Tagged: Jamie Broadnax

Ed Catto: Fangirls Lead the Way

Fangirl Shirts Rebecca and Sally

Fangirl PanelOnce again fangirls led the way at the San Diego Comic-Con. It’s not “new news” anymore, but I’m again reminded how far we’ve come from the days when a woman or girl entering a comic shop was met with a universal hush of curiosity and awe. Today, convention attendees are just about equally split between men and women. And the influence that fan girls, beyond female creators, have on Geek Culture is important.

Jamie BroadnaxOne observation is that so many fan girls who step up to the plate are essentially pioneering entrepreneurs. There’s no real guidebook or established plan about how to make it in a historically male dominated industry. Although there may be historical precedents, the intersection of fandom and social media has provided opportunities for nimble fan girls to make their voices heard both to influence the conversation and become an important part of it all. At last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, I again moderated the She Made Me Do It: Fangirls Lead the Way panel. As has been the case when I’ve led this panel at conventions in the past, our panelists consisted an impressive lineup of women.

Sam Maggs Wonder Women authorJamie Broadnax is the founder of Black Girl Nerds. She’s all about fan passion and she isn’t afraid to point out when big organizations fail to provide adequate seats at the table for a diverse line-up of creators. She’s tireless, upbeat and inspiring. Sam Maggs is a brilliant author and commentator who recently released her second book, Wonder Women. This book showcases “25 Innovators, Inventors and Trailblazers Who Changed History.” It’s a charming book that serves up bite-sized background stories of impressive women in her classic fun and irreverent way. I snagged a copy for my young nieces, but I plan to get another copy to keep in my own library.

Connie GibbsConnie Gibbs is the TV critic of Black Girl Nerds,  and she kicked off part of our discussion about what are the most fangirl friendly TV shows.  Connie brings a spark, and deep insights, to every topic and entertainment property that she passionately discusses. We talked about shows including the CW’s The 100 and the new blockbuster on SyFy, Wynonna Earp. It’s fantastic to see Wynonna Earp get its due and hitting the right notes with such a diverse range of demographics. Wynonna Earp was created by Beau Smith and has been in comics off and on for more than 20 years.

The Lootcrate style business is thriving, and entrepreneurs Rose Del Vecchio and Jenny Cheng are right in the mix. They fight the good fight with their creative FanMail enterprise, a box with a unique fangirl focus. Visit them at www.myfanmail.com. Rose is no stranger to San Diego Comic-Con as she’s helped her dad run his booth on the convention floor showroom for many years.

New this year to the SDCC Fangirls Lead the Way panel were two fantastic entrepreneurs. One lives in Canada while the other is in the Baltimore/DC area. They collaborate on Fangirl Shirts. Their startup creates T-shirt and other merchandise emblazoned with the “Fangirl” name, but the logo is modified to be evocative of the fan property it’s celebrating.  And they celebrate everything from Star Wars to Wynonna Earp.

The common, unstated theme of the panel was how each of these fangirls found their path through the entrepreneurial grit and determination that, along with a little courage, makes for the very best entrepreneurs.

I can’t wait to see where fangirls will lead us next!


Ed Catto: She Made Me Do It! Fangirls Lead The Way at San Diego!

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One of the panels I had the pleasure of moderating at San Diego Comic-Con focused on the dramatic rise of, and impact by, female fans in Pop Culture’s premiere event. Comic-Con International is the annual “reunion” where over 130,000 passionate fans, consumers and professionals take over San Diego’s convention center, media, airport and downtown. And as usual, it was eye-opening and energizing.

This panel was titled “She Made Me Do It! Fangirls Lead the Way” and my panelists included:

  • Kit Cox, of Milkfed Criminal Masterminds
  • Jamie Broadnax the podcaster and blogger who runs Black Girl Nerds
  • Rose Del Vecchio, the entrepreneurial co-founder of the new company FanMail
  • Christy Black of More Than a Geek Girl
  • Autumn Rain Glading and Portlyn, retailers and co-owners of the comic shop Brave New World and founders of the Geek Girl Society

B Fangirl PanelEach panelist shared their own background, some of the changes that they are observing first-hand and how best to address them. For example, Rose Del Velcchio explained that she found the typical “loot crate” offerings to be lacking for female fans, and thus created Fanmail to address that need. Jamie Broadnax realized there was a vacuum for women of color and promptly created BlackGirlNerds. She surprised herself how quickly it caught on. One the other hand, the retailers from Brave New World comic shop spoke about how their approach of selling to all potential customers. They explained their efforts to specifically not create a “girly section” but instead to create a retail environment welcome to all. And that has resulted in a stronger business with everyone, including more female customers.

Geek Girl Society is a supportive organization for girl nerds that I wrote about in a previous column. One of the young Geek Girl Society participants proudly attended the panel with her parents. Both the girl and her parents were enthusiastic fans eager to participate in the panel, the convention and pop culture at large.

More Than a Geek Girl ‘s Christy Black is exploring the rise of female fans, including non-traditional points of overlap. Most notable is her innovative workout and fitness program developed for “nerds.”

Kit Cox, part of the Milkfed Criminal Masterminds team that’s responsible for the engaging comic Bitch Planet, passionately spoke about the “non-compliant” characters in that comic’s narrative, and how that has so quickly and authentically connected with fans. She also talked about her own recent experiences jumping into fan culture and progressing to a professional position.

Right before the convention, Ron Salkowitz published his Eventbrite study. We analyzed it during the panel. Most fascinating was that the finding that Geek Culture has achieved gender parity across all types of fandoms and age cohorts. 48.9% female, 48.7% male, and 3.1% non-binary/other (an option added for this year’s survey).

Also of note: serious cosplayers, the fans who dress in costume to attend conventions, spend at the same levels as other fans. This has been a contentious issue over the past year as comic conventions wrestle with their explosive growth in attendance and revenue

Everyone seems to be noticing. CNBC and The New York Times ran similar stories. The Times found that the growing segment of women have passion, authenticity and buying power and proclaimed that SDCC this year seemed like the “Year of the Woman.”

After the panel, I was surprised, even though I shouldn’t have been, to find that some fans still cling to the “No girls allowed in the tree house” mentality. One fan posted his observations (after talking to several retailers) that women don’t spend money at conventions. The data clearly refutes that myth. Looking forward, it’s easy to see that the smart marketers and brands will be connecting with this important demographic.

Thanks to my friend Rob Salkowitz for his generous sharing of data and insights. You can read more here.