunity to build more of a connection with fans and other creators.  It is also a way to give back to a larger community because all sales proceeds are donated to 4KidsInNeed, a nonprofit children’s charity.

Laura_Diaz

Laura Diaz, COE Anthology Designer
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

During the event, COE anthology designer, Laura Diaz, spoke about the desire to “achieve a sense of community” through the anthology as well as future projects, and to encourage connection between indie creators.  Diaz is a writer who collaborated with visual artist, Mary O’Neill, to create an illustrated ebook series, Splitting SeamsReminiscent of a fairy tale, Splitting Seams is about twin girls who must be sewn together in order to survive.

Diaz discussed how indie comics often highlight diverse voices.  For example, people of color, women, older as well as very young artists may find it “hard to break into the [mainstream] business” because their work is often “pushing boundaries.”  Indie publishers and creator owned works give artists the “ability to do it our own way.”

“We are not waiting for someone to accept or deny our work,” said Diaz.

Other independent creators at COE shared their experiences as artists, writers and publishers.

Jeff_Carroll

Indie Author/ Filmmaker Jeff Carroll at COE 2013
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

South Florida based indie author and filmmaker Jeff Carroll published his latest novel Thug Angel: Rebirth of a Gargoyle, with his own company, Hip Hop Comix N Flix.  This sci-fi horror story centers on a gargoyle who seeks to protect his mortal fifteen year old daughter from the beings of the underworld.  In an interview during COE, Carroll cited Watson and Holmes and City of Dust as works that appeal to him—both are indie comics.

He observed that “comic book cons and fans… tend to be more multiculturally tolerant.”  Carroll also noted that the main character of Thug Angel may be black, “but he doesn’t live in a black world… there’s a whole lot of everything.”

“This isn’t Twilight,” he added.

Self-published Florida sci-fi author, Jade Kerrion, has not only taken on the indie route but shares her experience on her blog, detailing the complete process from building an author’s platform to promotion.

Cosplayers-CreatorOwnedExpo

Cosplayers at Creator Owned Expo 2013
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

When asked about why she decided to self-publish, Kerrion responded that “the barriers have dropped… and it is very possible” to reach an audience without a traditional publisher.  Kerrion had considered traditional publishing when her novel Perfection Unleashed garnered attention and awards.  However, self-publishing allowed her books (nine, at last count) to immediately connect with audiences.

Animator and illustrator Baroka Thompson of West Palm Beach has not published a book yet; but he was at COE with prints of his work-in-progress, Insektika, a story with fantastical wasp-like characters inspired by female warrior tribes.  Thompson shared that he is drawn towards characters such as Ripley in the Alien film series.  He also conveyed that his vision is informed by the personal experience of growing up around strong women.

Andie_McDade

Artist Andie McDade at COE 2013
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

The strength of women characters could also be seen in the steampunk and Firefly inspired webcomic Daughters of an Industrial Era by artist Andie McDade, 22, of Orlando.  Her work explores characters that identify as either “queer, bisexual or gay.”  McDade described how her protagonists are smugglers on a Victorian era airship, the Good Ship Sappho, “going outside of what society expects.”

“They do bad things but they are good people,” she said.  “They all have their own insights, flaws and positive traits.”

Another COE writer and artist, Jamaal Ephriam, is founder of Key Jay Compound Comix (KJC Comix), “an independent comic book and graphic novel production and publishing group” that distributes projects such as the free biweekly webcomic, DRIFT.  This surreal story features Maji Mayo, a game tester who starts to experience an intense connection to his work.

When considering the differences between independent creators and the “major industries,” Ephriam brought up his experience at Florida Supercon 2013 in Miami—one of the most noteworthy comic cons to emerge in Florida over the past few years.

“All the independents were on the same floor upstairs… far away from the main industry [on the first floor],” he said.

Cosplayers-2-CreatorOwnedExpo

Cosplayers at Creator Owned Expo 2013
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

Ephriam “felt like it discredited” the indie artists. However, he recognized that this arrangement was likely due to the lack of adequate space—Florida Supercon had outgrown the capacity of its venue.

Fortunately, Florida Supercon 2014 is scheduled for the Miami Beach Convention Center, which can accommodate more vendors and more fans.  Ephriam observed that there should be enough space for the independents and the main industries to interact equally with each other and with the fans, which he viewed as a step towards “a fair playing ground.”

Yet, he also hoped that COE grows just as much as Florida Supercon has grown throughout the years, in order to “give more center focus…. to independents.”

CostumeContest-CreatorOwnedExpo

Costume Contest at Creator Owned Expo 2013,
Hosted by ZipperTan
Photo Credit: Andrea Dulanto

As evidenced by the audience at COE 2013, there are fans who want to support creator owned works.  Independent artists, writers and publishers are not afraid to break new ground, and COE is there to support them as they do.

After the event, Kerronian responded via email about what’s next for COE.

“We also plan on having other events throughout the year, maybe some cross promotion opportunities,” said Kerronian.  “We are still discussing events for the 2014 COE…All we are pushing for is that we create a spark that allows lightning to strike twice.”

      

The Pride Center Offers Discussion Panel on Transgender Women & Lesbians

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On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Pride Center in Wilton Manors, offers a panel discussion called “Are Trans Women Our Sisters?”

The event is part of The Community Collaborative Transgender Educational Series coordinated by several local organizations:  The Pride Center, The T-House/ Broward County Department of Health, and SunServe.

According to The Pride Center website, the upcoming discussion will “facilitate an open dialogue on ‘women born women only politics’ and its impact on the relationships between lesbian and transgender women.”

A professional panel will inform the conversation with their experience and insights:  Denise Spivak, President of Women in Network (WIN); Robin Schwartz, President of Aqua Foundation for Women; Tori Bertran, Activist/ Board Member of Aqua Foundation for Women; and Diana O’Brien, Activist/ AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Coordinator.

For complete article, see South Florida Gay News.

ArtsUnited and the Pride Center Presents Marriage Equality Photo Exhibit

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One photo, two brides.

They gather the folds of their white gowns as they lift their wedding bouquets above their heads, laughing.

One of the women was Jane Kreinberg’s lesbian niece.  Kreinberg took a photo of that rousing moment and it became part of an ArtsUnited show in Wilton Manors.  ArtsUnited is a South Florida nonprofit that has provided opportunities for gay and lesbian artists since 1999.

However, no one knew Kreinberg’s photo would inspire an entire series of exhibits.

For the past few months throughout South Florida, ArtsUnited has presented We Do, Too!, wedding photos of same-sex couples from Florida who had to leave the state in order to get married.  Included with the photos are written statements sharing the couples’ thoughts on marriage equality as well as what it’s like to live in a state that doesn’t legally recognize their marriage.

We Do Too! has appeared at the LGBT Visitor Center in Miami and Compass GLCC in Lake Worth.  This September, the collection of twenty-four photos can be viewed at The Pride Center in Wilton Manors until September 30.

For complete article, see South Florida Gay News.

LGBT Radio Show Launches in Fort Lauderdale

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In 2011, Orlando radio host Paul Karle started an LGBT show called The Qiew.

“My background is radio and TV and I wanted to use my talent, my voice… for good within our community,” said Karle in an email interview with SFGN.

The Qiew and Karle have now found a new home in South Florida.

For complete article, see South Florida Gay News.

Florida Supercon 2013: Sci-Fi, Anime, & Comic Books Convention Connects LGBT Fans & Allies

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George Takei speaks to the audience at The 8th annual Florida Supercon 2013 at Miami Airport Convention CenterTrekkies, Bronies and a revered pop culture icon who says “Oh Myyy.”

The 8th annual Florida Supercon 2013 took place July 4 to 7 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, where thousands of fans came to celebrate sci-fi, anime, comic books, and other pop culture genres.

Generally the mood was upbeat on Saturday, July 6 – how could it not be when people dressed as fantastical characters such as Aqua Man, Nightwing, and The Great Gazoo?

For complete article, see South Florida Gay News.

Lessons from Transgender Activists: Ryan Sallans

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“Help[ing]5x7 people develop more faith in themselves is something I’m extremely passionate about.”

For complete profiles, see p. 34-36 in the latest edition of  South Florida Gay News Magazine, The Mirror.

Written by andreadulanto

June 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

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