GeekGirlCon ’14 was a True Celebration of Nerdiness and Geekery
GeekGirlCon ’14 once again proves that it is not the size of the event that signals success, but the heart of the community that makes an event worthwhile. Each year GeekGirlCon improves. And, this year was no different. The growth of intersectional discussions as well as greater representation in our geek space is on an upward trajectory at GeekGirlCon. I’m already excited for next year.
I did my usual con thing: attended a few panels and supported the vendor room and artist alley. New to my con experience this time was that I was on two panels—for the first time ever. Eek! GeekGirlCon feels like a homecoming so it’s the perfect place to try something new and spread one’s wings in a supportive atmosphere.
On Saturday, I attended the “Working with Worbla” panel for all those grandiose ideas of elaborate cosplay that I have, yet never ever seem to materialize. (I wonder how long it will take for me to have a small pile of Worbla gathering dust in my craft room.) Worbla is a thermoplastic used in making armor and accessories for cosplay. The panelists gave the audience very detailed tips on their “best practices” in making costume pieces from Worbla like where to get it (cosplaysupplies.com or yayahan.com), how to make a pattern for it, what tools and environment to create, and ways to attach the finished piece to your body or costume garment. The panelists spent a bit of time discussing the best way to create boob cups for armor and how to form fit a circle of Worbla to you or a mold.
Top Five Worbla tips:
- Don’t heat it on your rug! Make sure you have a heatproof surface like a piece of poster board completely covered with HVAC tape.
- Use craft foam as a stabilizer, especially for larger pieces. You can layer the craft foam (cheaper!) to create details and cover it with Worbla (expensive!) instead of doing it all with Worbla.
- Sealing is a must and glue is an easy way to do it–many layers of wood on non-flexing pieces or try Elmer’s. Gesso is another option but requires sanding after it dries.
- There is very little waste. Scraps from pattern pieces are easy to meld together for future projects as moldable clay.
- There is no single way to work with Worbla. Everyone finds what works for them.
The panelists all say that you will eventually find your own way to work with Worbla with more and more experience. I think that is true for any craft or art meduim. Finding resources before you begin can’t hurt though.
The panelists all recommend Kamui Cosplay’s videos and book to get foundation techniques on Worbla and other cosplay tips.
The rest of Saturday was about preparing for some public speaking on the “Curious about Comics? We’ve Got You Covered” and “(Not So) Strange Appetites: Women and the Horror Fandom.”
At “Curious about Comics” (#ComicsForAll), we talked about our favorite titles, how to navigate buying comics for the first time, if meeting creators influences your opinion about their work, and answered audience questions. I’d like to give a big thank you to Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, and IDW for the free comics we were able to handout to the audience. Who doesn’t like free comics? Unfortunately, I don’t have a recording of the panel. But, I do have a handout with a list of comics that someone getting into comics and is looking for interesting stories outside the big names we see on TV and in movies.
Read my follow-up to the “Curious about Comics” panel here. (You can also download the handout with comic recommendations from the panel there.)
“(Not So) Strange Appetites: Women and Horror Fandom” was my second panel appearance in five hours. On this panel, we talked about how each of us got started enjoying horror and why we continue to be fans. We also talked a bit about tropes in the genre that we don’t like very much or are over played. Again, I don’t have a recording. (Darn, those rookie mistakes!) I was thrilled to be on a panel with the likes of Tanya Feldman and Christina Yu of Geekquality, Ashlee Blackwell of Graveyard Shift Sisters, and Grace Moore of Mycreants and All Things Trek. I learned something from each of these women during the panel. If you have questions about horror and want to expand your recommendation list seek these women out on the web and ask.
On Sunday, I went to one panel, “Diversity in YA Lit.” Working from the baseline premise that diversity means everyone should be able to see themselves in the fiction they read, the panel discussed how to overcome the barriers to get more diversity in YA books. Panelists included Mabel Allen, Tori Centanni, Em Salgado, and Emmett Scout. It was great to see the panelists infuse humor to drive points home. The continued refrain of “think of the children” was a funny way to deal with the sad state of publishing status quo and outrage of individuals over books that contain characters they see as “other.”
I liked this panel a lot. The panelists articulated a lot of ideas that had been kicking around in my head for a while regarding diversity and inclusivity. In many ways YA and comics have a lot in common as to the titles that get picked up and made into movies or inspire TV shows—they aren’t the most diverse in terms of seeing yourself on the screen. These titles often shy away from taking on any material that might be controversial or get less box office earnings or ratings. Because, think of the children.
Suggestions on how to get more diverse books on the market:
- Make library requests and put books on your hold lists.
- Go ask librarians and bookstore employees for the type of book you want (even if you know where to go).
- Seek out niche presses and talk them up among friends, especially your cis-het, white friends.
Use social media to promote what you like.
- Support programs that provide accessibility to underrepresented voices in publishing (and also scholarships to writing conferences and industry events).
- Do a bit of guerrilla bookstore shelving: arrange books so that it is face out and not spine out!
Finally what should you tell writers with token diversity? Tell them diversity is not a trend and authors should be careful how characters are portrayed. Being too diverse is not a” thing.” My final take away from this panel is Scout’s thought that it’s not enough to not be explicit in your writing. Does JK Rowling “get points” for revealing Dumbledore was gay after the fact? This panel’s answer: Nice try, but nope.
I spent the rest of my time browsing vendors and buying some targeted items, as you often do at cons. I want to give a shout out to Northwest Press! The booth was full of sparkly goodness and plenty of comics. Support the smaller presses!
The Closing Celebration included comments from Amanda Powter, GeekGirlCon Executive Director that were inspiring and set the stage for next year. This event is all-volunteer run. It is a labor of love without a doubt. Everyone who walks through the doors becomes part of this community. Amanda’s comments reflected how import each and every contributor, ally, and supporter are to GeekGirlCon’s success.
A little different this year was the choice of keynote speaker at the closing. Navy Captain and former space shuttle astronaut, Wendy Lawrence, took the stage and talked to us about her path to achieving her dream of becoming an astronaut. So often we hear the refrain “make your dreams come true” without any substance behind it. Wendy Lawrence delivered real stories on how she plotted her path toward her dream and how she overcame roadblocks in front of her. She acknowledged how NASA stepped up to see the value of and unique skills women bring to teams, especially leading team missions. Since that is the case, we all need to double our efforts to get funding for NASA and keep space programs alive. Write your congress person!
The final act to GeekGirlCon ’14 was some slam poetry! Here is the video I took of Elisa Chavez and Rebecca Shay performing “You Can’t Take the Sky from Me” slam. (Note: Visual quality is so-so, audio is pretty good.)
So that’s it for GeekGirlCon ’14. I already purchased my passes for the 2015 event. You can get yours too! Go here and be an early adopter.