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It’s been two weeks since San Diego Comic Con took over the Gaslamp District, but we here at the Collective still have so much to say about our first ever SDCC. The Collectress has waxed eloquent on equal representation, but I want to focus specifically the roles of women, including women of color, and children in the comic book, television and film industries (here-forth named the “industry”) and the shifting landscape of fandom.

The way current markets target female consumers is changing. At Comic Con, panels on female stereotypes in comics, the female gaze in manga, nerd girl fashion, geeky kids in the classroom and the discussion of female-centric content were scattered across this year’s schedule. One of my favorite of the smaller panels at SDCC was entitled, “Nobody’s Damsel: Writing For Tomorrow’s Women” and was moderated by D’Nae Kingsley, Head of Integrated Strategy at Trailer Park, Inc, an entertainment marketing agency. The panel focused on female representation in the industry and in attendance was Meghan McCarthy (Head of Storytelling, Hasbro & Executive Producer, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic), Issa Rae (creator, “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” web series), Molly McAleer (writer/co-founder, Hello GigglesDan Evans III (Creative Director, DC Entertainment TV) Aria Moffly (Creative Director, Development, DC Entertainment TV) and Sam Maggs (Author, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy & Associate Editor, The Mary Sue).

image property of The Geekiary

These various industry women (and the one black dude from DC) gathered to discuss how content creators can shift the industry to be more representative of the growing female audience. With one African-American woman and one African-American man on the panel, the discussion wavered between diversity in the industry and the shifting landscape of feminism. Each person on the panel agreed that we need to see more women characters in industry specific content and that these women should be written by women for women. In order to reach the female audience for the long term, we need authentic characters that represent the complexities of femininity and race, not played-out stereotypes or characters only meant for sexualization. Issa Rae made a number of points that deeply resonated with me, the biggest being the fact that she created the “Awkward Blackgirl” webseries because there were no women on television she related to. The admission is something that I understand as a geeky black girl with almost no geeky black girl heroes to look up to, and I took the time after the panel to tell her so. As an educated black woman, there isn’t a lot of content that is marketed directly to women like me, but Issa, who credits Shonda Rhymes as an hero, and women like her are working to widen the scope of the entertainment industry. I also agreed when Sam Maggs took the time to remind the audience that social media gives fans a way to directly communicate our needs to creators. We can reiterate the importance of female-centric content in a male-centric industry by utilizing Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and even small blogs (like this one!) to reach out to other fans and strengthen our voices so that creators know what we want.

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SDCC has come and gone, and I’m still catching up on missed sleep. While the Collective crew has posted articles on cosplay, fantasy, and comics, amongst other things, today I’m going to write about my first SDCC experience through the lens of a fan who is passionate about equal representation.

Although the big studios and franchises are the real marketable draw for a convention as large and prominent as Comic Con International, the smaller panels beckon to me because I’m as interested in discussing current trends and tropes in popular culture as seeing the new Batman v. Supermantrailer. Through the smaller panels, I feel that a more accurate portrait is painted of what is happening in the entertainment industry.