Hey Staffer! Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Kathryn Storm

[Image description: a black and white picture of Kathryn looking at the camera and holding a figurine.]

Here is our latest installment of Hey Staffer! This month, we’re talking to Kathryn Storm, who runs all the video gaming events at GeekGirlCon. Kathryn has been with the organization for several years and geeks out over tech, cosplay, and of course, video games! Read on to find out more and to get a sneak peek of what we have in store for GeekGirlCon ’18!

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Hey, Staffer, Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Andrew Chan

Image description: Andrew Chan wearing a glowing Iron Man hand.

Here’s one last Hey, Staffer interview for the year. Meet Andrew Chan! Andrew is our merchandise assistant but also spends a lot of time dabbling with cool technology, fighting with lightsabers, and watching his favorite scifi shows! We ask him about what it’s like to be a Trekkie, technobabble, and the lengths he will go to for a good geek convention.


Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I’m Andrew and I help Shubz run the merchandise department. This includes climbing through stacks of boxes in storage to count our inventory, ordering new stuff, processing online orders (and getting the online store running), and helping set up and run the merch booth during the con. I’ve also taken over as an interim sysadmin running the internal infrastructure.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Hey, Staffer! Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Jill Lennartz

For August’s Hey, Staffer! we interviewed Jill Lennartz. This is Jill’s first year with GeekGirlCon, but she has plenty of experience doing good for social justice. Check out our interview below!

Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I’m Jill, and I’m the Cosplay Contest Coordinator with GeekGirlCon. I make sure the contest happens! I do everything from finding talented cosplayers to be our judges and host, organize how the contest will be run, to running it.

What do you do for your day job/when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?

I work for a tech company called CA Technologies, which is pretty sweet as a techie myself! I’m not a programmer though; I went to school for chemistry and climate science. So what am I doing at a tech company and not some research lab? The *awesome* answer is that big companies are becoming seriously responsible. I work in a department called Corporate Social Responsibility – we make sure that the company is being socially and environmentally responsible and work really hard to improving in these areas every day. Some people on my team work with organizations to bring STEM education to women and underserved populations, and others focus more on improving our environmental impacts.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

For Science! An Interview with Regina Barber DeGraaff on Bellingham’s March

The March in Progress. Image: Regina Barber DeGraaff

The March for Science took place on Earth Day in late April this year. While the main March took place in Washington D.C., there were over 600 satellite marches that took place to support the importance of science is to our health, economies, food security, and safety. One such event took place in Bellingham, WA. I spoke to one of the organizers,  Regina Barber DeGraaff, about her involvement in the March for Science in Bellingham, and the importance of science policy and communication.

Hi Regina! Tell me about yourself.

I teach Physics and Astronomy at Western Washington University (WWU).  I am also the STEM Inclusion and Outreach Specialist which is a position I created a couple of years ago.  The College of Science and Engineering Dean at the time was very supportive of equity and inclusion so she agreed to create my half time position.

I grew up in Lynden, WA which is just south of the Canadian border in the top right tip of Washington State.  I spent my summers in San Diego, CA and attended WWU as an undergrad. After completing a MS in Physics at San Diego State University, I finished my PhD in Physics at Washington State University in 2011 with a focus on Globular Clusters using Hubble Space Telescope images.  I have taught at a high school & two community colleges.  Being a women of color in STEM, my experience as a community college student in running start and teaching at various institutions is the source of my unique perspective when it comes to inclusion in STEM.

I am also very passionate about science communication.  I host and produce Spark Science which is on its 3rd Season.  The goal of the show is to make science accessible by confronting the scientist stereotype.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

An Interview with Feminist Camp

Feminist Camp is a weekend camp for college-age students that goes beyond classroom or campus activism for networking and learning more about feminism. While Feminist Camp was originally based in New York, it has since expanded to the Seattle area. I had the opportunity to speak to the campers last November, and also got to interview the camp organizers!


What are your official roles at Feminist Camp?

KATIE GALLAGHER: I’m one of the Feminist Camp Seattle directors, along with Jody.

JODY JOLDERSMA: I’m the other Seattle director, along with Katie.

CARLY ROMEO: I’m the Feminist Camp Director, I run all the sites!

What is Feminist Camp?

KATIE: Feminist Camp is a transformative experience. I attended the NYC program when I was a senior in college and emerged as an entirely different person by the end of it. Being immersed in a constant exchange of big ideas (from both experts and campers!) shaped who I am as a thinker and an activist. I left camp with a stronger feminist network, a new perspective, and the kind of renewed energy that can only come from spending a week with passionate, driven people.

JODY: I attended the Feminist Intensive program in NYC, which visited many of the same organizations as the week long program but is targeted at professional mid-career women. I was introduced to A.I.R. Gallery (the first women run cooperative art gallery in the United States) during my session. As a professional artist this was a great opportunity to expand my network and was pivotal in my career.

CARLY: Feminist Camp is an intimate week-long conference for folks who want to further explore what feminism looks like beyond theories/campus activism. It’s one part inspirational retreat, one part professional development, and one part launchpad.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Team Cassius: The Interview!

Ann Uland, Emily Willis and Cat Batka are the creative squad behind Cassius, a new comic series that depicts Ancient Rome as a wonderfully diverse place, and with a driving story of political intrigue and loads of strong female characters. We’ve reviewed Issue 1 here, and Issue 2 here. Issue 3 comes out in March 2016.

They took a little time out to have a chat with us at GeekGirlCon about Justin Trudeau, their favorite books, and making their own comic company!

L to R: Ann, Emily, Cat. Photo provided by Emily Willis and Ann Uland

L to R: Ann, Emily, Cat. Photo provided by Emily Willis and Ann Uland

Tell me a little about yourselves and Arbitrary Muse Comics. How did you come up with the idea for making your own publication?

Ann Uland: We first met online because I started drawing things for a story Emily was writing. When we started dating, it was pretty natural for us to start coming up with stories we wanted to tell together and comics is the perfect marriage of writing and art for us.

Emily Willis: Arbitrary Muse evolved as a small comics company to encapsulate what we do when we sell our own self-published work and help to distribute other webcomics in print as well. Cassius is our latest project because Julius Caesar is my favorite Shakespearean play and I wanted to work on something inspired by it.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Preview the Gender through Comics SuperMOOC Panel

by Adrienne M. Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services

On August 23, GeekGirlCon announced that Christine Blanch will be presenting a panel at the 2013 Con on her Super Massive Open Online Course (SuperMOOC), Gender Through Comic Books. Expected appearances on the panel include Jen Van Meter, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka, and Kelly Sue DeConnick. I caught up with a few of the panelists to get you a preview of what you can expect when you attend the panel. I asked about the motivation for the course itself and why our panelists participated in the course.

197601_202725813095673_8317619_nBlanch: Gender through Comic Books was a class that I offered in the Women and Gender Studies department. The iLearn department at Ball State came to me and asked if I would be interested in teaching my class as a MOOC (a massive, open, online course) and since I love teaching any class using comics as the texts, I jumped at the chance. I think there is a huge need for courses like this because media is so instrumental in how people think about everything and most of us don’t even realize the impact. This class makes you take a step back and really consider the context of what we are reading and how we are processing it. I think it really did fill an area in the industry and in education for those who know that comics are more than ‘picture books’ and that want to have educational discussions about them without any negativity.”

Van Meter: “I’ve known Christy Blanch for a few years now, and been an admirer both of her involvement in the developing academic discourses around comics as texts and also of her really innovative approaches to using comics as teaching tools in a variety of classroom settings.  She’s got, I think, a really fearless and imaginative sense of how to use comics to invite student engagement and interaction with the topic and the text, and she has a passionate interest in comics as a fan, creator, and scholar.  I would have been honored to be of use to her for any project, so when she asked if she could interview me for something as ambitious and exciting as the SuperMOOC, I was absolutely on board.

I expected it would be a deeply rewarding experience, and it truly was; even as only an interviewee and remote observer, seeing some of the participant interactions, commentary and final projects just blew my mind. When I was in grad school, an advisor once told me that when we’re teaching well, we’re learning more than we’re teaching and our students are learning as much from one another as they are from us; I really feel like the MOOC became a fantastic example of that, and of the amazing potential of web-based learning environments.”

Waid: “I honestly thought it was a great cause. I had faith in the instructor; I’ve spoken in her classes before. And I was eager to see how effectively comics’ highly developed and effective social media networks would deliver the message and deliver students, and I was NOT disappointed.”

DeConnick: “Ooh, Christina asked, and it was about two of my favorite topics! So I wanted to see what I might learn from it.”

MAY120693_1GeekGirlCon ‘13 is a great opportunity for these amazing professionals to reunite and talk about some of the highlights of this innovative and popular course. I asked our panelists why they chose to bring a panel about the Gender through Comic Books SuperMOOC to GeekGirlCon ‘13.

Van Meter: “It’s kind of self-evident that a course devoted to looking at how we talk about gender by looking at the way one of our popular art mediums—with a huge fan culture and quite a lot of influence on TV and Film—talks about gender seems to me the sort of thing a lot of [GeekGirlCon] participants would be interested in; there’s a lot of obvious crossover.

That said, what I think is maybe more special about the MOOC is that, while there are great classes using comics to talk about gender, race, class—all kinds of things, really—in college classrooms all over the world, it’s still pretty rare, and what happens in those classrooms tends to stay in those classrooms or get shared with smaller communities of, usually, other academics. There’s not a lot of ‘drift’ from the academic discourse about comics out into the world of general fandom, from what I’ve seen. With a 7000-participant MOOC, a lot of people took the course who wouldn’t have had access to it any other way, which is great in and of itself, but also a lot of people who took it only because they were fans of the writers and artists participating were exposed to a mode of talking and thinking about representation and replication of cultural attitudes that is often missing or misunderstood in the dreaded comments sections or on the message boards.”

Blanch: “I have always wanted to go to GeekGirlCon. Always. I was on the fence about going then Greg Rucka said that he and Jen really wanted me to go, so I did! I am bringing my 13-year-old geek girl, and I hope this is a great experience for her, too. She was picked on in school because she is not a ‘normal’ girl as she loves comics and video games, so I think this will be just what she needs. For the community, the whole class was really about community and gender. We had discussions about geek girls and why there is a divide between males and females in the fan base. I think GeekGirlCon is a perfect venue to talk about the same things we discussed in the class.”

Attendees of the panel will get to see how the comics industry professionals interacted with students in the MOOC.

Blanch: “We will walk through the entire class and how it was presented. We will focus on the interviews somewhat as we have such great guests on the panel that participated in the course. However, several of our panelists were also enrolled in the course, so we can get their thoughts about the material and the reaction in the comics industry.

I cannot say enough about how supportive the comics industry has been with the MOOC. I even had to turn people down because we didn’t have enough time. The students were so excited for the interviews and all of the professionals were floored by the awesome questions the students asked. I think it was refreshing for the pros because the questions weren’t the same questions they get asked all the time. Several of the questions stumped the pros. And also many of the pros went on Twitter and answered the questions that we couldn’t get to in the live interviews. It was amazing. And every pro sent me a note about how enjoyable the interview was and how impressed they were with the students. I was so proud of both the comics industry as a whole and of my fantastic students. This group of students never ceased to amaze me.”

Waid: “I loved the rapid-fire nature of the tweeted questions, for which I had no answers prepared in advance; it forced me to go with my gut and be definitively honest with my answers rather than risk giving out ‘canned’ responses.”

Each professional involved in the course had different topics to focus on. Kelly Sue DeConnick was interviewed for the course on a week entitled “Who is producing comic book culture?” and the theme was comic books as a medium of communication.

DeConnick: “I guess I don’t consciously use it as a tool of communication because it’s not a dialogue. Hmm, there’s no way to talk about this without sounding wildly pretentious—yes, I understand this is not a high art, but I approach it as an artistic endeavor, and I try to make my stories about something. And even when I don’t try to make my stories about something, they tend to be about something. I tend to find there’s a theme I’m exploring whether I’m conscious [of it] or not. Anytime there’s something I have mixed feelings about, those tend to be my best stories, because it’s me turning it over in my head trying to figure it out. So I guess I don’t use it very well, as a method of communication!

Now I am communicating with my artist, because it’s a collaborative art form. So in producing the script, I’m writing them a letter that is an exploration of this idea, and then they take that letter and they explore the idea and the visuals. Then the thing we have produced, we have produced in equal parts and I suppose it is a dialogue between the artist and I. But I don’t view it as a dialogue with the reader. Then the reader can take those ideas and make their own.”

AUG030194Mark Waid participated in the course on a week entitled “Gender and culture: How we learn our gender.”

Waid: “Well, first off, by not being obvious and shining a spotlight on it, I think anything is best learned through the arts when it’s part of an entertaining story, not the subject of a treatise. Comics does its best job teaching gender roles when it isn’t trying to, when it’s just letting characters be characters and people be people and stories be stories, without a message.”

Van Meter has a strong presence in comic books’ counterpart manga. She explores a hypothetical situation of what a similar course on manga would look like.

Van Meter: “With any text-based syllabus, figuring out where to draw the boundaries, just so you have something you can work with in terms of time, text-cost, reading burden, it’s so hard.  I don’t envy the task Christy set for herself when she sat down to choose a reading list and a framework for the discussion.

My sense—and this is by no means an expert or well-researched conclusion, just a gut feeling—is that you would need a fairly significant chunk of ‘classroom’ time devoted to some expert presentations on genre within manga, tropes, codes, and traits within the form, as well as some really articulate and respectful assessments of the different ways comics work and have been viewed in their ‘home’ cultures.  If you could get enough breadth and depth of understanding there, it could be really interesting to then dig into what’s going on with distribution, narrative styles, and gender representation that has made some American/Western readers, especially young women, find manga to be the more welcoming or engaging entry to reading comics.”

In general, Waid had a great time in his participation in the course.

Waid: “I’m always eager to help spread knowledge and talk about what we do. I stayed as long as I could after the class and answered questions via Twitter; another week, I’d taken it upon myself to help out the instructor because I knew she was encountering some technical difficulties with that week’s interviewee and figured I could keep the students entertained for a bit with an impromptu Q&A. I’m here to help!”

Didn’t get to participate in the SuperMOOC? Check out the panel at GeekGirlCon ‘13. Did you participate in the Gender Through Comic Books Massive Open Online Course? Hear details you may have missed ‘behind-the-scenes.’ Either way, there’s more to come from Blanch.

Blanch: “Through my comic book store, I am starting a comic book of the month course we are calling SuperMOOC squared—Super Massive Open Online Comics Community. We will choose several books for the month and on our webpage have lectures, articles, videos, and more, very similar to the Gender MOOC. We will also have live interviews with comics creators once or twice a month! The great thing is that we are getting comic book stores around the country involved, too, by including them. All they have to do is sell the books and give their customers that take part room to meet and have a roundtable discussion once a month! We are also going to make the books available through Comixology so that people overseas can also participate! We are still setting everything up but it’s going to be so great!”

Buy your passes today to be a part of all the excitement!

Adrienne Roehrich
“Rock On!”

GeekGirlConnections: Cover Letters 101

by Terra Olsen

The dreaded cover letter, it instills more fear in job seekers than any other part of the job search experience. But it doesn’t have to be so scary or terrible. I have broken down a few helpful tips to help make the cover letter experience more bearable.

But first I would like to take a moment to stress the importance of a cover letter. Time and time again I have talked to hiring managers who are dumbfounded when they get a resume with no cover letter. Not sending a cover letter does two things: Firstly, it sends the wrong message to the employer. You are basically saying that your time is more valuable than theirs, or that you simply don’t care enough. Secondly, you are missing a valuable opportunity to sell yourself. A cover letter helps an employer get to know you beyond the resume. Cover letters are really a wonderful tool that can help differentiate you from the completion.

So now that I have clearly convinced you to write cover letters, on to the tips!

1.) Formalities
Be sure to write your cover letter in a proper and formal fashion. Always have a formal salutation. Address your letter to the hiring manager (e.g. “Dear Ms. Lastname” or “To Whom It May Concern”). None of this “Hi” nonsense. Make sure to close your letter formally as well (e.g. “Sincerely”). In addition, do not use abbreviations or internet/text lingo—I cannot stress this enough. Seriously. (And that includes emoticons!)

2.) Proofread x12
It is essential to have a flawless resume, but it is even more essential to have a flawless cover letter. If you have spelling and/or grammatical errors in your cover letter, the reviewer might just toss your application without even reviewing your resume. So proofread your work. A good rule is to set it aside once you’re done with it, and then proofread it a few hours or a day later. It is hard to see your own mistakes when you just produced something, so taking a step back will help you clearly see where you might have misspelled something. Again, just slow down and take your time.

3.) Know who you’re addressing
Make sure you address the right company. I have seen cover letters that have had the correct company in some sentences, but then a different company in other sentences. Big no-no! Make sure you know whom you’re addressing, and how they spell their name (e.g. GeekGirlCon, not Geek Girl Con). In addition properly addressing the company you’re applying to, make sure you stress why you want to work that particular company. Hiring managers want to know how you will help their company succeed.

4.) Do Not repeat your resume
You should use your cover letter to tell the employer more about yourself, not to reiterate information that is in your resume. This is an opportunity to show your personality, and interest in their company and the industry. Try to tell an interesting story about why you’re interested in the industry, or why a particular strange job was actually a great way at developing x and y skills.

I hope these tips help you create the perfect cover letter and land your dream job! Happy Hunting!

“Rock On!”

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