Last Con of the Season

This year has been an incredible year of firsts for both myself, and POME. In the summer, I got to go to San Diego Comic Con to represent POME for our very first award nomination; I went to New York for the first time in over a decade this fall to connect with fellow creators; and most recently, POME sold out of all our books at this year’s Short Run. The very next weekend was this year’s Geek Girl Con, which I attended last year as an exhibitor for POME. Because this convention has a really wide range of content that’s not exclusive to comics, we decided to sit out the Exhibition Hall and instead, take stock of all the wonderful creators and fans who travel from all over to attend this weekend celebration of geeky culture. 

Here are the seven greatest highlights of my weekend at Geek Girl Con!

1. Carpooling rules

If you’re going to travel for a con on back-to-back weekends, I highly recommend bringing friends with you. My Portland pals (Kit, Tristan) and I got to catch each other up on the goings-on in our somewhat chaotic lives, chat about our con plans, and bop to some fun music. When you’re traveling down a highway that you’ve seen way too many times over the course of your long distance relationship, having good company is an essential part of keeping spirits and energy up for the busy days ahead. Plus, we all saved a ton of money that would otherwise have been spent on gas/bus fare/train tickets!

One of my favorite driving playlists, built to listen to on shuffle.

2. Bad Bitch Club

Run by the illustrious Jazzlyn Stone, Bad Bitch Club is a gathering of creatives that makes space for big dreams. At the first meeting I attended, we talked about our dream projects, and what it might take to achieve them, even if we didn’t have a clear plan in mind yet. This pre-con meeting, on the other hand, was focused on our goals for 2020. Whether the goal was professional—like making a good living off your own skills—or personal, Jazzlyn prompted us all to think about what we already had inside us that would help us achieve it. Incredibly, this large group of relative strangers opened up to one another about our inner strengths and obstacles, and offered bits of wisdom to remind one another of everything we have going for us instead of against us. It was the perfect way to set the tone for a weekend of fun and community-building with the best and brightest in the biz.

Large poster with handwritten phrases. "I'm not always wrong even if other people are right." "The people around you are a reflection of the work you've done on yourself." "Conceptual Groove (Sunday 8PM Gold Bar)." "DOMAIN AUTHORITY." "Dudes pass their emotions off as fact." "Your brain needs fallow time."

A collage of wise things we said to each other at the latest Bad Bitch Club meeting.

There are annual dues for Bad Bitch Club: You must help another bad bitch level up. It’s time for me to pay up, so! If you want information on upcoming BBCx meetings, as well as very occasional resources and encouragement, text @badassclub to 81010.

3. Wellness for Geeks Who Sit

You know that feeling when you’re getting to know someone really awe-inspiring, and are proud to call them a friend, and then you see them in their element and you’re like, “Wow, this person is every bit the hero I thought she was AND MORE, SOMEHOW?” That’s how I felt at the “Wellness For Geeks Who Sit” workshop led by Robyn of Geek Girl Strong. Robyn specializes in wellness and community-building in this geeky niche of ours, and the exercises we learned and participated in are perfectly tailored to artists, writers, or anyone else who spends a lot of time hunched over their computer. In 2019, I essentially let go of many of the healthy habits I’d cultivated (with help from that sweet, sweet student health insurance coverage and free gym access) in 2017 and 2018. This workshop woke my body up, and reminded my overworked brain how much my body actually craves movement and strength training. If I were Comandante of the world, and there was a picture in the dictionary next to the word “empowerment,” it would be Robyn wrangling all us nerds into shape!

I wonder what the people in the space downstairs from us thought of this…

Robyn also announced a really exciting new venture at this workshop: she’s adding wellness worksheets (previously only available to her personal coaching clients) as a Patreon tier, and throwing in a mystery gift for new patrons through the rest of November! If you’ve been needing a little extra encouragement and support to work on your wellbeing in the new year, I would highly recommend doing what I did, and join the incredible community that Robyn has built.

4. D&D Monster Mash

One element of convention programming that I’ve not yet had the bandwidth to experience is the tabletop liveplay. For some reason, long liveplays always seem to be counter-programmed with interesting panels or other events. Fortunately, at a smaller con like Geek Girl Con, scheduling conflicts present slightly less of a problem. This gave me the chance to watch my first-ever liveplay with two of my favorite players, Jen Vaughn and Jess Ross from d20 Dames, and introduced me to two new faves, Hadeel al-Massari and Lysa Penrose!

I am so glad I made the time to attend this liveplay, despite it being a little later in the evening than I would normally stay at a con, because it was a non-stop laugh riot. I was honestly blown away by Lysa’s deft DMing skills, guiding the players through a four-hour module modified for super-action-packed one-hour play, complete with a ton of bird content, multiple eye-peckings, a child kidnapping ring, and (most surprisingly) a Hag Romance. It cannot be entirely possible that every liveplay is this well-suited to my particular interests—it took every ounce of willpower in my body not to scream, “It’s bad luck to kill a seabird!” at a certain point—but I honestly cannot wait until the next opportunity I get to test this hypothesis.

5. Exhibitor Hall

Last year, I was confined to my exhibitor table. While I love making friends with tablemates and con attendees, exhibiting solo doesn’t leave a lot of time for exploring. This year, I walked the floor at great length, and was really impressed with the huge range of offerings on display. In addition to art and clothing merchandise, there were folks selling geeky-themed foods, masquerade supplies, comics, prose books, crafts, gaming accessories, and so much more! I even got to watch my pal Kit show off some of her new products in advance of her upcoming debut sale for Tabletop Gems, her handmade dice!

My buddy Kit showing off her dice witchcraft, Tabletop Gems.

No con adventure would be complete without some haul pics. I was delighted to pick up a Jordandené sweatshirt I’d been eyeing for months at the Sartorial Geek boutique, which will be a perfect outfit for The Rise of Skywalker opening night.

You heard it here first, folks.

I also picked up these adorable DM mini-sheets from Tabitha Grow, which is going to help me level up my lackluster baby DMing skills considerably.

Okay, so I didn’t fix the bubbles yet, but SOON!

Last but not least, I acquired a custom geeky tea blend from Friday Tea called Moon Princess (!!) that I absolutely cannot WAIT to drink out of fancy cups!

Drinking out of cups, being a HERO!

6. Discovery of fun mini role-playing games

During some downtime, Kit and I decided to check out the tabletop gaming area. There was an impressive array of offerings here too, with how-to-play workshops on several different tabletop games (including, but not limited to Dungeons & Dragons), sign-ups for tabletop gaming sections, and a board game library! We discovered a number of extremely cool original tabletop RPGs, with our favorite being Star Crossed, a game where two players act out a forbidden romance. True to form, we chose to play a mermaid and shipwrecked pirate lady.

A rules pamphlet for Star Crossed, two character sheets, two pencils grossed over one another, and a Jenga tower.

Siri, enhance…

While we were a little sad to find that the games we were playing weren’t all available for sale, I also know that the tabletop gaming world is still growing insanely quickly, (hopefully!) leaving plenty of room for this area of programming to evolve and become still more powerful!

7. ¿Cómo Se Dice Nerd?

Last but absolutely not least, I got to attend my most highly anticipated event of the convention: the annual ¿Cómo Se Dice Nerd? panel! In 2018, I got to be a panelist, making ¿Cómo Se Dice Nerd? my very first panel gig. Returning as an attendee was just as delightful as I’d hoped it would be, as was basking in the wisdom of my fellow Latinx geeks from the other side of the table. 

5 people sit at a long table making silly poses and faces.
I picked the silly pose picture because just LOOK at these CUTIES.

It’s rare to find a space where a community can gather both to support and promote one another, and to lovingly and mindfully criticize elements of our shared cultures without fear of reprisal from people who just don’t understand. This amazing group of humans—panelists and audience members alike—cried, laughed, and shared ideas for strengthening our connections with each other as Latinx creators and fans in a way that I’ve simply never experienced anywhere else. Maybe it’s because Sylvia Artiga is absolutely the most skilled moderator I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, or maybe it’s because Latinx nerds know deep in our hearts how powerful community and found family are, but even after last year’s wonderful panel, I was blown away by how everyone in the room seemed to find someone who spoke to their hopes and struggles. 

This thread by one of this year’s panelists, Andrea Rosales, really sums it all up in a way that’s just about as galvanizing and inspiring as being there in person, so I’ll let her wrap it up for you:

As POME editor CC said to me recently, “POME is canon ‘promote our friends’ shit,’” and as I took full advantage of my freedom to explore Geek Girl Con, I increasingly felt that this convention is a truly charming embodiment of that attitude. As this year’s con season winds down and the nights get longer and colder, I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to see friends one last time before the new year. When we reflect together on how far we’ve come and where we want to go next, it feels like a powerful ward against the winter blues that often follow the busiest, spendiest time of the year. Here’s hoping that this much-needed space continues to grow, prosper and flourish—just like all of our friends!

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley writes comics and emails from zir burrow in the Pacific Northwest. Ze is a sentient subtropical swamp fern whose favorite food is old words.

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