A packed panel room greeted panelists for the Cosplaying While Fat.
Panelists Jo Jo Stiletto, Wolfcat, and Mickey Schulz. Image from the GeekGirlCon Flickr
Cosplaying While Fat occurred on Saturday afternoon, with the description: “Cosplaying when you’re plus-sized presents some unique challenges. Putting together an awesome costume you’ll be comfortable in can be a real challenge for a number of reasons, including how people treat you and a general lack of ‘off the rack’ options. Come hear our panelists talk about coping with the trash talk as well as how to make what you wear look great and feel comfortable.”
I wanted to go to this panel because Jamala Henderson was the moderator, and I love her voice and her presence. She and I met for the first time at the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year, and now I’m part of a group of Marvel enthusiasts that shares awesome upcoming Marvel things with each other.
I also wanted to go to this panel because I am a little bit of a history geek. Not about every aspect of history, but the history of fandom is definitely something that sparked an interest. I know MY history with fandom, and I love hearing other people’s histories as well–and this panel was the ultimate history of women in fandom.
Linda Deneroff, Tish Wells, Susan Matthews, Jamala Henderson, Maggie Nowakowska
The speakers in the panel were four women with various connections to the beginnings of fandom: Linda Deneroff, Susan Matthews, Maggie Nowakowska, and Tish Wells. Each of these women was involved in the beginnings of media and print fandom in the 60s and 70s, primarily around Star Trek and Star Wars. They each spoke about the first books they read that got them into science fiction–everything from Freddie and the Space Shipto Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot to the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Jamala asked the panelists what they loved about those early science fiction books they read. Susan said, “It was a new world where anything could happen, but there wasn’t any magic!” Linda was struck by the commonalities between what she was learning to read and the advent of the United States space program. Maggie read all the kids’ science fiction books available in her local library, and then moved onto the adult books (which is just what I did!). Tish spoke briefly about an author named Hugh Walters and how she read every book he wrote.
The conversation moved from books to fandom, and how the women got started in media fandom, specifically. All four of them had the same response: Star Trek. They saw the show, then worked on Star Trek fanzines, attended Star Trek conventions, joined Star Trek discussion groups, and cosplayed the characters they liked, whether they were men or women. There wasn’t anything special about a woman dressed as Han Solo or Luke Skywalker; they wore what they wanted to wear.
Having fandom in their lives inspired all four of the panelists in different ways. Susan began writing her own fiction in about 1978, but often kept it to herself. She published her first novel in 1997. Linda was inspired to take up photography, as well as publishing and traveling. Maggie started helping to publish fanzines–most of which were written, typed, mimeographed, and compiled (all by hand) to be sent around the country. Tish said fandom became part of her life as a journalist as she wrote her first published piece on a WorldCon; that piece got her a job, which sent her to Los Angeles for a Star Wars costume exhibit, at which she met and interviewed George Lucas!
All of them said they “found their ‘selves’” in fandom; there was a huge community linked to fandoms and conventions. They encouraged each other to do what they loved, it was powerful enough to keep them doing it. They told stories of women whose husbands wouldn’t allow them to attend science fiction conventions because their husbands “needed them home to cook their meals”. One woman apparently put together fanzines in her car, because her husband wouldn’t allow them in the house. There was even a woman they knew who was institutionalized! Her husband thought that the things she was doing and wanted to do around fandom were literally insane. This sounds like something out of the nineteenth century, or maybe even the early twentieth century; but these happened in the 1970s and 1980s, here in the United States.
Each of these four women have learned very powerful things in their lives through fandom.
Community is powerful.
Sisterhood is powerful.
Whatever it is, you can do it.
I left this “Geek Elders Speak” panel with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and the determination to learn more about the history of women in fandom. I know my history, and I knew about some of the early fanzines; I was even part of a correspondence fiction club called The Third Fleet out of California where we made our own characters, took Starfleet ranks, and were placed on “ships” (groups of other writers) to write stories with our characters and fellow “shipmates”. But nothing I did when I got into fandom prepared me to hear Maggie, Susan, Linda, and Tish speak about their experiences. I’m proud to be part of their ranks, years later, and thinking of ways to do some of the kinds of things they did: building and fostering community, mentoring each other (both in life and fandom), and making sure that what they did–how they built and fostered the communities we have today–continues to grow.
The info sheet for The Third Fleet Academy
If you were at the “Geek Elders Speak” panel at GeekGirlCon ‘14, what impressed you the most about the panelists? How did YOU come to fandom? And if there was one thing you could do to help others in our community and build their fandom experiences, what would that be?
And guess what: you can already get your tickets for GeekGirlCon ‘15! We’ve sold out entirely two years in a row, and next year is our fifth anniversary. Don’t miss it!
Below is a bibliography of some of the books and publications mentioned and discussed by the panelists; Maggie Nowakowska forwarded it to GeekGirlCon so we could share it with anyone who wants the information, and to learn more about early media fandom.
Space Cat, Ruthven Todd (orig. 1952) For the young girls in your life. This was the very first book I took out of the library when I was in 1st grade.
Star Trek Lives!, Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1975) A classic, written by a media fan, that allowed many women to discover Star Trek fandom. If you’ve ever wondered how Trek fandom came to be an grew so powerful, this is a good book to read.
Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth, Camille Bacon-Smith (1992) A frank discussion of how fandom developed socially in the 1980s. The author participated in fandom herself and describes the ways a fandom supported and challenged women in the 1980s. IMO, Bacon-Smith nails the problems that often arise between those who made up the “first fandom” of a favorite series and the “second fandom,” made up of those who join later, bringing different, often conflicting interpretations to the mix.
Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967-1987. Joan Marie Verba (1996) A year-by-year review of Star Trek fandom by someone who was there. If you want to travel the years of fandom vicariously, this is the book for you. All the people who paved the way for media fandom, all the social and fanzine developments, are here.
Fan Phenomena series: Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, Twin Peaks, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austin, The Hunger Games, Various editors (2013) England brings us a series of books about many of the world-wide media fandoms that have developed over the years.
“Fangirls Flying High,” Tricia Barr, article on women in SW fandom, Star Wars Insider Issue 151 (Aug/Sept 2014)
How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, Chris Taylor (2014) An excellent history about how Star Wars, and Star Wars fandom took media fandom mainstream and made Star Wars the phenomenon that it is. Deeply researched, this book will take you into the heart of the Star Wars experience.
**Also, you can help make the paperback version better. The Star Wars fandom that Taylor describes is made up of boys and men. Taylor wants to know more about the women of Star Wars fandom. Read the book and when you review it, ask for more coverage of all the girls and women who love Star Wars! Tell Taylor about all of us who love Star Wars now and have for years.**
Anita Sarkeesian, creator of pop-culture analysis webseries Feminist Frequency, joined us in the very first panel at GeekGirlCon ‘14 to talk about her work, her inspirations, and the pressures of being a high-profile feminist on the internet. For those keeping track at home, this was her fourth time at GeekGirlCon–she’s been with us every year since the very beginning, and we thank her for being such a strong supporter!
Come celebrate and honor the legacy of women contributing to science and technology with a Keynote Presentation and Q&A with former NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence!
Wendy Lawrence earned a bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in ocean engineering from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). She was selected as an astronaut mission specialist in 1992 and worked at NASA for 14 years. Her technical assignments included serving as the Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia and as the astronaut office representative to the space station program for crew training, operations and support. She is a veteran of four shuttle missions (STS-67, 86, 91 and 114) and has logged over 50 days in space. Captain Lawrence is a retired naval aviator with 25 years of service. While stationed at HC-6 and HSL-30 Det ALFA, she made deployments to the North Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Kenya. She currently works part-time at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, informing the public about NASA’s spaceflight programs and participating in STEM education programs.
Captain Lawrence will share her experiences and insight of her time in space as well as the importance of STEM education, especially for girls . There will be time for a Q&A so bring your questions!
Then look to the future and celebrate the female geek with Seattle slam poets, Elisa and Rebecca!
Elisa Chavez and Rebecca Shay are spoken word poets living in Seattle, WA. Elisa represented Rain City Slam at the 2014 National Poetry Slam, which placed 7th overall out of 72 teams; Rebecca represented Seattle Poetry Slam, which placed 8th. Both are members of the Seattle Poetry Slam management team, which puts on a great show every week at Re-bar. They love nerdy things and have zero time for misogynistic nonsense; Rebecca has an adorable but terrifying cat.
Elisa and Rebecca will close the night with tales of sidekicks, spaceships, and coming to terms with cherishing and and identifying as a Geek Girl.
This event is free for GeekGirlCon’14 badge holders! This is an event you won’t want to miss!
GeekGirlCon is excited to announce the presence of featured contributor Susan Eisenberg at GeekGirlCon ‘14. Ms. Eisenberg is the voice of Wonder Woman on the Justice League animated series, and a nerdy role model. Her other geeky voice-acting credits include The Super Hero Squad (Power Princess), Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Shaak-Ti), Jak II (Ashelin), Daxter (Taryn), Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, and Destiny.
And this year we’re lucky enough to have her join us for several of the con’s highlights!
Are you a geeky parent? Do you have a child with geeky interests and tendencies? Then GeekGirlCon ‘14 is the place for your family! GeekGirlCon strives to be family-friendly, starting with the passes. The 12 & under crowd can attend at $10 for the entire weekend; 5 & under are free (but must be registered.)
Image courtesy of GeekGirlCon flickr
And what is there to do for these geeks-in-training?
The gaming floor is ever-popular with kids. With a wide variety of games and game types present, they’ll find something to enjoy. In addition to all the exciting games to try out, there’s a Paint ‘n’ Take miniatures painting session on Saturday morning from 10 am – noon.
“Imaginary Worlds for Kids” happens twice during the weekend! Saturday at 11 and Sunday at 3pm, you can bring your 10 and under to an interactive storytime for families, including a lively author reading, participatory creative and singing games, and a lot of faerie mischief. A seasoned and award‐winning spoken word artist and educator, Danika Dinsmore has performed at hundreds of events, from the Bumbershoot Arts Festival in Seattle, Washington, to the FaerieWorlds International Festival outside Eugene, Oregon. Imaginary Worlds will keep your kids buzzing with inspiration!
Bring your teen to learn all about representation in the books they (and you!) may be reading at “Diversity in Young Adult Fiction.” Representation is vital for people of all races, sexualities, gender identities, and abilities. According to Malinda Lo’s 2013 Diversity in YA website, only 15% of NYT Bestselling YA Books had people of color as main characters, and only 12% of books had LGBTQ main characters. This panel will examine the market today, what readers want versus the disconnect with publishers’ diversity, and what we can do to improve the number of diverse books for teens.
Image courtesy of Ryan Roehrich
We have parent-specific programming, too!
Are you a new mom or a mom-to-be? “Geek Girl Transformation to Geek Mom” is all for you! It goes without saying that everything changes when a baby arrives in your world. But for geek girls turned geek moms, there are some unique changes and challenges in store. Don’t worry—that’s what we’re here for! Join a panel full of geeky moms who know what it’s like to have your life, career, and identity turned joyfully upside down when you add kids to the crazy mix of your life.
Comics, games, and films tend to go the “less is more” route when it comes to representation. Often we only see one character of a racial, gender, or sexual minority. Even worse, some people aren’t represented in media at all. Kids grow up asking, “Where are the characters like me?” At “Why Isn’t Bilbo a Girl? Talking to Kids About Media Representation” you can have a thoughtful discussion regarding how we address this issue with kids—with an emphasis on constructive, positive, and educational answers for the kids who ask.
Lastly, for the parents of cosplayers, or cosplayers themselves who want tips on talking to their family, come to “Cosplay, Parenting, and the Word ‘Appropriate’.” Come discuss cosplay from the perspective of children, teens, and adults who cosplay as individuals and as families. This panel of parents and kids who cosplay will cover a range of topics: How to present cosplay to your parents? How to present cosplay to your kids (and not embarrass them)? How does a parent encourage their teen to express themselves, be body positive, and consider modesty? How do you discuss appropriation vs. appreciation? Deep topics, some advice, lots of discussion!
Most of the panel programming is all ages, so please bring your family to enjoy your favorite topic. And be sure to get your passes now!
It’s your time to shine in all your geek finery at the GeekGirlCon ‘14 Costume Contest hosted by Jina D!
Born and raised as a gamer girl in Washington; Jina adventured out for 4 years – spending 2 in Hawaii and 2 in Australia. She started modeling while living in Australia (2009) and has since worked with dozens of photographers, designers and MUAs. Jina started cosplaying in early 2011. She loves doing characters that are often overlooked from video games, anime and books that are dear to her geeky heart. She also really loves putting together OCs and enjoys working closely with other local artists to bring her visions to life.
Saturday, October 11 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in Room 303
Competition is open to everyone – all ages, experience levels, and fandoms. Entrants will vie for Best Individual Costume, Best Group, and Best Child’s Costume.
There will also be a new non-competitive Junior Cosplay event from 5:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. – bring your costumed young ones to the Costume Contest for a chance to show off their nerdiness and get a prize.
Sign Up OnlineThe deadline to submit the online form is midnight, Thursday, October 9. (You can also sign-up in person at the con until 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11.)
Visit the Information Booth on Saturday and fill out your entry forms before 3:00 p.m.
Be outside Room 303 by 4:30 p.m. to be lined up for your onstage appearance!
No costume? No problem! What’s a contest without an audience? Come cheer for your favorites.
Official Costume Contest Rules
Preference will be given for homemade, original, and self-constructed costumes.
Mass-produced or commercial (rented or purchased) costumes should show significant modification from the original form.
Credit is given for makeup and costume construction.
Costumes may contain elements that are purchased (e.g. prop weapon), but should be predominantly original creations.
Additionally, the Costume Contest has the following restrictions:
No pyrotechnics, fog machines, or other such devices are allowed.
No live firearms, no live explosions, or fire.
Handle realistic-looking firearms with care. Any weapon-play must be pre-approved.
No messy substances permitted – wet, dry or oily – that might ruin another’s costume or make the stage dangerous.
No jumping off of or throwing things off the stage or to the judges.
There is a maximum of one minute time limit on all presentations, but there is no minimum. Leave ‘em wanting more.
No microphones or AV equipment will be provided for presentations.
Presentations will consist of entrants walking on to the stage, performing a short action sequence (or you can pose motionless) to highlight the costume, then exiting the stage.
All contestants must agree to the Liability Release (see below or at the Info Booth when you sign up).
I have read and understood the rules of this costume costume contest as set forth in the instructions and agree to abide by them.
I agree to allow GeekGirlCon, its agents, licensees or assignees, the right to use my/our image and/or likeness by media for advertising and/or other promotional purpose
I agree to hold GeekGirlCon, its organizers, and the facility blameless for any accident and/or injury suffered by me during the course of the Costume Contest.
I agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless GeekGirlCon from any and all damages, losses, claims, liabilities, charges, suits, penalties, costs and/or expenses, including but not limited to court costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses, resulting from any act (whether intentional or not), omission or negligence of any injury to myself.
Written by GeekGirlConnections Manager Susie Rantz.
Did you know: In communities with a higher percentage of women working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), high school girls are as likely as boys to take physics (and sometimes more likely)? Yet, women comprised just 28 percent of science and engineering workers in 2010.
Did you know: Up to 80 percent of jobs are landed through networking? Connecting with mentors can be a great boost for your career.
Did you know: Since our first convention in 2011, GeekGirlCon has been committed to drawing attention to these disparities? Last year, we introduced the GeekGirlConnections Program as a way to help elevate STEM career opportunities for women. The program was such a hit, we are continuing it for GeekGirlCon ‘14.
GeekGirlConnections is dedicated to providing career mentorship and networking opportunities for women and girls. The program aims to help connect women with professionals in their desired career fields, as well as encourage women and girls to pursue their passions, develop leadership skills, and enter careers where women are currently underrepresented.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve given you teasers of the fun we have planned for GeekGirlCon ‘14. You’ve heard about exhibitors and artists, about panels on diversity, cosplay, writing, and comics, and about our fabulous GeekGirlCONcert.
Finally the full line-up is here!
Take a look around our brand new website for the full schedule and details on: panels and workshops; free-play gaming; gaming tournaments; networking and career advice with GeekGirlConnections; and much more!
From veteran graphic novel lovers to comic book beginners, there’ll be something for every reader at GeekGirlCon ‘14! Offering jokes, action-packed panels, and instant graphic-ation (get it??), comics make fantastic gifts and collector items. Several brilliant web comic creators will make an appearance, so you can get your hands on content that’s usually only online. Here’s a tiny, tasty sampling of the readable goodies you’ll find in the Exhibitors Hall.
Artist Aaron Diaz will be coming up from Portland to display Dresden Codak, his impressive series of web comics. The futuristic storylines include female protagonist Kimiko “Kim” Ross, tongue-in-cheek humor, emotional truths, and a dash of steampunk-esque costumes. Fans of robots and complex mysteries will love the intertwining plots and imaginative characters—such as a TV-headed cat!
You can also use your fan-powers for good by supporting independent publishers at GeekGirlCon ‘14. One such example is Corvid Comics, a family-run press that issues comic books for both adults and children. Whether you dig black and white comics, full-color kids’ books, or both, you’re sure to walk away with a stack of future favorites to read—especially since their prices are ridiculously reasonable.
The inimitable Northwest Press team will be present to capture hearts and minds again this year. In their own words, the minds behind the company are “dedicated to publishing the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics collections and graphic novels”. This ultra-important mission has supported the LGBT community in a variety of ways, including by bringing realistic, underrepresented characters and their stories into the public eye. This press is truly doing fantastic things for the world—stop by their table to see them in action and meet your next favorite character.
On top of all this awesomeness, many exhibitors from GeekGirlCon ‘13 are coming back again! Meet or reconnect with the makers of Little Vampires, Skin Deep, Soulless, Larsen Geekery, and many more. Support independent artists and keep up on beloved storylines by picking up all the latest issues you may have missed over the past year.
This mini-list is but a glimpse into the countless comics that will be present at GeekGirlCon ‘14 for rookies and longtime readers alike. Be sure to check out the many panels (pun intended) pertaining to comic books as well. Buy your passes today and pore over all the geeky goodness with us!