Emerald City Comicon was a success! I overspent, as is tradition, but came home with some amazing gems.


Photo by Nikky Southerland

(An original Farel Dalrymple page for me to love forever and ever and ever.)

2. A signed copy of Essex County by Jeff Lemire, a Bucko mini with a sketch by Erika Moen, a limited run Pop Gun War preview from Farel Dalrymple, Sublife 2, and a signed copy of World War Z by Max Brooks. A fine haul, I say.

Though ECCC has grown considerably with the new third day added this year, there weren’t any noticeable growing pains.  The crowd is considerably diverse in both category and in genre, with a solid mix of sci-fi nerds, comic nerds, media nerds, etc. Overall, a success. (And that is saying a lot from this indie-lovin’ snob.)

Con Updates

The time is drawing near for Emerald City Comicon, Seattle’s mainstream nerd festival. I am totally going, but the better question is are you?

To get excited for the upcoming events and mentally prepare myself to be surrounded by gobs of people, I started looking through my own photos of past cons. While not totally applicable, I came across this photo I took of a signed “The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories” from Portland’s Stumptown Festival, and squeed from pleasant memories.

Nicholas Gurewitch owns our base.

In other totally rad con news, Geek Girl Con has confirmed dates and location and is starting to announce guests. I highly recommend buying passes now to support this emerging celebration rich with awesome and potential.

Quickie, but Goodie

I’m still here!

A quick post:

  • Go read Bucko. Erika Moen is the artist and a perennial favorite of mine.  So far, the story is engaging and relatable.
  • Speaking of webcomics, I am mourning the end of The Rack.
  • I’m getting really excited for Sarah Glidden’s next book about a month-long trip to Damascus with the Common Language Project. An interview with The Daily Cross Hatch stoked that fire.
  • Did you know the BBC documentary about Jeff Buckley  “Mystery White Boy” is available to watch online? I didn’t either, but here you go.

What have you all been up to?

Scenes of Explosive Disappointment

Adrian Tomine is one of the most enchanting and amazing cartoonists. Optic Nerve is so beautiful and heart-wrenching in its beautiful faint lines and mundane moments and quiet cynicism. Up until today, I would think that the high regard I hold for his work would prohibit a critical reading of his latest release.

Now that my drawn out declaration of adoration is complete, please empathize with me as I decry Tomine’s latest work, Scenes from an Impending Marriage, to be boring and uninspired. A fucking snore, to be precise.

I won’t be overly harsh, as I acknowledge that this book was only intended to be a wedding favor for guests. It was written for a captive and loving audience who was present to enjoy the fruits of their anguish. The book is an insiders joke, but without a punchline. I cry foul to whoever suggested that Tomine shovel this autobiographical drivel in to eager hands of adoring fans.

There is one highlight that made me smile:

That’s right, a single panel on page 29 drawn in the style of Charles Schultz made me smile. (Yes, this means that the best scene in the book made me want to crack open a different book.) The remaining panels are rich with moments of economic and social privilege countered with pandering liberal guilt, bookended with more boring anecdotes to leave me uninspired and annoyed.

A hero fallen? I wouldn’t go that far. I will take this disappointment, ball it up into a mini hate missile, and launch it at the entire wedding industry. Even Tomine’s beautiful sketches cannot make the beauty-salon-ritual, DJ-picking, honeymoon-booking, guest-list-building-exercise tolerable.

I close with a challenge. If you are a cartoonist who has a story of your wedding or commitment ceremony, I dare you to share the story of your nuptials. Until proven otherwise, I am writing off Scenes from an Impending Marriage as proof that comics of this genre should never be made.

What’s in a name?

[Trigger Warnings: sexual violence]

First, go read today’s The Rack written by Grrl Nerd friend and favorite Kevin Church. Then, come back.

If you are reading anything on this site, you mostly likely will agree that the use of the r-word as an adjective or a flippant response is offensive and horrible. But for others (the majority?), its use may be perfectly acceptable. Lydia’s reminder on The Rack addresses these people. Sadly, not all employ sensitivity in a world where 1 in 6 women they know have been assaulted. It can be difficult to explain why the r-word is not okay to use as an inconsequential adjective; it is frustrating to explain to someone that it is a real action verb with severe consequences.

At minimum, Rape is violent and pervasive and is an epidemic in our culture. At its worst, Rape is destructive and terrorizing and possessive of the survivor. The ‘so what’ of the r-word use is that there are survivors (and allies and partners and children and supporters) that are triggered by the use of the word that is the cause of their trauma in a punch-line of a joke or as a show promo for a sub-par actor. I’d like to think that another human would like to prevent causing further harm to another.

I’m grateful to Kevin for calling men out for the gross abuse of the word (though I’d argue there are many women who need to hear this lesson too). If this comic were penned by an angry radical feminist, it would be dismissed and pointed out as another example of flag-waving psycho-bitches ruining another form of entertainment. Instead, Kevin as a respected writer, as a cis-gendered male and as an important member of the nerd community has initiated a discussion of semantics that can be a starting place for those who may not be aware of how the word can affect on victims/survivors.

But this discussion is not enough.

Rape extends beyond the violence; it re-circulates in our society in the form of jokes by ‘comedians,’  victim blaming for better statistics, inadequate mental health support for survivors, low conviction rates for rapists, and the isolation of victims. From the idolatry of suspected rapists to the sweeping of violence under the rug to protect a beloved athlete’s career, The System – from the police departments to the comedians to the rapists to the protective sports teams – inflicts continual, lasting, and severe damage to survivors.

Yes, we should stop using the r-word in flippant and insensitive ways. But we can also start a campaign that tells rapists to stop raping and start holding justice departments accountable to process rape kits.  We can support survivor networks and participate in grass-roots education efforts. The conversation can’t stop here.

What can you do?

Tattoo, tattoo.

A Girl Gamer article showcased the bravest and most dedicated nerd getting an entire sleeve of gaming-related tattoos, which got me thinking that as much as I love my nerd culture, I’m not sure if I want to inked on my body.

If tattoos traditionally mark ones admission to a subculture and alternative/risky/artsy crowd, what do nerd tattoos mark? That we spend our weekends in dark rooms playing intense video games or spending hours in a D&D campaign, playing on a vinyl grid with all our might, or that we are awesome because we spend all our money on comics?

Is the elite nerd culture threshold so high that ink is the only marker of admission? Or, is this more of a ‘nerdier than thou’ exercise? Is the point more a nod to other nerds who will recognize the arm of iconography? Or is it to commemorate your favorite characters? As much as I love tattoos, this is one genre of body art that I simply don’t understand.

Despite my hand-wringing about adding corporate, albeit beloved, iconography to your body, there are some good nerd tattoos out there. Here are some of my favorites:

So what’s your take on ‘nerd’ tattoos? Am I being too harsh or old fashioned?

Geek Girl Con!

I caught whispers on the ‘tubes and tales from my nerdy co-workers (shout out to Info Deb!) of a wondrous development in Seattle nerd culture, almost too awesome to be true:

Geek. Girl. Con.

I close my eyes and imagine swarms of like-minded, awesome, nerdy and engaged women and womyn and hir allies showing up to build a vocal community to make our nerd-verse better. [Ed. note Not a typo, read up on gender neutral pronouns; learn, respect, repeat.] I can feel the collective sigh of being in a safe space where fawning over Buffy and talking about Raina Telgemeier’s latest work is welcomed;  where a real conversation about body-positivity in our culture could be had while the grrrl next to them excitedly dreams about Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters; where we discuss the conundrum of loving Tomb Raider games, despite glaring problems with the sexualization of Lara Croft.

So, clearly I’m projecting my feminist army dreams onto a collective of geek girls. Sue me. It could happen though.

At this stage, the convention is in the fundraising phase. Like any good community building exercise, Geek Girl Con needs some love and nurturing to get it off the ground. I swell with pride knowing that if any city could pull this off, it’d be Seattle. I’ll keep you all posted with details as they emerge, but you better believe I’ll be front and center. I hope to see you there too!

Auld Lang Syne

As 2010 winds to a close, Grrl Nerd headquarters in the Capitol Hill neck of the Seattle woods will go offline to get belchy from apple cider and fat from leftover pie. Before we bid you adieu and get our 2011 on, parting thoughts ought to be shared.

Thanks to the supportive readers who have been reading and sharing and commenting. The ultimate goal is for this to be a community site, not just a place for Serene. If you want to post, shoot me an email at [rad] at [grrlnerd dot com]. This party has room for more.

Also, rather than the bound-to-be-broken resolutions, here are a few goals we want to keep in mind for this upcoming year:

1. Go to more events

Liz Prince at Stumptown, 2007

There was once an era where cons, gallery openings, author events, and community celebrations were attended. And then, we got anti-social. 2011 will be a new leaf, one in which we go out and frolic with our nerd brethren. In the flesh.

2. Less non-fiction

(Self-explanatory. If you have good recommendations for contemporary fiction writers, please share!)

3. More beauty!

The world is a stunning place. With so many amazing pieces and stunning portfolio sites and means to buy works from artists directly, I hope to make this a year where we pay it forward to the struggling beauty makers of this world. We’ll try to share the information as come across it, either on this site or on Twitter or on Facebook. [shameless plug: follow us at all, natch]

4. Expand beyond Seattle

Suzzalo Library at UW

Since we are headquartered in one of the nerdiest cities in the United States, it’s hard to expand our horizon. We’ve got independent bookstores and comic shops and cafes and beautiful libraries for days. But, so does Portland and Vancouver and Albuquerque and Chicago and wherever you might live. I smell road trips.

We Love Movies! (Jeff Bridges 2010 edition)

(aka The Post In Which We Fawn Over Jeff Bridges circa 2010.)

TRON: Legacy (dir. Joseph Kosinski)

I left the my local theater feeling really uneasy about TRON: Legacy. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Disney totally screwed me over by pulling the rug from under my feet. All of the innovation and philosophy and tension and weird art of the original TRON film were gutted by discombobulating CGI and fancy-looking distractions to make the viewer not notice the lack of innovation and heart. Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn is interesting in a distanced way that lends nothing to the story. It pains me to say it, but too much of The Dude, not enough of Kevin Flynn. Ultimately, I didn’t care about a single character. In fact, I cared so little that I couldn’t suppress laughter when Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn would cry. I’m a dick.

The Daft Punk scene was nice, as were the light cycle battles, but the overarching impression is that the film was flat and uninspired. It’s a damn shame because as weird and scary as technology was in 1982, its even more pervasive and insane now. Disney screwed the pooch, which most likely surprises no one.

True Grit (dir. Coen Brothers)

First, everyone involved in this film, from costume production to cast deserve applause. The casting is spot on, location scouts did a great job (NM represent!), and this film restores the Coen Brothers in my eyes after the painful A Serious Man.

Jeff Bridges as the hero of the hour did a damn fine job as Rooster Cogburn. In fact, the whole cast was stellar. Everyone down to Barry Pepper got dirty and grimy and donned their costumes with an impressive commitment to their craft – especially Barry Pepper, because that man got UGLY for the film.

While this review is included under a proverbial marquee in which Bridges’ name flashes brightly, the fire and guts and awesome of this film is firmly on Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. It is rare when a younger female is given the space to carry the film AND be the hero. In this film, she is the glue that binds the bad, the ugly, the human, the beautiful, and the touching. As these stories circulate around her – Cogburn as a sad drunk without direction, LeBoeuf as an eager but bumbling hero, Chaney has a hick idiot with a wicked trigger finger – the center of the chaos is Ross and her ability to harness the wild personalities while proving her skills.

Eff Best Of Lists

I am rigidly against ‘best of’ lists. I feel like they are a crutch for weak critics, and insincere at best. My reasoning? There is no way that you could get me to list my top 10 artists of the year, because my mood drastically shifts whatever objectivity I claim to have towards music/books/photography/comics/movies/etc. What can I say, I’m human. I expect critics to have the same conundrum. You should be passionate and introspective about your reactions to art. It should be impossible.

But, for the sake of getting to know each other and to create a time-capsule type post where I can go back in 5 years and make fun of myself, I’ll recount some of my favorite things from 2010. Please do the same, and share the link.

1. Favorite movie:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, with Inception nipping at its heels. This is a tough choice, but there is one movie that I saw opening night and waited years for and pre-ordered the physical copy of, and one that I blindly stumbled upon and loved it with ferocity. Win goes to Scott P.

2. Favorite musical event:

Pavement at the Paramount, without a doubt. I was emotionally prepared for a disengaged Malkmus and a band who had been forced to revisit music from a bygone era, totally bored by songs over fifteen years old. Instead, I saw a group of friends who seemed to be loving their material and actively enjoying their reunited moment, complete with smiles and banter. Also, I got to be in the front row.

3. Favorite comic:

Oy, why am I doing this to myself? This is torture. My knee-jerk answer is the Love and Rockets: New Stories volume 3 release, on the strength of “Brown Town” alone. I totally reserve the right to change my mind.

4. Favorite television show:

Community continues to be my favorite show. I already discussed why Abed is a favorite character of mine, and the exploration of different tones was appealing. Unsurprisingly, my favorite episode thus far is “Aerodynamics of Gender.” Watch it if you haven’t. Comedy gold.

5. Favorite political moment:

(specific) Barney Frank‘s fielding of a dumb reporter’s question in the aftermath of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal.

(overall) The growing importance of non-mainstream news channels in the dissemination of information and the demand for accuracy (see: continued dominance of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, the growing importance of Rachel Maddow, WikiLeaks, etc.)

6. Favorite older thing that I discovered this year:

Harry Nilsson, thanks to the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?). I don’t know how I lived my life without “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”.

7. Favorite book I read:

After Dark by Haruki Murakami.

(Another non-current pick, but my school load prohibited much recreational reading. Also, if you don’t like Murakami, we can’t be friends.)

8. Favorite webcomic:

Hipster Hitler. Making fun of hipsters is as tired as jeggings and Hamsters dancing to Black Street, but goddamn this comic makes me laugh.

9. Favorite photographer:

Jenny Jimenez. I feel nothing but envy when I look at how she beautifully brings the voyeur-like eye of a photojournalist to joyful occasions.  It satisfies my need for beauty and curiosity at the same time.

10. Favorite journalist piece:

Lindy West’s review of Sex and The City 2. Go read it if you haven’t. I’d say you could thank me later, but the real accolades clearly go to Ms. West. She brings a feminist eye and a comedians wit to a review that caught the eye of many.