6 Comic Con-troversies


With the New York Comic Con under way, we thought we’d remind you that these brilliant, geeky get-togethers can mean more than just costumes and coveted signatures on first-edition books. Here are a few of the scandals that rocked (or gently nudged) Comic Cons across the country this past year.

God Hates Geeks in Superhero Costumes?

At the massive Comic Con in San Diego last year, assembled geeks gave Fred Phelps’ hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church a run for its money. When church members—who’ve earned the dubious distinction of being so radical that even the Ku Klux Klan has disavowed any association with them—showed up to protest alleged immorality and rampant homosexuality amidst convention-goers, they were greeted by a throng of nerds dressed as superheroes, robots, Trekkies and anime girls staging a counter protest. Phelps’ team, not to be dissuaded, began chanting their favorite slogan, “God Hates Fags,” while the motley crowd of costumed comics fans went for a rather more innovative call-and-response: “What do we want?” “Gay sex!” “When do we want it?” “Now!” If headlines and blog posts chronicling the showdown are to be trusted, the geeks emerged victorious.

[Photo credit: ComicsAlliance. More pictures of the protest and counter-protest can be found here.]

The Resident Evil Fan With the Pen in the Auditorium

Tensions were high near the end of the Resident Evil: Afterlife panel at Comic Con San Diego last summer. So high, in fact, that one young fan stabbed another with a ballpoint pen after getting in an argument over a “good seat” in the middle of an auditorium. Universal Pictures' sci-fi movie, Paul, and Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens were scheduled to play in the space after the panel, so good seats were, evidently, worth stabbing over. Shortly after the pen attack, the police arrived, both men were removed—one was taken to a police station, the other to a hospital—and lucky for the other movie buffs present, the show went on, about an hour behind schedule.

Master of Disguise

At New York’s Comic Con last year, the award for best costume—a highly sought-after prize in a population where homemade get-ups are the norm—went to a young man named Matt Silva for his Steampunk Iron Man suit. A few days later, it was revealed that Silva’s famous costume was actually just a tricked out version of a costume originally designed and built by a man named Bill Johnsen for the character of Tin Man in the indie short, Heartless. Johnsen was “royally angered by this action,” according to a heated series of blog posts, but when Silva apologized—and the indie film company stood by Silva’s choice to retool the old suit—the scandal all but went away.

"Insider" Exposed

Robert Granito, an amateur comic book artist and writer, spent years building a fake reputation as a “comics insider,” claiming he’d contributed to Iron Man, Batman, Calvin and Hobbes, and Teen Titans, among other esteemed titles in the comic book world. His website bragged he’d drawn the Batman U.S. postage stamp—a distinction belonging to artists Jim Lee and Scott Williams—and listed the White House among those commissioning his work. Earlier this year, the scandal broke on comics blogs, spawning a Facebook (non-)fan page, entitled “Robert Granito Is a Fraud,” which has attracted 4,400 fans, and earned the plagiarist a ration of vitriol from comics fans—and real “comics insiders”—on Twitter and across the blogosphere.

No Cape, No Service

In addition to being an avid Star Wars and World of Warcraft fan, 29-year-old America’s Next Top Model winner Adrienne Curry model earned extra geek credentials this year when she was booted out of the San Diego Comic Con this year for wearing a slightly too authentic Aeon Flux costume, which featured thigh-high black leather boots and a matching thong. Curry’s scandalous get-up wasn’t the first time scantily clad comic book fans have raised eyebrows. In the past, women donning Princess Leia’s metal bikini, Wonder Woman’s strapless leotard, and Andromeda’s sparkling loincloth have been asked to either leave or, well, consider the strategic application of a cape.

He Is the Lizard King

Spider-Man’s reptilian nemesis, the Lizard—or, rather, Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who plays The Lizard in the upcoming Spider-Man film—got into a tangle with a female security guard at this year’s Comic Con in San Diego. Ifans was belligerent before his scheduled panel appearance, and evidently began pushing the security guard, and ranting about the police, the United States, and everyone within his vicinity, according to police reports. After the panel, the Lizard was arrested and awarded a misdemeanor for his abusive behavior. His real come-uppance won’t come until July 2012, when, fans hope, Spidey will teach the slithering super-villain a lesson or two.