I don’t know about you, but with just a little over a week to go until the Con, I’m currently in full strategic planning mode, obsessively highlighting my copy of the panel schedule and inevitably overscheduling myself in the hopes of catching all of the amazing panels we have lined up.
That moment when you realize you’ve scheduled yourself to see two (or three…or four…) panels at the same time
In the leadup to #GGC17, we’ve been highlighting the incredible panels you’ll have the opportunity to see, including ones centered around Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusivity, GGC After Dark, and Pop Culture! I couldn’t be more excited about each of those topics, but today I’m here to introduce you to a group of panels that are especially near and dear to my heart: the ones Focusing on Fandom. As geeks, we are basically Olympic medal-ers in fandom, so let me give you a sneak peek at some of the panels that will let you revel in the joy, excitement, and possibility of fandom.
Ever wondered which fandoms and tropes are most popular in fanfic? Are you curious how comments affect an author’s writing skills, or how fans navigate the sexual content in fanworks? Join a panel of fandom analysts, moderated by Ruby Davis, for By the Numbers: The World of Fandom Statistics. This group of amazing analysts will present their findings on these topics (and more!), showcase data visualizations, explain their methods, and answer questions.
A representation of my feelings after Sense8 was cancelled
I personally had a day of mourning when I heard that Netflix had cancelled Sense8, and am eagerly awaiting next year’s two-hour finale special, which will hopefully give us heartbroken fans some much-needed closure. Sense8 has become a global phenomenon, earning itself an extremely diverse and loyal fanbase in only two short seasons. The panel I Am Also a We – A Sense8 Panel, moderated by Meagan Malone, will discuss the show’s successes and shortcomings, with panelists sharing their hopes for the upcoming special.
Me, deep into a binge-watching session of “Sailor Moon”
This year is the 25th anniversary of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, so it’s only fitting that the panel Humans of the Moon Kingdom: 25 Years of Sailor Moon, moderated by Misu Russell, will celebrate the impact that Naoko Takeuchi’s epic manga has had on countless fans around the world. Come discuss the ways you’ve been affected by a cute young girl in a Sailor Suit!
“I belong in the refrigerator. Because the truth is, I’m just food for a superhero. He’ll eat up my death and get the energy he needs to become a legend.”
–– The Refrigerator Chronicles, pg. 144
If you’re a woman, girl, or other gender-marginalized person who loves comics, you’ve probably heard of “fridging.” Also known as being “refrigerated,” or “women in refrigerators,” fridging is a term coined in 1999 by comic writer Gail Simone, after reading a Green Lantern comic in which Kyle Raynor comes home to find his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, killed and stuffed into a refrigerator. Since then, the term has spawned a website cataloguing the many ways in which women in comics have so often been treated as disposable plot devices within the broader narratives of male protagonists. Too often the wives and girlfriends of comic heroes, as well as other women comic book characters, are abused, injured, disempowered, or killed in order to provide a catalyst for the heroic actions of their male counterparts.
Drawing on this trope’s long and complicated history––as well as the format and mission of the Eve Ensler-created Vagina Monologues––prolific author and comic book fan Cathrynne M. Valente’s most recent book, The Refrigerator Monologues, began with her own Gail Simone-like call to action. As she describes in an article for The Mary Sue, after Valente saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2, she left the theater in tears, enraged and disappointed by the filmmakers’ treatment of Gwen Stacy. When Valente’s partner told her that, as much as they both might want to, there was nothing they could do to fix Gwen Stacy’s death because “‘she was always going to die. She always dies. It’s kind of a thing,’” Valente responded with redoubled enthusiasm to directly address that very inevitability.
“On Monday, I am Julia Ash. I dye my hair cranberry red and live in a trendy suburb with three cats, two teakettles, and one first edition Jane Eyre on which I have never once spilled ramen broth.
On Tuesday, I eat a star.”
–– The Refrigerator Chronicles, pg. 25
What results is a series of linked, monologic short stories, each centered around a different member of the Hell Hath Club, a tightknit group of “fridged” badasses, relegated to the monotonous obscurity of the underworld while their husbands and boyfriends heedlessly continue their above-ground heroics. Illustrated by amazing artist Annie Wu, the stories are by turns tragic and hilarious, snarky and earnest. Those who are familiar with comics will likely be able to place the inspiration behind Valente’s characters, and part of the fun is identifying the incredibly creative ways that Valente updates the stories of Jean Grey, Gwen Stacy, Alexandra DeWitt, Harley Quinn, and others. By drawing on familiar themes––updated and embellished by propulsive, acrobatic prose and galvanizing anger––Valente is able to honor the importance of comic books while simultaneously drawing attention to the very tropes that can hinder such pure enjoyment for us comics fans who aren’t cis white men.
At the same time, there are certainly limitations to what Valente is able to accomplish in The Refrigerator Monologues. The stories themselves––like those that inspired them––are, with few exceptions, heteronormative narratives involving white, cis men and women. Additionally, while Valente’s characters are given a voice and a spotlight through which to tell their own stories, the fact remains that they are still dead. United by shared experience and empowered by mutual storytelling, these powerful and complex women are not able to enact physical retribution on those who have hurt, oppressed, and used them.
Still, as someone who loves comics and graphic novels, I view Valente’s work as a celebration of the comic book genre precisely because it refuses to ignore the problematic tropes and themes so often contained within it. By putting a spotlight on abuse, misogyny, and the perceived disposability of certain bodies, The Refrigerator Monologues is a book that comes out of a deep love, addressing the anguish that results when that love is betrayed. As a nerd, that’s exactly the kind of representation that I’m looking for.
“The Hell Hath Club walks its newest member out into the Lethe Café, into music and moonlight and steaming cups of nothing that taste like remembering. Her frozen blue skin gleams like the bottles behind the bar. We help her into the booth, hold her hand, slip her a joke or two to make her smile.
What’s the difference between being dead and having a boyfriend? Death sticks around.”
For as long as I’ve been a fan of anything, I’ve been a fan of Star Wars. I have vivid memories of sitting on a friend’s couch watching The Empire Strikes Back and being completely immersed in the experience.
Princess Leia was my favorite character. She was a girl just like I was, and she was snarky, had great hair, and did everything the boys did. Years before I had ever heard of fanfiction, I was mentally writing elaborate adventures for Leia as she repeatedly saved the universe in increasingly spectacular (and improbable) ways.
The room was abuzz with anticipation. David-Bowie-loving con guests talked amongst themselves, excitedly trading ideas about what would be discussed at a panel about Bowie’s influence over the genres they love.
Then the panelists began singing “The Man Who Sold the World.” It only took a few lines before the audience joined in, turning a simple, beige conference room into a wonderland of magical notes.
As the first verse came to a close in the transformed room, the panel began. The panel moderator, Evan J. Peterson (author and teacher), introduced himself, followed by Grace Moore (podcaster), and Sara Depp (musician).
Evan explained that the panel would focus on Bowie’s influence on visual content, such as film and television, although his music would be touched upon as well.
It’s time to get to know another GeekGirlCon staffer! This month, we are talking to Torrey Stenmark, who is an expert in all sorts of geeky endeavors, from gaming to chemistry. Torrey also has some serious skills when it comes to cosplay–she has won numerous awards for her works! Find out about her below.
Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?
I am Torrey Stenmark, the DIY Science Zone Assistant Manager. I’ve also served on the Programming Selection Committee in past years.
What do you do for your day job/when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?
I teach chemistry (introductory, general, and organic) at Shoreline Community College.
Have you always considered yourself a geek?
At least since college. I’m sure I would have been classified as a geeky or nerdy kid, but I owned the term in college. Back in high school I was a theater kid, which is not quite the same thing.
What sort of geeky things do you like to do in your spare time?
I make and wear science fiction and superhero costumes! I’ve won awards in local and national costume contests. I also volunteer with a couple of costumed charities, in which we dress up to raise money for children’s causes or to visit schools and hospitals. There’s a very special joy in demonstrating to young girls that they can be superheroes too, or showing all kids that they can be both superheroes and princesses.
Written by GeekGirlCon Twitter Administrator Kristine Hassell
Join us this Saturday, June 3rd at Barnes & Noble South Center for a free Wonder Woman Day Celebration with costumes, fun activities, and a panel discussion, “Wonder Woman IRL”. You can RSVP online, right now!
A percentage of your purchases in-store on Saturday (or online June 3rd to 8th) will be donated to GeekGirlCon when you use the code 12164679.
What Wonder Woman Means To Me
When I was a kid, there was one television channel I could to watch without parental supervision and that was the local PBS affiliate. I absorbed all the classics: Sesame Street, Electric Company, Vegetable Soup, Doctor Who, Monty Python… okay, the last two weaseled their way in there when my mother wasn’t paying close attention to my media consumption. So believe me when I tell you that it was a big deal when my mother let me watch Wonder Woman.
If you are of a certain age, there is a good chance that you did what I used to do, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. You might have painstakingly fashioned a tiara and bracelets out of aluminum foil, and used a red marker to make the stars just right. You might have borrowed a bedsheet to wear as a cape and lastly, you might have found something that resembled a gold lasso to complete the ensemble. If you were me, you begged your mother to buy the fancy cord remnant that you found at the fabric store. Then every week, you donned your makeshift superhero costume and you were ready for the show to come on. Those animated stars exploded across the screen and that theme song kicked in!
What comes to mind when you think about Wonder Woman: the comic, the show, the cartoon, the movie? I see all those things and more. I think about what she represents to me and in turn, to others. I recall the statuesque and jaw-droppingly beautiful Lynda Carter blocking bullets with her bracelets, leaping off buildings, or spinning that iconic twirl to transform from Diana Prince into Wonder Woman. In case you were wondering, why I described my wardrobe ritual, when Diana twirled to change, I did so right along with her without fail. I’d fling the bedsheet off, whip my hair back and forth, emerging excited for the rest of the episode to see her battling against that week’s villain.
Who created the Wonder Woman twirl? End of blog has that answer… (source)
I recall the animated versions of her from the Super Friends (with all its renames and spin-offs), Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. Side tangent for a little GeekGirlCon ‘14 trivia: in the JL/JLU universe, Wonder Woman was voiced to perfection by one of our former GeekGirlCon contributors, Susan Eisenberg! Yup, pretty cool stuff! The JL/JLU Wonder Woman held her own when fighting against Superman, had a great friendship with Hawkgirl, and was easily one of the best parts of that entire animated universe.
In the wake of its season 13 finale, I can’t help but feel as enamored with Grey’s Anatomy as I did when I first committed myself to the Shonda Rhimes way of life a mere five years ago during my sophomore year of high school. My relationship with the show has been steady and enduring—nothing at all like those I’ve had with practically every other TV show I’ve ever loved and, at times, hated. Grey’s represents everything I’ve come to love about storytelling and, more specifically, storytelling by and for women.
This is a great era to be a Black geek. Communities like Black Nerd Problems and Black Girl Nerds are catering to a population that has always been present but traditionally ignored within geek circles. Recent films like Dope and TV shows Atlanta are also celebrating the Black nerd (or “blerd”) and giving us a new type of hero for the 21st century: young African-Americans with high IQs, awkwardness, and a penchant for sticky situations. Sleight continues with this movement. The protagonist, Bo, is every geek’s superhero, endowed with little more than intelligence, a good dose of desperation, and, of course, STEM!
“Hey Staffer, Whatcha Geekin’ About?” is a new monthly column highlighting the interests and hobbies of GeekGirlCon staffers and Board of Directors. Find out about what makes us tick, what excites us, and what we’re really like when we’re not trying to run a convention.