Not Lost in Space: A Love Letter to My Internet & IRL Friends

[Art by Becca Hyman from her Peppermint Gun Comic]

Last Saturday, I attended the 4th Annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. The Center was packed with over 5,000 (mostly) black and brown folks of all ages. I love attending events like these because, to quote my friend Cynthia, “It feels like a family reunion.” It was beautiful.

I found a group of amazing black and brown folks who are kind, creative and passionate. Not only do we share a love for comics, games and anime, but also have the shared experience of being a PoC in an oppressive world. Some of these people I’ve only met once, and some not at all. Either way, they are the homies.

We may not see each other in person often (if at all) but we’re always in each other’s mentions, DMs and comments. We can talk about the latest issue of Saga and share our wash day routine. We share One Punch Man fan art and livemixtape.com links in the same message. No code switching necessary.

We value each other.
We inspire each other.
We support each other.
Without them, I’d be lonely.

If you think I’m talking about you, I am.

On Presenting at UNLV and Chaos Emeralds

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On Presenting at UNLV…

In October, I was asked to present about diversity in geek culture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In November, I did just that.

When I first read the email from the Multicultural Program Coordinator at UNLV I thought it was a scam. It was so unbelievable. She said she was working with the Students Organizing Diversity Activities (SODA) and they wanted to bring me in as a speaker for their upcoming event called Uncensored on November 12th.

I’ve been on podcasts and panels, but I never did something like this before. In fact, I have stage fright. So when I was asked to speak in Vegas I was equal parts honored and terrified. Despite this good news coming during a particularly bad time in my life, I said yes.

It was a rough few weeks for me mentally leading up to the event. I was incredibly anxious the entire time to say the least, but I did it. In fact, I think I did a good job and I’m proud of myself. But I didn’t do it alone. Whenever I doubted myself (which was daily), my SO, brother, family and friends made me think otherwise long enough to get it done.

Speaking of doubting myself, this experience made me realize that I’m too humble. I tell myself and others that I don’t know how I got here. That I’m just lucky or that I slipped through the cracks when no one was looking. I feel like I have Premature Imposter Syndrome; I’m not even worthy of thinking that I’m not worthy. Ain’t that some shit? But, there’s another part of me that knows how hard I’ve worked and that I deserve to be “here”.

I’ve been thinking about contradictions a lot recently. Which you may have noticed because I just mentioned that I feel I’m both not worthy and deserving at the same time. I stumbled across this Walt Whitman quote from Song of Myself recently, and in a few eloquent words he sums up how I’ve come to terms with my seemingly opposing sides,

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

During my speech at UNLV I brought up contradictions several times in regards to enjoying problematic media. I’m a feminist who loves sexist hip hop songs. I’m a woman of color who enjoys some stereotypical characters. I’m confident and insecure. I contain multitudes and I’m cool with that.

… and Chaos Emeralds

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My experience as a geek culture blogger can be compared to playing Sonic the Hedgehog. (Stay with me now.) I started blogging because I wanted to talk about the stuff that I liked and I hoped that I’d make some friends along the way. Years later, those are still the core reasons why I continue blogging. Being interviewed, meeting creators, making new friends, speaking on panels and podcasts are all like the special stages in Sonic. The stages where you get to float around this pinball-like maze collecting rings and trying to get the chaos emerald before time runs out. I don’t play Sonic for the special stages, I play it because I enjoy it. But playing the special stages makes the experience even better. For me, the chaos emeralds are when people tell me that Girl Gone Geek inspired them or when I spoke at UNLV.

I hope I get more chaos emeralds, but even if I don’t, I’m still going to keep playing the game.

 

[Most of the photos are by Jemar Souza]

New York Comic Con 2015: Gimmie The Loot

Here are all of the goodies that I got from NYCC. This post was half done a month ago but life has been kinda crazy so better late than never as they say!

The Divine 
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The Divine is a fast-paced, brutal, and breathlessly beautiful portrait of a world where ancient powers vie with modern warfare and nobody escapes unscathed. (via Amazon)” This is a perfect example of why you should judge a book by its cover. (I bought this from the Kinokuniya booth along with Virgil.)

Eliza Frye 

Her art made me stop in my tracks!

Virgil

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“Betrayed, beaten, and banished by his own, an outed cop fights his way across Jamaica for revenge! (via Image)” Virgil was a thrill ride. Buy this!

Jordie Bellaire is GREAT & They’re Not Like Us 

Jordie Bellaire is my favorite colorist. If you read (good) comics, chances are Bellaire is the colorist on one of them. She’s crazy talented, hardworking and to top it all off she’s a super nice person.

About two years ago I was tweeting sweet nothings to @whoajordie about her coloring and she said she was going to the upcoming New York Comic Con and she’d give me a little something. I promptly melted. Sadly, she couldn’t make it to NYCC that year. But she didn’t forget that convo. This year she tweeted at me that she wasn’t going, but Declan Shalvey (another talented artist) was going and she would give him something for me to pick up. I was just beside myself. I didn’t think she remembered a few tweets she exchanged with a fan two years ago, let alone decide to give little old me something.

Fast-forward to the con and I pick up my gift from Bellaire via Shalvey and it’s volume one of They’re Not Like Us written by Eric Stephenson art by Simon Gane and colors by Jordie Bellaire. Now I’m already reading this comic because duh, why wouldn’t I be? But I didn’t have the first volume which I was excited to get. And then to have it blessed by Jordie Bellaire herself was one of the highlights of New York Comic Con. She did a cute little sketch and wrote, “Thanks Jamila”. Thank YOU, Jordie. For real. Thank you. It never gets old when you realize someone you’re a fan of is a really nice person.

Tephlon Funk

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Tephlon Funk is an anime/manga and hip hop inspired comic with plans to come out as an anime as well. TF is one of those projects that I could just throw my money at without knowing much about the story because the art is so dope. This post was supposed to go out when the Tephlon Funk Kickstarter was live so y’all could fund it. But alas, life did its thing, and now the Kickstarter has ended but thankfully it was funded!

Alitha Martinez

Alitha Martinez is a talented artist who has worked for DC and Marvel and we’ve been on two panels together about Women of Color in Comics. Martinez had a booth in artist alley and I HAD to cop her art. I picked up two postcards and a beautiful erotic comic called Foreign: Gifts and Curses: Pillow Book.

Wayward

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My friend Roshi is reading Wayward and told me she loved it and I should read it, too, so I stopped by writer Jim Zub’s booth in artist alley and picked it up. The cover is filled with cats so I’m already a fan.

Markus Prime

I’ve been a fan of Markus Prime for a while now. I love his creative, race swapped characters. He was at NYCC supporting Amandla Stenberg and Ashley A. Woods’ new comic Niobe (see below). He also did a variant cover for the series. He didn’t have a booth but he was nice enough to bring two prints for me to buy from him the next day!

Ego Rehab by Dave Crosland

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While in artist alley, I did my usual “scan for artists of color and women to buy from” and came across Dave Crosland’s booth. I bought his comic Ego Rehab, which is an autobiographical story where Crosland is rescued from lack of inspiration by his adventurous inner child. It sounded like fun so I picked it up!

Niobe: She is Life Print & The Untamed

I stopped by the Stranger Comics booth to support the new series, Niobe: She is Life. It’s written by Sebastian A. Jones, and Hunger Games star and activist Amandla Stenberg with art by Ashley A. Woods based on layouts by Stranger’s Art Director Darrell May. Unfortunately, issue one was sold out but I managed to snag a gorgeous print and and the hardcover of The Untamed. Niobe seems to be sold out pretty much everywhere so lucky you if you managed to get a copy!

Nowhere Men

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My love for Nowhere Men runs deep, y’all. Very rarely do I fall in love with every bit of a comic but I did with NM. It was young love, but just as we were getting to know one another, my heart was broken when it went on a hiatus with no mention of a return. I felt like I was left at the alter. Despite its abrupt stop, I continued to tell anyone who would listen to read Nowhere Men. But as they say it’s always darkest before the dawn and it was announced that Nowhere Men was returning.

When is it returning? Not sure exactly, sometime next year. But just like Nana, I’ll wait forever for its return. This announcement, however, came with upsetting news. The original artist, Nate Bellegarde, won’t be returning with it. I’m really sad about this and will probably never get over it, but I understand. For a minute or two, I tried to figure out how to describe the way Bellegarde’s art made me feel, but I can’t. I’m speechless… Or rather wordless. I wish him all the best. He is talented beyond words. I’m looking forward to Dave Taylor joining the Nowhere Men team as the new artist. (Oh, and shout out to David Brothers for being awesome!)

New York Comic Con 2015: Cosplay Roundup

Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop Cosplay

Y’all are probably sick of seeing my femme Spike cosplay, but I’m not sick of wearing it. Any chance I get to pretend to be as cool as Spike Spiegel I’m going to take it. This cosplay was made by the very talented Stefánia Ágoston of Ticci Rockabilly. I wore this to the Fanbros: Crossplay Cosplay Contest and Party where I was one of the judges. Fanbros are the homies; I love their podcast and they are some of my favorite geek peeps. Check them out!

Neon Genesis Evangelion… Sweatshirt

I needed a day of rest from cosplaying so I wore my Neon Genesis Evangelion sweater from Apparel K on Thursday. I love how cute Sachiel looks on the sleeves of the sweater.

Sailor Goon Cosplay

For Friday, I went with a remixed version of my Sailor Goon cosplay. I traded my denim vest and shorts for a leather-ish vest and black shorts. I left the wig at home because I couldn’t be bothered… but also because I’m in love with my new hair color.

Sailor Moon from Earth 23 Cosplay

The Story

I’ll be honest, I had a lot of concerns about my Earth 23 Sailor Moon cosplay. Being a PoC I’m extra sensitive to appropriation. Nowadays everyone is being called out for it, both justly and unjustly. I was nervous that what I was doing could be considered the same thing. Race and culture bends in cosplay are nothing new, but I wondered if those cosplayers experienced that same trepidation.

I approached this cosplay with the utmost respect to Sailor Moon and Japanese culture; which helped subside my appropriation concerns. To me, this was more than a simple culture bend cosplay. I wanted to show the strong connection that black women have to Sailor Moon. Yes, women of all backgrounds grew up watching the Sailor Senshi. However, there’s a special connection many of women of color made with the Sailor Scouts. Here was this group of strong, but also flawed, teenagers kicking ass… and they were women of color. Something we could only really find in anime. My cosplay was my way of honoring that connection and hopefully uplifting women of color as well.

The Construction

I bought the fabric from Jabbie Kunda at the International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn this summer. If you live in NYC and want to buy some beautiful African wax and kente fabrics, his permanent shop is located at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market (aka the African Market).

Stefánia of Ticci Rockabilly made my Kente Sailor Fuku and did an amazing job. To add a little poof I wore my petticoat from Bodyline and my friend Shanté made my beautiful ankh headpiece.

@girl_gone_geek stealin my heart at #NewYorkComicCon. booth 2238 – come say hey

A photo posted by amandla (@amandlastenberg) on Oct 10, 2015 at 11:30am PDT

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The Compliments

The compliments were overwhelming. Instead of a magical girl transformation, I turned into a shy shoujo character like Rinko Yamato or Sawako Kuronuma. I felt not only extremely adorable, but strong as well. I believe people got the message I was trying to convey and I’m happy about that.

I met Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games) and she loved my cosplay so much that she posted a photo on her Instagram! She was at NYCC to promote the comic she’s writing, Niobe: She Is Life, along with the artist Ashley Woods. The comic comes out November 4th. Preorder it now at your local comic book shop!

Steven Universe Cosplay

I wanted to do a Steven Universe cosplay but since I waited last-minute I ended up with just the shirt, gem and cheeseburger clutch (instead of a backpack). Still cute, though!

NYCC 2015 Cosplay

FlameCon’s ‘Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ Panel

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I attended (and loved) NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks. For more about FlameCon read my recap and check out the amazing cosplay.

My favorite panel at Flamecon was Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture. It was moderated by Charles Battersby (Astonishing Adventures) and the panelist included Jennie Wood (Flutter), Lawrence Gullo (Baritaria), P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics, Marvel and Boom).

Transgender Narrative

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Transgender narrative was a big part of the discussion. It’s to no surprise that the further a character is from being heterosexual, cisgender and white, the more they are misrepresented… if they are represented at all. A common and inaccurate transgender narrative is, “I am a man, what if I wanted to be a woman?” Lawrence Gullo suggested the following narrative instead, “I am a woman, what if no one believed me and I had to prove it to people my entire life.”

Sci-Fi & Gender

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Science Fiction is known to use aliens and androids as representations of LGBTQIA people instead of actual humans. This not only suggests that the creator views those groups as “The Other,” either subconsciously or consciously, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes about LGBTQIA people. Gullo suggests a way to combat this as a SF creator is to make humans LGBTQIA and gender fluid as well, not just the aliens.

Creators should also stop assigning gender to androids, especially self-aware ones. When you really think about it, it’s completely unnecessary, inaccurate and almost always reinforces gender stereotypes. Assuming that AI would have the same gender notions as humans is more than presumptuous, it’s pretty egotistical.

Positive Trans Media

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

The panel wasn’t only about the negative media representations of trans people. Steven Universe, Dragon Age: Inquisitions, and Saints Row 3 were all praised for being positive trans media.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisitions ran their script for a transgender character, Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi, by trans people and changed it based off their input.
  • Gullo shared an anecdote about his transgender friend who cried when she saw Stevonnie in Steven Universe because she identified with them. Although Stevonnie doesn’t have a gender and Garnet described their fusion as “a conversation”, the character has resonated strongly with genderfluid and trans people. 
  • In Saints Row 3, you can have a male voice actor for a female body and even go to a surgeon and change your sex at any point in the game. It’s completely up to the player.

When In Doubt, Ask

Dragon Age Inquisitions's Cremisius "Krem" Acclasi

Dragon Age Inquisitions’s Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi

Some advice if you’re a cisgender creator nervous about inadvertently misrepresenting a transgender character: When in doubt, ask. It isn’t a creator’s responsibility to make their work diverse, but it is responsible. Jennie Wood summed it up best, “We just want to see ourselves.”

Flamecon – NYC’s First LGBTQ Comic Con

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I was beyond excited to attend NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks.

True Gender Equality

FlameCon had preferred pronoun stickers for attendees to wear which included “Ask Me” and “Them/Their/They”. They also had gender neutral bathrooms. Just two simple additions to a comic con made the 2,200 attendees feel comfortable and welcome.

The Happiest Con

FlameCon is the happiest comic con I’ve ever attended. This all happened because of one simple, but important word, respect. Attendees felt free to be their geeky selves without fear of harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cosplay

There was A LOT of Steven Universe cosplay so I was basically in heaven.

Special Guests & GaymerX

My favorite special guests were Kevin Wada (artist), Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale) and Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale) to name a few! GaymerX had a game room and Nintendo and Atari both had booths.

My Loot

It was pretty hard to not spend all my money, the con was filled with talented creators and vendors. The MC in “Node” by David Rondinelli is basically Sailor Moon if her dad was Batman, so what’s not to love?

I had the chance to meet Hazel Newlevant, editor of “Chainmail Bikini” which is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers. She was super nice and her booth was full of great comics. I picked up her “Poly Glot, Cunning Linguist”. I really loved the honesty and emotional complexity of her short comic.

I couldn’t resist picking up this beautiful Hirsute Heroines postcard set by Hayley Blatte. Just look at the gorgeous purple pit hair!

I’m a big fan of simple black and white art (I blame manga for that). So I knew I couldn’t walk away from Niki Smith’s booth without buying something. “Some Did Rest” was the “depressing” comic as Smith described it. It was inspired by, “the thousands of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the impact of a natural disaster on a society with compulsory population control.” It is pretty sad, but also really beautiful.

Up With The Sun” and “Friends” are Smith’s LGTBQ-friendly erotic comics. “Up With The Sun” is about a polyamorous relationship with a cisgender woman, transgender man and a cisgender man. “Friends” features a threesome with two cisgender men and one cisgender woman. I’ve read smut and ecchi manga before, so it was nice to read a comic where the eroticism of the story is healthy and balanced. You can read and subscribe to “Friends” and “Up with the Sun” on the erotic comic site Filthy Figments. She has more erotic comics as well!

FlameCon plans to have another con next year, hurray! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Oh, and stay tuned for another FlameCon blog post about the ‘Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ panel I attended.

Girl Gone Lolita

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This past April was Geek Girl Brunch NYC’s annual Lolita Picnic at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens! Before I get in too deep, let me explain what Lolita Fashion is for those who think I’m talking about the Nabokov kind. Lolita is a Japanese street style and subculture that is heavily inspired by the Rococo and Victorian eras, but also has some influences from current fashion trends.

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What I love most is that there are lots of Lolita sub-styles so you’re bound to find one that’s perfect for you. For more info check out the post I wrote for Geek Girl Brunch, Lolita Fashion 101.

Being a Lolita is expensive, which is probably why I only seem to get a new coord (coordinate/outfit) once a year. You not only need a dress or blouse and skirt, but a petticoat, shoes, purse and accessories. You can also level up and get a wig and circle contacts for baby doll eyes. I did not level up.

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If you plan to wear the Chanels of the Lolita world like Angelic Pretty or Baby the Stars Shine Bright, dresses can cost you anywhere from $140-$500. Since I’m not ‘bout that “brand” life I’ve only worn “off-brand” clothing, which is still cute af and much more affordable. I suggest Etsy, Bodyline and My Lolita Dress for some amazing off-brand Lolita fashion.

With 14 or so Lolita sub-styles it was tough to figure out which one best represented me. I love how ridiculously cute Sweet Lolitas are, but also couldn’t deny that I wear an awful lot of black so maybe I was more of a Gothic Lolita…

In the end, I went for a Classic Lolita look with a touch of Garden Party to go with the Cherry Blossom Festival. I really wanted to wear rocking horse shoes and after an embarrassing amount of hours I found the perfect floral skirt on My Lolita Dress. My favorite piece however was the beautiful vintage hat from the 1960’s that I got from Age of Mint.

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My Coord:

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The GGB Lolita picnic was so much fun! Everyone came in their Lolita and Garden Party best. I love wearing Lolita because I feel super cute and always get showered with compliments. One little girl thought I was a princess and another asked if I was a butterfly. I just about died. There’s nothing wrong with a confidence boost!

The Lolita Brunch was extra special because I reunited with GGB NYC after being in Germany since December. I surprised Yissel and Rachel (my fellow GGB co-founders) with a commission of us three in Lolita made by the AMAZING Crown Maiden​! Check out the details of the art here

Geek Girl Brunch has grown so much in one year and we currently have 57 chapters worldwide! Join Geek Girl Brunch to get in on the geek girl fun. If you want to start a chapter in your city, email us