These are purely personal, and being ON so many panels and events, I missed a lot of stuff. So this is just from a very limited perspective.
This event could have been a failure. It could have flopped. And if it had, it might have been years before anyone attempted another female nerd con of this size again. It could have been the Elektra/Catwoman of cons, the movie they use an excuse not to make any more movies with female leads.
It was so much NOT that.
First, attendance was amazing…the event sold out early both days and they had to turn people away at the door. I’m told the event was full in the first hour each day, with lines of people still waiting to get in. HUGE sigh of relief.
Second, I can’t get over how beautifully DESIGNED the event was. This is something even big cons don’t always pay attention to…but in this case, the signs, con merch, t-shirts, volunteer shirts and badges had an adorable design and a yellow and black motif that was really fun to see completely take over the Seattle Center.
The venue was amazing, in the shadow of the Space Needle and half the event was held in the bizarre but wonderful EMP building which is completely inexplicable. There was some difficulty when panels and things were back to back—it was a good ten minutes walk between the two buildings, but the view and the people attending were so lovely we almost always enjoyed it.
The programming was astounding, there were panels I was dying to attend and could not. Usually, I’m sorry, I don’t feel any big need to see most panels at cons…these were fascinating topics and I sat in quietly in the audience in some. I can’t tell you how fun it was, for a change, to see a packed room, with 80 percent female audiences over and over. And not just for panels about Harry Potter, but for scholarly and ethical panels. It was so exciting.
They even had a token male panel, called the VERY SPECIAL DUDES panel, which was really awesome. The guys were great sports about it, and I think they all really enjoyed the gender-flip of this event.
Everything felt a little different. Lest you think this con didn’t have geek cred, let me assure you, the superhero/genre panels were absolutely as hardcore nerdy as any I have attended, but it was from a female and safe perspective. As a whole, the con felt more like a festival at times than a con…it was much less aggressive and without that odd hostility that some big cons have acquired. You would walk out of a panel, and there would be female musicians playing awesome acoustic sets. There were artists EVERYWHERE, women doing crafts and cosplay and drawings and paintings and mirror art and stained glass, and just on and on, everywhere you looked was something beautiful.
There was a fantastic Ma Hunkle cosplayer. A Ragdoll! Two amazing Black Canaries, a Knockout, lots of manga cosplayers.
One dad had, I think, his four daughters dressed up as different Princess Leia’s, and their mom was teaching them how to use lightsabers. That made me happy.
People brought me little handmade gifts, something that is always very touching but I never know how to respond to…it’s enough that they are there and have supported my work! I feel like I owe THEM gifts. But gifts of tea and art and books and music, all very lovely. A geek jewelry company, Optimystical Studios at Optimystical.com made me a little Birds of Prey necklace I will treasure.
One of the most amazing panels was the presentation of two scholarly papers, late on Saturday, from a visiting professor and a PHD student. One of the papers was about my Wonder Woman and the subversion of male imagery to female, and the other was about queer family structure in comics, regarding Scandal, Renee, and Batwoman. I wish that was filmed, it was absolutely astounding.
They showed 45 minutes of the upcoming Wonder Woman documentary…holy crap, that was FANTASTIC. I can’t wait for you to see it, it’s about the sociology of Wonder Woman and superheroes, not her history in particular. It was moving, funny and inspiring.
Trina Robbins went on at length on a panel about what she loved about my Wonder Woman run. You know that thing when one of your heroes compliments you and you have no idea what to say, because it’s your hero? Yes, that happened.
I watched a few panels dealing with women aspiring to get into comics as creators. I think it’s going to happen. I predict a VASTLY changed landscape in five years. I do not believe these women will be denied. And there are some GREAT female editors who believe in comics as well.
There was a panel on cattiness among female readers and creators, a lot of interesting points about what MAKES a person want to be part of a mob, or to be a gossip about people they barely even know. It was interesting to see that every woman on the panel had experienced that.
There was a packed games room, teaching people to play cool board and card games—there was a calligraphy from Japan display.
The vendors room was packed with cool stuff, a lot more home-made stuff than usual. I was told the room sold out early…next year, they may need to expand this, it could use an artists alley area.
I met a lovely, wonderful lesbian couple, recently married in Washington DC, and we shared funny, awful stories about our marriages. One of the women had a service dog, and she let me pet her, which was nice since I miss my dogs so much. There was a sad moment, too, there, that stings a little bit.
We had been doing a panel, “This Comic Isn’t About Me,” which I THOUGHT was about Lgbtq issues. I am invited to a lot of queer panels and I have even done this panel before with the same moderator, Zan, from the wonderful Prism Comics and Northwest Press, makers of lgbtq comics. And it was near the end of an exhausting weekend, the other panelists and the mod were both lgbtq, and that seemed to be what most of the questions were about. I had three panels and two signings in a row with no brake, had been up all night, i was a little slow on the uptake, as it were.
So we were having a nice discussion about this important topic, and some people quite rightly brought up intersectionality and the additional issue of race (Hi, Rachel! Hi, Stephanie!), so we talked about that a little and I brought up people with disabilities, but only briefly as the panel was going quickly and ended too soon.
But I still thought it was supposed to have been about lgbtq comics and readers.
After the panel, we met with the lesbian couple I mentioned earlier, she had tweeted thanking me for at least bringing UP pwd, but after the panel, she said she had gone out and had a little cry that at a con about inclusion, during a PANEL about inclusion, pwd had still not been part of the conversation.
I felt about an inch tall. Of course she was right. Here we were being SO enlightened talking about lgbtq issues and how important they are, and we had not embraced another group that would like to be acknowledged and good lord, sometimes the truth just smacks you in the face.
She could not have been nicer. She appreciated that I at least brought it up. But we failed, there’s no excuse for it. What we did talk about was lovely. But there should have been more. Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned for all of us, this is going to bug me for a long time. The best way to make it up to her and other pwd is to make sure to include them in both the work and in the discussion. I’m not going to mention her name, but I’m going to remember her message.
Back to happier stuff…Greg Rucka and Hope Larson and Jen Van Meter were there, Mike Madrid, Jen Stuller, lots of amazing people. It was a joy to meet them and again, it was the most creative con audience I’ve ever seen.
People were smiling everywhere I went. There was so much joy. Just a different vibe. People were grabbing me and talking at length about what Birds of Prey and Secret Six meant to them. Several women wrote me lengthy, wonderful letters about how those books and others made them feel more welcome in this industry. Several women said I had inspired them to make comics, which, I have to tell you, that is the nicest possible thing I could ever hear.
Also, holy crap, women love superheroes. We have to kill the myth that they don’t in its sleep. Women were cosplaying them, talking about them, and buying superhero comics in piles. Don’t listen to those who say women don’t like this stuff, they DO.
I did a panel with the Batgirl from San Diego, Kyrax2, who I am now proud to call a friend. That again was smart and a little bit thrilling.
I’ve been going on at length. Sorry, it was just such a lovely experience. I’ve been to several female-power events that reeked of desperation and a feeling of self-loathing. This was the opposite, it was a blast from start to end. The guys I talked to who attended loved it, too. There was a concert, a masquerade, a burlesque show, it was endlessly fun and FULL of energy.
The outstanding commercial and creative success of this event can be put down to the organizers and volunteers. I hope that this leads to lots more such conventions…that’s a message the major publishers will not be able to ignore. However, I hope that new cons follow the lead of this one and make sure it’s not JUST a girl con, but a GREAT con. It will not work if the event doesn’t measure up and surpass other conventions.
Sorry to go on at such length, but I think the game changed this weekend, because of Geek Girl Con, in Seattle.