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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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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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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So you want to go to Comic-Con 2013?
July 16th, 2012
08:57 AM ET

So you want to go to Comic-Con 2013?

After hearing so much about San Diego Comic-Con, you may be considering attending next year. If so, here are a few helpful pointers:

Start planning early - like, now:
No trip to Comic-Con can be spur of the moment. Tickets go on sale months ahead of time–and usually sell out instantaneously. Once you have those tickets, you will want to lay out your plan of attack for the time you're there, not to mention figure out your accommodations, a separate battle.

Lines, lines, everywhere a line:
The lines at Comic-Con, especially for Hall H, make theme park lines seem like a breeze. This year, the line-to-line-up for Hall H serpentined past the convention center and around the back of the gigantic hotel next door - at 6 a.m. People sleep out there. Unless you have no interest in any major panels, you will wait in line seemingly endlessly. See this as a chance to get to know your fellow Con-goers.

Bring along a Con-veteran:
It can be a tremendous help if you have a friend with you who has been there and done that. It can get difficult flying blind. Especially with rumors of crowds pushing the 200,000 mark, if you don't know where you're going you may have no choice about where you end up.

Plan your day wisely:
"Never do anything before 11," said Geek and Sundry's Felicia Day. "And make sure you have dinner with the people you really want to catch up with. You can go from thing to thing and be so frenzied about it. Make your Con about things you really love, because there's so much to distract you."

Stake out specific panels:
The nichiest of niche panels exist at Comic-Con, such as the "Ball Jointed Doll Collectors Group" or "The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics 'Zombies' Panel." Look hard enough and you may find one for you, with a much shorter line to get in.

Prepare to geek out:
"You get to meet your heroes. It doesn't matter if you're here or if you're Peter Jackson," remarked "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith. "I bet Peter Jackson saw someone and said, 'Wow, you're here, too. Cool.' "

Whether it's going to a panel for something you like or finding a toy or comic book you've been looking for, prepare to squee.

See you at Comic-Con 2013!

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Filed under: Brainiac • Comic Longbox • Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom • Master User • Otaku
July 11th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Early scenes from Comic-Con

As some of the earliest attendees arrived and checked into their hotels, the areas surrounding the San Diego Convention Center were full of workers, tirelessly finishing displays, exhibits, banners and other preparations needed to kick off San Diego Comic-Con.

The annual event, which draws hundreds of thousands to downtown San Diego, has overtaken the area. Local businesses, movie studios, TV networks and video game companies are competing to take their piece of the Comic-Con pie.

CNN Geek Out's cameras were there to capture the scene and the finishing touches, as denizens of the business community did anything they could to welcome many new potential customers.

Are you at San Diego Comic-Con? Share your photos and video of the sights and sounds.

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Filed under: Brainiac • Comic Longbox • Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom • Master User • Otaku
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