We recently returned from San Diego Comic-Con, which was the experience of a lifetime. We wanted to share with you everything we got up to while we were there!
Wednesday, July 20
Logistics first! We each arrived around noon at the airport, collected our bags and dropped them off where we were staying. Then we headed over to the Convention Center to pick up our badges. The first lesson that we learned is that parking near the Convention Center is scarce and expensive. A lovely local person gave us the 411 on a parking garage nearby that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, so we made it our adopted parking garage for the duration.
Badges in hand, we headed over to the San Diego Comic Art Gallery for the meet-and-greet and signing with three members of the cast of Wynonna Earp. This event was CRAZY AWESOME and packed. San Diego was having a heat wave, so that combined with all the people in the gallery plus the cast, it was WayHaught. It was super awesome to meet Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and Shamier Anderson.
We also got to meet tons of fellow fans. Right now we’ll mention Jo Garfein, who had bought a Peace Maker shirt to get autographed for the Cancer Gets LOST auction. What is Cancer Gets LOST, you ask? (We asked.) It’s “channeling fandom toward the greater good” – an annual online auction for charity of signed items from over 45 TV shows. Proceeds go each year to fund a cancer charity. This year the auction, which takes place online from August 18 – September 3, 2016, is benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which funds research for childhood cancer causes to help find new treatments and cures.
- how the fan community jelled under their leadership
- what it was like to podcast with the cast and with Emily Andras
- how fun it’s been to make shirts inspired by such a diverse and quotable show
Thursday, July 21
We braved the exhibition floor, which was overwhelming in the most awesome way. So many things to see and to start thinking about buying! Here are a few.
We also ran into some Earpers at the IDW booth, which was sort of home base for all of us Earpers over the weekend. We remarked more than once over the course of the weekend that we should have worn name tags with our twitter handles on them to make it easier for us to identify ourselves to each other.
We also stopped by the MTV booth to say hi to Layne Morgan. She works on the show The Shannara Chronicles, and she’s a hardcore Earper herself. Her passion for the show and her love for all things Emily Andras rivals our own, and we loved having the chance to hang out with her a bit.
Then we headed over to Conival, a SDCC-adjacent event co-hosted at Petco Park by Nerdist and Geek and Sundry. The Nerdist hosted several panels at Conival. It’s pretty awesome that there are so many offsite events around SDCC that don’t require a badge to get into, since the badges sell out within an hour of going on sale and many people who want one can’t get one.
On Thursday, the cast of Wynonna Earp appeared for a panel, and we arrived early enough to secure great seats in the third row. We wanted great seats because we’re huge fans and wanted to be close (duh), but also because we had decided to Periscope the panel.
Livestreaming during official SDCC panels is prohibited (even though it happens), but there were no such restrictions at Conival. In case you don’t know what Periscope is, it’s a way to live-broadcast from your smartphone. There are some neat features built in that let people comment and give props while you’re talking (so you know if a joke lands, for example). It sounds simple, but the experience of both hosting and watching a Periscope, which by definition is live, feels much more powerful than watching a recorded video, because it’s as if you’re right there in real time. Which you are.
Anyway, we did a test to make sure we knew how to work Periscope. Here it is:
— Fangirl Shirts (@fangirlshirts) July 21, 2016
And here’s what you’re actually here for, which is the panel itself:
— Fangirl Shirts (@fangirlshirts) July 21, 2016
After the panel, we might have run into Melanie Scrofano before she left Petco Park! You guys, she’s really really nice.
Then Kevin and Bonnie hosted a podcast immediately afterward. Podcasting used to conjure up the image of someone sitting in a radio-like studio with headphones and microphones, but you won’t believe how far technology has come: Kevin recorded the podcasts on his phone. And not just with the Voice Memo app, but with a semi-tricked-out app that makes it all sound smoother. Technology is amazing. Here’s the post-Nerdist-panel podcast.
Then we went to meet the organizer of our panel. Ed Catto is the founder of Bonfire Agency, an agency working in geek space, and has organized various versions of “She Made Me Do It: Fangirls Lead the Way” at various cons. This was the description:
“As the demographics of the industry continue to change, this panel focuses on the impact of female fans (not female creators) and how they are changing comics from the ground up in surprising and positive ways. More than ever, their grassroots efforts can be seen everywhere from comic shops atond conventions, and from cosplay to social media.”
We spent a good hour or more talking with Ed about pop culture, fangirl stuff, Fangirl Shirts, and what sorts of things we might want to discuss during the panel. It was such an enjoyable conversation that we looked up suddenly and realized that we only had 15 minutes to make it to the Dark Matter cast panel.
But the room was at capacity and we didn’t get in. We were sad. We tweeted about it.
— Fangirl Shirts (@fangirlshirts) July 22, 2016
We had just sat down to get some dinner and drinks with Bonnie and Kevin, and we saw this tweet from Alex Mallari, Jr.
6D door. Now! https://t.co/z3DjnYXMYX
— Alex Mallari Jr (@AlexMallariJr) July 22, 2016
So what do you do when you get a tweet like that? You run, fangirl. You run.
And then THIS happened:
The cast was so, so nice. They seemed to like our shirts! In fact, when Anthony Lemke saw us, he said “Hey! I saw on twitter you guys were doing a Killjoys shirt, and I was like ‘When are they going to do a Dark Matter shirt?'” Jay Firestone, the founder of Prodigy Pictures, also liked the shirts!
That was gratifying for a couple of reasons. First, because we designed the shirts, and it’s lovely when people like them. Second, and probably more relevantly, when doing transformative creative work that is inspired by an existing intellectual property or trademarked design, it’s important to us to make sure we stay on the right side of the line.
For us, the right side of the line is: we love the shows that inspire our shirts, and we intend them as an homage to the shows we love. By providing cool shirts for people to wear, we want to help support the shows by giving fans something that bonds them emotionally, and also gives fans a conversation piece to tell other people about this awesome TV show and why they love it. (Not that any of us usually have a problem talking about awesome TV, but anyway.)
After that experience, we walked sedately back to our dinner table, where we ordered nachos and quesadillas and said things like “Wow!” and “Did that really actually just happen?”
Friday, July 22
Friday morning we swung by the IDW booth to buy some of the Special SDCC Edition Double Wynonna Earp Comics that also came with a poster. They had sold out the day before. Guess who is POPULAR? (Wynonna Earp.)
Then Graeme Manson and John Fawcett from Orphan Black were doing a signing, so we lined up! Right before it was our turn, IDW had sold out of the Orphan Black comics and graphic novels that they had on hand. This is a lesson to con-goers: either bring the thing you want signed, or buy it way earlier than the time of the signing. We did get an autograph, and told them how much we loved their show. We also told them about Fangirl Shirts and that we celebrate shows with strong female characters, and that Orphan Black has so many of them (often played by Tatiana Maslany).
Then we had to hustle over to the Dark Matter Nerdist panel at Conival. Petco Park is really near the San Diego Convention Center, but there was a long line for security (they check bags and you go through a metal detector), so we missed the beginning of the panel. (Luckily, we caught the end of it.) Was it our fate to be late to every Dark Matter event that we planned on going to? So it seemed.
Then it was time to go loiter around the IDW booth for the Wynonna Earp cast signing event. Each booth has a different process for how they handle lineups for events like this, although sometimes the group just decides what they’re going to do and does it. In this case, fans decided that we were lining up at 2pm, and that was that. It was a really long line, which sounds like it could have been a drag, but it was GREAT. This TV show just finished airing its first season and the passion of the fans who were there was off the charts. It speaks to how the show is resonating.
So we got some stuff signed, you guys, and we talked to the cast. They really took a moment to connect with each fan, looking you right in the eyes and really listening to what you wanted to say to them. They’re as kind and as genuine as you imagine they are.
After the signing, we took a brief moment to regroup before our panel, “Fangirls Lead the Way,” started at 6:30pm. Regrouping in this case meant sitting down for something real to eat.
A brief digression about cons, in case you’ve never been to one: you are busy a lot of the time, even when you’re not actually doing anything, because if you’re standing in line waiting to see a panel, chances are that you’re talking to other fans. This means there aren’t huge blocks of down time to go have a meal, unless you intentionally make the time. But with so much cool stuff to see and do, who wants to do that? We ended up eating easy-to-carry portable things like granola bars, fruit and beef jerky for much of the time. But to get in the right mental space to speak on a panel, we deliberately made time to sit down, relax, and have something that more resembled a balanced meal.
It was the right choice, because we both felt more centered afterward, which led to feeling calmer while still having a lot of fangirl enthusiasm, which led to us feeling good and confident about our ability to contribute.
Here’s who else was on the panel:
- Ed Catto from Bonfire Agency, moderator
- Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds
- Constance Gibbs, Black Girl Nerds
- Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Rose Del Vecchio, Fanmail
- Jenny Cheng, Fanmail
- Sally Heaven, Fangirl Shirts
- Rebecca Barrick, Fangirl Shirts
It was beyond cool to be in such company.
Much of the discussion focused on what each of our companies/organizations do, and why we do it. We talked about the connotations of the word “fangirl” vs. “fanboy,” how we are all working in different ways to make space for everyone in fandom, and how we all, in our own individual ways, are working to fill some voids that currently exist.
Then we went to the Marriott’s poolside bar and grill, the Tequila Bar, which was rapidly becoming our go-to spot for downtime, to round out the night. It was a great chance to hang with other fans and debrief on the day and not feel like a wicked geek for exclaiming when someone famous “Liked” your tweet. Connecting with other fans at Comic-Con was validating. We had found our people – our little tribe of weirdos.
Saturday, July 23
Saturday was a big day – it was the Wynonna Earp official San Diego Comic-Con cast panel!
A word about how SDCC manages seating space in the panel rooms, and how it varies from other cons. For SDCC, anyone can go into any room (if there’s space) and stay as long as they want to. A person could go to a room when the con first opens and stay there all day – and many people do that, because they don’t want to miss the chance of seeing their favorites. At DragonCon, for contrast, they clear the rooms after every panel, so if there are two popular panels in a row, you probably won’t get to see them both.
This all added up to us going directly to the panel room at 10:30am and sitting there for four hours. We arrived before the first panel of the day, in fact, and got awesome seats. It also meant that we heard and saw a diverse assortment of panels about different things. Sometimes some of the most interesting things are things you hadn’t planned on seeing.
It was very fun and a bonding experience to spend four hours in the room with other diehard Earpers, since by this point in the con we pretty much all knew each other. We took pictures, talked, met Baby Nicole Haught (created by Taylor Burke) in all her Funko glory, and took turns going to the bathroom.
Get this: when you have a seat at a panel at SDCC and you go to the bathroom, if the room is near capacity and there’s a line, they give you a password to get back into the room. If you want to know what #conxiety is, it is going to the bathroom before the panel and worrying the whole time that you will forget the password and not be allowed back in the room and you will miss the panel that has been the most important thing to you, and then your anxiety level is such that you almost can’t even accomplish bathrooming, which stresses you out even more.
The password was “Wendigo.”
While we waited and waited and waited for the cast to get there for the panel, where they were beforehand was the press room. The press does interviews of all the celebrities at Comic-Con, and they all have their prearranged times. Some photos from the press room started to trickle out on twitter, and it was super exciting – especially when we saw that Tim Rozon was wearing the Peace Maker shirt that we gave him yesterday at the cast signing!
— Tim Rozon (@realtimrozon) July 23, 2016
Okay, so they finally arrived and it was SO EXCITING. The room was packed and at capacity, everyone was screaming with delight, and Shamier Anderson shouted “Season 2!” We cheered!
Then he said “Hopefully.”
It was a fake-out, though, because Melanie Scrofano told us two important things right after that:
- She had a burrito for lunch, and it was divine
- Wynonna Earp had been renewed for a second season!
The entire room went nuts and the energy level in the room went through the room.
IDW had put together a sizzle reel of all the highlights from Season One and it’s awesome.
There was also a lovely video message from the showrunner Emily Andras, who wasn’t able to be at Comic-Con (and who started a global movement called Comic-Cants, which provided important emotional support to everyone who wanted to be at Comic-Con but wasn’t able. Please don’t call Emily a hero, though – she doesn’t like it).
You want to watch the whole panel, don’t you? We don’t blame you. Go watch it on Syfy.com right now.
Immediately after the panel, there was a full cast signing at the IDW booth. Having learned from the previous day, IDW had capped the line at 130 people, because signings are limited to an hour to make room for the next signing. Early on we had learned that we would likely need to either be at the panel, or in line for the signing, but that we were unlikely to be able to make both due to the small window of time between the end of the panel and the beginning of the signing.
Having to choose isn’t always fun, but we were happy to be in the room when the cast told the fans about Season 2.
Bonnie Periscoped the cast as they arrived from the panel to the signing, which was fun.
— Wynonna Earp Fans (@WynonnaFans) July 23, 2016
As if all that wasn’t enough for one day, then we went to the EarperMeetup. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s two awesome fans, Jordan and Katy, who organized a time and a space for Earpers to meet each other. They chose a location convenient to the convention center and publicized it, and timed it so we would all go after the signing had concluded, with enough time to chill out a bit beforehand.
We ran into Tim Rozon on the way to the meetup. WHAAAAT? That’s right, you heard me. He and his wife Linzey had stopped by the meetup right when it started to say hi. Since we were running a smidgen late, we ran into them on the sidewalk as they were heading to dinner. And we were all wearing the same thing – a Peace Maker. You know, nbd. It happens.
So the meetup itself: TALK ABOUT FUN. It was fun. After the adrenaline and the excitement of all the panels and waiting and standing in line, it was really nice to be outside and hanging out for a bit. Someone brought doughnuts, someone else brought Earp crafts, we brought stickers, there was a cosplay contest.
Taylor Burke Periscoped the entire 2-hour meetup. You can review her Periscope here.
— Taylor Burke (@taylorburke2319) July 24, 2016
GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. Melanie Scrofano stopped by! Yep, she came to the meetup to talk to fans. She made a special point to find the fans she hadn’t yet met and speak to them. How totally cool is that? We made a snap decision to Periscope it. You can watch the FGS Periscope here.
— Fangirl Shirts (@fangirlshirts) July 24, 2016
After such a big day, the only thing to do was to go collapse at the poolside bar and have some nachos.
Sunday, July 24
Sunday dawned, and we didn’t get to the con as early as we had been. The doors open for the public at 9:30, and for professionals (i.e. panelists and industry people) at 9am. We arrived around 10:15am, and realized that Gail Simone was doing her signing from 10-11am. Luckily, we were able to make it and meet her and say hi.
Gail Simone, in addition to being a kickass comic book writer, storyteller, and voice for giving strong female characters real roles in stories (see her “women in refrigerators” trope discussion that really set the stage for better representation in stories), is also a fan of Wynonna Earp! Some of our favorite times on twitter are when she and Emily Andras start tweeting each other. So we asked if she would record a short video message for Emily to celebrate Wynonna Earp getting renewed for a second season, and she said yes! Here it is:
— Fangirl Shirts (@fangirlshirts) July 24, 2016
Then it was time to go shopping, y’all. For us, and for many at Comic-Con, Sunday is a big day for buying things on the exhibit floor. You’ve had three days to look around and see what you want to get, and Sunday is the last day to buy stuff. The exhibit floor closes at 5pm. So we bought stuff. When fangirls go shopping at Comic-Con, they tend to buy a lot of strong female characters.
Our other big priority for Sunday was the Birds of Prey 20th anniversary panel, featuring:
- Jordan Garfinkel – creator of Birds of Prey, moderator
- Joe Illidge – former BoP editor
- Gail Simone – longtime BoP writer
- Julie Benson – writer for reboot of BoP
- Shawna Benson – writer for reboot of BoP
There was a lot of good discussion about diversity and representation at the panel, and also just ass-kicking storyline. We are excited to start reading the comic. Here’s some information about it.
Then we had a Fangirl Shirts board meeting to summarize our future plans and the company direction. Here are the minutes:
Then what happened? We went poolside, had some food and beverage, and looked at each other saying “Still can’t believe this whole weekend happened.”
Monday, July 25
It was very very very very very early that we went to the airport to catch flights home. It was 4:00am. We don’t want to talk about it too much, mostly because it was so early, but also because it meant we were leaving San Diego.
We love you, San Diego Comic-Con. We want to say a special thank you to Ed Catto, who reached out to us to invite us to be on his panel. We wouldn’t have been at SDCC otherwise, and it was completely transformative for us, both as individuals and for Fangirl Shirts. Jumping into the deep end of fandom by going to the iconic con was amazing, and the chance to speak publicly about our mission and our company history at the “Fangirls Lead the Way” panel helped us to see in real-time how our message resonates with people. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience.
Ed has worked in the comic and geek industry for a while, and he organized this panel, invited a bunch of fangirls to speak, and also has offered his help for networking and ideas. This is a great example of the kind of mentorship and helping hand that are such a cool part of this industry and community. We are so grateful to him.
Thank you, Ed. You’re definitely an honorary fangirl in our books.
Our mission at Fangirl Shirts is twofold: to make high-quality shirts that celebrate fangirls and shows with strong female characters, and to be a voice for equal representation and treatment for girls and women in fandom and in life. We are fans, first, foremost, and forever.