Of geeks and girls
Steampunk and otaku represent at Geek Girl Con 2012, but so did plenty of engineers and scientists.
August 13th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

Of geeks and girls

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is an author and business analyst specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. His latest book is "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Follow him @robsalk.

The term “geek girl” has had to carry a lot of unwanted baggage lately. Intended as a positive self-identity for women and girls with well-developed interests in nerdy pursuits ranging from pop culture to science and engineering, it has become a flashpoint for gender friction within fandom and the target of suspicion among self-appointed guardians of subcultural boundaries.

That’s too bad, not just because girl geeks are as deserving of respect as their male counterparts, but because the emerging persona of the capital-G Geek Girl has the potential to expand old conceptions of both fandom and gender and get us past some of the current silliness.

This positive potential was in full display last weekend in Seattle at the second annual Geek Girl Con (GGC 2012). The program featured celebrities spanning the gamut of nerdom, from comics writer Gail Simone to game designer Corinne Yu, television producer Jane Espenson to Rat City Rollergirl Kitty Kamakaze.

Cosplayers, gamers, Browncoats, makers, steampunks, manga fans and enthusiasts of all stripes were all represented among the crowd of about 3,500. The event seemed busy but not overcrowded, thanks to the move to the more spacious digs of the Washington State Convention Center.

Though much of the programming focused on pop culture favorites like sci-fi, manga, videogames and comics – topics that generate predictable excitement and visibility –several panels featured women in rocketry, robotics, software design and engineering, with special emphasis on helping girls and young women overcome social stigmas against pursuing these areas in school and at work.

Over the weekend, lots and lots of young women came up to the microphone to say, “My friends and I are the only girls at school who like x, y and z. … We just don’t know how to get people to understand us.” Seeing those girls get spontaneous applause from the audience and a panel of respected role models is reason enough to stand up and cheer for GGC. FULL POST

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Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom
Comic-Con's next big thing
Sam Huntington, left, Sam Witwer, center and Meagan Rath, right, star in Syfy Channel's version of "Being Human."
August 9th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Comic-Con's next big thing

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

After writing about pop culture for a while, attending a dozen San Diego Comic-Cons and observing – as well as being a part of – fan culture, you start to notice the signs of a growing movement.

Comic-Con has always been a litmus test for pop culture's appeal. How the hordes of attending fans react to the convention's exclusive presentations often dictates a more mainstream success for comic books, TV shows, movies or collectibles. But predicting a franchise's Comic-Con pH is tricky, since there is always an intangible element to what nerds adopt or reject.

But when you're a nerd and the nerd world is your business, you start to feel like Buffalo Springfield singing, "there's something happening here ... everybody look what's going down" about tribal movements. And after this year's Comic-Con, my gut tells me such is the case with Syfy's "Being Human."

Already a favorite of dark fantasy fans, the show stars Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath as a vampire, werewolf and ghost (respectively) living together to achieve a sense of normalcy.

If a group of supernatural roommates sounds like a soapy set up, that’s because it is. What beloved ongoing story line in nerd culture isn’t? Hook ups, break ups, deaths, resurrections, addictions, arch nemeses, memory loss – not to mention occasional mutations, undead infestations and body switching; this is the stuff that fans cheer for at Comic-Con. FULL POST

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A celebrity's take: Comic-Con is all about the fans
Actor Doug Jones and director Guillermo Del Toro spread the love at a fan autograph session at San Diego Comic-Con.
August 3rd, 2012
01:25 PM ET

A celebrity's take: Comic-Con is all about the fans

Though it may sometimes feel like there are two Comic-Cons, and the fan experience meeting celebrities at conventions can certainly run the gamut, there are also celebs for whom meeting with fans is the biggest reason to attend a Con.

The late Andy Hallett ("Angel") exemplified this spirit, with a smile and a kind word for just about everyone he came across at conventions.

And today, there are fan favorites such as Chris Hardwick ("Nerdist," "The Talking Dead") and Ashley Eckstein ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars") who will tirelessly meet and greet with those who admire their work.

So, it was on the Friday of San Diego Comic-Con 2012 that a similar scene could be witnessed at the Gentle Giant booth, as actor Doug Jones ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy") wrapped up an autograph session, to be replaced by his friend and frequent collaborator, director Guillermo Del Toro.

It was something to witness as Jones pointed out various fans he recognized in the crowd and waved at them, even "signing" messages to them as they waited patiently for face-to-face time. It's also not unusual for a fan to be enveloped in one of Doug Jones' famous hugs. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
Zombies with personalities? Yes, it's happening
Look deep into the dead eyes of "R," the zombie teenage heartthrob from "Warm Bodies."
August 2nd, 2012
05:11 PM ET

Zombies with personalities? Yes, it's happening

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

A zombie invasion has been in full effect for a couple years now, with the ghouls shambling into pop-culture’s top monster spot more each day.

Just turn on your television. Aside from being the threat of AMC’s hit show “The Walking Dead,” they’ve taken a bite out of non-zombie franchises with guest spots on shows like "Community," "The Simpsons" and "South Park." Not even their undead cousin, the vampire, has achieved such total immersion. Actual hard news stories are even speculating about a zombie apocalypse spurred by bath salts and occasional cannibalism.

Zombies, man, they creep me out – but that might be about to change with a major evolutionary step signaled at San Diego Comic-Con a few weeks back: Zombies With Personalities. Even though it sounds like the name for a garage rock band, Zombies With Personalities (ZWP) are members of the monster horde with names, personalities, individual behaviors, etc., emerging in a big way within pop culture. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
Alien geeks unite in Roswell
UFO convention attendees dressed the part -- even representing sumo aliens and alien babies.
July 31st, 2012
02:58 PM ET

Alien geeks unite in Roswell

Editor's note: Emma Loggins is the editor of Fanbolt.com, a fan news site that specializes in behind-the-scenes information and interviews with the casts and crews of entertainment franchises with organized fan bases.

This year marked the 65th anniversary of a mysterious object crashing down just north of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, and launching decades of speculation about the truth behind the wreckage.

The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) released an initial statement claiming that a "flying disk" had been recovered. The following day, a second press release was issued which stated that the 509th Bomb Group had been mistaken, and the wreckage was actually that of a weather balloon.

Years later, believers and skeptics alike flock to Roswell for the annual UFO convention. The event attracts scientists, doctors, engineers, and of course alien enthusiasts. This year, there were two festivals commemorating the event: One was put on by the city, and the other festival was hosted by the International UFO Museum.

Cameras in hand, Barry and Ann Lasky stood outside the museum waiting for the opening ceremonies to begin Sunday. The couple moved to Roswell a few years back after attending an earlier festival and falling in love with the city. They moved to Roswell from Los Angeles, California, and began selling collectible memorabilia.

"My official reason for moving to Roswell is I wanted to be kidnapped and probed by aliens," Lasky joked. "But the other reason is it's too expensive to live in Los Angeles. We know people out here, and we're into the science fiction. We sell comics, magazines, and collectibles, so this seemed like a good place to go. We're having a lot of fun here." FULL POST

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