The Badass Ladies of Summer return with a vengeance

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I began my annual roundup of the Badass Ladies of Summer in 2014 when I noticed a growing and encouraging trend of women delivering strong, wildly entertaining, box-office stealing performances in Hollywood’s most action-heavy, male-dominated season.

Since then, there have been many high points, like Charlize Theron’s performance in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the female-led cast of Ghostbusters, and Margot Robbie, tearing it up as Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad.”

The pinnacle of summer badassery was reached last year when Gal Gadot debuted on the big screen as Wonder Woman and basically gave female moviegoers of all ages the representation they’d been craving all their lives. Aside from that game-changing performance, however, the rest of summer 2017 skewed disappointingly toward the testosterone-fueled end of the scale.

So I’m happy to report that the badass ladies were back with a vengeance in summer 2018. From fierce, formidable comic book heroines (and villains) and razor-sharp double agents, to sci-fi goddesses and tough-as-nails mamas, women were kicking butt, taking names, and giving their male co-stars a run for their money. (And several of them, including Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, and Rebecca Ferguson, are Badass Ladies of Summer alumni!)

Below, we salute these women and their amazing achievements in cinematic badassness.

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Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place: I’m going to roll the summer parameters back a bit to April, when the virtually silent, crazy-suspenseful thriller directed by Blunt’s real-life hubby, John Krasinski, had audiences on the edge of their seats. As good as the rest of the cast is, Blunt’s performance – a combination of grief-stricken vulnerability, maternal grace, and survivor instinct — is the definite highlight.

She plays Evelyn, a mother of three with another on the way whose mission is to keep her children alive in a post-alien invasion America where emitting one small sound could be deadly. No other summer heroine gave birth alone in a bathtub while hiding from extraterrestrial predators, so she might be the baddest of them all.

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Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Danai Gurira, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Letitia Wright, and Karen Gillan in Avengers: Infinity War: In a movie crammed full of angsty comic-book goodness, the ladies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were front and center during many memorable – and traumatizingly emotional – moments.

Saldana’s Gamora was once a lone assassin but she’s evolved into an altruist willing to sacrifice herself to save the universe. Her fate at the hands of Dark Lord/ deadbeat dad Thanos was perhaps the most poignant and horrifying in a movie full of poignant and horrifying fates, thanks to Saldana’s earnest performance.

Olsen’s Scarlet Witch had to make an equally heart-wrenching sacrifice involving love interest Vision. Still, with staggering power at her witchy fingertips, she came close to stopping Thanos.

So did Klementieff’s Mantis, who was mainly there to provide comic relief in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but revealed herself in this film to be a quick-thinking, nimble fighter.

When Thanos’ Black Order brings the fight to Wakanda, Gurira’s Okoye fiercely leads the defense alongside T’Challa. She also participates in one of the movie’s most epic fight scenes, flanked by Scarlet Witch and Johansson’s Black Widow, against Thanos minion Proxima Midnight.

As for Wright’s Shuri, Infinity War definitely could have used more of the tech-genius princess’ irreverent wit. I also suspect we’ll be seeing more from Gillan’s tormented Nebula in the next chapter of the Avengers.

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Thandie Newton, Erin Kellyman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Emilia Clarke in Solo: A Star Wars Story: As mixed as the reaction was to the most recent Star Wars spin-off, it brought us a quartet of intriguing new leading ladies. The only shame is most of them exited the film much too early, leaving us hungry for more.

Newton’s Val, the loyal, no-nonsense right-hand woman to Woody Harrelson’s thieving Tobias Beckett, is so tough and likable, she should have been allowed to stick around for the entire movie.

Waller-Bridge gave voice to the franchise’s first major female droid character, who happens to be the wokest rebel in the galaxy, but L3-37’s ultimate demise deprives her of her agency in disturbing ways.

Kellyman’s Enfys Nest stays hidden behind a mask for most of the movie. The removal of said mask is one of the most electrifying moments in Solo, but it’s a short-lived one, and it sure as hell better be a prelude to more of this galactic pirate goddess.

As for Clarke’s Q’ira, she’s a scrappy, resourceful survivor who’s light years ahead of Han Solo when it comes to maturity and realistic expectations. She’s a controversial figure and remains enigmatic for most of the film. Though the script gives her character short shrift, Clarke’s portrayal is charismatic and strong.

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Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2: Don’t get me started on what a fiasco Deadpool’s hooker with a heart of gold girlfriend Vanessa continues to be in this sequel. Thank goodness we have Beetz’s cool, perpetually self-possessed Domino to save us from the boys club. With her luck powers unfolding in slow-motion, she’s often the best element in many of the fight scenes in this second outing. And that attitude! Let’s roll the dice and hope a spin-off is in the works.

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Holly Hunter and Sophia Bush in The Incredibles 2: Hunter’s Elastigirl was refreshing from the get-go, a stay-at-home mom torn between domestic duties and the sexy adrenaline rush of her crime-fighting alternate life. Incredibles 2 basically reverses the family situation of Disney’s first installment as Elastigirl goes into the super-powered work force while hubby Mr. Incredible stays home with the kids.

This means we get to see Elastigirl in action a whole lot more, which doesn’t disappoint. Plus, she’s got a new admirer/protégé in Bush’s Voyd, who possesses the power of dimensional teleportation, not to mention an awesome look that will inspire cosplayers for years to come.

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Evangeline Lilly and Hannah John-Kamen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Many of us have been waiting to see Lilly’s Wasp, aka tech heiress Hope van Dyne, put on her costume and finally come into her own as a full-fledged superhero since she was denied this in the original Ant-Man movie. Thankfully, Lilly presides over a sizable chunk of the action in this sequel, showing off some creative variations on the basic shrinking, expanding, and flying abilities.

She’s well-matched by John-Kamen, making her debut as Ghost. The actor plays the baddie, who can “phase” through solid objects, with a desperate, creepy intensity, enhanced by her faceless white armored suit. My only complaint was I would have liked to see a lot more of her.

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Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible – Fallout: I was instantly smitten with Ferguson when she appeared as mysterious British spy Ilsa Faust in Rogue Nation. Ilsa is voluptuous and lethal with a martial arts prowess rivaled only by her taste in shoes (and somehow this doesn’t come off as stereotypical). She also happens to be way more interesting than most of her male co-stars, including Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.

So I was thrilled to see her return for Fallout, once again playing Hunt’s sometime rival and ally. It was a relief to see less of the male gaze directed at Ilsa this time around and more focus on her intelligence, bravery, and ingenuity. She’s also got a killer scene in which she saves Simon Pegg’s Benji. The look of furious determination on her face is a joy to behold.

Photos: traileraddict.com, comicbook.com, ESPN.com, wallpapersite.com.

 

 

 

 

Superman super fan showcases powerful collection

When it comes to superheroes, Tasmin Humphries didn’t get the stereotypical memo that girls must idolize Wonder Woman and boys should look up to Superman. (Although, she’s a fan of Diana, too.)

Raised on “The Adventures of Lois & Clark” and “Superman: The Movie,” the Man of Steel became her ultimate hero, thanks to his status as most powerful being ever and his commitment to always do good.

The release of the 2006 movie “Superman Returns” inspired Tasmin to take her status as a Super fan to the next level and she began collecting hundreds of items, from comic books to memorabilia. Her collection now includes more than 1,800 pieces, which could qualify her for World Record status and has captured the attention of many blogs and media outlets, including the BBC.

Tasmin writes about her collection and enduring obsession with Supes on her  blog, theaspiringkryptonian.com, and she’s constantly on the prowl for new collectibles everywhere, from eBay to car boots.

Below, she discusses her love of the American hero who became a global icon, why Superman isn’t boring, the new series “Krypton,” her appreciation for every incarnation of the Man of Steel, including Brandon Routh, and why Mr. Mustache himself, Henry Cavill, is her current favorite.

You’re a Superman super fan whose collection of comic books and memorabilia numbers around 1,500 items. You and your collection have been receiving a lot of coverage lately, including BBC and online interviews. What has that experience been like?

Yeah, it’s been great! I really didn’t expect it to go that far! Although, the amount of times I’ve had to get the collection down from the attic has been exhausting. But so worth it. I love sharing my collection with everyone.

I understand you’re close to hitting the record for largest Superman collection in the world. Wow! Is that something that’s going to happen?

Well, the world record is 1,519 items, but I actually have 1,828. Although I have heard they don’t allow comics to be counted in the record, which sets me back a little. But that is one of my goals, yes, and the collection is increasing quite rapidly, so we shall see.

Stereotypically, girls tend to be encouraged to admire superheroes like Wonder Woman, while boys are encouraged to look up to Superman or Batman. How did you subvert this stereotype?

Well, I didn’t really know I was doing it … I was never a girly girl, and I always loved playing with cars and was quite the tomboy. So it started at a young age, but don’t get me wrong, I do love Wonder Woman and other superheroes, including female ones. But Superman just stands out to me. I love being that girl who isn’t interested in spending hundreds on makeup and shoes, I love being that weird and different girl who collects Superman and loves superheroes. And I think it’s important that it’s encouraged.

At what age were you introduced to Superman? What were your first impressions of the Man of Steel?

I was around 6-7 when I first saw Superman on the TV — it was Dean Cain in “The Adventures of Lois & Clark.” I loved it, I was always interested in superheroes and sci-fi stuff, and I was just hooked. I used to watch it most weeks from then, which lead me on to “Superman: The Movie.”

I read that you would watch “The Adventures of Lois & Clark” with your grandfather. What do you remember about that?

I just remember being mesmerised by the idea that this guy could fly, and saved people. I loved it. I was quite young, so I can’t remember all of my feelings. But my Grandad died when I was 10, so I cherish those memories and it has quite a lot of sentimental value to me.

What is it about Superman that your fascination with the character has endured beyond childhood?

It’s just love the idea of it, someone who strives to do good in any situation even if it affects himself. I love that he is one of the most powerful beings, well, alien, yet he disguises himself as a human, a geeky human who has no confidence whatsoever. I’ve always loved the idea of alter egos and suddenly transforming into your best possible self. I think I just aspired to be like him and he’s a great role model and hero to have.

You’ve said Superman is a “popular character but he also gets a lot of unnecessary criticism.” Could you elaborate on that?

Well, he gets called boring and the big blue boy scout. People say he is boring because of the power that he has and because he always does good. He’s a superhero, what do you expect? They say he isn’t relatable, and that he’s old fashioned, but he is one of the most relatable characters, he is old fashioned, but not in a bad way. He’s been around for 80 years. He’s iconic.

There’s always this dilemma with Superman, that he’s too powerful and therefore difficult to write. What do you think about that idea?

I think it’s stupid — he is powerful, yes, but doesn’t use his power to its full capability because of his morals, he holds back even for criminals and bad guys. If he did, well god help them. Although he is the most powerful, he doesn’t want to be. Plus he has weaknesses — Kryptonite and a fair few Kryptonian villains whose powers are parallel.

You began collecting in earnest in 2006. What sparked that?

It was “Superman Returns.” Once that came out there was a lot of memorabilia released, whereas before there wasn’t much out in shops. I loved the film, so I wanted the t-shirt, and then the poster, and then it spiralled out of control from there.

Where do you tend to acquire the items for your collection?

All over really. I get a lot from eBay, though, and also Amazon. Car boots are also good too!

What are some of your favorite or prized items?

I have a few autographs from Brandon Routh and Dean Cain. I also have a General Zod figurine signed by Terrence Stamp himself. Comic-wise, I have Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, and Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.

Where do you keep all this stuff? I read that your boyfriend has promised to build you a Superman museum someday. 

Everywhere. I currently live in a two-bed flat with my mum, so my room is covered in it. It actually looks like a 10-year-old boy’s room … But a majority of it is in the attic. I’m hoping to get a place with my boyfriend in the next year or so, and we have agreed that I am allowed a Superman room — my very own Fortress of Solitude.

Is there an ultimate dream item that would make your collection complete?

Well, of course, Action Comics #1 — although I don’t have a spare $3 million …

As a fan, you consider “every representation of Superman” a success. Even the 2006 film “Superman Returns” with Brandon Routh?!

Yes, ultimately that’s what started my collection. A lot of people hate that representation of Superman yet love Christopher Reeves, but the way that Brandon Routh was told to portray Supes is the same way Christopher Reeve did and I think he did a great job.

Seriously, though, it’s very broadminded of you to appreciate every incarnation of Superman. Why do you appreciate them all?

Each person that has played Superman has done it in their own style, or taken their own take on the character. Look how different Henry Cavill’s Superman is to Christopher Reeve’s. I, of course, have my favourites, but I do genuinely appreciate every take on Superman so far.

You do have a soft spot for the latest Superman, played by Henry Cavill. What do you like about him?

I do, yes. He’s taken a character and made it his own, he has brought Superman into reality and made him 100% relatable. “Man of Steel” is my favourite Superman film, and he really understands the character. He is also a fan of Superman himself and you can see that in his portrayal, you can tell he wants to do the character justice (no pun intended) and I love that.

“Man of Steel” is your favorite Superman film. There’s been a lot of buzz about the sequel lately. What are your expectations for that?

I am very excited for that! I’d like to see a villain we haven’t seen on the big screen before, and I’d like to see Henry return. I know he has had talks about the sequel, so I’d like him to have a bit of input to the film — he knows what he is doing. It’s about time he had a sequel.

How do you feel about the much-maligned “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League”?

I love “Batman v Superman,” although I would have liked to see more of Superman before Doomsday was introduced. That’s my only peeve with it. Other than that, it’s an incredible film. “Justice League,” there are parts I liked, that scene where Superman was brought back is my favourite part. But I do have issues with it — and I can only imagine what it could have been if (original director) Zack Snyder had full control throughout.

You watched and reviewed the SYFY series “Krypton.” Tell me all your thoughts about the show. 

I love it. It’s great to see the stories of Krypton being told, especially BEFORE Superman. All we’ve ever really seen on TV and film is Krypton being destroyed. We are also hearing and learning about the history of Krypton, which I love. The cast are amazing, and so, so talented and I won’t give anything away but, although it’s set before Superman, a lot of his acquaintances show up.

You wrote some thoughtful tweets on the passing of Margot Kidder, who famously played Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve. How did you feel upon hearing the news?

I was sad. You never think of your heroes passing. She was supposed to be at Comic-Con last year but cancelled. She was also announced for this year, too, so I was hoping I’d get the chance to meet her, but unfortunately not.

You have a blog, theaspiringkryptonian.com, dedicated to your collection and your fandom. When and why did you decide to start writing about them?

Just over a year, I think. I wanted to do it so I could share my collection and interests with the world. None of my friends/family are really into the whole Superman thing, so I interacted with people on social media and it went from there.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I just love seeing that people are actually reading what I write! It’s a great way for me to show my passion and I’ve learnt a lot by doing it.

One of the things you’ve said you like about Superman is that his stories represent minorities, especially in some of the older comics. Tell me more about this and why this stands out to you.

Yeah, I’ve been reading the old comics recently, and he sticks up for criminals and gives them a second chance. He also sticks up for women — back then it was very much a man’s world and even he was fighting for equality, also between the rich and the poor. It stands out to me because things like this are still happening, and it’s amazing to see your hero stick up for those minorities and tackle those issues. I am technically classed as a minority — you don’t get a lot of black female nerds out there. It doesn’t matter what the minority is, everyone should have an equal chance at life.

When it comes to Superman comic books, what are some of your favorite titles, runs, graphic novels, writers, artists, etc.?

I have many …  Favourite title and graphic novel is Red Son or Kingdom Come. Comic runs, I love The Adventures of Superman — to me, that is classic Superman. Writers — Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Curt Swan. Artists — Alex Ross, Curt Swan, Jim Lee. Kaare Andrews’ take on the hero is beautiful too.

You got the rare opportunity to visit DC Headquarters on a visit to the U.S. I want to hear all about that!

It was amazing! I couldn’t believe it when I was there. I still can’t believe it now. I would love to work there, it’s a heaven for geeks like me!

I see you were recently making the rounds of Superman arcade games. I need more details!

Yeah, I went on holiday for a weekend and saw a load of Justice League arcade games. It was great! I had to have a go on them!

You have two Superman tattoos. Tell us about them. 

Yeah, I wanted to get something to show my passion for Superman. My first Superman-based one was Superman and Wonder Woman on King and Queen playing cards. I also love Wonder Woman. My second one is “Man of Steel” Kryptonian for “be weird,” because you should embrace your uniqueness.

Are you a DC girl in general? What are some of your favorite superheroes aside from the Man of Steel?

Yeah I’m a DC Girl, but I do also like Marvel. I’m not against them. Other than Superman, I love Wonder Woman. I also love some of the villains — Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Aquaman. Marvel-wise, I love Captain America and Thor, along with The Punisher. A bit of everything really.

What other fandoms are you into?

Erm, none really as much as this, but I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter, Disney films, too, Star Wars, Game of Thrones.

In your opinion, is there a Marvel hero who matches up to Supes?

Morals-wise — Captain America. Power-wise — Thor is close, but I’m not sure he could take him.

Who would win in a fight, Superman or Wonder Woman?

Superman. Although they are both very strong and powerful, Supes has the upper hand. Although I’m sure there’s comics where she has beaten him.

What’s your favorite color of Kryptonite?

Personally, I’d like some X-Kryptonite, so I can get me some powers! But on the big screen I’d like to see black Kryptonite in action. I’d like to see the evil side to Superman, just because it’s so different and hasn’t been done before.

Who’s your favorite Superman villain?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I have two: Bizarro for obvious reasons. But also Mr Mxyzptlk because he is just an odd concept and he’s bonkers! I think he’s hilarious.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how big was the Henry Cavill mustache fiasco?

When I first saw, it was an 8, but I’ve calmed down now. But it could have been covered up so much better. But I loved that he joked and still jokes about it.

Is Superman a uniquely American icon or a symbol of hope for the world? 

I think he was created an American icon — “truth, justice, and the American way,” that’s something he said quite often. But now he’s become hope for the world. I’m British and I love him. I know there are others in other countries that believe the same.

If you were to write the next Superman comic or movie, what direction would you take the character in?

That’s difficult. I’d like to see a new villain that we haven’t seen before, maybe Bizarro or Darkseid. I’d like to see something similar to “Man of Steel” and tackling real issues, as well as supervillains.

FemmeDeBloom designer fuses Disney, favorite fandoms with adorable vintage style

A clinical psychologist, Melanie Cancino is busy racking up the hours she needs to apply for her license, so you wouldn’t think she’d have time to create the cute-as-a-button, fandom-inspired jewelry and other baubles featured in her Etsy shop, FemmeDeBloom.

Inspired by her love of Paris, FemmeDeBloom is a veritable garden of handmade geeky goodies, from porg pins, to Mickey Mouse “sweater guards,” to shiny accessories featuring “Stranger Things,” “Parks and Recreation” and Marvel superheroes, to the most adorable earrings featuring famous Disney character couples (like Miguel and Dante from “Coco”).

Melanie’s irresistible wares are infused with the vintage style she inherited from her mother and grandmother and that she has learned to embrace in her everyday life as a fun, confidence-boosting mode of self-expression.

A self-professed “geek from the womb” and daughter of a librarian, Melanie has been a bookworm since childhood with an appreciation for comic books, from superhero fare to more serious graphic novels. She’s also a Riverdale ‘shipper, a Potter-phile, and a diehard Disney enthusiast. 

Read more about how this fashionista, foodie, and intersectional feminist encourages her customers to express their love for their fandoms. (And check out her blog too!)

You have an Etsy shop, FemmeDeBloom, where you sell adorable handmade and vintage jewelry. It features a lot of Disney-themed items, but also other fandoms, including Star Wars, “Stranger Things,” and “Parks and Recreation.” How and when did you first begin making jewelry?

My mom introduced me to DIY projects and crafting at an early age so making things has always been a big part of my life so I guess I would say it started when I was kid making beaded jewelry, friendship bracelets, and some clay stuff!

Where do you draw your ideas and design inspiration from?

EVERYTHING THAT I LOVE! This is what I love about having a shop! It is such a fun way to share my love of different fandoms with others and to know I’m not alone in my obsessions. Everything in my shop is inspired by something I love, whether it’s a fandom, color, food, etc.

You started your shop about four years ago. What led you to this decision?

Around five years ago, I started my Etsy shop with Disney-inspired Christmas ornaments because I had made them for my friends the year before and they loved them. I was also unemployed because of starting my doctoral program and I needed additional income so I figured I would give it a shot. The ornaments were surprisingly popular and sold much better than expected! I had so much fun with my Etsy shop those first couple months and wanted to keep it going so I started experimenting with jewelry that I could sell all year. I slowly started adding new jewelry pieces as I experimented with different mediums and the shop just grew from there.

I love your shop’s name. How did you come up with that?

I love everything Parisian and French and I wanted to incorporate something French in the name of the shop, which is why I thought of using the word “Femme,” which means “woman.” Then I thought of “bloom” because I love everything floral and floral print and I also consider myself a woman who is always “in bloom,” e.g. changing, evolving and growing. So basically I put the two together! Grammatically, it doesn’t completely translate to “woman in bloom” perfectly in French because that would be “Femme En Bloom,” but FemmeDeBloom sounds better so I stuck with that, haha!

What items tend to be the biggest sellers in your shop? Do your products appeal to a particular demographic?

The biggest sellers in the shop are usually fandom-inspired pieces for underappreciated characters or characters that you don’t find a lot of merch for. Recently, the Robin Hood and Maid Marian inspired couples pin was really popular and that makes me happy because it’s one of my favorite movies!

In addition, the themed vintage brooch collections I have added to the shop have sold out fairly quickly! As far as demographic, I think my shop attracts primarily females, but I do have male customers/items as well! The age demographic is pretty broad because the fandoms that inspire my jewelry are loved by so many people.

Tell me a little bit about what goes into the process of designing and producing one of your pins or jewelry items? What techniques and materials do you use?

Well, I use several different mediums for my products including shrink film, fabric that I print myself, and clay/resin. The process is different for each piece and it’s kind of lengthy but it always started with an idea! I have lists of different ideas and collections in my shop and sometimes it’s overwhelming because I want to execute all of them.

As for the shrink film pieces, it starts with a digital design that I hand-cut and shrink with a heat gun. I then glaze them twice with acrylic seal/resin and add the backing. With fabric printing, it also starts with a digital design but I print it myself, which is a secret process because it took me forever to perfect! I then use fabric cover buttons for the earrings/necklaces. With clay, I primarily use molds and FIMO or Sculpey clay and glaze with resin.

Where do you get your love of vintage style from?

Definitely from my mom and grandma! My grandmother was a buyer for a department store in the ‘50s and ‘60s and at a young age she would show me photos of her outfits and the different styles she would buy. She also saved some of my mother’s clothes growing up and I inherited them when I got older which was super cool. I also grew up watching old movies with my mom, which definitely is a source of inspiration for me.

Melanie Cancino at Dapper Day Expo.

You have a blog in which you showcase your own striking vintage style and offer fashion reviews. How did you become interested in fashion? What do you enjoy about it?

Fashion has always been a weird thing for me. As a kid, I struggled with wanting to wear things that I wanted and felt comfortable in vs. what everyone else was wearing. For a while in elementary school, I was obsessed with long T-shirts that I got from the 5 for $10 store and biker shorts and that’s all I wanted to wear (with coordinating colors and shoes of course) but I was made fun of and I remember a girl specifically told me I looked “stupid.”

After that, I feel like I oscillated between wearing what I wanted and “fitting in.” I had periods where I only wore what was trendy and then periods where I did my own thing (e.g., my crazy punk-rock phase in high school and the period of time where I wore only clothes from thrift/vintage stores). In my 20s, I continued to struggle with finding a style that “fit” for me and, now that I think about it, things began to change when I started my Etsy shop.

I was introduced to the world of Disneybounding and learned of all these super-cute vintage inspired small businesses that sold adorable clothes that I fell in LOVE with. I also met people (online and off) who liked the same style as me. It really inspired me to seek after and wear what I love and what makes me feel good about myself. What I enjoy about fashion is how it can express a part of who I am and represent what I love, while also contributing to my self-confidence.

Have you always been into geeky things? What’s your geek origin story?

TBH, I think I came out of the womb a geek, haha. I’ve always been a bit nerdy, starting with my infatuation with books and reading. This came from my mom who is a librarian and also loves books. Reading opened up my world to more geeky things and I’ve been livin’ that geeky life with for as long as I can remember.

Your shop features a Superhero Collection. How did you become interested in comic book characters?

My interest in comic books started around eighth grade when one of my friends introduced me to the Batman comics. I started reading Marvel comics after that as well and my friend and I used to write and draw our own comics about ourselves. I then became interested in graphic novels during college, when I took a class on them for my English major. That opened me up to a world of graphic novels about more serious topics (e.g. “Persepolis,” “Maus”) and it was awesome.

Who are some of your favorite superheroes?

My favorite superheroes are Wonder Woman, Mystique from X-Men, and Shuri from Black Panther. I LOVE female superheroes because they are often underrepresented or misrepresented in the comic book world, which makes me sad. I think there is now a bigger female fan base for superheroes so I’m hoping that more females begin to get their own movies and become more integral to storylines, rather than just being side characters or the romantic interest.

You also have a Femme Foodie Collection. Are you a foodie in real life?

Yes, yes, yes. I am a huge foodie! Eating is my second favorite thing to do after sleeping. I love dessert but I also love savory foods and I pretty much like everything. I don’t discriminate! I also love trying new food places or novelty dessert shops.

I personally love your Girl Power Collection. Why is girl power important?

Aww, yay. My Girl Power collection makes me so happy! I consider myself an intersectional feminist, which means that I believe in the empowerment and equal treatment of all people regardless of not just gender/sex, but also sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, social class, disability status and the other factors that lead to marginalization in our society.

So for me, the girl power collection is about empowerment and challenging the standards of normality. I definitely plan to add a lot more to this collection because I have so many ideas! I hope to also use the collection to raise awareness and funds for several organizations that support marginalized groups.

As a woman, is there anything you’d like to see change in the world of fandoms?

Definitely. I would really like to see more diversity in regards to females represented in all fandoms. I would actually like to see more diversity in general in fandoms and I think we are headed in that direction, I just hope it continues to increase!

You’ve designed a fair amount of Star Wars jewelry. What are your thoughts on the upcoming Han Solo movie?

I AM SO EXCITED. I tend to be excited about anything Star Wars and I don’t listen to anything anyone says when it comes to criticism about the new movies. I just enjoy them. Well, with the exception of Jar Jar Binks, haha. I am very excited about it and am already brainstorming some Solo-themed ideas for the shop before it comes out!

Porgs? Yes or no?

YASSSS. Omg, I love them and I want one for a pet! I have one porg pin/earrings in the shop but I think I may be making more porg-themed things because I love them!

What was your introduction to Star Wars? 

I honestly don’t remember the first time I watched a Star Wars movie because I literally don’t remember a time where I didn’t know what Star Wars was. Therefore, I’m pretty sure my parents and I watched the original Star Wars movies when I was like 4-5 years old. All I know is I rewatched the original trilogy over and over as a kid and my cousins and I had our own Star Wars Fan Club with a theme song. So there’s that.

Of all the movies, which one is your favorite?

“Return of the Jedi” forever!

Are you a “Last Jedi” lover or hater?

I loved it! As I said, I love them all. There are things here and there I wasn’t crazy about but I overall thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next one!

Of course, your shop leans heavily toward Disney-themed jewelry. What was your introduction to the world of Disney?

Similar to Star Wars, I don’t remember a time where I didn’t know what Disney was. My parents got me a VHS tape (I’m aging myself) of the Silly Symphony cartoons and the old Disney cartoons as a kid and I used to watch them over and over! That’s how I fell in love with Donald Duck, who is my favorite forever. I have an old video of me at my first Disney trip at 4 years old and I’m fixated on finding Donald to the point where my Dad had to turn off the camera because I wouldn’t shut up about it!

You visited Disneyland Paris on your honeymoon last year. Tell me about that. What were some of your strongest impressions of that particular park?

Yes, I did and it was super fun! I did not get to experience as much of the park as I would have liked because my husband and I were pretty tired but I still had a great time! So my thoughts on the park … the Anaheim Space Mountain is better, Disney Paris has the CUTEST decor and I love the teacups, I love that Tower of Terror is still ther, and they have good dessert. Also the castle is super pretty. That’s all I got!

What are your favorite Disney movies, characters, attractions, etc.?

This is such a hard question for me because I really do love so many of them! So excuse me if I over-answer this question.

Top Five Disney movies: “Beauty and The Beast”; “Aladdin”; “Fox and The Hound”; “Robin Hood”; “Mary Poppins.”

Top Three Pixar movies: “Up”; “Coco”; “Inside Out.”

Favorite Characters: Donald Duck and Belle.

Attractions: Tower of Terror, but also the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is awesome; Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan.

Why do you gravitate toward Disney-themed designs?

Because I love all things Disney and themed outfits/Disneybounding so many of the accessories I make are for that purpose. Accessorizing is my favorite things to do!

You’re a clinical psychologist doing your post-doctoral residence to complete your hours to apply for your license. How on Earth do you find the time to run FemmeDeBloom as well?

I am indeed! This is a great question and I get asked this a lot and honestly it’s because I really love FemmeDeBloom. While part of me is extroverted, I am also an introvert and get my energy from being alone. Doing crafts and making things is my time to spend with myself and it’s a relaxing thing for me! I can also watch Netflix or listen to audiobooks at the same time so it’s kind of fun! I also have help from my husband now, which has been really cool, and my best friend Jade. I do wish I had a little more free time because I spend a lot of time working but this is temporary since I need hours right now for my license.

This might be a stretch, but do you feel like your experience in clinical psychology gives you any unique insights into fandoms or geek culture?

Not a stretch at all! I actually think it does as far as being aware of how social issues play into the stories/characters within fandoms. I think the awareness I’ve gained about the human experience and diversity has played into how I engage in the different fandoms I’m into. I’m always open to critiquing different portrayals of characters and just having discussions about people’s views on things. It also works the other way because I think my creativity and using my creative self has also made me a better, more flexible psychologist. I’ve also found ways to introduce music and art therapy with my patients, which I am really thankful for!

You’re a fan of “Riverdale.” Why does that series appeal to you?

Well, I grew up loving Archie comics so I think that is the reason I watched in the first place. I don’t know what it is about Riverdale but I just get sucked in. I like the darkness of it and although some of it is super cheesy at times, it’s just really fun to watch.

Who do you ‘ship on that show?

Ugh, this is hard. I feel like I’ve changed my mind a lot on this. But right now I definitely like Bughead (Betty and Jughead) together and I don’t know how I feel about Veronica and Archie, aka Varchi, because I feel like she’s a bad influence on him. My newest favorite couple is Cheryl and Toni, aka Choni. They are so cute!

Another of your fandoms is Harry Potter. What’s your Hogwarts house?

So I’ve taken the Pottermore test twice, three years apart. I was initially a Gryffindor but more recently a Hufflepuff. So I guess I’m a Griffinpuff?

How were you introduced to J.K. Rowling’s series?

I actually started with the movies because my little cousin at the time was obsessed with Harry Potter. I watched the first one and fell in love so I started reading the books and following the movies after that!

You’re a book lover, so it’s no suprise FemmeDeBloom also happens to have a Bookworm Collection. What first sparked your love of reading?

So I think I said this already above but credit for this is 100% from my mom. She is a book lover and librarian and introduced me to the love of reading very early on. We still read books at the same time on purpose and talk about them!

What are some of your favorite titles?

My favorite childhood book is “Little Women.” My favorite book of all time is “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo (not the abridged version!). I love pretty much every genre but I lean towards young adult novels, mysteries, memoirs of people I am interested in and historical fiction. I also like sci-fi. Okay, I just like reading it all!

Some of my recent favorites that I’ve read are “The Lady Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish, “Every Day” by David Levithan, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” and “Kitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal.

Do you have a lot of books in your house?

Not as many as I would like to. I need some better bookcases! I have a lot of my books in storage right now.

You got married last year. Does your husband share your love of geeky things? What are some of your shared interests and activities?

My husband does share some of my geeky love, including superheroes/comics (He knows way more than I do!), Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. We both love watching movies so that is something we do together a lot, whether at home or at the theater for date night. I also got him into Harry Potter so we watched all of the movies together.

For your honeymoon, you took a trip to Europe. Aside from Disneyland Paris, did you visit any other geeky sites?

Well, we did visit a bunch of museums which is kind of geeky? The last time I went to Europe was a little more on the geeky side because I visited Victor Hugo’s grave (writer of “Les Mis”) and visited the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein wrote and hung out! For my honeymoon trip, we visited the Moulin Rouge for a show which was so cool! But yeah, not as geeky.

What’s left on your geek bucket list?

Do a Harry Potter, Beatles, and Downton Abbey tour in England.

Write a book.

Visit Disney World.

Visit the Hobbit holes in New Zealand.

Go to WonderCon one of these years.

Visit a cat cafe in Japan.

Go on a Disney cruise.

Make everything in my Star Wars and “Gilmore Girls” cookbook.

Go to Disneyland on May 4th.

Take a tour of Lucasfilm.

Participate in a zombie run.

I’m sure there are more but these are off the top of my head.

Do you have any future goals or dreams for FemmeDeBloom or your jewelry designs?

My only is to continue making new collections and sharing my ideas with people. I hope to continue meeting new kindred spirits and learning about other small businesses that I can support.

 

The story of the Wonder Woman jacket that’s smashing gender stereotypes

Of all the cool things I saw at WonderCon last weekend, the one that really stuck with me was a bit surprising.

While checking out the exhibit hall, my sister and I dropped by the booth of Hero Within, a sophisticated but geeky fashion company that specializes in men’s wear and recently branched out into women’s clothing as well.

While browsing, we happened to notice a mannequin adorned in a denim jacket with Wonder Woman’s signature “W” stitched across the shoulder blades in a subtle but stylish design.

It took us a few minutes to notice that the jacket was made for men.

This didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time, but after I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that jacket. After all, in the world of superhero fandom there is this antiquated tradition that Wonder Woman is for girls and Batman and Superman are for boys.

Merchandising and marketing of comic book properties still tends to fall squarely along gender lines and to me, and lots of other female fans, this feels ridiculous and outmoded. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Hero Within’s Wonder Woman Denim Jacket is nothing short of revolutionary when it comes to challenging gender stereotypes in the geek fashion world.

Curious to explore this subject further, I reached out to Hero Within founder and CEO Tony B Kim, who told me the story behind this intriguing piece of Wonder Woman-themed outerwear.

Released in March 2017 as part of the company’s summer collection, the jacket was not initially well received by male comic book fans. It was greeted by many negative comments on Facebook and Instagram, and many of them were – sadly and perhaps not surprisingly – of a homophobic nature.

The design for the Wonder Woman jacket did not originate accidentally. Kim started brainstorming the product in 2016 and put careful thought into it with the intention of challenging industry stereotypes.

“I knew it was time for a change,” he said.

“Since the beginning of fandom, gender stereotypes have ruled who we consider ‘our heroes.’ With such a lack of heroine representation on the big screen, I knew Wonder Woman could potentially change the barriers that existed. I wanted to create a Wonder Woman piece for men that was both smart, masculine and classic — a denim jacket seemed to be the right solution.”

In a blog post about customers’ reaction to the jacket, Kim said he’s been a Wonder Woman fan since childhood, despite “enormous pressure” to only identify with male heroes such as Rambo, Rocky and Mr. T. One of his all-time favorite comic series was George Perez’s Wonder Woman run from the 1980s.

“From that series, I learned that it was OK to have women as heroes. Batman and Superman shouldn’t just be for boys and Wonder Woman just for girls. Being a hero is about courage, sacrifice and honor. Last time I checked, neither sex has a monopoly on those qualities.”

When Kim took the concept of the Wonder Woman jacket to major wholesalers, he found they didn’t necessarily agree with this concept and were “hesitant” to invest in the piece.

“They just didn’t think it would sell.”

Nevertheless, Kim persisted. When he posted the first images of the jacket online in spring 2017, it was met with mixed reactions.

“A vocal minority of men could not understand why a man was modeling a Wonder Woman jacket,” he said. “Soon after, the homophobic responses ensued. I got plenty of hate tweets, messages and e-mails.”

Eventually, according to Kim, fans began defending the product.

“The common sentiment from other females was, ‘We’ve been wearing Batman and Superman for years, why can’t you wear Wonder Woman?’”

When the jacket went on display for preorder at WonderCon 2017, it was met with “plenty of buzz,” Kim said.

“It was really fascinating to hear a couple discuss why it was or wasn’t ok for a man to support Wonder Woman.”

When Patty Jenkins’ record-breaking movie adaptation of “Wonder Woman” hit theaters in June 2017, Kim said the criticism stopped, but wholesalers continued to reject the jacket design.

Kim said this ended up being good in the long run. “I needed the stock because the sales for it has been so strong. In fact, I am almost out of inventory.”

The jacket tends to appeal to both men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, Kim said.

“Honestly, the interest has been all across the board — not just one type of customer (which is fantastic). I think that says more about the success of Wonder Woman and the need to support heroines in culture.”

Kim believes geek fashion has “the potential to provoke and change culture.”

“In a small way it can push the needle of change and help redefine who we consider our personal heroes. Wonder Woman is not a hero for a certain gender but she is a hero for us all. Our clothing should reflect that.”

Founded in 2015 and officially licensed by DC Comics and Marvel, Hero Within remains the only company to create multiple Wonder Woman pieces for men, Kim said. (They also offer a woven shirt for men.)

They plan to continue to do so, as well as create more items featuring female heroes for both men and women.

Photos courtesy of Hero Within. 

 

A panel to teach fanboys how not to be creepers? (And other thoughts on WonderCon)

Photos by FAWN KEMBLE

I’ve resurfaced from a day of deep immersion in WonderCon, which, in case you’re not familiar, is the nerdiest of all nerd weekends in Southern California. I spent the day before at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so, yeah, it was basically the most epically geeky two days ever.

WonderCon is organized by the people who put on the insanely popular and notoriously unnavigable San Diego Comic-Con. It consists of fanboys and fangirls overrunning the Anaheim Convention Center for three wonderful, exhausting days of cosplay, panels, screenings, promotional events, gaming, signings, meetups, mutual admiration, and shopping for collectibles, T-shirts, and merch, even though we don’t have any more room for them in our houses.

From what I observed, this year’s con was pleasantly well-organized. Mailing out badges in advance and scanning them at various points of entry was a great idea. I particularly enjoyed the sight of a dude in a giant cardboard Lego Legolas costume trying to reach his badge while simultaneously squeezing through the narrow scanner gate.

From a feminist perspective, I was happy to see many panels geared toward women and women’s issue on the schedule, including “Entrepreneurial Women,” “Cospositive: Cosplay with Confidence,” “Comics and Women,” “WonderCon Women of Pop Culture,” and a Friday night panel exploring how the #TimesUp movement applies to the comic book industry.

As my sister and I walked the Exhibit Hall, we were pleased to see many more women artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and vendors than in previous years. (There were still a whole lot of men, but it’s progress.) I was able to collect more than 50 business cards from women you might read about soon in No Man’s Land’s weekly Geek Goddess interview series.

I purchased a Captain Marvel T-shirt and a signed illustration of Wonder Woman by artist Leanne Huynh. I also bought my first comic book from one of the convention booths. In the past, I’ve been too intimidated to do that, so that’s progress for me personally.

We chatted with artists and exhibitors — at WonderCon you’re guaranteed to run across at least one person you’ve always wanted to meet or talk to — and spent so much time on the floor, where the air is clammy and thin, that we forgot all sense of time, not to mention basic necessities like snacking, hydrating, or taking bathroom breaks.

Eventually, we did fortify ourselves with greasy food truck fare in front of the convention center, surrounded by gender-bending Harley Quinns, twin Kylo Rens, Daeneryses, and Demigorgons.

My sister, who wore an adorable blue Tardis dress, only had to deal with two awkward and unwanted encounters with guys who lingered too long or insisted on mansplaining the finer points of “Doctor Who.”

Here’s an idea, WonderCon organizers: How about a panel titled “How Not to Be a Creeper” featuring so many geeky celebrities that fanboys won’t be able to resist attending?

Lavender Vroman, Gail Simone, and Fawn Kemble at WonderCon 2018.

For me, the highlight of this year’s event was a panel featuring Gail Simone, writer of Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, and “Clean Room,” and the most recognizable woman in comics, who I Twitter stalk almost daily. Simone has worked hard to cultivate and encourage inclusiveness and representation in the industry.

Her origin story is legend. A comic book fan since childhood, she was working as a hairdresser when she began writing columns critiquing the industry, especially on its more misogynistic tropes. She was eventually approached to write for comics and the rest is history.

During the panel, Simone talked about her first job writing for “The Simpsons” comic book and how scared and inexperienced she felt. She recounted emailing her comic writer friends for advice on basic things like formats and style and how terrified she was that her employer would discover she didn’t know what she was doing.

I found this deeply encouraging because, so many of us — especially women who write or create — struggle with feeling strong enough, or smart enough, or confident enough, or adequate enough to tackle those scary new opportunities that could lead to something bigger. The fear of failure is a supervillain just waiting to deliver a demoralizing monologue.

Even sitting down to write a simple blog post some days can take a surprising amount of courage. I’m sure it’s the same for those of you who sit down to paint, or write fiction or poetry or a screenplay, or simply take some time away from daily responsibilities to do something that makes you feel fulfilled and inspired.

Gail’s advice: If you’re scared, it’s a good thing. Do it anyway. That’s when you’re going to create your best work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosplayer smashes barriers to become Internet sensation, inadvertent role model

Growing up as a geek who loved Star Trek and X-Men, Krystina Arielle Tigner didn’t have many positive role models who looked like her to reference, which makes what she has accomplished even more remarkable.

After an accidental brush with convention culture in Atlanta, Krystina was hooked on cosplay, which appealed to her childhood love of dress up, and has since become a rising star in the field.

She’s featured in one of the most irresistible gifs of 2017, a “dance-off” in which she plays Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia, to Gal Gadot’s movie superhero. That instant piece of pop culture heaven has been viewed 35 million times. A Buzzfeed video in which she transforms into four different iconic black superheroes has also gone viral.

Krystina infuses everything she does with joy, including elaborate cosplays from Wakandan Wonder Woman, to Hamilton, to “Frohawk Rey”; Trekkie-themed photo shoots at Vasquez Rocks; a spread in Cosplay Culture magazine; and appearances at cons, where young fans have been known to seek her autograph.

She’s found herself breaking barriers, becoming an inadvertent role model to future geek girls, and meeting some of her personal heroes — Ava! Uhura! — along the way. 

You’re going to want to follow her to see what she gets up to next @KrystinaArielle.

Krystina Arielle Tigner as Wakandan Wonder Woman.

You describe yourself as a “Hollywood cosplayer, pop culture enthusiast, and professional geek.” How did you first discover the world of cosplay?

I have always been into comic books and pop culture, but I truly discovered cosplay for the first time on a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Atlanta with my friend Janna. Our hotel just so happened to be the site of MomoCon. I knew of it, but I had never felt the energy and passion of a convention. I decided that day I would try my hand at cosplay and when I got home I ordered tickets to Dragoncon and the rest is history.

What specifically drew you to this form of geeky self-expression?

I love comics. I love pop culture, and I love dressing up. This field allows me to honor those things and I love it.

Is your love of dress up something that stretches back to childhood or did you embrace this interest later in life?

I’ve always loved to play dress up. We didn’t buy costumes when I was a kid, we just created something. From playing in my Mom’s closet to revamping my wardrobe today, I love style and being able to show creativity.

What do you like about transforming yourself into an iconic character?

Being able to honor the characters that got me through rough times and good times. Most of the characters I portray are characters I have loved since childhood and it feels like a dream come true every time I suit up.

What’s the most challenging aspect of that?

The most challenging aspect for me is being sure that I bring the character to life but still feel comfortable in my skin.

When did you begin to realize that you might be able to take your cosplay to a professional level?

I don’t know that I ever have. From the beginning, I have just followed my heart and that has served me well to this point. I started because I love it, not because I thought it would take off to the point that it has.

2017 was a big year for you! You became an Internet sensation with a wonderful gif featuring you dancing joyfully, dressed as Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia. It’s been viewed about 10 million times. What has that experience been like for you?

As of today, it’s at 35 million views and I’m still absolutely stymied by it. I love that gif. It makes me chuckle every time.

Tell me about how that gif came to be.

After the Gal Gadot dancing video came out, I knew that I wanted to re-create it. When we were on the set for the Buzzfeed video, I recorded it and set it to Britney Spears as a dance-off between Nu’bia and Diana. A dear Twitter friend, @mobius_strip, created the gif and the next thing I knew, it had a lot of views.

People have really responded to it. Why do you think that is?

I think the fact that my joy in that moment is genuine, as was hers. Two authentically joyful people, one being a six-foot knockout with a great smile, and the other having really cool hair, speaks to people, I guess.

Are you a big fan of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman”?

YES! I have probably watched it about six times in the last week alone.

Tell me your geek origin story. Were you into fandoms and pop culture as a kid? If so, what were some of your favorite franchises or fandoms?

My first fandom was X-men. When I was younger, my Grandpa Jack took my sister and I to our first comic book store. X-men was the first comic book I ever owned and I watched X-men the animated series with my family. It will always have a special place in my heart.

As a kid, there weren’t many pop cultural role models to inspire you. In fact, your husband created a “wall of representation” for you to remedy this. Would you mind telling me a little more about that?

When my husband and I first got married, I saw a Vogue issue that featured models that all had natural hair. I cried my eyes out because it was just so powerful. I ended up telling him about how it felt to be a child and not see many characters that looked like me. Characters of color who weren’t sexualized or objectified. Characters that could inspire something in the next generation.

We have this area over our sink in the kitchen and my husband had some art there. One day, he started buying every magazine that featured women of color for me and placing them on that wall. By seeing those pictures, I could feel inspired and see the people that came before me.

Last week, my first magazine spread went up on that wall. When we started it three years ago, I never would have imagined that would end up happening. It’s an amazing feeling.

Do you feel like you want to be a role model for young girls who might find themselves in a similar  situation.  

I never signed on to be a role model, because I guess I never felt worthy of that title. When I go to conventions now and I see little kids that are excited to the point of tears by my characters, it really puts things into perspective. Whether or not that’s what my intention was getting into this, it is now a reality. I want future little cosplayers to know that they can be strong, inspiring, wear their hair how they want, and that there is space at the cosplay table for us.

As a black woman, what changes would you like to see when it comes to representation in the world of fandoms and geek culture?

I would like to see cosplayers of color represented at conventions in the same way the non-POC cosplayers are. Quirktastc compiled a list of over 500 cosplayers across the country. Having one black cosplayer for every 12 non-POC cosplayers just to meet a diversity quota isn’t acceptable.

There are people with amazing talent and because we are seen as “black cosplayers” rather than just cosplayers, it puts us into this box of being a novelty rather than talent. I want to see more panelists of color, more cosplay guests of color, and less gatekeeping within the community.

What fandoms are you currently into?

I’m a die-hard original series Trekkie and I love “Doctor Who.”

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year in terms of representation with “Black Panther” and the upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time.” What are your thoughts on that?

I believe it’s amazing. Seeing “Black Panther” for me was a powerful experience. To see a young black girl be the foremost STEM expert. Strong fierce warrior women. Characters portrayed as Kings and Queens. It was beautiful.

I am so excited to see “A Wrinkle In Time” and to feel the same way. Ava DuVernay is a truly powerful filmmaker and it is going to be amazing to have Storm Reid inspire a generation of young black girls. Her presence in that film will help some little girl delve into the world of sci-fi and that is beautiful to me.

I fell that we are on the cusp of a very important paradigm shift and I am ready to see what that brings. I hope that seeing black characters portrayed positively will help our society and media do the same. I hope that we will continue to have the tough conversations and that hearts and minds will be changed.

Krystina as Ironheart.

Aside from the Nu’bia gif, you’ve achieved a lot in recent months, including shooting a Buzzfeed video in which you transform into four iconic comic book characters — Misty Knight, Storm, Nu’bia, and Ironheart. How did this video come to be?

I was approached by a fellow cosplayer, Bernie Bregman (The Geek Gatsby). He recommended me and I worked with the amazing (visual artist and writer) Kasiemobi Udo-okoye.

Tell me a little about the Buzzfeed shoot. Was that fun to do?

The Buzzfeed shoot was a really great experience. Everyone was really kind and it was enjoyable.

The video has received an overwhelmingly positive response. How do you feel about it?

I’m really proud of it. Everything that I am currently doing is beyond my wildest dreams so it feels really exciting to have these amazing opportunities. I am really glad that it has been well-received, and that I made my Grandma proud.

Are you a comic book fan? Were you into comics as a kid? 

Yes.

What are some of your favorite titles/characters?

I started with X-men. I am currently deeply emotionally invested in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Which do you prefer, Marvel or DC?

I honestly like both. There are different characters in each that resonate with me in different ways.

You were just featured in Cosplay Culture magazine. What’s that feel like?

That has been a really cool experience. Just yesterday, a kid came up to me with his copy at a convention and asked for my autograph on his copy. It was a really overwhelming moment. To see my cosplays in a magazine is something I never expected in my wildest dreams. It just came out this month so I am still terribly excited.

You also recently joined the Nerdbot Girls. How did you become involved with them?

I’m a part of an online forum called “Drinking Bros: Nerds” and I met my friend Dana Jane (who is also a Nerd Bot Girl in this group). We met in person at Nerdbot-Con and I ended up clicking with a lot of the girls on that day without them realizing I was the girl Dana wanted them to meet. They took a vote and invited me to join them.

Perhaps the most exciting that happened in 2017 was that you got married. Congratulations! Does your husband share your love of geeky things?

Thanks! Yes, we were married May 28. My husband is not a comic book nerd but he is a magician, so I guess that counts. He has been incredibly supportive of this journey and I am so grateful that he is by my side through it.

Another project you recently participated in was a Star Trek-themed shoot at Vasquez Rocks, which was the location of several episodes of the original series. What was that experience like?

That shoot was organized by a dear friend, Aliza Pearl, who is a cast member on the Geek and Sundry RPG show “Shield of Tomorrow.” We jokingly call ourselves “Uhura’s Angels.” It was really great to be in that spot that I recognized from so many great shows.

You actually met Nichelle Nicols, aka Lieutenant Uhura! Tell me about that!

She is amazing. She is the kindest, most intriguing person that I have ever met. Being able to spend a couple of days with her last year was just beautiful. She’s sharp, witty, and still absolutely gorgeous.

It seems you’ve recently met several of your personal heroes, including Ava DuVernay. What’s that been like?

I live in Hollywood and I have a lot of by chance meetings. The Ava DuVernay run-in was a really big one for me. Two days before, I had been making a list of my goals. One of those was to meet and work with Ava. I told her that when we met. So now I just pray for part two to come true.

Do you make a lot of appearances at conventions?

I’ve been making more lately. I really enjoy the environment and the amazing friends that I have made in this community.

That sounds like a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. What sort of efforts go into this?

For those that do custom builds, it can take months. A coplay look is a complete look. There’s hair, costume, shoes, props. It’s truly a process.

For those of us who don’t know a lot about how cosplay actually works, do you collaborate with a creative team of costumers, hair stylists, photographers, etc., for your various cosplays? Tell me about the process of designing a cosplay.

It’s different for each cosplayer. I love bringing characters to life but I work with some amazingly talented people that step up in the areas where I am weak.

I work consistently with Bonnie Ayala for makeup looks. She did my makeup for my wedding and almost every character I have ever cosplayed. My custom leather builds are designed and executed by Corena Gibson.

The cosplay community has a lot of talented photographers that attend conventions and book shoots through their websites. Photographers like James Rulison, who shot my Cosplay Culture issue photos, my Gwenom and Storm, Gil Riego, Ruy Arena, and, of course, Stefan Pinto.

My process is to decide on a character, which usually comes from a list of beloved characters from my childhood and curate my head to toe look. I fancy myself a stylist in my head. I just do cosplay instead of runway. I am very fortunate to be able to work with an incredible group of talented and creative individuals.

Is there an element of acting to cosplay? Do you have to kind of “become” the character?

There really is, in my opinion. Certain characters, like Gwenom, who is my only villain at this point, have to be presented with a certain confidence and swagger. I do enjoy that aspect of it. To get into character as Gwenom, I listen to “Monster” by Kanye West. Each of my characters has a theme song that puts me in the mood to carry myself as they would.

Krystina cosplays “Hamilton.”

You’ve cosplayed as Nu’bia, Storm, Deadpool, Hamilton, Gwenom, a Hogwarts student, and one of my personal favorites, “Frohawk Rey.” Do you have a favorite?

Wakandan Wonder Woman. Her war paint, combined with the costume and weapons, made me feel truly powerful.

Are there any dream cosplays you’d like to do in the future?

Definitely Vixen and Moon Girl.

I understand that you sometimes like to slip a little “casual cosplay” into your everyday life. Tell me about that. 

I like to wear simple outfits with odes to my favorite characters. Star trek pins, color schemes that match a certain character’s identifiable outfits. I just enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers, especially those who worry they don’t fit the cosplay “mold”?

Drop the idea that there is a mold. Nothing is wrong with making your costumes, nothing is wrong with commissioning. There is no right way. Cosplay is a creative outlet and a form of SELF- expression. If you expect everyone to love everything that you do or to do things exactly as you do, you are going to spend a lot of time disappointed.

Be yourself, and be comfortable. Do this because it means something to you or gives you an outlet to express yourself. It can be intimidating but just stay true to yourself. You don’t have to be a professional costumer to be a cosplayer. Its costume play. Play and do you.

It looks like you spend a lot of time at L.A.’s Magic Castle. I’m jealous! 

As I said earlier, my husband is a magician. I actually got my associate member pin before my engagement ring. It’s an amazing place.

Have you actually attended the Houdini Seance?!?! Spill the beans!

We actually did the seance for the first time in January for my birthday! It was an absolutely wonderful experience. It’s truly magical.

You’ve said you want 2018 to be a year of “chasing dreams and achieving goals.” What are some of the goals and dreams you’re currently pursuing?

I have a lot of auditions coming up and I hope this will be the year I get to see my acting dreams realized. My goal overall is to be true to myself. To be kind to myself and to live and do things that make me happy. That seems simple but we tend to focus more on others than self-care. This year, I will take care of myself and my family.

What mark would you ultimately like to make on the world of geek culture?

If nothing else translates, I just want my love of what I do to resonate with people, because I feel truly blessed to be able to do it. I have no clue what is next on this path but I am going to keep making kids smile, and making my inner child happy.

 

If you think ‘Wonder Woman’ was snubbed cause it’s just a comic book movie, think again

Every year, the Oscar nominations are announced and a handful of films are famously snubbed.

It’s an annual routine, but when the Academy recently revealed the list of candidates for best picture of 2017, one snub in particular felt personal.

Omitted from the list of nine excellent nominees was “Wonder Woman,” director Patty Jenkins’ long-awaited, box-office-record-smashing film based on an iconic DC comic book character.

Yes, this movie was a massive financial success — no guarantee of Oscar love, I’ll admit — but for many women, it was also an earth-shattering cinematic experience. I’m not being dramatic when I say it literally changed our lives.

Now, I can honestly say I never actually expected “Wonder Woman” to be nominated for best picture.

I wished that it would be nominated. I hoped that it would be nominated in the way I wish and hope America would elect a woman president of the United States or that the gender pay gap would disappear.

I’d like these things to happen. I’d be ecstatic if these things would happen. But I don’t really expect them to happen, at least any time soon.

I’ve covered the Academy Awards for more than a decade, first as an entertainment journalist at a local newspaper and then as a blogger. I’ve studied, and analyzed, and written about the ceremony and its particulars extensively, so I know a few things about how Hollywood’s “biggest night” goes down.

There are certain types of movies the voting members of the Academy can’t resist. And there are others they simply deem unworthy of the little gold guy Hollywood holds in such high esteem.

Though the Academy has made a concerted effort in the last few years to diversify its membership, especially after the #OscarSoWhite fiasco of 2015, women still represent only 28% of the group’s membership with people of color representing a meager 13%.

So it’s an undeniable fact that the majority of Academy voters are white males, and many of them are old, to boot.

These guys tend to love dreamy, artistic foreign films that remind them of their youth, like “Call Me By Your Name”; edgy dramas by auteurs, featuring method actors, like “Phantom Thread”; original indies that make them feel hip, like “Lady Bird”; character-driven dramas packed with brilliant actors, like “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; and anything by Steven Spielberg (voila, “The Post”).

And they simply cannot pass up a good, manly war film, which is why “Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour” are also included on this year’s best picture list.

It is not my intention to disparage any of the best picture nominees. Each and every film is remarkable and absolutely deserves to be there.

I’m simply illustrating the point that certain movies, no matter how well-made, or  groundbreaking, or well-received by audiences, will never be included amongst this elite group because they don’t happen to be the Academy voters’ cup of tea.

Comic book movies fall into this category with a vengeance, and “Wonder Woman” is a comic book movie.

When I was writing for the newspaper, I frequently vented my frustration over the Academy’s lack of appreciation for a genre that has quickly become Hollywood’s biggest moneymaker while striking a major cultural and emotional chord with audiences.

The fact remains, however, that if a comic book movie as elegant, complex, and thought-provoking as Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” can’t get nominated for an Oscar, then no comic book movie can.

(It was a nice, little touch when Marvel’s “Deadpool” was up for best picture at the Golden Globes last year, but it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually winning.)

The Academy’s bias toward flicks based on one of America’s most populist forms of literature is the most obvious reason “Wonder Woman” wasn’t nominated.

Then again, it wasn’t nominated in any category at all, not even for a technical award, like visual effects, or editing, or costume design, where sci-fi flicks — another genre neglected by Academy voters — and even the cheesiest of action movies are often made welcome.

One could argue that Jenkins’ work doesn’t rank up there with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Baby Driver,” but then I remember the goosebump-inducing genius of the “No Man’s Land” scene, and I scratch my head a little.

The truth is, “Wonder Woman” isn’t just a comic book movie. It’s a revolutionary achievement of representation that brought to life the heroine women didn’t even fully realize they needed until they saw her in all her glory.

It’s a deceptively simple piece of popular entertainment that is also electrifying and empowering … if you happen to be female (or a sympathetic male).

I don’t want to be an Oscar party pooper here, ranting about sexism when there are many, many commendable highlights to be found in this year’s list of nominees.

The Academy did break form by including genre films “Get Out” — a scathing racial satire disguised as a horror flick — and “The Shape of Water” — the oft-snubbed Guillermo del Toro’s lyrical gothic fantasy — in the best picture field.

Bleak and beautifully-wrought comic book drama “Logan” is recognized with nods for screenwriters Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green.

In terms of achievements for women, “Lady Bird” helmer Greta Gerwig became only the fifth female director in Oscar history to be nominated, while “Mudbound” cinematographer Rachel Morrison became the first ever female nominee in her category.

“Mudbound” writer-director Dee Rees is recognized in the best adapted screenplay race (one could argue her film should also appear on the best pic list), alongside three women in the original screenplay category.

Then there is the best animated feature film field, which is encouragingly packed with female contenders.

These victories may be relatively small and too long in coming, but they’re worth celebrating.

And yet …

I can’t help but think, if “Wonder Woman” made the aging, white, male voters of the Academy feel all the feels the way it made women of many different ages, races, and walks of life feel all the feels, that sucker would be at the top of the best picture list with at least a dozen nominations.

A girl can dream anyway.

Photos: http://www.scf-usc.edu, Rotten Tomatoes, batman-news.com.

Early comic book forays inspire filmmaker to honor women’s legacy

As a girl, filmmaker Marisa Stotter followed her older brother into the local comic book shop for a Magic: The Gathering tournament, and found herself browsing the shelves, igniting a spark that would grow into a full-fledged comic book habit in high school.

Years later, she would illuminate the hidden history of women’s contributions to the industry in the empowering documentary “She Makes Comics.” (Read a review here.)

The film sheds light on the achievements — not to mention the discrimination faced by — female writers, artists, fans, and creators. It also features interviews with power players in the comic book world, including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Jenette Kahn, and Karen Berger.

After touring film festivals and other events around the world and winning a major award at San Diego Comic-Con, “She Makes Comics” recently made its debut on Netflix. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you should remedy that immediately. You can also view it on Amazon and iTunes.)

As a fan, I’m ecstatic that Marisa graciously agreed to  discuss the making of her documentary, along with other fun and geeky subjects, including her history with Dungeons & Dragons, the “Wonder Woman” movie, her “Doctor Who”-themed short film, and “Stranger Things.” 

“She Makes Comics” director Marisa Stotter and producer Patrick Meaney with the logo for their documentary.

What sparked the idea for the documentary “She Makes Comics”?

I was working with Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert of Respect! Films on a couple of comics-related documentaries, one on Chris Claremont and one on Image Comics. As those projects started to wind down, we discussed what to focus on next.

At the time (fall 2013), the Internet was abuzz with discussions about sexual harassment, discrimination, and other issues facing women in the industry. Against this background, it seemed like the right time to produce a documentary celebrating women in the comic book industry, although we also wanted to touch upon the discrimination that they face.

The seeds for the project were sewn when you were an English major at Wesleyan University. First of all, English majors rock. Second, tell me how the documentary began to take shape during this time.

I think my English education provided me with a great advantage going into the project. Although I did not specifically study comics as part of the English department’s curriculum, the critical reading and analytical skills I honed at Wesleyan proved to be useful as we studied the history of women’s contributions to comics and used that research to flesh out the arc of the documentary.

You were first introduced to the mysteries of the comic book shop by your brother, but it took you a while to jump into buying and reading comics. Tell me more about that.

Like most younger sisters, I wanted to do everything that my older brother did, and that included playing Magic: The Gathering, the card game, as a kid. A local comic book shop in my hometown hosted tournaments on Saturdays that my brother and I would participate in. I wasn’t very good at the game so I’d lose early on and kill time until my brother was ready to leave by browsing the comics rack. That’s when I first became interested in comics — I think one of the first that I picked up was a “Simpsons” comic since I recognized the characters.

What were some of your formative titles as a young girl?

I didn’t read a ton of comics as a kid, just the occasional “Simpsons” or “Archie” comics and some kid-oriented Batman comics. It was in high school that I began to read comics more regularly and developed my own personal tastes. As a freshman in high school, I read “Persepolis” and “Maus,” which really blew me away. They showed me that the medium could tell any kind of story, and they were particularly appealing to me as a student of literature. I did also get into superhero comics, but those graphic novels broadened my understanding of comic storytelling.

Are you still a comic book reader? If so, what titles are you into now?

I do still read comics, although I don’t have the time to read as much as I’d like to. I’m in a catch-up period reading some comics I missed in the past few months. I’ve been catching up on “Paper Girls” by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, which I absolutely love. And I’m catching up on Kelly Sue DeConnick’s “Bitch Planet.”

DC Comics editor Shelly Bond in her New York office in a scene from “She Makes Comics.”

What sort of research did you do before you began production on “She Makes Comics”? How much did you already know about the subject?

We were fortunate enough to have on board our creative team Karen Green, the curator of comics and graphic novels at Columbia University’s Robert Butler Memorial Library. She is incredibly knowledgeable about the medium. Karen was enormously helpful as we began researching for the project, suggesting interview subjects and particular works for us to focus on. I was already familiar with some of the people we were planning to interview, but I learned plenty more as we conducted our research.

Why aren’t people generally familiar with much of the history of women in comics presented in your doc?

Women’s contributions to comics aren’t as well-known as those of such legends as Stan Lee and Will Eisner. I think there are a lot of elements that factor into that, but perhaps the biggest reason is that comics has long been considered a medium for male readers, so it is assumed that men are the main creative forces behind them.

How did you go about making your list of interviewees? Was it a challenge to land any of the interviews for the film?

We initially had a very long “wish list” of interviewees that we then narrowed down as the film took shape. Patrick and Jordan had existing relationships with some of the people we wanted to interview from working on their previous documentaries, and Karen personally knew a number of people and facilitated getting in touch with them. We were fortunate that just about every person we contacted was interested in and excited by the project. In some cases we couldn’t overcome logistical obstacles, but we certainly made every effort to get the interviews that we felt were important for the film.

Marisa and “Captain Marvel” writer Kelly Sue DeConnick doing DeConnick’s specialty, the “duck-face selfie.”

Was there one interview in particular you geeked out over?

I’m a huge fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work, and she’s a pretty big superstar in the comics world, so having the opportunity to interview her was really special. I was fortunate enough to get a duck-face photo with her, too!

You funded the film via Kickstarter. What was your crowd-funding experience like?

The “She Makes Comics” campaign was my very first experience with Kickstarter, and it was quite the wild ride. It was equal parts thrilling and stressful, given that we had a 30-day window in which to achieve our goal. I honestly had no idea what to expect at first — I wasn’t sure if the project would strike a chord with potential backers, or if there would be a backlash given the subject matter.

Fortunately, we received very positive feedback early on, and as the press began to cover the project, we saw an incredible outpouring of support. Managing the campaign, however, was a full-time job in itself. We constantly updated the campaign page with new rewards and communicated with backers on a daily basis, while we continued to spread the word about the campaign via press coverage, fan sites, and social media. I was on edge until we reached our goal, which was both an exhilarating moment and quite the relief.

You also worked with the Sequart Organization. Tell me about that organization and how were they involved with the film.

Sequart is an organization promoting comics literacy and the study of comics in academia, so it was a natural partnership given the nature of our project. Sequart had previously been involved in Respect’s other comic-related documentaries, so Patrick and Jordan had an existing relationship and had no trouble getting them on board with “She Makes Comics.”

Readers browse in a local comic book shop in a scene from “She Makes Comics.”

Let’s talk about the actual documentary shoot. What were the biggest challenges you faced?

Our biggest challenge was coordinating the logistics of the interviews, since the people we wanted to interview lived all over the world. We attended several comic conventions where we were able to conduct a number of interviews in one location, but even then it was difficult to coordinate with many creators’ busy schedules.

What did you enjoy most about the shoot?

I think I had the most fun shooting at comic conventions. I love to wander around the exhibition floor at a convention and just take in the sights, particularly the creative cosplay. We shot a lot of b-roll footage of amazing female cosplayers, and I was especially excited whenever we met a young girl in a great get-up.

I love the film’s logo! Tell me about how it was created.

Our logo is courtesy of the talented Courtney Wirth, who designed it for us. We wanted the logo to evoke one of the most iconic symbols of female empowerment, Rosie the Riveter, while remaining specific to the subject of “She Makes Comics.” We loved what Courtney came up with, and in fact, I have the original artwork hanging in my apartment!

Marisa and producer Patrick Meaney answer audience questions during a panel at the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival in Las Vegas, Nev.

“She Makes Comics” screened at a lot of film festivals and events. Were you able to attend many of them?

I attended quite a few screenings, mostly here on the West Coast. The movie has screened all over the world, including in South Korea, Australia, and the U.K. It’s really amazing to me how She Makes Comics has managed to resonate with audiences across the globe.

What was the response to the film? Have a lot of women approached you wanting to talk about it?

The response to “She Makes Comics” was wonderfully positive and affirming. I was nervous sending the film out into the world, and I was particularly worried about our Kickstarter backers who had pledged to the project and would now be seeing the product of their support. Fortunately, I heard positive feedback from our backers as well as others who discovered the film. I was approached by many women for whom “She Makes Comics” struck a personal chord. I’m glad that the film opened up the conversation about women in the comic book industry even further.

What about the reaction from men? I was disappointed to see some pretty clueless comments from men on the IMDb website.

I’ve spoken with a lot of men who were fascinated by the documentary and came away having learned something new about the medium and its history. There will always be anonymous trolls trying to tear down a project like this, but I received very positive responses from male viewers, some of whom are fathers and art teachers trying to nurture young talent at home and in the classroom.

“She Makes Comics” won the best documentary prize at the 2015 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival. That’s quite an achievement. How did that feel?

It was wonderful to receive recognition at such an iconic convention, and it was fitting given that so many of the stories in “She Makes Comics” have some connection to San Diego Comic-Con.

How did you land a distribution deal with Netflix? That must have been exciting. How has that changed the doc’s reception and prospects?

We initially made a distribution deal with XLRator, and they handled the rest. It’s an enormous milestone to have “She Makes Comics” available on services like Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix because the film will reach a whole new audience. We’ve seen a renewed interest in the film thanks to that exposure.

What would you ultimately like to achieve with “She Makes Comics”? 

What I’m proudest of with “She Makes Comics” is that the film has become a source of inspiration for young girls whose artistic talent is emerging. I think it’s vital for them to see role models, to see the women who have come before them, so they know that creating comics is something that they can do when they grow up. That, I think, is the project’s legacy beyond telling the story of women in the comic book industry.

Filmmaking and acting troupe Team Unicorn in a scene from “She Makes Comics.”

You also made a short film, “Tenspotting,” which is set in the “Doctor Who” fandom. That sounds amazing. Where can we see it?

You can watch “Tenspotting” on Vimeo!

Tell me more about the inspiration and making of the short.

“Tenspotting” was a fun one because it started as a joke! I was at Comic-Con the previous year having drinks at the Hyatt bar with two writer friends of mine, Emily Blake and Michael Patrick Sullivan. We kept noticing lots of “Tens” and were having a lot of fun counting them, and thus began the germ of “Tenspotting.”

Emily and Michael went on to write the script somewhat as a joke, but I told them I was interested in producing it — seriously! — and I brought it to Patrick and Jordan, who thought it would be a fun project to take on.

I’m assuming you’re a Whovian. How did you get into the series?

I’m actually not a Whovian, although I’ve seen a number of episodes. Don’t revoke my geek card!

Who’s your Doctor?

Although I’m not a big Doctor Who fan, I’m super excited about Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the next Doctor, and I plan to tune in when she debuts. I really like her as an actress, and I’m excited to see the first female Doctor.

What are your other personal fandoms? How do they manifest themselves in your life?

I’m such an equal opportunity fan — I get invested in almost everything I read or watch, but sadly I don’t have the time to be as involved in fandom as I used to. The Harry Potter fandom will always hold a special place in my heart, and I still have some great Potter fan fiction bookmarked from over a decade ago.

Is it true that while you were at Wesleyan, you were part of a secret group that played “Dungeons & Dragons”?

I wouldn’t say we were a “secret” group, but I did learn how to play D&D in college with a great group of friends. I absolutely loved it, although I think our Dungeon Master got tired of our antics derailing our progress. I’ve been meaning to join a campaign since I recently got the itch to get back into D&D.

“Stranger Things” is packed with “D&D” references. Are you a fan?

I am a big fan of “Stranger Things.” I had the greatest experience watching it for the first time. I didn’t know much about it except that it was set in the ‘80s and starred Winona Ryder. I was totally hooked on the first season, and the second season was just as good, if not better. Along with “Freaks & Geeks,” “Stranger Things” features one of my favorite portrayals of D&D campaigns in television.

I’ve heard you also really like board games. What are some of your faves?

I love Settlers of Catan, although I tend to get fairly competitive with that one. I’m also a big fan of card games like Munchkin and Bang. There are some really innovative games raising funds on Kickstarter, so I often get brand new games to test out with my friends.

Marisa is joined by several of the film’s interviewees for a Q&A following the premiere of “She Makes Comics” at Brave New World in Newhall, Calif.

As a woman, is there anything you’d like to see change in the world of fandoms and geek culture?

I think it all boils down to inclusivity and respect. There is a gatekeeper mentality in some fandoms, based on this idea that you can only be a “true fan” if you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the work and have been a fan since “before it was cool.” I’m of the opinion that we should encourage new, enthusiastic fans to become involved in fandom.

I think a number of fan communities would benefit from a change in attitude towards new fans, because ultimately, we are all involved because we love the thing that is bringing us together. It doesn’t matter if you have been reading Marvel comics since the 1970s or if you started after the “Avengers” movie — we all approach fandom in different ways and from different perspectives, and to me, that is what makes these fan communities so enriching and fun to be part of.

Do you have thoughts and/or opinions on the recent success of the “Wonder Woman” movie? 

I really loved “Wonder Woman” on its own, and I appreciate how it seems to have touched a whole new generation of women (and men) who are excited about the character and what she symbolizes. I think the film is a much-needed reprieve from the chaos that is 2017. It has clearly inspired and empowered women in a way that no superhero film has done in the past few years. The “no man’s land” scene in Wonder Woman was perhaps my favorite movie moment of the year; it was so breathtaking and personally gave me goosebumps.

What’s on your career bucket list? Would you like to make more documentaries and films or go in another direction?

I loved the experience of making “She Makes Comics,” but I’ve found my calling, career-wise, to be in television. As I pursue my goals in that part of the industry, I’m bringing along with me a lot of what I learned working on “She Makes Comics,” as well as my lifelong passion for inclusivity and diversity. My ultimate goal is to develop and produce television that depicts stories we don’t ordinarily see on TV, from storytellers with varied backgrounds and perspectives.

What advice would you offer to women who still may be intimidated to go into their local comic book store?

Arm yourself with knowledge! Engage with the fan community online and get some recommendations for titles you may like based on the kinds of books, movies, and TV shows you enjoy. Fortunately, there are more and more comic book shops that are warm and welcoming to new readers and want to help you find your new favorite book. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and ask an employee to recommend some comics. It’s such an exciting world to explore!

 

‘Tis the Season for Geeky Gifting: A Holiday Guide

Most of the geeks I know are easy to shop for.

Almost too easy, in fact. The sheer amount of merchandise tied to any one fandom these days can be mindbogglingly disorienting. And when it comes to fandoms, most geeks are into more than one.

Would she like a Tardis backpack or Matt Smith socks? “Game of Thrones” coasters or a Hogwarts house mug? BB-8 cookie jar or R2-D2 cardigan? Wonder Woman cellphone case or “Nightmare Before Christmas” throw?

In this post, we endeavor to simplify the geek gift-buying process with a lively curated list of items that should appeal to nerds of all varieties and fandoms. Best of all, you can get started with your shopping immediately by clicking the links accompanying each entry.

Perhaps you’re wondering where all the porgs are? Just you wait, my friend! The 12 Porgs of Christmas are coming. There’s also a Ghost of Christmas Future lurking with an upcoming Comic Book Gift Guide post.

Happy gifting! Your geek of choice will thank you for it.

There’s a Pop! for everyone.

Funko, maker of those cute little, dead-eyed vinyl pop-culture licensed figures, quite literally has something that will please everyone, from the obvious franchises, like Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel, to characters from more obscure properties.

For the old-school “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fan, there’s bad girl Faith from the Pop! Television collection:

For the Disney Princess dreamer, how about this adorable Ariel?

And for the friend who already has more Pops than she has room for, there’s a collection of too-cute mugs, including the Sally Pop! Ceramic Mug. (Other options include Kylo Ren, Snoopy, Hulk, Batman, Chewbacca, and Captain America.)

The year’s geekiest movies.

Give the gift of the year’s fangirliest flicks by choosing one or more of the following.

For your friend who cried during the No Man’s Land scene:

Wonder Woman [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]

For the anglophile in your life (available Dec. 12):

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle [Blu-ray]

For the indie movie fan:

Colossal [Blu-ray]

For the Marvel fan who likes it goofy:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [Blu-ray]

For the moviegoer whose Spidey senses are tingling:

Spider-Man: Homecoming [Blu-ray]

For the emo X-Men enthusiast:

Logan [Blu-ray]

For your friend who went crazy over “Justice League”:

Exclusive DC 4K Collection: Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice 4K Ultra HD (4K Blu-ray+Blu-ray+Digital)

For the feminist action movie buff:

Atomic Blonde [Blu-ray]

For the “GoT” fan in mourning until Season 8 (Season 7 is available Dec. 12):

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season

Socks, they’re not just from your Aunt Betsy anymore.

Here’s a comfy foot-pampering twist on the traditional Christmas countdown. Keep their feet fashionable with “12 Days of Socks” featuring colorful pop culture-themed patterns, like this set:

Other patterns include Harry Potter, Disney Princess, Minecraft, DC Comics, and The Nightmare Before Christmas in varying sizes for men, women, girls, and boys.

For the Lego lover who has everything. 

This year’s Lego must-have is the Women of NASA set, which is, sadly, temporarily out of stock on the official Lego website.

Image result for women of nasa lego set

If you can manage to snag one somewhere, your Lego-obsessed loved one will surely thank you. The set features minifigures of four pioneering women of NASA: astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist and entrepreneur Margaret Hamilton, astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride and astronaut, physician and engineer Mae Jemison.

Fortunately, there are lots of other Lego sets available for the brick-inclined, featuring such franchises as Star Wars, DC, Disney, Ghostbusters, Marvel, Minecraft, and NINJAGO.

Deck your geek in tacky sweaters. 

The Ugly Christmas Sweater is back in a big — and, frankly, kinda disturbing way — but what the heck? Why not embrace the trend by picking out a hideously festive top that perfectly expresses your favorite geek’s fandom?

ThinkGeek has an array of eye-straining sweaters to choose from, including:

Star Wars Darth Vader Lack of Cheer Holiday Sweater

The Star Wars Darth Vader I Find Your Lack of Cheer Disturbing Sweater.

Firefly Holiday Sweater

Firefly Holiday Sweater.

Super Mario Bros. Holiday Sweater

Super Mario Bros. Holiday Sweater.

Wonder Woman Silhouette Sweater

Wonder Woman Silhouette Sweater.

And speaking of Wonder Woman …

You can’t go wrong with movie merchandise for anyone whose world was rocked by Patty Jenkins’ record-breaking comic book flick.

Image result for wonder woman bomber jacket

Keep her toasty with the Wonder Woman Movie Ladies Bomber Jacket.

Image result for wonder woman amazon princess handbag

For nights when she leaves the sword of Themyscira at home, there’s the Wonder Woman Movie Amazon Princess Handbag.

Image result for wonder woman the art and making of the film

For reliving the wonder of Jenkins’ epic, give her “Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film” (Hardcover).

On a side note, DC’s official store also has great gifts for fans of  Superman, Batman, Arrow, The Flash, and Harley Quinn.

For seekers of magical creatures.

Harry Potter-philes can possess their very own fantastic beasts — as Hagrid and Newt Scamander will testify, this can be a risky endeavor — with the “Harry Potter Magical Creatures” collection.

Their are many wizardy critters to choose from, including:

Harry Potter Magical Creatures #1 Hedwig

Harry Potter Magical Creatures No. 1 Hedwig.

Harry Potter Magical Creatures No. 2 Dobby.

Niffler Magical Creature No. 1.

Gifting made easy and tropical breezy.

Nerd site extraordinaire ThinkGeek has basically turned your Christmas shopping into a vacation with its irresistibly cute Geeki Tikis collection. Take the guess work out of what to get the thirsty nerd on your list by simply selecting the appropriately themed set.

Among the many available fandoms:

Star Wars Geeki Tikis - Series 1

Star Wars Geeki Tikis — Series 1. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Geeki Tikis - Exclusive

Guardians of the Galaxy Geeki Tikis — Exclusive.

Star Trek: The Original Series Geeki Tikis

Star Trek: The Original Series Geeki Tikis. 

Inspire them to throw away that ratty T-shirt.

If you know geeks, you know they love their nerd shirts. A little too much perhaps. Especially that holey one that’s been in their closet since San Diego Comic-Con 2010.

Maybe it’s time to get them a new shirt to love. Fortunately, TeeTurtle offers a variety of officially licensed, cute and cuddly, original designs from popular fandoms.

For the Disney fan:

Double-Edged Sword T-Shirt Mulan TeeTurtle

For the Star Wars fan:

It's a Trap! T-Shirt Star Wars TeeTurtle

For the Marvel (or Hiddles) fan:

Chaos and Destruction T-Shirt Marvel TeeTurtle

For the geek in need of Demotivation.

If you know one of those people who rolls their eyes at trite, inspirational sayings and cheesy motivational posters, ThinkGeek has just the cynical thing for them.

The website’s annual Despair Wall Calendar features 12 months of demotivating designs and geeky dates — like Talk Like a Pirate Day! — as well as “holidays” submitted by ThinkGeek customers.

2018 ThinkGeek Despair Wall Calendar - Exclusive

And while you’re shopping at ThinkGeek, here’s another items to consider. It might just be the perfect addition to Nana’s cozy miniature Christmas village.

Star Wars Wampa Cave Snow Globe

For the friend who’s looking for something to cuddle. 

I give you … the Funko Stranger Things Supercute Demigorgon Plush.

Dustin would love it.

Funko Stranger Things SuperCute Demogorgon Plush

Too scary? How about Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro Dust Bunny Slippers?

The droids your kid is looking for. 

With the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit, kids create their own droid and bring it to life using littleBits electronic blocks. Using the Droid Inventor app, they can give it new abilities and take it on 16-plus missions.

For the fashionista who’s one with The Force.

Her Universe recently unveiled its new Star Wars collection, which features whimsical, Lucasfilm-inspired designs, including this amazing Star Wars BB-8 Retro Skirt.

The best “Stranger Things” shirt ever?

No Christmas list would be compete without this awesome “Stranger Things”-inspired tee.

The Babysitters Club - Steve's Scary Situation Classic T-Shirt Front

And no T-shirt sums up the way we’re feeling about 2017 better than this one:

Star Trek Picard Facepalm T-Shirt

These are the geeky Halloween costumes you’re looking for!

We’ve closed the books on another Halloween and, already, retailers would have us thinking about putting up the Christmas tree and getting started on shopping for stocking stuffers.

But before we plunge into the thick of holiday madness, let’s pause a moment and reflect on Halloween 2017 in all its geeky glory.

For me, the celebrating included the annual party thrown by my family and a dear friend — it started out as an adult soiree and eventually morphed into kid-friendly pandemonium, but the costumes are still out of this world — and my church’s “trunk or treat” event, where I always end up eating way too much candy.

I hope your All Hallow’s Eve shenanigans were just as much fun and left you with less of a tummy ache.

This year, I was heartened to see quite a few Wonder Women, girls dressed as comic book supervillains, and a surprising amount of female Ghostbusters among the usual throngs of Disney princesses, fairies, and witches. (Hey, I’m not knocking that. My daughter dressed as Mulan.)

There’s nothing like the girl-power a favorite geeky Halloween costume can bring to the wearer, along with the enjoyment it brings to everyone else.

In that spirit, No Man’s Land readers submitted photos of their fandom-themed Halloween finery. (I also requested photos of some of the costumes I liked best.)

They’re displayed below to help you hang on to that Halloween glow for just a few minutes longer (and maybe help you get some ideas for next year’s costume).

Shawna, of earthtoshawna.com, models her elf costume, completely with pointy ears, at a local trick-or-treating event for families. Below, you can better see those ears, which apparently were the trickiest part of her outfit.

Kirsten Kerr and her daughter, Lyla, are an adorable Disney-inspired pair, dressed as sea witch Ursula and her “Descendants” progeny, Uma.

Bethany Samuel channels “Doctor Who” companion Amy Pond, with her husband, Aamod, as Rory, and son Levi as the cutest little Yoda.

Mai Kemble, as Coraline,” from the animated movie based on the Neil Gaiman book, and sister Mei Stewart as classic “Addam’s Family” character Wednesday.

Rachel Luevano decided to dress as classic Batman villain The Penguin after friends told her she couldn’t because she’s a girl. She was part of a themed group that included superheroes and supervillains and created their own cardboard Gotham City skyline backdrop.

By day, Fawn Kemble went to work as “provincial” Belle, of “Beauty and the Beast” fame, complete with a light-up Lumiere prop from Disneyland.

By night, Fawn was a smokey-eyed, fascinator-rocking TARDIS at a family party.

Ellen Grimm wears the Gryffindor house uniform as Hermione. (Psssst, she’s really a Ravenclaw!)

Nathan and Sonia Whitehead gave the couple’s costume the Studio Ghibli treatment as Howl Jenkins Pendragon and Sophie Hatter of “Howl’s Moving Castle.” They decorated their trunk for a trunk-or-treat event with Soot Sprites, Calcifer, and a giant painted Totoro.

The Hobart family — which includes six girls — represent all the nations (air, earth, fire, and water) of the animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” with wonderfully elaborate costumes they put together themselves. Mom Dina, center, is the driving force behind their amazing annual costume creations.

The Rivas family represent some of their favorite comic book heroes at a Haunted Mansion-themed party in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. From left, Noah as Star-Lord, David as Peter Parker, Kristy as Iron Man, and Audrey as Wonder Woman.

Amber Hoffman set phasers to stun with her tribute to Star Trek and Zachary Quinto’s Spock.

Chris and Lisa took DisneyBounding to adorable new levels, as Roger and Anita of “101 Dalmations,” accompanied by their two irresistible spotted pups.

Stephanie Patterson and her husband, Jacob, threw a jaw-droppingly detailed “Stranger Things” party to which Stephanie wore this Eleven-inspired outfit, complete with electrodes and bloody nose.

Stephanie also donned this fun and spooky nod to Disney’s Haunted Mansion for another event.

As an extra Halloween treat, below are some more detailed, closeup shots of the Hobart family in their “Avatar: The Last Airbender” costumes.

Cambrya Hobart as Avatar Aang.

Caylen Hobart as Katara.

Adalyn Hobart as Toph.

Brynna Hobart as Prince Zuko.

Brylee Hobart as Uncle Iroh.

Ambrey Hobart as Princess Azula.

Dina Hobart as Suki.

The group with Dad Dale Hobart as Sokka.

Thank you to everyone who sent in pics and gave permission. You are my absolute favorite geek goddesses.