A Lesson in (Geek) Etiquette

I inhabit a world of geeks. If you have not been confronted by the passion of the geek by now, I salute you, because we are one seriously fervent and animated bunch. We usually make sure that you will remember us, one way or another.

That being said, I have apologies to make. In the past, I have been pretty unkind and even downright mean in my dislike of several comic book characters in the past, namely Scott Summers, aka Cyclops. I have disliked the way the character treats the people in his life, his insistence that his way is the best, etc. But I have realized that, in the past, I have been rather rude when discussing this character with others who may just like or even admire him for his leadership and what he has gone through in his tenure in the X-men universe. I may not agree with or like this character but that is no call for poor behavior on my part when it comes to respecting others and their position in the argument. So, to anyone I have treated that way, I sincerely apologize.

As much as our opinions and passions matter, I think one of the most important things we need to remember is our geek etiquette. What makes us so great a community is that we have a myriad of varied interests, likes, favorites, fandoms, etc. But we can also be exceedingly vocal and adamant in our passion for particular fandoms or characters or even specific versions of the two. Sometimes, we can allow those passions to overcome our good sense and in our desperate attempts to show that we are “right” and to win others over to “our side” or our way of seeing things, we can actually disrespect and damage our relationships with other people by unknowingly tromping all over something that might mean a great deal to them.

We might not know that this particular character or comic that we absolutely despise was an escape for this person when they were younger, a way to get away from the difficulties in their life at a particularly rough time.

We might not know that this character whom we find unbelievable and trite was the first thing that she bonded over with her brother, when before they had had nothing in common.

It might not have even crossed our minds that Matt Smith’s “Doctor Who”, whom we might consider manic and out of keeping with previous Doctors, calmed that frazzled mother’s colicky baby and gave her a few moments of peace and rest, which is why he is her favorite.

There are connections behind people’s opinions and favorites, thought they might seriously diverge from our own, that we might not know of because they are personal and close to their hearts. We are more than welcome to our own opinions, of course, but that does not mean that we cannot be kind and respectful in our passionate discussion, allowing for others to maintain their stances without our trying to tear them down when they refuse to “see it our way”. And this doesn’t just stand for “geeky” hobbies or interests. This practice can and should be applied to areas across the spectrum of our lives. We can be passionate AND respectful and possibly avoid damaging our friendships and relationships with others by stomping all over something that they might enjoy by detailing to them just how awful their choice in geekery, religion, career, or hobbies is. Trust me, we all get enough of that in our lives.


Never Too Old to Play Dress-Up


Top left – Tohya Miho, GenCon 2006.
Top right – International Camarilla Convention (White Wolf) 2008.
Middle right – GLaRE (Great Lakes Regional Convention, Camarilla Club, 2010.
Bottom right – Steampunk, InConjunction 2010.
Bottom left – Harley Quinn, Inconjunction 2008.

Halloween is around the corner and I don’t really care all that much. I’ve never been big on Halloween. I was too shy to knock on even neighbors doors and say, “Trick or treat!” I do, however, love to dress up. We adults call it costume play or cosplay.

I guess I technically started cosplaying in 2004. My first official cosplay was for an end-of-the-year costume party in college. I went as Tohya Miho from Megatokyo. I had been working for a year on how to do the ribbons in my hair, though I didn’t perfect them until my first GenCon Indy in 2006. I enjoy cosplay; it’s a chance for me to be creative, to pull together a brand-new costume (because the only sewing I have EVER done for a costume is the lace for straps on that Miho costume). I love the creative process of cosplay and I love doing things on the cheap and still looking great. The most expensive piece in those pictures is the sari from ICC, but that was a 25th birthday gift from my mother. Cosplay lets me slip into another character’s skin and leave my own behind for a little while. It’s one of the few times that I don’t want to fade into the background and watch the world go by. It is honestly one of very few times that I like being front and center, and I’m even more pleased when people recognize and acknowledge a particular spin that I’ve given to a character in my costuming.

There have been so many arguments in the geek and mainstream communities lately on the authenticity of girls (and guys) who cosplay. Are they “true” geeks or are they just doing it for the attention? I hate this accusation and the resulting breakdown of just what makes someone a “true” geek. Hobbyists come in all shapes and styles and colors and fandoms. And each and every deserve respect as a person. If a woman doesn’t know the difference between the Frank Miller (Batman Year One) and Geoff Johns (Batman Earth One) origin stories for the Dark Knight doesn’t discount her as a comic book fan. She may just be in other comics. It doesn’t mean that she can’t cosplay as Batgirl or Poison Ivy or Catwoman. Just because a man has never read any of the burgeoning LGBT comics that are bursting onto the scene lately doesn’t make him sexist. No one has the authority to judge anyone else’s authenticity. We should welcome the fact that people want to have fun and be creative.

Women have been called out on wearing certain outfits, told that they are cosplaying just so they go around in skimpy or revealing costumes. Gee, I wonder where they got the ideas for those outfits? Oh yeah, from the comics, video games, and card games that depict their female characters in said skimpy outfits. Women who cosplay have been told that if they don’t want to get groped or their picture snapped for someone’s spank bank, that they shouldn’t go dressed as Wonder Woman or Miss Marvel. I have a wonderful friend who makes FABULOUS cosplay outfits and I have seen her get in the face of people who would snap her picture without permission. It’s just a courtesy thing; most cosplayers are happy to stop and pose for you, if you’re nice enough to ask. This hasn’t stopped me from cosplaying, and it is especially fun when I would see the same people from con to con. Having debuted my Harley Quinn at InConjunction, a small local fantasy and science fiction con, I was told by author Ben Avery, “You’re so creepy, but I can’t look away!” That was the best compliment I could have received on a first-time costume, especially my beloved Harley. At GenCon, with a revised version of the outfit, I likewise scared off a bunch of blood priests (from a game that I do not remember) crying down damnation on convention goers (these guys were all out, pretty awesome). In a fit of inspiration, I bounced up to the biggest one, stood on my tiptoes, and asked him, “Wanna know how my boyfriend gave me these scars?” while pointing to my painted-on Glasgow smile and grinning fit to split. He actually backed away, telling me no, it was OK; he didn’t need to know. It was hilarious! I told him that it was a really good story but he still wasn’t interested so I flounced off, much to my friends’ enjoyment.

Cosplay is, at the heart of it, something that I find intensely fun. I love dressing up. I love seeing other people dressed up. I love the creative process, even if the result only lasts a few hours. So while I may not like Halloween all that much, I don’t know if I will ever declare myself too old to play dress-up.

Comics Spotlight: Catwoman

Jim Balent’s Catwoman, written by Chuck Dixon.

I have been an avid collector of Catwoman comics since the early 1990s and, today, I have found that I am only 16 issues away from completing my collection of Catty comics from the era of Jim Balent. For those of you who don’t know, Balent is the man who first drew our dear Selina Kyle in her dark-royal purple catsuit, thigh high black boots, black clawed gloves, and graceful whip. Balent took Catwoman from a rather laughable TV show character (though I worship at the feet of Eartha Kitt) and turned her into a sensual, deadly femme fatale. The writers circulated quite a bit but, throughout at least 70 issues of this series, Jim Balent remained Catty’s faithful penciller, refining and defining the form and figure of the woman that has become positively iconic in the world of Gotham City and beyond. Especially to me. Of any series that has come after, the Balent-era Catwoman has always remained my favorite version and is the most appealing to me. She goes after what she wants and rewards herself when she is successful. However, she still has a heroic mentality, unwilling to leave those who are innocent to suffer if she can help it and never taking from those who cannot easily afford it.

Last summer, DC launched its New 52, restarting all of its major comic book titles as well as adding some new titles, Catwoman.  I was a little iffy on this, as I knew that they were keeping her new black outfit, which to me, has always felt clunky and with no sense of “slink” to it. But, when it dropped, I began to read it and found myself rather pleased with its beginnings. One thing that I really love about it is that they openly acknowledged the attraction between Batman and Catwoman almost immediately. In the past, it’s been rather “pussyfooted” around and implied but, in the New 52 Catwoman, it is acknowledged (and enacted) by the end of the first issue. Well done! I like it! Unfortunately, the series fell short of my expectations and, though I have collected most of its 20-something issues, I have only read a few but disliked the path the story took.

I admit it, I am a small comic nerd and proud of it. More importantly, I am a Catwoman comic nerd and proud of it. I will forever love Catty and may the Femme Fatale live forever!  =^_^=

The New 52 Catwoman