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Project rungay: Queer comic fest offers X-men fashion tips • Brooklyn Paper

Project rungay: Queer comic fest offers X-men fashion tips

Burning with excitement: Illustrator and zine artist Aimee Fleck prepares for Flame Con in her Bushwick studio.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s a super sequel!

The country’s largest queer comics event has returned to heat up Brooklyn for its second year — and this time it’s bigger and longer! Flame Con, at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott on Aug. 20–21, will showcase more than 100 artists and three dozen gay-focused comics events draped over two days of programming.

It also features the return of one of last year’s most popular panels — “Designing X-Women II: Fashion Apocalypse,” which combines three topics dear to the hearts of gay comic fans — superheroes, strong female characters, and fabulous outfits.

“It’s more than just a fashion event, it’s reclaiming characters for the queer community,” said Joey Stern, the founder of Geeks Out, the group behind the convention. “Here you have an opportunity to put a queer look on characters. This panel captures that idea of taking ownership of things you like and making the things truly yours.”

The discussion will look beyond the frequently sexist tropes of superhero costumes created by straight men, and instead explore fashion as a way to enhance a hero’s story, said panelist and Bushwick artist Aimee Fleck.

“Fashion is wildly under-utilized in telling superhero stories,” said Fleck. “No superhero costume makes sense — and that’s sort of the point — but they should say something about the character or situation. So how can we find a middle ground of practicality and staying true to the wacky genre of bright colors and spandex?”

In her illustration work, Fleck does that by balancing fashion-forward designs with functionality.

“I draw a lot of inspiration from the actual construction of clothes, adding pockets for equipment and trying to meet the needs of their powers with interesting design elements,” she said. “Paying attention to those things really fleshes out the characters.”

Other artistic luminaries on the panel will be “X-Men” cover artist Kevin Wada, Brooklyn cosplayer Tea Fougner, and Marvel editor Dennis Ketchum, among others. During the panel, the artists will present their redesigns for telepathic X-Men villain Emma Frost, who is often drawn wearing a corset and little else.

Fleck will also be tabling at the expo, selling prints of her illustrations and work produced by her company Bad Influence Press, including “Raw: A Hannibal/Will Fanthology,” which collects fiction, art, and comics by 50 different creators about the steamy relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, from the television series “Hannibal.”

Flame Con premiered last year at Park Slope’s Grand Prospect Hall as a one-day event, but crowds encouraged the organizers to expand the firey expo in time and space. This year’s con packs an extra punch of special quests and local color, said one of its organizers.

“It’s really fantastic, we’ve actually had more time to plan,” said Stern. “We’ve had a lot more freedom to reach out to special guests and expanded the artist alley so now it’s far more art and local vendor focused.”

The weekend will also feature a costume pageant, a speed-dating event, and panels with titles such as “Girls in Tanks Getting Coffee,” “Geek Activism,” and “Fantastic Queers and Where to Find Them,” among many others.

Flame Con at Brooklyn Bridge Marriott (333 Adams St. between Willoughby and Tillary streets Downtown, www.flamecon.org). Aug 20–21. 1–7 pm. $25–$50.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at mspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow him on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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