GeekGirlCon 2017: Sing-Alongs and Sailor Scouts

GeekGirlCon (GGC) 2017 has come and gone, and I find myself missing it profusely already. GGC is without a doubt my absolute favorite convention to attend. I am so thoroughly impressed that the convention has managed to keep a small community driven vibe, while growing to a substantial size. I’ve been attending GGC since 2013, and it has grown immensely since then, but the core values of community, diversity, and the celebration of the female geek, have never faltered. I am convinced that this con will continue to be my favorite for as long as it exists (may it never go away!)

The GGC festivities started Friday night with the kick-off party at Living Computers: Museum + Labs. The party was open to everyone, but if you weren’t registered for GGC you had to pay an admittance fee. Those that did already have badges for con were able to pick them up at the kick-off, allowing them to bypass the check-in line at con the next day. That was our main reason for going.

In honor of some major geeky fandom anniversaries the party was split into three teams. There was #TeamRey in honor of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary since the discovery of the force. #TeamHermione to celebrate 20 years since our introduction to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Last, but certainly not least, was #TeamMoon in the name of Sailor Moon fighting evil by moonlight for 25 years.

Upon arrival, you checked into your chosen team and points were tallied up. Extra points were given to anyone that dressed up according to their desired fandom, be that with some fandom swag or full on cosplay (which got another additional point.) Erin (NeuNeu Cosplay), Emma (Swan Song Creations), Michael, and I, all wore our Seattle Sailor Moon Day shirts to show our Moonie pride. Jay (Raging Storm Cosplay) wore his Hufflepuff robes to signal his true number one fandom, Harry Potter, of course. Unsurprisingly, Team Hermione had the largest pledges, they actually far surpassed Team Rey, which I did find a bit surprising, I thought they’d be closer to a tie than they were. Team Moon actually had the most cosplays, go Moonies!

Another way to earn points for your team was to partake in trivia. They put us in teams and handed us fandom specific trivia sheets. There were few enough Team Moon members that they ended up handing each of us our own trivia sheet. Which, I think scared people because, I didn’t see very many people fill theirs out until they said we could partner/team up with people after all, if we wanted. I ended up teaming up with Erin and we were able to answer all but one question easily. Emma ended up jumping ship because she knew more Harry Potter facts than Sailor Moon, such betrayal I tell you. I kid, we all know it was in good fun. In fact, all my friends present had fun with a bit a playful competition between our fandoms. Since we were the smallest fandom present, there was an even stronger solidarity felt between my fellow Moonies.

In addition to trivia there was also Rock Band, free refreshments, a 21+ area to purchase drinks, and general access to Living Computers: Museum + Labs. This was my first time visiting the location. I had so much fun looking at everything and learning all the history. It was a particularly fun stroll down memory lane checking out the computers and games from the 90s, talk about a flashback to my childhood!

The party came to an end at 10 P.M., but we didn’t want to stop hanging out. Tiffany and Erik offered for us all to head to their place for a bit for a few drinks and to watch a movie or two. It was a really nice mellow affair after the kick-off party. Everything winded down around 2 A.M., which was later than originally anticipated so we promptly headed home to get some sleep before a long and exciting day 1 of GGC.

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On Saturday, Emma and I headed to con before Erin and Jay, they wanted to sleep in. We needed to be there for our morning panel. We ended up running a little later than anticipated due to a cosplay repair. We arrived at the convention center at 10:15 A.M., giving us just 15 minutes to get to our panel room and get set up for the Sailor Moon sing-along we were hosting. Thankfully, it did not take long to get everything together, the projector was already set up. We only needed to plug in Emma’s laptop and do a quick soundcheck.

The sing-along went well overall. Due to it being the first day and at the earliest panel time, our attendance was low, most people were stuck in line during the duration of the sing-along. There were also some problems with the lyric videos I made not all downloading onto Emma’s laptop that we didn’t notice until the day of, as such we were missing about 1/3 of our songs. We pressed on though, and re-sang a few of the beginning songs. Luckily, Emma was also about to get enough signal on her phone (I had none, we were in the basement) that we were able to pull up the English theme song to end the sing-along with. Despite some of the hiccups everyone enjoyed themselves, and I am greatly looking forward to doing this again next year, hopefully in a bigger room.

Following the sing-along, I had a photoshoot with Tealtowncraft, a dynamic duo consisting of cosplayers Peri and Christina, scheduled for 11:30 A.M. When I got upstairs I saw some messages from the duo that I hadn’t received in the signal-less basement. They had some last-minute cosplay repairs to attend to and were running late.

By the time they arrived and we got to our shooting location everything was running about 1 hour late. I didn’t have anything else scheduled immediately following their shoot, so I didn’t mind. Plus, we got some absolutely AMAZING photos. This was my first time working at the concrete pillars up the street from the convention, and I’m so glad we did. This location was simply perfect for the Steven Universe and Sailor Moon villain mashup they did. Christina was a Blue Diamond/Queen Nehelenia mashup and Peri was Yellow Diamond/Queen Galaxia combined. They call themselves the Queen Diamonds, which I absolutely adore. I am so beyond pleased with these photos, and I am proud to say that Tealtowncraft loves them too!

Once I got back to the convention center I slowly made my way to the artist alley, where I knew that Erin, Emma, and Jay were currently browsing. It took me a good an hour or so to meet up with them, I stopped to take photos of people or chat with other friends I ran into along the way.

By the time I found my squad it was about 2:15 P.M., I skipped the beginning of the artist alley to meet them somewhere in the middle and walk with them before Emma had to leave for the cosplay contest pre-judging. At that point we were all hungry and grabbed some food in the little cafeteria there. As we were walking out of the exhibitor hall to find a place to sit and eat, we ran into our friends Christina (Urbanflower Designs), her kids, and Bethany (Rue B Cosplay) wearing cosplays from Disney’s Descendants. I had seen Christina’s WIP photos leading up to con and wanted to snag a few pictures of everyone. I told them if they were up for waiting for me to finish eating, I’d take pictures of them after. They agreed and hung out with us while we ate.

Next, we headed outside to snag a few pictures. Jay decided to tag along, and Erin stayed inside to chat with a few other friends. Christina was dressed up as Fairy Godmother and her kids were Mal Bertha and Carlos De Vil. Bethany had also put together a closet cosplay of Queen Belle to join the trio. The kids were getting antsy and losing patience at that point, so we didn’t wander far. We ended up taking pictures right by the entrance, at the decorative rocks.

After our mini photoshoot, we met back up with the others. There was less than an hour till the cosplay contest was to start, so, I decided not to go back to the artist alley. I wanted to photograph the contest and to cheer for Emma. However, I hadn’t gotten any photos of Erin in her Scarlet Witch cosplay yet, so we ran outside to the rocks again, and I got some awesome action shots with the wind blowing Erin’s cape.

When we got back inside, Jay and I decided to go find some good seats for the contest. Erin decided to go walk around a bit more, she wasn’t sure if she was going to watch the contest. I was able to snag a front row seat for the contest, allowing me to get some great photos! During the first part of the contest none of the contestants had been instructed to stop and pose at the start of the catwalk. So, some of the photos I have of the kids portion of the contest aren’t as good as the rest. Right before the adult individual showcase began I asked the contest host to make sure she told everyone to stop at the start of the catwalk, as well as the end of it, otherwise no one in the front half of the audience could get good photos. She happily obliged and the contest was much easier to photograph after that.

I also made sure to cheer very loudly for all my friends in the contest. Emma actually placed too! She got an acknowledgement and prize for best handmade armor. I’m so proud of her! Her and Erin worked very hard on her Celica cosplay from Fire Emblem.

We all met back up after the contest and made plans to get dinner together at Dragon Fish. Before dinner though, I went to the second-floor lounge area with Natalie, Erin, and Trista to get a few photos of Natalie. She transformed a white maternity dress into a gorgeous Queen Serenity cosplay from Sailor Moon. She looked amazing, and the photos turned out beautifully.

Next, we got dinner at Dragon Fish with a large group of friends. Then, Erin, Jay, and I went to Christina’s to hang out for a while. There were no set plans or activities, we simply sat in her living room and shared stories, while drinking hard cider. It was a pleasant to unwind after a full and exciting day of con. We left at about 11 P.M., making sure to call it a night earlier and make up for the lack of sleep the night before.

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On Sunday of con we had another early morning in store for us, this time Erin and Jay joined us. Emma, Jay, and I were hosting the Hamilton sing-along panel that started at 10:30 A.M. Erin was our ride, and thus had to be there just as early. We arrived at about 10 A.M., Emma and I headed straight for the panel room to get things set up early. Jay and Erin took our coffee orders and headed to Starbucks to get us all some much-needed caffeine.

When Emma and I got to the panel room there was already a line to get in and the tables inside were mostly full. We had known even before arriving that our panel would hit capacity. The room they put us in only had a capacity of maybe 40 people at the large round tables. With people sitting on the floor and standing at the back we fit another 30-35. Needless to say, we hit capacity very quickly. Any time someone left another came in to take their place. I always have an amazing time hosting a Hamilton sing-along. Hamilton fans are some of the best around, I swear. There was so much positive energy in that room. One of my favorite moments of the sing-along was when Jay used his Thranduil shawl like a cape during King George’s “You’ll be Back” song.

Immediately after the sing-along I ran into Colleen, the meet ups director. She told me that she understands now that the sing-alongs we host aren’t the same as the general fandom meets ups that are usually held in the small room in the basement level. She said that next year she’d love for us to come back, and that they will put us in a much bigger room. I’m so stoked! We will happily come back and host sing-alongs for GGC. We love to do this so much.

Next, we headed up to the 1st floor to regroup and get some pictures before heading back to exhibitor hall. I hadn’t seen much of it yesterday, so I wanted to utilize the hour and a half I had before the my Sailor Moon panel. Let me tell you, I am always so impressed with the artist alley at GGC, not only is it quite large, it’s also full of unique artists. GGC does a stellar job of cultivating their vendors’ hall to not feel repetitive at all. There are other cons I go to where it feels like nearly all the artists have similar art styles, that is not the case with GGC. It takes so much restraint not to buy too much, and I usually still do!

I left the artist alley a little after 1 P.M. to head to my panel room. Our Sailor Moon panel, Humans of the Moon Kingdom: 25 Years of Sailor Moon, was scheduled to start at 1:30 P.M. We ended up presenting in one of the biggest panel rooms on the third floor, and we had an excellent turnout! I’d estimate we had between 60-70 people in attendance. The audience was very diverse too, it felt like we had a very nice distribution of male and female fans in a wide age range.

In our panel, we discussed the differences between Sailor Moon in the 90s and now, as well as the differences of the fandom from then and now. For instance, it is now much easier to find fellow fans, and liking anime in general is much more widely accepted. There is also significantly more merchandise, and thanks for the internet, it’s easier than ever to get it all. One of the main differences between the anime then and now is the lack of censorship. One of the biggest pitfalls to the North American release of Sailor Moon in the 90s was the blatant censorship of entire story arcs and characters, the biggest, and most memorable among fans being Haruka and Michiru’s relationship. In Sailor Moon Crystal, none of that censorship is present. The new anime also follows the manga more closely. Thanks to the manga already being completed, no filler episodes had to be made to keep the anime going.

We went on to discuss the impact Sailor Moon has had on an entire generation of fans, both on personal levels, and for the entertainment industry. I talked about how I had never expected Sailor Moon to essentially become the Star Wars of magical girl anime, both in its cult classic status, and in how it has inspired so many other works since its creation, such as Steven Universe, Zodiac Starforce, Star vs the Forces of Evil, and many more.

We also discussed whether we felt that Sailor Moon embodies, or embraces feminist ideals. The general agreement was that it gets some really great things right. Such as, female friendships, diversity, teamwork, the celebration and power of femininity, and the display of different kinds of love, in addition to romantic love (platonic love being one of the biggest). However, we recognize that the franchise falls on its face in some ways, like body positivity. We noted that sometimes the anime made it seem as though being fat was the worst thing to ever be, which was emphasized by how Usagi and the gang would focus so much on her weight throughout the series. From there it was a natural transition to discuss how Sailor Moon handles sexual and gender identity. It was once again agreed that in ways Sailor Moon was ahead of the game with some great portrayals of same sex relationships. There were, however, some great disservices when it came to gender identity, like how Fish Eye of the Amazon Trio was reduced to a “man in a dress” predator trope, literally tricking men into falling for them.

Lastly, we talked about the future of Sailor Moon and where we think the fandom is headed. I don’t think that the fandom is going anywhere, in fact, I’ve only continued to see more and more younger fans latch on as they discover the newer anime and musicals. This often peaks their curiously, and they go check out the original content too. Additionally, with this large of a fanbase, I think we will only continue to see new Sailor Moon related content in the future.

Judging by the audience reaction, our discussions were very well received. I loved having the chance to present with my friends Erin, Natalie, and Merri. We all had different experiences and viewpoints to bring to the table, allowing for well-rounded discussions. Thank you, ladies, for joining me in this panel, and thank you GGC for accepting us as panelists!

Photo by @LBullockPoetry

Immediately after our panel there was a Riverdale panel happening next door that we wanted to attend. So, Erin and I ran over to that to meet with Jay and Emma, who had thankfully saved us some seats. The panel, titled The Road to Riverdale: A look at the evolution of Archie and the gang, talked about the history of the Archie comics, and the different adaptions of the comics that have existed over the years. This included cartoons and various spin-off comic books. With 75 years of history, they didn’t discuss it all, just a brief overview and some of the television highlights like The Archie Show and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (both the cartoons and the live action). The bulk of the panel was focused on discussion of the new CW show, Riverdale. They talked about what they feel the show is doing well, including the diversity both of the cast and the characters, the embracing of feminist ideals, and the calling out of sexual harassment.

There were a few things the panelists had issues with regarding the show, which included the kiss between Betty and Veronica in the pilot, that they felt was queerbaiting, along with the entire Mrs. Grundy and Archie storyline. There were some of us that disagreed with them, including me and my friends. Regarding the kiss between Betty and Veronica, that was only in one episode and they were immediately shot down by another character for their poor attempt at a shock factor in the cheerleader tryouts. I felt it was moreso poking fun at queerbaiting and that “fake lesbian” trope than it was trying to embrace it. As for the Grundy/Archie storyline, the show brings up a lot of hard to stomach topics, including emotional abuse, trauma, and murder. Why is a storyline with a teacher going after a student considered the absolute worst thing on there by so many fans? None of the characters in the show are condoning the relationship between Grundy and Archie, in fact, they make it very clear that Archie was being manipulated and taken advantage of. It wasn’t supposed to be a comfortable topic. Also, it wasn’t part of the storyline for very long. Erin went up to the mic to point out these things and a few others murmured their agreement, the panelists also conceded she had a point, and thanked her for the input. Overall, I really enjoyed the panel, and it felt like a good space to discuss things even when people disagreed on certain points. One thing was unanimous, all of us agreed we could hardly wait for the show to come back this month!

After the Riverdale panel, I headed back to the dealers’ hall to check out the second half of the room, which included all of the exhibitors. There was only an hour left till the hall closed so I ran around doing all the last of my shopping. I picked up some seriously fantastic art this year. I purchased art from the following artists: K.R. Mayer Illustration, Amanda Allen Niday, Mike Uziel, Chaos Lindsay, Caitlin Ono, Lindsey Reimer, and Brittany Fuerst. Go check out their amazing work!

As the artist alley closed it was time to say goodbye to GGC until next year. We lingered at the first-floor lobby a while before parting ways. I’ve said it many times, but honestly, I’ll never tire of reminding you all that GGC is my favorite convention to attend. It won over my heart 5 years ago, and I don’t see that changing for me any time soon. I’m greatly looking forward to attending and contributing to the con for many years to come. See you next year, GGC!

All photos, unless otherwise specified, were taken and provided by Fearless Photoworks.

 

 

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