Reported By Women: Cincinnati Comic Expo


Written by Abbey Bruce and Davi Hutchins. Photography by Chelsie Walter.

We weren’t sure what to expect when applying for press passes for the Cincinnati Comic Expo, but what we found was much more than meets the eye. Comic Expo is an environment full of feminism, body positivity, creativity, and immediate acceptance of others. The Duke Energy Center was filled with talented artists, authors, and actors. We watched adults turn into little kids again, discovering their heroes, acting out their fantasies, and embracing fandoms. We quickly realized there was so much more to learn about comic books and pop culture, so in true Women of Cincy fashion, we started walking up to people and asking questions.


Our first stop was the booth for the MeSseD comic and its creator Jay B. Kalagayan:

Tell me about your comic.

The comic book is called MeSseD. That stands for the “Metropolitan Sewer District.” The main character is Lilliput, and she’s our tour guide to the wild and wet world below our feet. I was inspired by my daughters to create a strong character who happens to female and Asian. When I bring them to the comic book store, they can see themselves on the shelves. It is written, drawn, and even printed in Cincinnati. We currently have 12 chapters or two seasons. We just launched our animated short on our website. 


We asked attendees – including 4-year-old Camille – about their favorite female comic characters… 

...and the one superpower they wish they could have:

  • Flight (this was a popular choice!)

  • Teleportation

  • Invisibility

  • The ability to talk to animals

  • The ability to read minds

  • Shapeshifting


We had the opportunity to speak with Philomena Anastasia, also known as the author P. Anastasia from Lexington, Kentucky:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I write young adult fantasy, urban science fiction, Egyptian mythologem, and I have a vampire novel. I write a little bit of everything. 

Can you tell me about one of the female characters in your book?

One of the characters in my book Dark Diaries, Kathera: She is a tattoo artist and what makes that character very special to me is that she struggles with mental illness and depression. I can relate to her and others can relate to her. I try to write my characters where they have real life conditions, even though it’s a fantasy book. She has a deep place in my heart because the struggles she goes through are very human. 


We were floored when we came across a booth run by artist Angel McKendrick. Her art reminded us of old W.P.A. posters from the 1930s and ’40s with a feminist flare. Angel traveled from Baltimore, Maryland, to be part of the Comic Expo this year. 

What’s your background?

I was a graphic designer for 13 years and I went out on my own 12 years ago. I’ve been doing conventions for about 6 years. 

What is your favorite part of conventions?

Just getting to meet people and geek out over shows I love. I am the only geek in my house. 

I noticed that a lot of your art has a positive female message. Can you tell me about that?

I wanted to empower women. If you walk through conventions, there is a lot of sexualized art. I wanted to create something that you could hang up in your daughter’s room – something that at the end of the day, is a positive message. 

We also had the pleasure of speaking with Amber Kersley, a local cosplayer and active leading member of the Ohio River Valley Cosplayers.


What brought you here today?

I’m a huge cosplayer. I'm actually the Cincinnati chapter leader for the Ohio River Valley Cosplayers. That became official this weekend, so I'm not used to saying that yet [laughs]. I am huge into the cosplay community, and any excuse to dress up really, right? 

What's your favorite female character and why?

Wonder Woman, through and through, Wonder Woman. I love the fact that she stands up for everything that she believes is right in the world. She has the strength and commitment to follow through with her convictions on those things and stands up for the little guy.

Community Mix is our monthly hodge-podge of content from the voices of a hodge-podge of beautiful Cincinnatians. This is “Reported By Women,” where our team ventures out to capture the exciting happenings of the Queen City. Got an event coming up? Submit it via our community calendar.