I stopped attending conventions regularly in 2003. I felt horrifically closed in at Comic-Con back in 2006 and have vowed not to return until I can as press or professional. I’ve felt the absence of conventions in my life like I feel the absence of an old friend. The kind of friend that got me in just enough trouble to make it fun, but not have my mom come and pick me up at some police station. I switched from pouring my money into conventions to traveling the world, a decision I still stand by, but with Geek Girl Con it’s different. Though it took a while for Crossbow Chicks’ Tori to officially have me on board (in part due to some personal issues that needed to be resolved before I threw money at this trip), once I was in, I was all in!
Firstly: this convention is in Seattle, a city I got a sampling of when I played bridesmaid last July.
Secondly: I have a gaggle of friends that live in Seattle (and favorite relatives that live in Port Angeles)
Thirdly: I like that this is an all-fandom encompassing convention. Niche conventions, Galifrey One aside, just don’t cut it with me any longer.
Fourthly: Women run conventions and the awesomeness of their organization and people skills. I’ve been to one all-female ran first-year convention before and it was impeccably executed. There will always be bumps, but call me a sexiest little minx, I just dig the She-ra vibe.
I stayed a full week in Seattle, also to catch the Terry Pratchett discussion at Town Hall and to spend time with my friend Liz, her husband Art and Tori – whom I have not seen in person in a decade. Additionally, as Glass of Win’s food feed is featured on the Seattle based Restraunteers blog, I knew I would have my picking of some truly fine dining.
An impressive line was already winding its way down the courtyard of Seattle’s North Center rooms. As press Tori of Crossbow Chicks and I were granted a wee bit early access and took a snap of the small but mighty and diverse dealers room as retailers and artists scrambled to set up before the doors opened to the crowd outside.
I was dismayed to discover that 1/4th of the conventions programming was set at the EMP, a good 5-10 minute walk (depending on how fast you’re hustling). Not that I don’t enjoy a brisk walk, but speaking not only as a cardiac patient who can only do so much, as a convention attendee who wants to experience as many panels as I could, I was forced to pick one over another merely because I was too exhausted or felt I could not make the next event if I was in the other building. It was ridiculous and I am glad to know that another venue is already being looked into.
Description: The role of the heroine in a patriarchal society is fraught with pitfalls. Panelists address the historical position of WWII action heroine Claudette Colbert, the complexities of the warrior woman in genre media, the heroine’s journey in anime and RPG, and the non-heterosocial world of Wonder Woman’s Themyscira. Bring your questions!
Panelists: Haviva Avirom (moderator), Sara Freeman, Catherine Bailey, and Erin Lovejoy-Guron
All of the panelists read from dissertations, essays and thesis they wrote, which was nice because they were prepared but also a hindrance because it did not allow much room for making eye-contact and fully engaging the audience. The panel started late and met with technological issues, and as such, the women were forced to speed-read through their papers. While all informative, this got distracting and I got lost a few times. Luckily I’d hear familiar names like “Sailormoon” and hop right back on board.
Ms. Freeman talked extensively about the films of Claudette Colbert and how she improved the image of women during World War II – actively playing a role rather than just a symbol of morale and patriotism. I’ve now added Sin You Went Away | Three Came Home | So Proudly We Hail to my Netflix Queue.
Ms. Avirom discussed the woman warrior in media, specifically highlighting Captain Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica, and how writers are taking what has been traditionally attributed as “male” traits and giving them to central female characters.
Ms. Baily talked about fighting stereotypes while deflecting being targeted as “masculine.” She used Yuna from Final Fantasy X and Sailormoon as examples of heroines who mediates between healing/redemption, destructiveness, and using the connectivity as a team to source their power.
note: Being a huge Sailormoon fan, I hope to see a solo Sailormoon or magical girls panel in the future at GGC.
Ms. Lovejoy-Guron discussed the non-heterosocial world of Wonder Woman’s Themyscira. She first started out defining matriarchy as a society that is egalitarian and went on to describe the Code of the Amazons, how it works and how it is flawed.
There wasn’t much time for questions, but the one question that got in was in regards to the Catwoman 1 comic. The panelists shared a collective groan.
Haviva called the scene in question, “Drunk Halloween sex.” Additionally that the comic was drawn “more as titillation” than for the benefit of Catwoman’s character.
Panel: On Writing Urban Fantasy
Description: Urban Fantasy is a red-hot genre! Learn about world building, magic, and characterization for a compelling paranormal world. How do you write heroines who are smart, strong, and sexual AND refuse to wait to be rescued? The audience is encouraged to ask questions and do some writing exercises.
Panelists: Yasmine Galenorn (author)
As this is what my own personal fiction leans into, I wasn’t going to miss this panel for the world. Ms. Galenorn really knew how to handle a panel: she passed out a kind of syllabus on the topics she was to touch on that also doubled as a very informative and useful guidelines to writing urban fantasy. Highlights include:
– The lines between paranormal romance and urban fantasy
– Primary driving force = characters
– Writing characters people can relate to
– Letting the characters develop on their own
– Letting the series evolve on their own
– Advises to keep records of everything in your world
– The importance of consistency
– Advises: Reverse outlines. Bullet points of what you just wrote in the chapter you just completed. Write what needs to happen next.
Panel: Geek Girls in Pop-Culture
Description: How challenging is creating geek girl characters? Come to a panel discussion on geek girl representations in film, TV, novels, comics, and other media. What’s the current state of geek girl characters in pop culture?
Panelists: Amy Berg, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Sarah Kuhn, Jessica Mills, Stephanie Thorpe
Sigh. This was such a promising panel, and perhaps it was for all of the fans of the panelists. However, this panel was not at all a discussion of the broader geek girls in pop culture so much as it was a massive love-fest for the panelists and their specific creations. While I have no problem with that, it’s not what the description toted the panel to be about. There was little to no broader discussion on geek girls and the moderator did nothing to steer the discussion outside of the characters that the panelists created. I probably would not have attended had I known this was the way it was going to go. Although, I do now have a quasi girl-crush on Amy Berg and want to start watching Eureka, so all isn’t lost.
Panel: Nerd Burlesque: Translating Fandom to the Stage
Description: Proving that smart can be very sexy, a panel of seasoned burlesque pros share their thoughts, theories, tricks, and tips on taking their obsessions and translating them for the stage through the art of burlesque. Both women and men will discuss the notion of empowerment through burlesque and finding inspiration in well-loved characters and concepts.
Panelists: Elsa Von Schmaltz (moderator), Jo Jo Stiletto, The Mad Marquis de Maltease, Sophie Maltease, Billy Corazon, Heidi Von Haught, Hottie McNaughty, Miss Elaine Yes, Sailor St. Claire
This was a fantastically fun and titillating panel. I’ve always had a keen interest in burlesque and once nerd burlesque came on my radar earlier this year with the Batman Burlesque show I attended in Toronto I have been hooked and desperate for more. All of the panelists were informative, witty and fun to listen to. They talked about the freedom of being able to express their obsessions on stage; how it’s all about “translating the geeky obsession in a sexual way,” said Jo Jo. The message: it’s OK to have fantasies about fandom.
They also discussed the unfortunate prevalence of burlesque troupes that pander to fandom rather than being fans themselves or even bothering to take the time to really get into the character they are representing. I witnessed a few of these acts at the Batman Burlesque show. What is the solution to this? I asked the panel. To ensure that the non-fan performers understand their character; doing research, watching episodes/scenes and talking to the producers or other performers who are fans.
Images from Geek Girl Con – Day One:
The Tardis – via Geek Stained Glass
More to come!