Get Your Geek On!
An interview with GeekGirlCon’s Susie Rantz and Erica McGillvray
This weekend marks the second annual GeekGirlCon and if you’re in Seattle you better skedaddle on over there. Think of it as Comic-Con for women, because, as the founders learned, “girls are often overlooked in geekdom.” Not anymore. We got to catch up with PR Manager Susie Rantz and President Erica McGillvray about cosplay, female creators, and who passes the Bechdel test.
FG: What inspired you to start GeekGirlCon?
SR: The idea to form GeekGirlCon sparked after a panel called “Geek Girls Exist” at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. The panel discussion topics probably wouldn’t surprise you or anyone else; it focused on the fact that girls are often overlooked in geekdom. There is an assumption that girls aren’t geeks. What had a greater impact for many was the sheer number of people who attended the panel, which was held at the same time as a Scott Pilgrim panel. That movie had just come out and was incredibly popular at the time, so to have the “Geek Girls Exist” panel be standing-room only, with lines out the door, was an incredible moment.
FG: What are you excited about this year?
SR: I am incredibly excited to be a part of an organization that really listens to its fans and builds a convention based on their input. Our programming is designed based on feedback from our fans every year. For example, we heard from attendees at last year’s convention that they wanted a stronger focus on issues related to diversity and disabilities. And I’m happy to say we’ve added panels addressing these topics this year. We also heard from convention-goers that they wanted more opportunities to network and connect with one another, so we added GeekGirlConnections — a room where people can plan their careers, network with women who work in their desired career fields, and learn about job opportunities that exist.
EM: I’m most excited for people watching. I love to see just who shows up, what panels they line up for, and what cosplay they wear. Which makes the Masquerade one of my very favorite activities. I’m also excited for the panel about superheros and disabilities, “Capes and Canes: Abilities and Disability in Superhero Comics.” I’m a huge superhero comic fan, and hoping to learn some comic book history about how characters with disabilities have been treated and how writers are working to improve portrayals.
FG: Who are some female comic creators you admire?
EM: So many great creators… so little time. I adore our guests Gail Simone and Jen Van Meter. Simone’s Birds of Prey showcases the female friendship, while action-packed and superheroes, of Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Dinah Lance (Black Canary), and Helena Bertinelli (Huntress). I’m also a huge fan of her darker, adult story Secret Six which features a band of misfit D-villains being awesome. Van Meter writes the awesome Hopeless Savages, which follows around the exploits of a punk rock family. I love a good book about a dysfunctional family that truly loves each other. I’m really looking forward to seeing what exploits the family goes on next in their new adventures.
SR: Aside from our amazing comic book guests Gail Simone and Jen Van Meter, and the entire team that put together Womanthology, I am a huge fan of Marjane Satrapi and her Persepolis graphic novels. I find graphic novels are an amazing way to tell autobiographies, and Satrapi didn’t let me down. That’s why I also loved Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Graphic novels can convey emotions in ways that novels cannot always accomplish.
FG: What do you want people to take away from the event?
EM: I want everyone to come away with the feeling that they have a place for them, and that GeekGirlCon accepts them no matter what geeky interests them. I hope people are inspired for a new career or a new hobby.
Y Fling Girl