My experience as press at 2014 New York Comic Con was remarkably different than my time at the convention last year. The convention’s schedule added content aimed at the burgeoning female demographic, both lady moviegoer and comic book reader. Instead of sticking to only large entertainment programming, I spent more time in panels where I learned about people like me: women in geek culture.
Beyond our demographic’s buying power, I found that female characters, cosplayers, and fans are (for the most part) valued. While I observed a few behaviors that weren’t all sparkles and sunshine, for the most part, my interactions at the con were very positive. Here’s what I experienced:
I didn’t encounter any men telling me to stay away from ‘their’ comic books. I actually expected a bit of active protest from the minority of men who oppose equality in geek culture. Going by what I see online every day, the assumption’s a fair one. Fortunately, I didn’t run into anyone who was negative about progressivism in comic books and general entertainment. Best surprise ever.
I felt more connected to other women in geek culture. Most women can find very strong support systems online. Friends and family members are also available to help me whenever I become discouraged or need a hand in running this website. However, most of that help is available online, and there’s something to be said for meeting others in person or to see attendance is actually capped for panels discussing female characters and diversity in media.
Women and comic books: we all ship it. If you didn’t get the message that the big two get this, you might have missed Marvel’s “Agent Carter” TV show announcement or the storyline progression for Thor (announced on “The View”). DC also announced it’s Wonder Woman ’77 title featuring an illustrated Lynda Carter WW – which looks completely awesome. They followed this with a post-con announcement about a standalone Wonder Woman movie.
These announcements from DC and Marvel present a permanent shift in comic book culture and geek entertainment. I needed to hear and read these announcements many times before I believed they were real and true and important – and they are.
Women and video games – this is a problem…why? As a woman who goes to comic book shops, I can tell you this – the climate has changed a great deal in the last few years. Comic book stores may now flourish or perish based upon how they treat their customers. For some reason, video game stores just haven’t made as much of a change. To make matters worse, I have to think about whether I’ll receive death threats for even entering the conversation on women and gaming – although speaking with female game developers and women in geek culture at NYCC did make me aware of the size and strength of this community.
Indie developers are the most innovative force in geek culture. A theme throughout most of the panels (and many of the conversations I had at NYCC) seemed to point towards indie developers, artists, writers, and content creators. Independent creators have the drive to increase representation and the freedom to push an issue. More than once, writers, editors, and artists affiliated with larger publishers deferred to indie creators on their panels, simply introducing a topic.
Did you attend NYCC? What do you think about the energy surrounding the inclusion of women in geek culture? Please comment below.