Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Real Girl's Guide to SDCC

So, there was a bit of a kerfuffle, we'll say, when a Girl's Guide to Comic Con went online and featured- almost exclusively- a list of all the glorious hot man candy rumored to be appearing.

Now, as a girl who is active on the interwebnets and has attended that particular convention in San Diego two years running- coming up on a third- I was... nonplussed, to say the least. What an insipid waste of html. A photo-essay, more or less, that tells all you little ladies out there of the strapping men who'll be about to maybe put an autograph in your keepsake book while your man runs about doing all that silly guy stuff. Essentially what the 'article' reads as is a bunch of rumor pushing, a series of "How awesome is this Hollywood celeb I want to lick his face MAYBE YOU CAN AT COMIC CON" with a picture attached. Useless. So let's juts clarify something for the people to whom that article appealed, shall we?

Stalkers and starfuckers be aware: You're going to be in a sea of six thousand people, with trenches of press, execs and security between you and the Hollywood 'A Listers'. So if that's your reason for going, as that article seems to assume it is- don't.

If, however, you're not going to SDCC solely because you love RPattz that freaking much (though it is entirely acceptable if you happen to), perhaps the following may provide some insight as to why you, the real, geek girl should not just attend but own the San Diego Comic Con, and give you an idea of how/where best to spend your time there.

1. Tiki Bar at the Marriott Marina. First off, ask for a Tijuana River. Hand over ten dollars. Prepare to be drunk for the rest of the day. Best investment you can make at Comic Con. Second, be prepared to calmly observe and possibly interact with various genial, relaxed, also-drinking guests of the Con such as the talented, accomplished, and polite Ron Perlman or that dude Kevin from Attack of the Show, who is awesome to tiki with. But I'm serious about that Tijuana River, it'll mess you up but quick. My first experience with it culminated in me falling asleep on the table at dinner, but right before that, when passing comic book legend Stan Lee in the lobby, moved me to greet the most honored creator of Marvel comics with: "Lookin' good, Hef."

To which he graciously replied, "Thank you!"

2. Your Favorite TV Show Will Have A Panel, and the Stars Will Be As Excited to See You as You Are Them. This is, so far in my experience, universally true. Some actors will become flummoxed and uncomfortable in front of the startling support. Writers and producers tend to be less so. All around, though, and particularly with shows who know/understand/are staffed and acted by geeks, you will have an opportunity to ask questions and give commentary of and to the source, with immediate gratification response. This is rare. When shows like Chuck, Supernatural, and True Blood- all of which have geekcentric themes and all of which have powerful female followings and all of which have panels this year- hear from their core fan group, they listen. When women are a vocal and active part of that group, the tropes and relegating of female roles that we most hate become that much less likely to occur. They listen because they care, the same way we watch because we care. Take time to think out your question/s. Write it/them down. Have backups. Feel free to fangirl, but use the time you have at the mic. SDCC is not powered by studios, it is powered by fans, and that means fangirls, too. Speak up and represent!

3. Custom, Girl-Friendly Pin Up Art by Your Favorite Artist. Because where the hell else can this happen? Speaking entirely on my own behalf, I am not a fan of most available posters/wall art/statues of my favorite female comic characters because I am not a lesbian who happens to posses the brain of a fifteen year old boy. Most comic art, particularly splash pages and pin ups and especially of female characters, would be strange, possibly embarrassing, and certainly not moral-boosting to have up on my apartment wall. Rogue is my favorite character for all sorts of reasons that don't involve her breasts, but most artwork featuring her also features them prominently. With the list of artists who'll be lounging about Artist's Alley this year, I fully plan on commissioning a work that's suited to my tastes- that showcases the feisty, edgy, playful personality of hers (along with her awesome powers as a flying vampire brick), possibly in her old leggings and orange tunic costume, I don't know yet, maybe in the classic 90's Jim Lee yellow-and-green, that doesn't look like she's wearing liquid latex. Most artists ask very reasonable prices for these commissions, and you get to take home a piece of work that makes you feel good about being a fan, not bad about being a girl. Don't wait til Sunday though! They're usually dedicated to finishing the comms they got the previous two days and can't accept any new ones.

4. Hall H Is A Real Place, Yes- And Dreams Can Come True There. My favorite Hall H moment to date was probably being a scant few rows from Len Wein- awesome guy and creator of Swamp Thing, Nightcrawler and, oh yeah, WOLVERINE- when Hugh Jackman gave security a heart attack by jumping off the stage and rushing over to shake the comic creator's hand.

Hall H is a mix of the sneak peeks you've been dying for and the thrilling surprises the studios want to reward you, the fan, with. The wait to get in can be intense- you have to ask yourself if the things you're likely to see there outweigh everything else that's going on that day, because once you give that seat up, you're probably not getting back in. If something you love is going up in the same block as Twilight, you're effectively screwed, unless you don't mind camping out overnight in a huddle of tweens and their moms.


If, however, you do have a love of Hollywood and are jonesing bad for that first shot of Iron Man 2 or Sherlock Holmes or freaking Prince of Persia hells yeah, or the numerous other offerings that will no doubt be in supply this year, then Hall H is where you want to be and it is worth it. You have all Sunday to wander the dealer's room and haggle for closing day prices. Sit down with your convention book, compare, contrast, and plan out your days! Some of my most exciting Con moments so far occurred in Hall H- but I also walked out of numerous panels in there. Choose your big screen fare wisely and line up early. And again, I say thee: Fangirls! Prepare your questions ahead of time that they might be insightful and probing as well as respectful! Seize this opportunity to ask of some of the most influential and powerful directors, producers, and actors in Hollywood questions that matter to you as a fan. Guys are not the only ones spending money on these movies, and our only interests are not in the romantic leads and subplots! Let them know it!

And I mean, yeah, maybe you can lick RDJ. Who knows. But don't BANK on it, is what I'm saying.

5. Swag. At last year's True Blood panel, I received a magical ticket that got me an awesome True Blood nylon bag, a great t-shirt, a comic book, and the first of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. These tickets are handed out frequently and they unlock the door to the booty room. Mostly t-shirts, but when shows get creative, you get bitching swag. Also, go STRAIGHT to the big comic booths and tv areas in the dealer's room for PINS. Then decorate yourself accordingly. Bedazzle yourself, even. And get creative with those t-shirts, because they're all extra-huge sized. I turned my Iron Man Glow In The Dark Chest tee into a mini dress!

6. Bonding With Your Fellow Woman. Make friends. Swap twitter names. Follow each other then and there on your blackberries. When you're sitting in a sea of upturned faces letting the joy of Joss Whedon wash over you, look around at your fellow geek and take note. These are the people on your flist! Isn't it NEAT??? In all seriousness, SDCC is a great place to make connections with people who like what you like and are probably going to be into the idea of, say, going in on a creative endeavor of some kind with you, if you happen to be an artist looking for a writer or a writer looking for an artist or a writer looking for a writing partner or whatever. Start a geek band. Optional: This may also be done at the tiki bar.

This is just a starter, a prelim. We'll put more of these up as the big week approaches- I know Muse is working on one especially for THE NIGHTLIFE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GASLAMP DISTRICT WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. But we just couldn't stand there being only one Girl's Guide to Comic Con out there, and it being that. Consider us your Rosie the Robot Riveter. Time to stand up, ladies.


Angel said...

My name is Angel, and I approve this post wholeheartedly.

bphuettner said...

NICE post, thanks. Though I'm not a "fangirl" - I'm way too old for that - I do love Comic Con, and agree with almost all of your recommendations. I particularly like the panels, and it's always worth it participate by asking intelligent questions. I'm looking forward to this year's event, where I'm bringing along my teenagers and their friends, both male and female.

Melissa said...

thank you!! the LATimes piece made me a world of angry.

7 thumbs up.

hollywoodjane said...

Great post, I was hoping someone would do a real guide - I'm not enough of a veteran to tackle it myself, so I settled for an irritated rebuttal.

nomatophobia said...

While I don't know you, I hope you don't mind if I strap on my roller skates, tie a rope around you and just follow behind you around the con? First time I've had a press pass in years and I don't know the first place to go with my golden ticket.

I have to be a critic on one thing though - While it makes my dad think I'm a lesbian, I have some great comic chick-art. I have the beautiful Molly's Escort Service Poster, nicely framed on my wall. Sin City/Anything Frank Miller produces some beautiful art.


LoquaciousMuse said...

Oh, that Molly's escort service poster is gorgeous!!

I'm dying to find some great art this year - there is this artist whose name I never remember who does these gorgeous paintings of iconic couples from myths and shakespeare and stuff. Every year she has a new print and I always buy a small one. But because I never remember her name, I have to scour Artist's Alley every day of the Con to find her! Though I think her first name is Rebecca, so maybe this year will go better.

LoquaciousMuse said...

Rebecca Guay is the artist I love! Glad my mom reads this blog, haha.

EruditeChick said...

That poster is AMAZING. I would have that on my wall. When something is so beautifully and powerfully stylized like that, I think it makes it more palatable, to me personally, at least. I'm talking more in the Superhero vein, which tend to look more like this: http://www.hillcity-comics.com/poster_misc/OCT082544.jpg when it's a single female character being showcased. Somethig like a poster is usually aimed toward fanservice since... that's who's buying it, and the superhero comic reading crowd is predominantly male. There were some great posters in the 90s, and some really excellent trading card art that I would have loved to have seen as posters, that were much less so. The statue thing, too- either the facial sculpting is hideous or the body is pornorific. Boo.

And this will be my first year as press at SDCC, so you can tie a rope but we might just end up clothes-lining people with it. Either way I'll be sure to see you there!

EruditeChick said...

And thanks for all the positive comments!

Willow said...

Posted to the Geek Girl Summit group on Facebook. Thanks! :)


geekgirlsnetwork said...

Effing Great!

rht66 said...

What can I say but you took the them of my documentary and put it into better words than I did on my blog. I have been working on this idea for over a year now and although my doc is slightly different in what you have so poignantly expressed, it is the fans who put the wind in the sails of the writers ships and because there is that symbiotic relationship we do have a direct impact as to how the characters develop over time. So as a comic fan I salute the fangirl, because without you comics would not be as exciting nor have the soul that todays comics have.

I just hope my documentary will live up to the fangirls' expectations. I want people to know just how much influence the fangirl has on comics and how wrong the L.A. Times was about the women that make Comic Con what it is.

briguyx said...

Just want to add you can also get some free sketches by visiting the various comic company booths. There is usually a schedule posted telling when specific artists and writers will be showing up. Remember, the lines are a lot smaller if you're there on Thursday and Friday. I like hanging out in the DC booth myself...

The Nerdy Bird said...

Well said! I actually just posted my own list and linked to yours here. I've called mine the Logical Girls' Guide to Comic Con.


tyg said...

Re: "Feel free to fangirl" when at a question mic. Um, please don't, if that means what I'm afraid it means. What you should do is ask a question, nothing more or less.

Keep in mind that 1) There's a lot more people in line to ask something than they'll get to, so any time spent at the mic other than asking a question means less time for other people to ask things. 2) To be blunt, nobody (or only your few close friends in the several thousand person room) cares about you or your reasons for being a fan of X. And you're not going to impress the panelists into wanting to get to know you personally.

A while back, Mark Evanier wrote that something like the following was announced at a Stephen Sondheim event he'd attended, and that it jibed with problems he'd been having with the audience question periods at his many San Diego panels. It makes sense to me as well:

"Later, there will be a Q-and-A session and I'm sorry to say I need to explain to people what the "Q" means. It means you ask a question. A question is a sentence that begins with an interrogatory pronoun and it ends with a question mark and your voice goes up at the end. And it's one sentence. If it's more than one sentence, it's not a question. This is not an audition. It is not about you. We don't need to hear what the first Sondheim show was you saw and how it forever changed your life. Just ask a real question and sit down."

If I'm wrong about what you meant by fangirling, my apologies. And I thought the post was excellent overall.

Banesidhe said...

Oh I SAW that LA Times 'article' and I SEETHED.

I am a gamer geek girl and I heartily & completely agree with this. Won't be making to SDCC this year, but you reminded me of all the reasons I LOVE going!!

LoquaciousMuse said...

rht66 - you are making a doc on fangirls?!?!! what stage are you in? still shooting? editing? distribution?

briguyx - yeah, I've ALWAYS wanted to wait in line for a free sketch, but literally never have the time. When I actually get to make it to the floor, I gotta shop!! though one of my prized possessions was a family guy sketch...that...uh oh...not so prized after all cause I have no clue where it is. Shit. but my friend got Stewie dressed as a Slytherian student so his was better than mine anyway.

tyg - I'm not sure which kind of fangirling eruditechick was referring to, but my first thought led me to those moments when someone gets nervous and choked up trying to talk to his/her idol. Those moments are amazing.

The other kind of fangirling, the personal stories, especially the "I know you sort of!" ones are always annoying, and suck to sit through, but are such an important moment for that person asking the question, I'll let it slide, haha. As long as there is no script giving or hug-asking, it's all good.

EruditeChick said...

@tyg I mean that while yes, it is a given that if you weren't a fan you wouldn't be there, there's no reason for you not to let the panelists know "Your show changed my perspective on..." "I didn't realize this could be done on film..." "I fucking love you people..." etc. It drives me crazy when people ramble about personal things that should be saved for the signing line, but there's no reason no to express love for the work/people you're about to question.

Xtina said...

I too was angered when I saw the LA Times photo piece. I have been going to Comic Con for 15 years now and it was just insulting to us geek girls! So, thank you for your post. Very well put!

Twyst said...

one word summary: *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

more words: this will be my first year, and after all this LA Times nonsense i was a bit bummed, but you have RE-EXCITED ME! :D thank you!

kikishua said...

This will be my first time at ComicCon (or indeed any such gathering). Although I've been thinking about going for a long time, now it's only a month away I'm getting pretty nervous! I've got my 4 day pass, my flight from the UK, and my hotel booked... I don't know anyone who's been or anyone else who's going. I'm just immensely grateful for the practical info here!

Whitney said...

AMAZING POST! Found it via the CC twitter..and am now following you. The LA Times article was ridiculous. I saw it and wanted to puke. Thanks for sticking up for REAL fangirls!

Perkins said...

oh, praise be jebus! i googled this LA times nonsense to which y'all are referring since i didn't catch it upon its initial publishing and...no bueno. no, no, no bueno.

THIS, on the other hand, is AMAZING. thank you for posting something so informative and accurate! and, to boot, it gives me great pleasure to have done nearly everything on this list (except for public speaking in hall h because AHHHHHHH!! PETRIFYING).

i sincerely wish that all the ladynerds out there read this instead :)

and a favor to all reading this: if you wanna shove those pre-pubescent twilighters a *little* harder than usual during the mass pile into hall h, i would say the CC gods would forgive. it's just a thought.

Robin Hudson said...

Thanks for this great post!

This will be my first con ever. I'm flying in from Korea, via Michigan, and weeeeeeee!

I'm looking to meet up with fellow Whedonites. Add me on Twitter (RobinInSeoul) and make sure to have something Whedon-y in your bio and I'll add you back!

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