The GEEK will be celebrated and SHE has earned it! GeekGirlCon will recognize the contributions of women to geek culture. What would our culture be without Wonder Woman, Lt. Uhura or Batgirl? But what about the women behind the scenes creating the comics, books, movies, television and games? What about the women at the comic book shops and behind the consoles?
The first celebration of female geek in Seattle was a smash. The women behind GeekGirlCon are dreaming bigger with this year’s event. I asked Susie Rantz about what’s new for their second con.
“We sold out so quickly last year, so we moved into a bigger space that will allow more people can take part in the fun. The reaction to the convention last year was fantastic. People not only had a great time and got to meet their favorite writers and actors, but they made connections that bettered them as people. Companies and websites even launched as a result of GeekGirlCon.
“We want this year’s convention to build from those successes. For the second year, we have expanded our gaming and exhibitor hall. We now have a whole floor for tabletop and console gaming, as well as some really fun workshops. We also heard from convention-goers last year that they wanted more opportunities to network and connect with one another, so we added GeekGirlConnections, a room where people can plan their careers, network with women who work in their desired career fields, and learn about job opportunities that exist.
Finally, one of the things I find most exciting about GeekGirlCon is the fact that our convention truly reflects what our fans want. In the spring, we put out the call for panel submissions. Virtually every panel being offered at GeekGirlCon ’12 is a result of the amazing ideas submitted by fans — ideas like talking about how we discuss disabilities in pop culture and comics. That means every year, our convention could focus on different topics and fandoms.”
Whether on our second or 20th convention, we will remain true to our mission of supporting and celebrating women who love science, comics, technology, video games, and any other geeky topic.”
Returning guest Gail Simone blazed the trail with her runs on Birds of Prey, Secret Six and now Batgirl at DC Comics. 2012 has seen a number of comic book success stories championed by women. Ms. Marvel just got promoted to Captain Marvel with Kelly Sue DeConnick writing and the first issue sold out! Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men is a critical and commercial success and gained mainstream headlines for the gay wedding of Northstar. Womanthology demonstrated the true meaning of geek girl power. With these recent successes I asked this Susie is she felt this is a “breakthrough year” for women in comics?
“It certain feels like women are making some significant breakthroughs in the comic book industry. Gail Simone is a fantastic leader in this field. Not only is she a great writer, but she stands up for and handles herself with so much grace. I think women are seeing what she’s been able to accomplish and realizing they can make that same future for themselves.
The success of Womanthology certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. For those who don’t know a lot of about the project, Womanthology is a 350-page comic anthology created entirely by women, with all proceeds going to charity. The project was originally posted on Kickstarter, where the creators raised $109,000, making Womanthology the most successful comics project and 25th most successful Kickstarter of all time,” she continues.
Special Guest Renae De Liz is behind woman behind Womanthology. De Liz will be at the Seattle con to share how she did it on her own terms. I asked Rantz if the special guests and programming could inspire the next geek girl success story?
“I sure hope so. We are not simply dedicated to celebrating geeky women and girls — but that is certainly one important piece of this convention. Of course, we want people to have fun! However, we also know there are a lot of people out there looking for ways to further dive into what they love and apply it to their careers, or simply explore hobbies in new ways.
The great podcast website Geekquality actually formed as a result of our convention last year. This year, instead of simply coming as attendees, they are presenting during a panel (“Geekquality Presents: Navigating Geekdom as an Outsider,” Saturday from 3:30 – 4:20 p.m.). This is just one example of the fire we hope to ignite among attendees. For others, it might be as simply as taking a class on programming, or volunteering as a mentor at your child’s school.
As I mentioned above, we did hear from a lot of attendees last year that they wanted more ways to learn how to break into various businesses or succeed in their desired career fields. And that is why we are so excited to have panels featuring women from EA and PopCap and BioWare, or others that talk about how to land technology jobs, like “Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted” and A Career as a Lady Coder II: Getting the Job.” That’s also why we added the GeekGirlConnections room, which will be filled with people from NASA, SEOMoz, Dark Horse Comics, and other great companies.”
There have been costume changes to female comic book characters that still make them sexy but not blatant cheesecake. Ms. Marvel is now Captain Marvel and wears a flight suit instead of a one piece bathing suite, Power Girl’s hole in her chest is covered, Psylocke is no longer wearing a thong and heels. What do girl geeks think of these changes? Does how a heroine look matter?
“That’s funny you bring up Power Girl, as someone I follow on Twitter recently shared the cover of DC Comics’ Ame-Comi Power Girl book, where the hole returned! But I do think there are enough people speaking up for a more realistic version of “sexy” when it comes to female comic book characters. These voices have really made a dent and have forced the comic book industry make some corrections.
In fact, Kelly Thompson, a comic book fan and journalist, wrote a great article titled, “She Has No Head! – No, It’s Not Equal.” The article demonstrated how women were put in untenable poses and clothes. The article certainly could have made people defensive, but it was presented with clear examples — and the comments from all genders were positive.
You hear over and over from comic book publishers that they are marketing to men and boys because that is who buys their products. Yet, I read an article that quoted the owners of comic book store Comicopia, who said around “thirty-five to forty percent” of their customers were female. That is probably a shocking stat to a lot of people, because most assumed the figure might be more like 5 percent. I think women and girls are sometimes afraid to speak up and say, “We like these things too.” But they are finding their voices now, and are seeing there actually IS a community behind them, supporting them.”
Along with Gail Simone and Renae De Liz, a powerhouse group of writers, artists and entrepreneurs will meet that community:
Writer/producer Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Warehouse 13, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time.)
Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and owner of fangirl gear site Her Universe.
Comic book writer Jen Van Meter (Hopeless Savages, Black Lightning: Year One, Black Cat.)
Comic book writer and novelist Greg Rucka (Gotham Central, Wonder Woman, Queen & Country, Whiteout, Stumptown, Elektra) is acclaimed for his portrayal of female heroes and will be featured in the panel Why Men Write Women Poorly and How to Get a Clue.
Geek culture is not just about iconic female characters. Celebrate the women who create and love it. Guys are welcome. I wouldn’t miss it. GeekGirlCon 2012 August 11 and 12 at the Conference Center in Seattle. Click here to buy passes.