Another GeekGirlCon has come and gone, and that makes five years on the record books now! This year’s con was just as lively and community-oriented as last year’s; a few logistical problems remain, as most cons eternally struggle with – but overall, GGC continues to be a unique beacon that many other cons can look to for inspiration.
Shut Up and Take Our Money
The vendor area of the exhibit hall was jam-packed on Saturday; while the aisles cleared out by Sunday morning and made shopping easier, many exhibitors were already picked over. Unique items like geek-embroidered towels, sci-fi baking sprinkles, and nerdy terrariums were crowd-pleasers. Plenty of booths selling beautiful art prints, women-sized apparel, and jewelry were also popular stops. Our pick for most interesting vendor was Seams Geeky, selling the aforementioned embroidered towels plus bathroom rugs and pillowcases. They sold out of much of their stock at the show but their Etsy store is open.
Programming remains strong at GGC with panels for every facet of female geekdom, as we outlined in our preview post. Familiar faces Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn made appearances throughout the weekend as last-minute additions to the schedule. On Sunday, “Ms. Marvel” author G. Willow Wilson headlined a great comics panel that addressed all kinds of representation in the medium; she was also met by a long line waiting for autographs afterwards.
The DIY Science Zone also returned with lots of fun lessons and experiments for kids and adults alike, including owl pellet dissection and dry ice comets.
And the gaming floor on the lower level was lively all weekend, with an incredible lineup of games available to check out that ranged from new, indie creations in need of playtesting to modern popular geek choices like Catan or Ticket to Ride and also included plenty of kid-friendly games as well.
Evening Programming: Costumes & Fashion
Saturday evening programming was again the pinnacle of community-building, with a fashion show following a very popular costume contest. Although building a catwalk came with its own set of problems (more on that below), it was ultimately a welcome addition, giving more people the chance for “front row” seats and providing models or cosplayers a better way to strut their stuff. The costume contest divided contestants into three categories: children, group, and individual. (The top prize in the individual category, a hefty gift certificate to Espionage Cosmetics, went to a talented gentleman who accepted the prize in good spirits.)
Entries were as unique and varied as the culture of the con itself: classics like Captain America and the Winter Soldier won prizes, but Ms. Frizzle and Frida Kahlo (!!!) were crowd favorites. The creative and the classic were paired up as well, with one group entry featuring an uncommon “Beauty and the Beast” pair: Belle, from the now-classic Disney animated film, with her Beast – Hank McCoy of the X-Men. Even the kids got in on the unique costumes, with a pint-sized Jareth and Sarah (“Labyrinth”) collecting second place and a more traditional but equally adorable tiny Thor taking top prize.
Fashion show attendees got free giveaways/swag bags/raffle prizes from major sponsors like Bethesda, Espionage Cosmetics, Her Universe, Insert Coin, WeLoveFine, and ThinkGeek, plus plenty of smaller vendors. The show featured a host of outfits – some ready-to-wear, some more cosplay than casual – that featured everything from steampunk to battery-operated lights and paid homage to Star Trek, Captain Marvel, Mad Max, and countless other favorite characters and franchises.
(Minor) Trouble in Paradise
Logistically, GGC fares better than many other shows but had a few notable struggles again this year: namely, room turnover in the main programming hall, Rooms 301/302, where a catwalk was built and the chairs rearranged before Saturday’s costume contest began. This turnover seemed to take longer than expected, and in the meantime the line outside grew longer and became harder to manage. The taped-off area intended to corral the line outside the room’s entry didn’t so much create a line as it did a moderately organized mob; fortunately, the attendees at GGC tend to be calm enough that they could keep themselves organized relatively well. (If a line was this unstructured at, say, WonderCon, there would likely be a riot over line cutting and who really earned that front row seat.) Both the costume contest and fashion show seated very close to the published start time and neither started on time (in reality, both started at least 15 minutes late). The obvious delays in room rearrangement explained the late start for the costume contest, but the room used the same setup for the fashion show a few hours later – why it started so late is unclear.
And, like last year, lighting and sound remain a problem in programming rooms. The sound was improved marginally but lighting was still abysmal, making it difficult to even see the panelists who were speaking; during the costume contest and fashion show, it was a challenge to see the participants as they made their way down the unevenly lit catwalk. We can only hope that as GeekGirlCon expands these elements of production quality will increase.
Attendees may have missed the note at the bottom of the Fresh Sheet handout asking you to complete the feedback survey, which you can do here.
As volunteer-run, culture-oriented fan conventions go, GeekGirlCon remains one to look up to. Its unrelenting focus on its community and message of inclusion are inspiring and refreshing in an age of conventions becoming increasingly cookie-cutter. While the guest list sometimes struggles due to competition with other cons (namely NYCC) being staged the same weekend (a holiday weekend for some in the US and Thanksgiving weekend for our Canadian friends), GeekGirlCon is a show that deserves everything bigger and better – but will continue to thrive no matter who the guests are or how big the exhibit space is, because they’ve chosen to focus on what really matters: their community.