Racebending.com staffers Marissa Lee and Mike Le had a great time at the Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Art of the Animated Series signing at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles on June 19th, 2010. Racebending.com volunteers Corey B., Ken A. and a couple hundred other A:TLA fans were also in attendance.
The line in front of the store. Photo by Corey B.
We quickly handed out our last bag of 50 Racebending.com wristbands in the line. People in the line recognized our shirts and knew about the controversy. The line ran from outside and then wound around the interior displays of the Golden Apple Comics store. It took about an hour for us to make it to the front of the line because creators Mike DiMartino and Brian Konietzko were very generous with their time with the fans. They each painstakingly drew a sketch in the fan’s artbook before signing with their names. They also paused with fans to take photos. Halfway through the signing, they had already burned though five Sharpie markers!
While the Racebending.com staffers are fans as well as advocates, the signing was really a day for us to let our geek flag fly–we are huge fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko immediately recognized our faces from past San Diego Comic Con meet ups. (If you didn’t get to attend the book signing in Los Angeles, they should be at Comic Con 2010 later this summer, too!)
Marissa: Mike, Ken, and I presented the creators with excerpts from emails Racebending.com has received from fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, praising them for the way they handled culture in the animated series. We told them that Racebending.com literally has gotten thousands of emails and so many are about how much the show meant to people, especially people who saw aspects of their cultures represented–some for the first time. (Click here to read emails from people who were positively affected by representation in the animated series.)
Racebending.com meeting the creators. Photo by Corey B.
At the signing, rumors swirled about a new animated series in the works, Avatar: The Legend of Korra. The creators told us that they couldn’t say anything at the signing, but to expect an announcement, soon.
Mike: I asked “Comic Con?” and they said “Sooner than that, hopefully.”
Corey: I actually wanted to ask about Korra but forgot. You get up to the front of the line and all you can think is, “Yeah, a football. I’d like a football.”
Racebending.com did not ask the creators about the movie or the casting. The event was very strongly focused on the animated series. This did not stop others from asking the creators about the casting, though. Secret Identities comic artists Anson and Benton Jew shared their experience meeting the creators with us.
Anson: Benton spoke with Mike and Bryan briefly. He commended them for the accuracy and diligent research that obviously went into the cartoon and asked about how they felt about the controversy surrounding the feature. If I recall correctly, Bryan responded that if it had been his film, things might have been done differently, but that since it was not his movie, he didn’t have any control or say in how the movie got made. Benton further pressed to find out if the casting decision was that of Shayamalan or of someone else, to which they responded that they did not know.
Giant Momo meets his makers
Marissa: Our supporters have been awesome, so when we went to the signing we wanted to make sure to get a book signed for one of them. I explained to the creators that we planned to give this book away to one of our readers, and that while we would like them to dedicate the book to “Racebending.com Supporter,” they could sign the book without the dedication if they did not feel comfortable doing so because of the controversy.
Bryan Konietzko draws in the copy of the book dedicated to Racebending.com supporters
Mike DiMartino wrote the dedication–”To Racebending.com supporter!”–and drew the sketch of Aang; Bryan Konietzko drew the sketch of Katara.
We plan to give this copy of the artbook to one of the fans who shows up at our fan gathering/protest on July 1st in Hollywood. Email email@example.com for details. We hope you’ll join us!
If you were at the signing and you’d like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org