Day Two got off to a slippery start as my guidebooks app contradicted what was in the programming book and I could not find information on Batgirls panel that I wanted to attend. Luckily both Tori and I stumbled on it, being extraordinarily early for the vampire panel that was to follow in the same room.
Panelists: Gail Simone and Kyrax2, the Batgirl from San Diego Comic-Con
Description: Gail & Kyrax2 talk about women creators and characters in comic books. They discuss the relaunch of DC Comics’ 52 titles and, of course, the Batgirls.
– Discussing the definition of female strength and the variety of strengths females can possess.
– Gail claimed to not be a fan of cookie cutter female powers. “We don’t need another Wonder Woman.”
– The problems in meeting the attitude that “If you’re not Wonder Woman you’re not a feminist.”
– A strong woman, “A woman who is in control of her circumstances,” as defined by the founder of Yuri-con
– Vulnerability is OK so long as it is handled appropriately and not used to victimize a woman
– Gail encouraged the public to not merely speak out against titles they dislike, but reach out and comment on the titles they do like. Positive reinforcement, people!
– Voting with our dollar – but asking smart questions, What am I voting on?
– Gail said DC marketing is recognizing & becoming more open to change and trying to catch up with its widened female audience.
– They brought up the point that just because we’re female doesn’t mean we have to purchase comics that feature women if they don’t interest us. We want quality, not crap. Emphasis on talking about the good and let low sales kill the bad.
– How should we express our dislike? Letters, blogging are ideal.
– Kyrax spoke in such passionate detail about her love for Stephanie Brown I think I am going to have to pick up some titles. My first for a Bat-centric female hero.
While this was a necessary, appropriately timed and engaging panel there is still a pressing desire I have to have a separate discussion for female comic book villains. I don’t relate to much of the female heroes (though admittedly I need to give a couple more a chance) but the more morally ambiguous characters like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Even Zatanna, who for all of her staunch heroism, can be a formidable enemy even to the “good guys” and is a person I relate to intently.
Panel: The Vampire Panel
Panelists: Leah Wilson, Jessica Dwyer, Nancy Holder, Alan Kistler
Description: Jacob McMurray hosts a panel to examine the lure of the vampire in popular culture. Scary or sparkly, you can’t spray holy water in a bookstore or at a Red Box without hitting a vampire. Why has “Das Wampyr” endured and captivated us for so long?
What a fantastic panel! Alas, there are never enough hours in a day to really get 100% satisfaction from discussing vampires, but these entertaining and knowledgeable panelists did an amazing job of encompassing why we love vampires.
– While going down the row, each panelists are asked to describe why they love vampires: Allure of the immortal, representatives of what we want and what we shouldn’t want, power of chosing who they are, no set of rules.
– “Vampires give good angst,” Jessica Dwyer
– “Versatility,” said Leah Wilson
– Why we still cling to the memes that persist? Vampires are simpler
– Vampires who want to love but are denied – something we can relate to.
– “Vampires are always going to have a say in what’s going on in our society at the moment.” JD, when discussing the issues that surround vampires – particularly, classism, racism and homophobia.
– “They speak to our souls, that part we don’t talk about but that’s there.” – Jessica Dwyer
– Dwyer also brought up Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, who is still considered a hero in Romania today because he fought for the church. Dangerous but heroic.
– What is the connection between the erotic and deadly? Alan K. answered, “Power – unapologetic power.” There is something in all of us that respects power.
– The visceral connection; symbolism of being pierced
– The forbidden, the defeat of death
– How Dracula set up the blue print for vampires and how vampires are judged against him.
– Carmilla, starring Ingrid Pitt, makes for a strong female vampire.
– Panelists Recommendations: I, Vampire (DC Comics), V-Wars, Uncanny Allegories, Morganville Vampires, Black Blood Brothers, Dark Shadow comics
Panel: That Comic Isn’t About Me
Panelists: Zan Christensen (moderator), Chris Lange, Ashley Cook, Gail Simone
Description: Take a critical look at gender, sexuality, and race in comics. Discuss how important it is to easily identify with characters, the state of diversity in comic arts, and why readers often overlook stories featuring characters whose gender, sexuality, race, class, or culture differs from their own.
I wasn’t originally intended on sitting in on this panel, but I am glad that I did. Topics and points brought up and discussed:
– The drive to have valuable female characters
– The abundant “revenge” story where a women is killed and used to start a male’s revenge story
– The common idea that women do not read comics
– Rape used as a tool to fuel the man;s revenge story and the female is forgotten
– A desire to create more supportive characters for gay youth
– Gail’s mission to bring a more positive, realistic variety of women
– When asked about any roadblocks to impede the progress, Gail confessed that she didn’t ask for approval initially and now they (DC) trusts her. She never had editorial roadblocks, merely fan rage.
– The importance of creating our own images/spaces when the big cons don’t offer anything
– Minority characters bare the burden of representing all and criticism can ensue from individuals who don’t feel they relate to that representative. Fight tokenism.
Panel: Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology
Description: From Wonder Woman to Buffy Summers, Emma Peel to Sydney Bristow, Charlie’s Angels to the Powerpuff Girls, superwomen are more than love interests or sidekicks who stand by their men. Author, blogger, and pop culture historian, Jennifer K. Stuller, explains how the female hero in modern mythology has broken through the boys’ club barrier and reveals the pivotal role of high-heeled, costumed, and kick-ass crimefighters in popular culture through video clips, slides, and readings.
This was a promotional panel for Ms. Stuller’s book of the same name. She gave a reading with a multimedia presentation that showcased the variety of roles women have conquered in media pop culture:
– Femme Fatale
– Secret Assassin
She discussed archetypes, modern mythology and the myth-makers themselves. It was very entertaining and I’d have probably purchased her book had it not been sold it out. In due time.
It is worth mentioning that I attempted to sit through The Importance of Superheroes panel but was extremely disappointed to find it to be merely a self-help panel led by two women who did not even pretend to be interested in fandom but wanted to life-coach the audience into reorganizing their lives and attaining their goals. It was mildly irritating to have the word “superhero” toted around as a marketing buzz word rather than coming from the heart of true fans.
The convention ended in a truly stupendous way with Labyrinth Sing-Along with special guest Karen Prell, a Henson puppeteer who performed The Junk Lady as well as Red Fraggle in Fraggle Rock. Having a hundred or so other Labyrinth fans all under one roof to sing and shout the lines and lyrics I know so well was absolutely magical.
Geek Girl Con – Day Two in Pictures:
Christina as Misty
World of Warcraft – Tier 4 Priest by Amanda Wan
Gail Simone & Kyrax2
Crystal as Princess Leia
Original LOTR elf by Addie
Kate as Professor McGonagall
Karen Prell demonstrating hand puppetry
Overall, I think Geek Girl Con was a resounding success. There were some minor quibbles I had, the venue not withstanding:
– I understand this is a family friendly convention that encourages parents to bring the wee ones but there is no excuse for rudeness. When an infant in particular starts to make noises please remove them from the panel. A number of parents permitted their baby to continue babbling or fussing. It’s disrespectful to not just the other paying attendees but the panelists themselves.
– Programs that were not adequately updated and only people with smart phones who bothered to download the guidebook app had the most current programming schedule.
– I would have liked to attend the PR event on Saturday, but it was scheduled directly in the middle of the day when lots was going on, so and other press badge holders had to make a tough choice and still feel like we were partially missing out.
These minor quibbles aside, I predict greatness for Geek Girl Con and look forward to an ever expanding program that will one day encompass all of the roles women have taken on in geek culture and all of the individual characters that make up the source of our fandom.
Great job, Geek Girl Con!