August 29th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: Why I’ll be a Japanese fox this year

If there's one thing any self-respecting Dragon*Con attendee does not want to do, it's "Halloween it."

Dragon*Con, the Southeast's largest fantasy and sci-fi fan convention, has long been a venue for impressive costuming. But as cosplayers, costumers and artists continue to develop sophisticated fabrication techniques, the bar for an awesome costume is set higher at Dragon*Con than at any other fan convention in the country.

Dragon*Con attendees don't just put on a costume: they sculpt gravity-defying wigs, they vacuum-mold armor, they airbrush their entire bodies.

The costumes of Dragon*Con send a complicated message of commiseration, appreciation and imagination.

Costuming, in the nerd community, can be a deeply soulful thing. The choice to display a persona, well-known or mystifyingly niche, at once communicates what media you consume, (video games? anime? comic books?), what attributes you value (are villains more interesting?), your artistic ability and aesthetic, as well as the fact that you are part of the tribe of fans that admire a particular franchise or idea.

In essence, costumes are a nerd calling card.

So those wearing only store-bought  fright wigs and fairy wings will likely not win over the crowds when more than 50,000 people descend on Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend to attend Dragon*Con

If you could bare your soul with a costume, what would you say? This year, I've chosen to broadcast my interest in Japanese mythology. FULL POST

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My view: The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child
Chandra Mosely and her daughter, Nya.
August 23rd, 2012
10:24 AM ET

My view: The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child

Editor's note: We here at Geek Out! found this perspective on gifted children from our colleagues at "Schools of Thought" quite interesting. Do you identify with the struggles of being gifted and having parents who are not always prepared for the realities of a high IQ? Chandra Moseley is a working, single mom. A resident of a Colorado city, she makes sure to expose her gifted daughter to small-town living through weekly trips to the Rocky Mountains.

My daughter, who is 5, was identified last year as "gifted.” Well, I honestly had never properly understood what being "gifted" meant. I naively thought, "Oh, my baby is so advanced, she is just so smart!”

For those of you who are truly unaware of what being gifted means, let me help you understand.

Gifted students are defined by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) as those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.

The part of the definition that’s missing – and what I so desperately needed to understand – is the social and behavioral issues that may come with giftedness.

For one thing, my daughter, Nya, is a perfectionist. She gets frustrated even if she only slightly draws outside of the lines. She also gets unnerved by certain loud noises (buzzing or toilets flushing) and even the seams on her socks.  I’ve had to turn her socks inside out because the seam on her toes irritated her so much. I thought she was just being fussy.

I became aware of Nya’s giftedness through Rev. Regina Groff, a family member’s minister, who noticed the way Nya was coloring when she was just 2. Rev. Groff has gifted children of her own and recognized Nya's frustration each time she drew outside of the lines. That type of frustration and overexcelling is all part of the perfectionism characteristic of being gifted. Just that simple act of frustration revealed her giftedness at the right time that day.

There are other characteristics of giftedness that for many, including my daughter, are telltale signs – excessive energy, unending curiosity, emotionally advanced, early and superior language skills or a need for perfectionism. Gifted children might have supersensitivities, and that’s what was going on with the loud noises and her socks.

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The paperback island in a sea of manly storylines
Manga posters at this year's Paris book fair.
August 17th, 2012
05:08 PM ET

The paperback island in a sea of manly storylines

Editor's note: Danica Davidson is a writer whose articles have appeared on MTV.com, Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. She also writes English adaptations of Japanese graphic novels. She has recently finished her first young adult novel.

I’ve heard many women talk about different forms of prejudice they’ve faced in the comics world. As a journalist I've always found myself the only woman out of the who-knows-how-many journalists, publishers and writers participating in phone conferences to talk about new comic books.

Sometimes the men on these calls seem uncomfortable and not sure what to make of me.

But at anime conventions, I feel right at home beside other female manga fans. Attending these conventions, I’ve never gotten a sense of “You’re a woman so you don’t really belong here.”

FULL POST

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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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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