Comic Con Vienna Queer Space 2023 and why my home city is always in a persistent delay

The inclusion of a dedicated Queer Area at Vienna Comic Con represents a small step towards greater diversity. However, the city still has a long way to go to catch up with other conventions in terms of embracing queer culture in a meaningful and inclusive manner. Dominik Böhler, our Austrian Editor-at-Large, passionate about comic book culture, analyse the implications.

In my previous coverage of Comic Con 2019, we delved into the issue of queer representation at Vienna Comic Con, highlighting the city’s conservative nature and its slow adoption of contemporary trends and behaviours. However, breaking new ground this year, the Austrian Comic Con will finally feature a dedicated LGBT+ representation.

Vienna, known for its famous delay in embracing change, may never fully evolve to the level of other Comic Cons. It’s not due to a lack of effort on the organizers’ part, but rather a lack of engagement from the public. Other Comic Cons have already progressed to include Comics Arts Conference programming, with scholars presenting academic papers on various aspects of comics and discussing queer normative depictions of mainstream superheroes to reevaluate what qualities make a superhero admirable in nonnormative and more inclusive ways.

Vienna is only beginning to establish an LGBT+ space in 2023. In comparison, Berlin has already organized conferences on topics like Queer and Artificial Intelligence, highlighting the disparity between the two cities. We do not discuss the differences between Amsterdam and Vienna.

It comes as no surprise that Tamara Mascara, a beloved figure and an influential drag queen, has been named the patron of the Queer Area at Vienna Comic Con. Her presence adds a touch of authenticity and charisma. However, the choices made by organizers remain safe and unchallenging, reflecting a lack of innovation. This year, they will host “The Style Police” an event that seems to align with the expected norms rather than pushing boundaries.

The press release proudly stated, “With the opening of the Queer Area, the Convention celebrates diversity, inclusion, and equality.” While this serves as an excellent public relations move for the corporate entity behind the event, as someone born in Vienna but now studying for my doctorate in Oxford, I can observe the city with a more detached perspective. It becomes clear that Vienna tries to embrace queerness but often falls short, opting for superficial gestures instead of organizing more profound and engaged events.

The Vienna Comic Con is scheduled to take place this year on the 18th and 19th of November at Messe Wien. The VIECC® Vienna Comic Con is developed by Austrian Exhibition Experts in collaboration with ReedPop, the pop culture arm established by Greg Topalian, former senior vice president of Reed Exhibitions. ReedPop is part of Reed Exhibitions, now known as RX, which is a division of the publicly-listed data and analytics company, RELX, based in the UK. As of May 2022, RELX boasts a staggering worth of $55 billion.

Article By Dominik Böhler

Dominik Böhler is the Editor-at-Large of GAY45. A 26 y.o., PhD candidate, passionate about the transcendence of science in the philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. Works in Vienna and commutes to England at the University of Oxford where to continue the DPhil (doctoral) programme in Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences. Böhler always likes to mention he does not have a social media presence.

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