I once had a teacher in grade school who told me that she loved to read my essays because she could tell that I was enthusiastic about learning and the subjects I would choose to write about. There was just one problem though. If everything I wrote about was “the absolute worst” or the “absolute best” that wasn’t going to give me a lot of space or freedom to really make careful and thoughtful comparisons. So why is this little anecdote important to my recap of LadiesCon 2017? Because I’m about to throw that advice out the window and use superlatives like crazy. Wanna know why? Because LadiesCon 2017 was THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST.
For those of you familiar with our event last year, the first LadiesCon was essentially a testing ground to see if our vision of an inclusive Con would even be something that the community wanted to see. In a donated office space, we managed to catch lightning in a bottle and learned just how dedicated the Boston comics community was to making an event that was for everyone.
This year, we took that to a whole new level. We tripled the number of panels and doubled our space, guests, and vendors. We reached out to artists and creators who were making things that were original, beautiful, and even a little terrifying. The response from the community was once again warm and enthusiastic, and together we created a colorful and vibrant Con.
Guys, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing us say this over and over again, but LadiesCon is getting closer by the moment. While I can’t speak for the other Ladies, I can say without a doubt that I’m feeling both VERY excited and VERY tired. Putting together this event is a constant adventure so I’ve been making a point to find time to relax, recharge my batteries, and seek out other lady-led geeky projects for both motivation and inspiration.
My latest attempt at “Chicken Soup for the Geek Girl Soul” was getting my hands on The Secret Lives of Geek Girls. Kick-starter funded and featuring over 50 writers and artists, this non-fiction anthology contains short stories and comics about love, being a girl, and being a geek. So um yeah, pretty much what the title promised.
Just one look at the list of writers and contributors and I knew I needed to own this book. Not only does it include LadiesCon guest Kristen Gudsnuk, but it pretty much goes on to read as a dream guest list for future Cons..or maybe as a list of guests for the world’s greatest cocktail party.
Many of the stories are well-written, relatable, and at times powerful. My favorites included Marjorie Liu’s haunting story about lost memories and dreams and Katie West’s story that cleverly compares the end of a marriage to surviving the apocalypse.
At its best, you can see yourself reflected in the pages of this compilation. While reading, I found myself feeling odd nostalgic pangs for when I first discovered some of my favorite fandoms and swooned over their adventures. Of when I would stay up late watching Red Dwarf on PBS and dream about meeting someone who would think my ability to quote Invader Zim on command was one of my best qualities. Corny, yes, but that’s the point. These stories run the gamut and cover not only the process of love, but how our own love of “geekdom” can make us who we are and help find who we want to be. To me, that’s the good stuff.
The trouble with all anthologies is that they can be uneven. Not every story is a home-run and not every story spoke to me. There were times when I just didn’t love the style or tone. There were even times when I wasn’t sure what the point was, especially if there were a lot of references to fandoms that I’m not familiar with. At worst, there were certain stories that felt too cute or trite, just another meet-cute starring characters who happen to be geeks. Meh. Time to move on to the next one.
Back in July another Kickstarter was launched for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Redux – a more compact follow-up to the original book. If history repeats itself, there is a good chance the book will be picked up by Dark Horse for another wider release. Assuming that’s the case, I will be there throwing my money in its direction.
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a fun book with a great message. It’s also a great way to support female and feminist creators who are producing some very high-quality work. Who knows, your new favorite might be waiting to be discovered among these pages. At the very least, it might be nice to know that you’re not the only who fell in love while gaming or used stories to help you made sense of the complexities of growing up. Really, many of us have been there, so why not spend some time with your kindred spirits?
We are less than 2 months away from LadiesCon and things are getting crazy. Crazy in the best ways possible, but still quite a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. It’s during these times that we need to make sure we’re taking the opportunity to take a deep breath, brush up on your R’lyehian, and praise the Elder Gods.
If you haven’t read Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl, you should really do one of the following: a) buy it now so you have a copy for Kristen to sign at LadiesCon or b) buy it at LadiesCon and so you have a copy for Kristen to sign. Ok ok, I know I’m really driving the point a bit hard here, but there’s a reason we reached out to Kristen as a guest.
Without turning this post into a review, I will tell you this much. Henchgirl is such a charming and funny story. It’s filled with such great visual gags and puns that when I found myself faced with these panels…I knew immediately what I had to do.
Yes, I needed my very own Cthulu Burger!
Normally when I do these Food and Fandom posts, I like to post a recipe. I’m not going to do that this time for a few reasons. The main reason is that there are times when (due to the either the complications of your project or the limits of your own culinary skills) you know that you’re going to have to choose between something that tastes great but is visually plain or something that looks amazing but will NEVER WANT TO EAT AGAIN. I chose and well, um…you’ll see.
When making a burger based on Cthulu, octopus was the most obvious choice. I was able to find frozen cleaned octopus in my regular supermarket quite easily, as well as a recipe that would allow me to cook it in my sous vide. I had never cooked octopus before and using such a controlled temperature was a pretty surefire way to ensure that the octopus would be soft and tender rather than horrible and chewy.
So I started with something that looked like this:
Did some stuff to it:
And hours later, I found myself with this:
The recipe also informed me that I should clean, then either grill or fry up the octopus to get the legs and tentacles nice and crispy before serving. So I did that too.
Next, I laid out my ingredients on my sacrificial altar/cutting board and got to work assembling what might very well be my most horrifying creation yet.
BEHOLD AND TREMBLE WITH FEAR YOU FOOLS! *warning: prolonged exposure to this slideshow may result in madness
I’m really proud of how I was able to get his worshipers to bleed from the eyes just right!
I delayed as long as I could taking these pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I would like octopus. I’ve had it before and liked it a lot. It was the idea of eating it with bread and the other burger fixings that made me start to back away towards the door.
I mean, does this cross section look appetizing to you?
Since I wasn’t about to go at this alone, The Boy and I each took a half, bit in, and well…
Do I get points for accuracy if it tastes like it’s been asleep under a lost city in the Pacific ocean for thousands of years?
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. But dang, it tasted fishy. And the soft octopus with even softer bread was not something I found enjoyable in any way. No, it was not good. Nope. Nope. Nope.
In the case that you’re wondering what went wrong, I chatted with Tiny Doom and she believes it was a problem with the octopus recipe that I used. My recipe said that marinating the octopus before cooking was optional, so I skipped that step to save myself a little time. Tiny Doom has cooked octopus with great success but has always let it braise in red wine first. Perhaps that’s the key to removing the fishy taste? Maybe my frozen octopus wasn’t all that great? I’ll probably give cooking octopus a shot again, but will use a very different recipe.
Still, Lord Cthulu makes quite the dashing figure as a burger.
In honor of Women’s Month, we thought it would be a lot of fun to take a moment to feature one of our favorite vendors: FanMail.
If you’re a fan of subscription boxes, are proud to be a geek, and want to take the opportunity to support a business owned and run by women, you really can’t go wrong here. A subscription to FanMail means that every other month you are going to get a box of unique, curated items picked specifically for today’s lady-geek. There is a focus on featuring other small lady-owned businesses within the items as well. Seriously guys, this stuff is so great that I’m doing this post not because they gave us a box in trade, but because I’m a happy subscriber and am pleased to give them my money.
One (or should I say two) of the things that makes FanMail so special are the owners Rose and Jenny. Rose and Jenny share The Ladies of Comicazi’s mission to celebrate women and the community in which we create, forge friendships, and experience our fandoms. They are dedicated, friendly, and are responsible for a lot of people getting their hands on some really amazing stuff.
In an attempt to convince you, I wanted to share the unboxing of my February Box. This month’s theme was Familiars and Companions.
Items: Bookstr Notebook, Avatar/Totoro Cross-over T-Shirt, Doctor Who Donna Noble quote sticker, Luna-inspired Sailor Moon Necklace, and adorable Eevee Pokemon (or is that a Flareon?)
Item: BB-8 throw pillow case. So gorgeous!
Item: Niffler pouch – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I realize my photos don’t seem to do the items justice, so if you want to see more, you should head on over to FanMail’s Instagram.
Oh, and if a subscription might be more of a commitment than you are ready for, you can browse their shop for past items and boxes. I got my eyes on these sweet but subtle Hogwarts House mugs. Hufflepuff forever!
Soon it will be the new year, and several of us will find ourselves in that dark stretch of cold and unpredictable weather that seems to last much longer than the three months that make up the winter season. And while there are a lot of people out there who love winter activities, I thought it might be nice to dedicate a post to the importance of taking care of yourself and having fun as we both finish a rough year and do our best to make better of the next one.
Our home base, Comicazi, was recently featured in the Boston Globe’s style section as a top place to “find your inner geek,” as the article declared. It was exciting and some great press for the store. However, it also raised the hackles of some die-hard fans of the shop, who felt like labeling comics and gaming as “geek” hobbies cast them in a negative light – the realm of socially awkward misfits.
This was not exactly the intention. The article was written in an empowering manner – You’re a geek and that’s awesome! – and even draws parallels between geeks and Boston Brahmins, the wealthy elite of the city in the 18-1900’s. However, I think this raises a larger issue that isn’t just about taking back the word geek. It’s about subcultures in general and whether they’re desirable – do you want your hobby to be part of a subculture, whether it’s currently a fashionable one or not – or do you want it to be considered culture, period?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s also SOMEWHAT about the historically negative connotations of the words nerd and geek. I myself have a terrible habit of presenting some of my hobbies – comics, or fantasy novels, for example- as “super nerdy” to people I don’t know well, as if apologizing for them, and I don’t know why. Not only are most of them, regardless of their interests, not going to judge me, no one ever has. In high school I was as much of an outcast as everyone ever was (I’ve never met anyone who didn’t feel that way a little) but it was never because of my hobbies. There are no foaming carton caricature jocks or cheerleaders waiting to laugh at my love of the Flash, and if there were, why would I care? So clearly it’s about my own internalized geek shame, which means the word isn’t as reclaimed as we might like. Real humans don’t care that you have all of your old Star Wars action figures (or they think it’s awesome) but popular culture still uses those hobbies as shorthand for loser (see The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Big Bang Theory, Beauty and the Geek.)
So, those demons aside, what do we get out of embracing the geek label, by claiming it for the smart iconoclasts who invent new technologies and make new fashion and bring you killer action movies? I guess you get to be different, and special and feel like you belong to part of a community of people who like what you like, who get you. And that’s a very human, understandable thing to want. The danger may come, however, in who gets left out of that safe haven.
I think part of the proliferation of this clubhouse mentality comes from yet another angle of the “geek” reclamation, which is marketing. You have a website, say, where you want to sell some funky products that relate to sci-fi movies and fantasy novels. Or one where you collect images of totally awesome stuff in that vein. How will you make sure the right people can find your site? What do video games and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and zombies all have in common? Well, I guess we could say that the people who traditionally like them are…geeks. But super-cool geeks, right?
And thus, the issue perpetuates itself. And maybe that’s okay, and we don’t need a new word or way of looking at things, we just need to take back the old ones. But I’m not totally convinced yet, because I keep coming back to the idea that liking those things doesn’t have to make you geeky, and that we want everyone to find and love these things – don’t we?
You don’t have to call yourself something special in order to love cartoons or Muppets or larping or the X-Men. Those things are for everybody who wants them. Or at least I think so – what do you think? Share your ideas about the geek reclamation with us in the comments!