Comic-Con is an unavoidable beast, and I use the word “beast” with great affection. Even if you’re not especially into geek-flavored pop culture, the convention is almost certainly on your radar. Comic-Con kicks off on Thursday, July 9, in San Diego, and announcements about every industry from film and television to comic books will roll out of the San Diego Convention Center in continuous waves. The gathering isn’t only about breaking news, though. Panels at Comic-Con cover a wide range of topics, and a significant chunk of those discussions are focused on women.
Though the assumption that Comic-Con and conventions like it are boys only clubs still persists in certain circles, the landscape is changing. We still have walls to beat down, but we’re making progress. In my ten years of attending Comic-Con, I’ve seen female-friendly programming increase and expand so that overall, the convention is a considerably more welcoming and inclusive space: I feel like I’m right in the middle of things now rather than peeking in through the windows.
Each day of the convention offers events with a focus on the female point of view. Here’s a guide to the highlights of the entire weekend. All descriptions are from the Comic-Con programming schedule.
The “Buffy” Effect: Teen Heroines Then and Now — 10:00am, Room 28DE
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” revolutionized the paradigm of the teen heroine, especially in young adult books. Now, eighteen years later, Buffy continues to have an impact on the TV shows and books we read today. Hear your favorite authors discuss Buffy, the queen of the teen heroine, and how she single-handedly changed the game for strong and snarky female characters who are not the sidekicks. Panelists are Kiersten White, Rachel Hawkins, Rae Carson, Brittany Geragotelis and Valerie Tejeda. Moderated by Sarah Kuhn.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” — 12:00pm, Hall H
Lionsgate presents an exclusive first look at one of the studio’s highly anticipated films coming to theaters this fall. Get a sneak peek into the powerful final chapter of the epic “The Hunger Games” film franchise. Attendees will be shown exclusive, never-before-seen footage from “Mockingjay: Part 2” and treated to a cast and filmmaker Q&A session revealing details on the big-screen finale.
Nobody’s Damsel: Writing for Tomorrow’s Women — 2:00pm, Room 25ABC
Top producers, writers, actors and creative executives discuss the complexities of modern female characters in the media and how aspiring writers and producers can create characters that are relatable to the upcoming generation of women. The panel will be moderated by D’nae Kingsley.
All Shapes and Sizes Welcome — 7:00pm, Room 14A
Outspoken actresses, talk-show hosts, models, comic book writers and CEOs Miracle Laurie (“Dollhouse”), Helenna Santos (founder/CEO, Ms. In The Biz), Lynn Chen (founder, The Actor’s Diet), Sherry Lee Meredith (host and CEO, “Go Curvy”), Asha Dahya (host and editor-in-chief, GirlTalkHQ), Malia Miglino (“Macabre Mondays,” “Love or War”) and Dani Dixon (TumbleCreek Press, Five Nations) share their own journey with body image, eating disorders and the road to recovery and self-love. They will discuss societal trends, healthy lifestyles and acceptance for women of all shapes and sizes in the entertainment industry, while inspiring others to get out there, be the change, and live their best life. Moderated by Leah Cevoli (“Robot Chicken,” “Deadwood”).
The Business of Geek Fashion — 1:00pm, Room 14A
Do you ever wonder how your “Walking Dead” t-shirt or “Doctor Who” dress was made? This panel of industry professionals will offer an inside look at the business of geek fashion. Moderated by Lisa Granshaw, panelists Jed Seigel (ThinkGeek Solutions), Ed Labay (Hot Topic), Ashley Eckstein (Her Universe), Sara Scargall (WeLoveFine) and Arthur Gibree (Sanshee) discuss the process behind creating pop culture apparel and accessories, how licensing works, how geek fashion has evolved over the years, what the current options are for women and men and the latest geek fashion trends. Plenty of time will be left for audience members to ask questions and voice their opinions about what they’d like to see more of in the geek fashion market.
Women of “Transformers” — 1:30pm, Room 8
From Windblade and Arcee to Strongarm and the brand-new Combiner making her debut at SDCC, female “Transformers” characters have finally gotten their due; but behind the page and in fandom, even bigger changes have been happening. Panelists include “Transformers” comics writers Mairghread Scott and Georgia Ball, artists Corin Howell and Sara Pitre-Durocher, Hasbro’s Sarah Carroll and special guests.
You Do What!? Women Working in Film Production — 3:30pm, Room 26AB
Cat Paschen (SFX makeup artist), Alicia Minette (metalsmith), Tamiko Brownlee (stunt performer), Lauren Haroutunian (cinematographer), Katrina Sainz (art director) and Lauren Hadaway (sound editor) discuss breaking into the traditionally male dominated fields of film production. Entertainment publicist Brittany Sandler will moderate the Q&A session.
Building the Modern (Super)Heroine — 6:30pm, Room 26AB
More and more, heroines are being positioned front and center on the page and screen-Katniss, Agent Carter, Tris, Furiosa, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, just to name a few. What do creators and fans want out of a powerful female protagonist? How can you pay tribute to the heroines of the past while still looking toward the future? What’s the difference between writing established heroines and creating your own? And how can one best position and support these characters to usher in a whole new era of totally bad ass (super)heroines across all platforms? This dynamic group of creators and expert commentators will discuss the challenges of building modern heroines in a variety of mediums. With Cecil Castellucci (“Stone in the Sky”), Sarah Kuhn (“Heroine Complex”), Andrea Letamendi (psychologist, “Arkham Sessions”), Jose Molina (“Agent Carter”) and Babs Tarr (“Batgirl”). I will be moderating this event; come check us out!
Diversity: We Demand Diverse Books — 1:00pm, Room 28DE
Ethnic, religious, gender, racial, physical ability and sexual diversity are underrepresented in science fiction and fantasy, but these authors are here to tell you that their stories speak for themselves. They seek to create worlds similar to our own, where people from various walks of life are represented and cross paths. Readers will find these authors and the tales they spin as empowering and fascinating as ever. Soman Chainani (“School for Good and Evil”), Cindy Pon (“Serpentine”), Cece Bell (“El Deafo”), Mariko Tamaki (“This One Summer”), Scott Sigler (“Alive”) and Judd Winick (“Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth”) discuss diversity in science fiction and fantasy with David Mariotte.
Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass — 3:45pm, Hall H
A discussion among fierce, fearless, actresses Gal Gadot (“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”), Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”), Kathy Bates (“American Horror Story”) and other flat out fantastic females, who will open up about the power and privilege of playing women who redefine the rules and refuse to yield. Moderated by Sara Vilkomerson.
The Girls Are All Right! — 10:00am, Room 30CDE
Female comic creators for kids and young adults are burning up the bestseller lists and winning awards. Listen in on this dynamic group of award-winning creators as they discuss the challenges and thrills of creating diverse heroines that appeal to a new generation of readers and hook them for a lifelong love of comics. A Q&A session and drawing will follow. Panelists include Jennifer Holm (“Sunny Side Up”), Raina Telgemeier (“Smile”), Cece Bell (“El Deafo”), Mariko Tamaki (“This One Summer”), Jillian Tamaki (“This One Summer”) and Cecil Castellucci (“Odd Duck”). Moderated by Eva Volin.
Marvel: Women of Marvel — 11:15am, Room 5AB
From Ms. Marvel to the A-Force, from Twitter to tumblr, women in comics has been one of the most talked-about topics in comics recently. Join the conversation as women from multiple disciplines in the creative process at Marvel discuss what it’s like working as a woman in comics today and what it means for the future of the industry. Plus, a surprise announcement or two. Panelists include content development director Sana Amanat, producer Judy Stephens and other Mighty Marvel guests.
The Art Heroines — 1:00pm, Room 29AB
The Art Heroines are a group of veteran female artists working in film/live action, TV, animation, commercials, and toy industries. They offer an exclusive look into their work, including displayed props, puppets, and works in progress, and discuss how to maintain a successful career while staying creatively fulfilled. Danelle Vierkant (designer/builder, “Slither”), Ivonne Escoto (designer/builder,”Tron Legacy”), Denise “Dee” Chavez (background designer, “Sanjay and Craig”), Melissa Doss Diwa (designer/builder, “The Creature Shop Challenge”) and Lex Rudd (designer/builder, “The Creature Shop Challenge”). Moderated by Christine Papalexis (“World Police”).