BATGIRL STOOD IN FRONT of the bigwigs of DC Comics, exuding pride and strength despite the latex costume and purple cape. “Where are the women?” she asked. Over and over again, panel after panel, the macho-fied crowds of this year’s San Diego Comic Con were assailed by the demands of Stephanie Brown’s alter ego. In one weekend, the now infamous Batgirl of San Diego single-handedly forced DC Comics to publicly acknowledge a commitment to comic book femmes.
It wasn’t the first time San Diego Comic Con caused a buzz among geeky women. Last year, a panel called “Geek Girls Exist” drew a shocking 300 to 400 people—a milestone considering the usual “token female” per panel. Among the attendees was Jen Stuller, a 36-year-old Seattleite and one of the eventual founders of the first-ever GeekGirlCon, to debut this month in our tech-friendly, game-loving hometown.
Set for Seattle Center, the convention aims to bring Batgirl, Buffy, and Lara Croft to the fore of the conversation. Stuller, now GGC’s programming director, explains that women have fought with scattered success to gain ground in the geek world. “In the last two or three years there has been this really vocal contingent of women on the Internet connecting with each other and saying, Hey, this is what I want to read…I’m a grown-up. Please make Wonder Woman T-shirts in my size.”
A self-proclaimed “geek feminist,” Stuller sees GGC as a space for women who are passionate about science and science fiction, technology, games, comics, fantasy, and LARPing to network and learn from each other—to geek out over all the fussy details within a respectful community. And unlike most of GGC’s predecessors, the added emphasis on intimacy and interactive activities has drawn in the shy newcomers. “We are working to bring all sorts of different people together, whether you’re female, transgender, gay…whether you like Star Trek or Star Wars,” she said.
The ambitious lineup—a projected 60 panels with 300 speakers—will cover everything from nerd burlesque (sexy Imperial Stormtroopers?) to women in horror. There’s a panel on making your own zine, a parenting session on raising mini geeks, and a Reel Grrls video blogging workshop. A few select invitations went out to “Very Special Dudes” like Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a writer-producer of Lost, and famed Wonder Woman scribe Greg Rucka. It just wouldn’t be right without the token male.