Will nerds feed starving kids in Africa?
Part of the We Can Be Heroes logo featuring the silhouette of the Justice League.
January 25th, 2012
12:26 PM ET

Will nerds feed starving kids in Africa?

Diane Nelson is not "technically" a nerd, she said, and neither are many of the people she works with. She's the president of DC Entertainment and she just happens to hang out with comic book royalty, like Jim Lee and Geoff Johns. (So much for the theory that one can catch geeky cooties due to proximity.)

She may not be a nerd, but she runs a company whose media inspires nerdy devotion. And starting this week, DC Entertainment is hoping their characters from "The Justice League" will be a vehicle to educate fans about the very real famine in the Horn of Africa, and inspire them to donate money to the cause.

Time Warner and DC Entertainment have partnered with Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps in an awareness and fund-raising campaign called We Can Be Heroes, which uses the imagery of the Justice League. For every dollar that is donated to help the aid organizations on the ground in Africa at www.WeCanBeHeroes.org, DC will give a matching donation, up to $1 million per person. (Time Warner is the parent company of DC and CNN.)

The We Can Be Heroes website also offers specially branded merchandise for sale, featuring the silhouette of the Justice League against the outline of Africa. Fifty percent of the proceeds of this merchandise will also be donated.

"Actually, one of my favorite things about this completely insane geek community is seeing what happens when we try to band together to help," said Daniel Dean, a manager for Titan Comics & Games in Smyrna, Georgia, and a frequent Geek Out collaborator.

"See, to me this isn't about 'I like the Justice League, therefore I will help a 6-year-old girl not starve to death.' It's a case of believing in everything people like Superman and the Justice League are supposed to represent," Dean said, "and standing ready and waiting to help so that when an opportunity like this comes along we can jump at the chance." FULL POST

'Her Universe' is Ashley Eckstein's battle cry
Ashley Eckstein, left, strikes a Jedi pose with a young fan.
December 23rd, 2011
03:34 PM ET

'Her Universe' is Ashley Eckstein's battle cry

Ashley Eckstein, voice of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" kick-ass Jedi Ahsoka Tano, believes there is a stereotype built around girls who like sci-fi that's as thick and impervious as a brick wall. And it's finally starting to crumble.

The words geek and nerd "are not necessarily being looked at as negative labels anymore," she said. For the last two years, her company Her Universe, which creates sci-fi fandom T-shirts, hoodies, pajamas and jewelry for women and girls,  has proudly been using the phrase "geek girl" in their advertising and communication.

"Like, 'heck yeah, I'm a geek girl, and proud of it!' " Eckstein said. "I think that that's a major shift. If you had seen, a couple of years ago 'geek girl,' in an article or if you were being referred to as a geek girl, it wasn't necessarily a positive thing." Geeky girls, she said, have similarly been marginalized when it comes to expressing their love of sci-fi.

"Several years ago girls just had to accept the fact that if they wanted to show off their fandom and their geek pride, they were just stuck wearing a guy's oversized tee," she said. "And I'm trying to say, 'No, you can look fun and sexy and flirty and girly and strong and powerful all at the same time.' Our items are just as geeky as what the guys have but they're truly made for women." FULL POST

Punkin’ Chunkin' a Thanksgiving favorite in Delaware
Tory Belleci, left, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara host the 26th Punkin’ Chunkin’ competition.
November 24th, 2011
12:48 PM ET

Punkin’ Chunkin' a Thanksgiving favorite in Delaware

It’s Thanksgiving night and the turkey is reduced to a carcass. The family is near comatose on the sofa, and the clicker is poised to turn on a football game.

It’s an American tradition.

But Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci from "Mythbusters" have other plans. They'll be hosting the 26th annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ competition in Delaware, airing tonight at 8 p.m. EST on the Science and Discovery channels.

Chunkers build machines, including trebuchets, air cannons and catapults, and use them to hurl the gourds as far as possible.

"Some of these air cannons are firing up to 4,000 feet," Belleci said.

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The art of cosplay is not the art of getting hit on
Yaya Han, left, cosplaying as Mulan and Riki cosplaying as Snow White.
November 3rd, 2011
04:16 PM ET

The art of cosplay is not the art of getting hit on

Cosplay is a mainstay of the modern fan convention. In popular culture, it is practically a synonym for "fan convention."

Eye-popping, physics-defying costumes thrill and amaze fans of Japanese video games, anime and manga by bringing their favorite characters to life, and is itself the ultimate expression of fandom, according to Yaya Han, an Atlanta-based cosplayer who has had a high profile in the cosplay comunity for the last 12 years.

"To me it's an unlimited creative outlet," Han said. "Before I was a cosplayer, I was a fan artist. I would draw my favorite characters and sell the pieces at art auctions."

"But once I discovered cosplay, it was like, 'I don't have to draw my favorite characters, I can become my favorite characters.'"

The cosplay community, by and large, create their own costumes, she said. Developing sewing, painting, sculpting, jewelry-making and wig-styling skills is part of this fan-base homage to Japanese entertainment.

And yet, when seen outside the context of fandom, cosplay is not always seen as the result of skilled craftsmanship. Han said that many reporters have asked her questions that confuse her practice with LARPing. Recently, cosplay has been portrayed in the media as being more about cleavage and snagging dates with wide-eyed fanboys. FULL POST

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The price of an awesome costume
Miracole Burns as Wonder Woman.
October 27th, 2011
05:39 PM ET

The price of an awesome costume

Going to a Halloween party this weekend? Have the perfect, over-the-top, completely genre-accurate costume in mind to wear?

Take it from some seasoned costumers and cosplayers – awesome costumes don’t survive crowds. Sometimes they don’t even survive the journey there. And sometimes, the costumes are so awesome that you can’t survive them.

People like Chris and Miracole Burns, from “Avengers Assemble” and full-time cosplayer Yaya Han can make a living out of creating and wearing costumes. They’re invited to fan conventions to show up as comic book, anime, movie, TV and video game characters. They know how to create Hollywood-quality costumes and special effects makeup. They’re skilled at putting together the perfect look, the perfect pose, and making the whole package last for hours at a time on a crowded con floor.

They also know that fellow fans are thrilled to see their characters “come to life” through these costumes - but such admiration can sink hours of hard work and hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars of investment in an outfit. FULL POST

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