Booth babes need not apply
The presence of fans dressed as X-23 (left) and Loki's female form (right) at Comic-Con signals the broadening of geek culture.
July 24th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

Booth babes need not apply

Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He also cosplays as a six-foot-two-inch, 310lb Powerpuff Girl to fill the hollow pit that is his need for the wrong kinds of attention.

There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with - and there's no other way to put this - pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.

San Diego Comic-Con is the largest vehicle, but it's hardly the only convention populated with "hot chicks" wearing skimpy outfits simply to get a bunch of gawking geeks’ heads to turn, just to satisfy their hollow egos.

Now, before every single woman reading this explodes, let me disambiguate a bit. I absolutely do not believe that every girl who attends conventions and likes "Doctor Who" is pretending to be a geek.

There are lots of geeks who are female. Some of these female geeks are pretty girls. I find it fantastic that women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominately been male-oriented and male-driven.

The presence of female geeks means that the fiction we're reading is broadening and, frankly, getting better in quality. It means nerdy films and television shows aren't relying on damsel in distress stories and objectification of women to draw readers. It means content is broadening and becoming smarter and more accessible. I want more of that.

And be it known that I am good friends with several stunningly beautiful women who cosplay as stunningly beautiful characters from comics, sci-fi, fantasy and other genres of fandom. They are, each of them, bone fide geeks. They belong with us. Being beautiful is not a crime.

Flaunt it if you got it – and if you're a geek, male or female, and you're strikingly handsome or stunningly beautiful, and you cosplay as a handsome or beautiful character, more power to us all. Hot geeks are hot.

What I'm talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a "model."  I get sick of wannabes who couldn't make it as car show eye candy slapping on a Batman shirt and strutting around comic book conventions instead. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
Camp 'Breaking Dawn' and the 'Twilight' of the boys club
Take a good look, publishers. These ladies are buying comic books.
July 24th, 2012
11:59 AM ET

Camp 'Breaking Dawn' and the 'Twilight' of the boys club

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is a business analyst and consultant specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. This is an excerpt from his latest book, "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012) which focuses on the nerdy audience at the largest comic book trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him @robsalk.

I don’t think it will come as a big shock that, for most of the history of comics fandom, conventions have not been distinguished by high numbers of females of any age. That began to change in the 1990s, when strong and emotionally authentic female characters like Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the cheerful Goth-girl personification of Death in Neil Gaiman’s popular "Sandman" series activated the recessive fan gene on the X chromosome.

The trend accelerated with the mainstream popularity of manga, which had developed numerous styles over the years to appeal to all genders and was sold in bookstores, beyond the boys-club direct market comics shops. The rise of the Internet poured gasoline on the fire, creating spaces for feminerds to come out of the woodwork and share their passions. Many of today’s best online comic and fantasy-genre news sites and discussion groups were started by, and remain powered by, women.

Today, there are increasing numbers of proud girl geeks of all ages; I count myself fortunate to be married to one. Crowds at conventions and even some comics stores now reflect a much more equal gender balance. As for the comics industry itself, not so much. But that’s a different conversation. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom
After Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact
Signs for "Dark Knight" are removed in Paris, France. The movie's French premiere was cancelled in the wake of the attack.
July 20th, 2012
07:26 PM ET

After Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact

A man opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 59. Along with the alleged shooter’s family and the NRA, I expect nerds and other outcasts will get some unwanted attention today.

My stomach dropped when I heard news of the mass shooting for the same reasons everyone else's did.

But as a nerd and CNN's resident expert on geeky subcultures, I readied myself for pointed questions which I expected to get from outside the geek community: "Why 'Batman'?" "Is the shooter a nerd?" "Why is it always the loner?"

There's a precedent for labeling people considered nerds or geeks or outsiders as potentially dangerous individuals who might snap. After the Columbine shootings, Goths were given a wider berth than usual. Post school shootings, video gamers get to field a slew of weapons-related questions. Now my gut tells me comic book fans and movie geeks might face closer scrutiny even though there's no evidence the alleged shooter was either. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Fandom
Emmy nominee Mayim Bialik on nerd role models and nerd romance
Mayim Bialik at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday.
July 19th, 2012
05:57 PM ET

Emmy nominee Mayim Bialik on nerd role models and nerd romance

"Big Bang Theory" actress Mayim Bialik finds it interesting that she was seated on the far end of the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel last Friday, next to the producers.

"It's my best kept secret," she joked to reporters a few hours later. "I belong much more with them."

As a neuroscientist, she feels a kinship with the brains behind the machine, as well as a connection with many of those who attend fan conventions.

“I love our cast and I love actors, but I also love comic books and sci-fi," she said, "so I am the one [on the cast] who is most 'Comic-Con friendly.'"

And the question on everyone's minds at Comic-Con when it came to her character, Amy Farrah Fowler (for which she was nominated for an Emmy on Thursday), was where her relationship with Sheldon (fellow Emmy nominee Jim Parsons) might go next. FULL POST

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Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom
Digital comics work it in San Diego
Artist Dave Gibbons signed autographs and promoted his digital comic book at San Diego Comic-Con in the Madefire booth.
July 19th, 2012
01:48 PM ET

Digital comics work it in San Diego

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is a business analyst and consultant specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. His latest book, "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012) focuses on the nerdy audience at the largest comic book trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him @robsalk.

Last year at Comic-Con, digital comics were the headlight approaching in the dark tunnel. This year they are the train bearing down on the industry at full steam. Amid estimates that nearly 30 million Americans now use iPads or tablet devices of some kind, comics and graphic novels have emerged as the killer app for this hot new platform and everyone from the industry’s top publishers to feisty startups and independents are looking for a way to get in on the action.

Against that backdrop, even with all the various entertainment, movie and videogame news pouring out of San Diego this year, it was the announcements coming from digital publishers and platforms that has the greatest potential to shape how we enjoy the stories and characters we love in the months and years to come. Here’s a roundup of some of the top stories in digital from this year’s show: FULL POST

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