Swancon: After Buffy

So Swancon! That science fiction convention I was on the committee on and helped run.
Have a picture taken by Arinellen from the XXP bloggers shows my approach to event management.

I was pretty worn out at this point.

I was pretty worn out at this point.

I ran one panel at Swancon this year, leading the feral group I call my ‘craft day’ friends: Penny, Nic, Emma and Sarah F. Sadly, I didn’t think to grab pictures of this set up. Basically, these are friends from a few years back, when I decided I wanted to start up an informal crafting meet-up at my house every couple of weeks. These are the friends that kept showing up, even though we very quickly stopped crafting and just started watching tv, arguing and recommending other media to each other.

The panel After Buffy, was an attempt at moving past the main few action women in the modern consciousness. When people talk about awesome women, strong women, and female action heroes, what you quickly notice is that Buffy, Ripley, Sarah Connor and Lara Croft are the names that keep coming up and dominating the conversation with their various merits rather than diversifying the list. It becomes a battle for perfection, rather than finding loads of role models.

I promised we’d put a list of the recommendations online as we didn’t get time to mention many of the creators and texts that we wanted. These aren’t all SF or action, but whatever we thought had the potential to showcase women being awesome, whether the work itself was terrible or brilliant. They are things we’ve recommended to each other, discussed loads or watched in a group.

TV and Movies
Cliff Chiang's take on The Runaways.

Cliff Chiang’s take on The Runaways.

  • Xena
  • Lost Girl
  • Birds of Prey
  • Rizzoli & Isles
  • Hope Springs
  • The Runaways (the movie)
  • But I’m A Cheerleader
  • Kamikaze Girls
  • Tank Girl
  • Daria
  • Itty Bitty Titty Committee
  • Middleman
  • Brave
  • Tangled
Books and Authors
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Jane Yolen
  • Ursula Le Guin
  • Joanna Russ
  • Lucy Sussex
  • Cherie Priest
  • Cat Valente
  • Vonda N. McIntyre
  • Marianne De Pierres
  • L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Gael Baudino, Gossamer Axe
  • Genevieve Valentine, Mechanique
Not actually sure who drew this Painkiller Jane. She is amazing.

Not actually sure who drew this Painkiller Jane. She is amazing.

  • Gail Simone
  • Alison Bechdel
  • Jen Van Meter
  • Faith Erin Hicks
  • Wonder Woman (Greg Rucka, Gail Simone)
  • ’92/93 Black Canary (Sarah Byam)
  • Queen & Country (Greg Rucka)
  • Painkiller Jane (Jimmy Palmiotti)
  • Digger (Ursula Vernon)
  • Passage of Time
  • Catwoman (Ed Brubaker)
  • Powergirl (Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Amanda Connor)
  • Manhunter (Marc Andreyko)
  • X-23 (Marjorie Liu)
  • Captain Marvel (Kelly Sue DeConnick)
  • Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

The panel itself went really well. Surprisingly well. We came third in the best-in-program contest which is pretty wicked, and we weren’t expecting the crowd we got. We were also impressed that we managed to only upset one person (we’re really sorry, Kendra!) with how opinionated and overboard we tend to go. The vibe was really good too. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a panel, and the impression I’ve gotten is many people felt the same. The vibe continued into the next panel (on queer representation) with the recommending spirit continuing onwards.

The audience was pretty awesome. At the time, we weren’t expecting such an awesome discussion from the audience, or the number of people that showed up. We’ve managed to get most of the notes (borrowing heavily from alias_sqbr for this post). Note: I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of these recs and I can’t guareentee we didn’t miss a whole heap.


Amy Reeder’s take on Batwoman

  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
  • Batwoman
  • The Legend of Korra
  • Girls with Slingshots
  • Questionable Content
  • The Princess Diaries series (especially 2)
  • Tank Girl
  • Girl Genius
  • Ash
  • Fables
  • Batgirl
  • Ice Princess
  • Global Frequency
  • Runaways (the comic)

I did notice a fixation on the princess tropes and roles that subvert or bring in alternative roles. Personally I think the princess trope just needs to be burned to the ground and erased from the media’s collective consciousness alongside Barbie and cheerleaders (even subverted ones like Buffy). However, the panel and certainly members of the audience disagreed with me and there was no shortage of suggestions. I still wonder if the reason we defend these princesses is that we have so few other characters to form attachments to.

Possible idea for a future panel? One not run by me, I’ve sworn I’m out after this round.

Full credit needs to go to Lily for pointing out that we completely missed Batwoman. She won a signed copy of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – while there were millions of good suggestions from the audience, this was the most obvious character and comic we missed.

We’re always after suggestions, and people should feel free to keep mentioning stuff in the comments.


One thought on “Swancon: After Buffy

  1. I remain constantly amazed by the number of Alien games in which the character you play is exactly the sort of macho musclehead military type that Ripley demonstrates to be completely ineffectual and unsuited to the task at hand in the very first movie they appear in.

    Even worse, the aforementioned dudebro avatar ends up being the lone saviour while the scientists and technicians get sacrificed by the hundreds due to a lack of testosterone and firepower. This, despite the fact that the movies firmly establish that in their universe, this is the reverse of how things actually work. Isn’t this sort of internal inconsistency and contradiction of continuity the kind of thing obsessive geek gamers usually get fired up over?

    Also, Agent Scully was one of my heroes growing up – the X-Files was not without its problems, but at least early on, Scully was more than willing to roll her eyes and tell Mulder to shove it when he started acting irrationally and letting emotion override common sense. Or at least, that’s how 12 year-old me remembers it…

    In terms of contemporary action women I’m quite taken with Agent Dunham from Fringe – basically a more kick-arse Scully, running around in the field and slowly developing psychic superpowers while the menfolk mainly provide scientific expertise from the lab to help her investigations. It’s such a shame that…


    …the show derailed after a couple of seasons, more or less de-powers her in the last season, and ends up being all about the man-pain of not one, but two father-son relationships.

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