Bonnie Burton and Anne Wheaton Talk #VandalEyes at Emerald City Comicon

Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton pose with Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton at Emerald City Comicon 2014. Photo: Kelly Knox.

At the Espionage Cosmetics booth at Emerald City Comicon 2014, a very special, geektastic set of nail wraps made its debut. VandalEyes, the googly eye sensation that got its start on Twitter, can now grace your fingertips in style. Haven’t heard of VandalEyes yet? Googly eye connoisseurs Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton talked to me at the con about how #VandalEyes got started, why they teamed up with Espionage, and how you can support googly eyes for a good cause.

Bonnie Burton, author of the Star Wars Craft Book and all-around craft maven, has long been sticking jiggly plastic eyes on objects, from puppets to, well, everything. “I used to do this when I was in college, to my roommates, and I would do it later when I was more of an adult couch-surfing at people’s houses,” Bonnie said. “I would wait until everyone went to sleep, and then I’d put googly eyes on everything inside the fridge. It’s just something I’ve always done because I think it’s hilarious.”

Not even the house of Bonnie’s partner-in-VandalEyes-crime, Anne Wheaton, was safe, but it wasn’t long before she joined in the fun. “Bonnie came to visit me a couple of years ago,” Anne told me. “She was putting googly eyes on things around my house, and I said, ‘Oh my God! I used to do things with those all the time when I was a kid.’ So then we both started doing them, and Archie McPhee started making them [self-adhesive].”

Once the quirky retail store Archie McPhee made their Emergency Googly Eyes kit—inspired by Bonnie when she requested a tin to put googly eyes in—sticking the plastic eyes on everything soon became an internet sensation. “We started doing it more and more on Twitter, and Anne is the Queen of Puns, so she came up with the idea [of #VandalEyes],” Bonnie said. The hashtag evolved into a website,, where the work of the googly eye army can be seen on everything from food to airplane tray tables.

VandalEyes in action. Photo: ©

VandalEyes has even made its way onto television show sets and talk shows, thanks to Anne and Bonnie’s friends. “We’ve gotten all of our friends addicted to it, like Seth Green,” Bonnie said. “When you watch the show Dads, you’ll see VandalEyes pop up in the weirdest places [on the set].”

“Seth does a show called Robot Chicken, and my husband [Wil] worked on it a few weeks ago. He said even at the Robot Chicken studio—googly eyes everywhere,” Anne said. Seth Green even talked about his love of VandalEyes during an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s talk show last year.

So of all the places to stick googly eyes, why fingernails?

VandalEyes fans have long been gluing tiny googly eyes to their nails or painstakingly painting them on themselves. When Anne saw the Kickstarter from Espionage for their nerdy nail wraps line, inspiration struck. She contacted Espionage Cosmetics through Twitter, proposing a VandalEyes collaboration, and heard back from the company quickly with a resounding yes.

Anne and Bonnie worked with Espionage to create the VandalEyes nail wraps design, looking at Pinterest for inspiration, while also thinking about practical, everyday use. “I’m super rough with my hands, so I wouldn’t want eyes above, because I would hit them and they’d go flying,” Anne said. Bonnie agreed. “I worried about the same thing, because I’m such a tomboy—I can barely keep nail polish on… googly eyes would just go everywhere.”

VandalEyes Nail Wraps (and ECCC Exclusive). Photo: Kelly Knox.

Bonnie and Anne were drawn to working with Espionage Cosmetics because of the company’s obvious passion for geeky cosmetics. “It was a fun experience because they love what they do,” Bonnie said. “It was fun to be part of working with people that thoroughly love and enjoy their jobs, and love their products.”

This was no more apparent than during the VandalEyes photo shoot with Anne and Bonnie at the Espionage office, where the duo was greeted with detailed, handcrafted dresses covered in plastic, jiggling eyes. “And the funny thing was [about the dresses], we thought they were gorgeous and when we put them on, they were so loud because of all the pupils were hitting,” Anne laughed. “They were so loud, we couldn’t even hear what we were doing, and we were leaving a trail of googly eyes everywhere.”

VandalEyes Tee photo: © WeLoveFine

Not only did the glow-in-the-dark VandalEyes nail wraps make their debut at Emerald City Comicon, Anne and Bonnie teamed up with WeLoveFine to offer exclusive VandalEyes T-shirts at the con and online—and their commissions go to charity. “Our friend Sean Bonner designed the logo for us so Espionage could use the VandalEyes logo on our wraps, so we just decided that would be the best thing to do for the shirts as well,” said Anne. “The proceeds go to the Pasadena Humane Society, which is a non-profit organization that I’m a board member of.”

“We both have rescue dogs, so that’s a big deal for both of us, to be able to give back to the Humane Society,” Bonnie told me.

With the googly eye army poised to take over the internet, fingernails, and T-shirts, Bonnie and Anne can’t help but be amused by it all. “It was just something we did to crack ourselves up,” said Bonnie. “We had no idea that it would become such a phenomenon.”

The Cliffs of Insanity: Why GeekGirlCon Is Uniquely Satisfying

Geek Girl Con artist
This young artist, known as Small Boss by her mother, Tristan Tarwater, was offering her pictures for free at her mother’s exhibition booth at Geek Girl Con. She drew this magical rabbit for me. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

My adventures in climbing the cliffs of life’s insanity this year have included ConnectiCon, PAX East, Boston Comic Con, and New York Comic Con.

But the experience attending Geek Girl Con was different.

I’ve been trying since I left Seattle last weekend to put my finger on why. It’s not that I saw friends I never get a chance to see. I’ve been able to do that at every con. It’s not that it’s all about geekery. All the cons were. And it’s not even that there were more girls at  Geek Girl Con, as there were lots of women at the other cons too, especially the college-aged kids at ConnectiCon.

I finally came upon the answer when comparing the New York Comic Con program book to the Geek Girl Con guide.

The other cons were largely about what we consume: books, shows, movies, comics, games.

Geek Girl Con is about who were are and who we could be.

GGC was a conversation about how geeks of all types interact with the world.  And that includes children, too. Maybe that’s why GGC, instead of wowing me or overwhelming me, created a huge number of “aww…” moments that warmed my heart.

Here’s a sample of the workshops available on Saturday  at GGC:

Turning Your Art Into An Online Business; Labor of Love: Why Women Make Transformative Works; Women in Gaming: A New Frontier; Geek Etiquette, Everything I Thought I Knew About Fashion History Was Made Up by Victorians; Strong Female Characters in Young Adult Literature; Geek Girl Style; Helen of Troy Unlimited; We Are Fandom, Hear Us Roar; Deconstructing the Mary Sue Myth; Octobriana, the Black Heroine and Wonder Woman: A Comic History; Race in Costuming and Performing; You and Your Connected Kid; Geeks in Education; Making Giant Robots Go; Home Geek Home; Fan Studies, Past, Present and Future; Making Science Fun.

Here’s a sample of Saturday’s programming at New York  Comic Con, excluding the major television shows:

50 Years of Doctor Who; IGN Presents X-Box Fun; The Mythbusters; Comics for Everyone: Creating Stories for All Ages; IDW: The Ultimate Panel; Mad about MAD; Avatar Press Uncut; Justice League Forever Evil; We are BOOM; Kodansha & Funimation; Rocket Girl; Thief (a new video game); Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski; Sword Art Online; Diamond Select Toys; Celebrating 36 Years of Judge Dredd.

In essence, most of the panels were about things we’ll eventually purchase or pop culture items we already love. There were a few more academic discussions, such as Geeks of Color Assemble! and The Mary  Sue Presents Representation in Geek Media, plus one on Breaking Into Comics, but it’s easy to see the difference in programming comparing the two lists. That doesn’t make NYCC wrong or evil but it explains the far different vibe between the two cons.

Leaf rubbings at the GGC Science Zone photograph by Kelly Knox.

There was also a consideration for children that I didn’t see evident at the other cons. NYCC had a kid’s day and this year they added a kid’s room, but it was one of the conference rooms downstairs. It’s a decent start and the kid’s room had some programming, but the entirety of GGC seemed set up to allow the younger set to have fun too.

The DIY science area at GGC had seven stations, designed to not just teach science but give the kids something hands-on to do in an interactive way. At the lower level, gaming areas were set up like at PAX and PAX East and a few other cons, but they seemed designed to also let parents and kids take a break instead of walking around.

Sure, some people tried to sell stuff and GGC had a nice exhibition area with a lot of cool crafts, from knitted cats to artwork, to geeky jewelry and t-shirts. Right outside that area was a signing area for those who wanted to visit with the creators who attended. Yet the placement of those tables seemed designed to encourage conversations rather than move along fans.

Basically, I went expecting a regular-style con only with more women. What I found was a community basically throwing a huge getaway weekend. Instead of being exhausted at the end, as I feel like at most cons, I left energized and excited about the future.

I need to find a way to get back to Seattle next year. And I need to bring the minions and my husband this time.

Geek Girl Con, Kelly Sue DeConnick, GeekMom Book
GeekMom Kelly Knox with Comics Writer and mom Kelly Sue DeConnick, who pronounced herself thrilled to have a copy of GeekMom, the book.

The Cliffs of Insanity: New York Comic Con and Geek Girl Con

geek girl con logo
The official logo of Geek Girl Con

On this week’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity, I’m going to talk about the fun to be had at cons. Particularly, New York Comic Con this weekend and Geek Girl Con, which begins on Saturday, October 19.

The East Coast has been getting into the massive geek gathering thingwith New York Comic Con, which started on Thursday. Like Comic Con International in San Diego, NYCC is only partially a comic con. The exhibit floor at the Jacob K. Javits Center is packed with booths from all the big video gaming companies, often with soundtracks blaring, there are many panels concentrating on television and movies, and prose publishers big and small are there too.

I’m headed in Saturday, and especially looking forward to two panels, The Mary Sue Presents Representation in Geek Media with Jill Pantozzi, Susana Polo, Jamal Igle, Kate Leth, N.K. Jemisin, Phil Jimenez on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and Comic Chix with Kate Kotler–LIVE!, a live version of the popular podcast featuring Bonnie Burton, Jill Pantozzi, Joan Hilty, Kate Kotler, Meghan White, Molly McIsaac, Sarah Miller, and GeekMom’s own Nicole Wakelin.

As for the rest, since I’m going without kids for the first time, I’m looking forward to walking around without much of a plan at all, save to speak to creators in artists’ alley, my favorite place in any con. I hope to report back next week with some interviews, including one with Dan Jolley, the creator of Bloodhound, a short-lived DC series getting a second (and well-deserved) life. You can look for my tweets at either @GeekMomBlog or @CorrinaLawson.

But the con I’m most looking forward to in October isn’t this weekend, it’s next: Geek Girl Con in Seattle, and that’s only partially because I’m part of three panels, Home Geek Home with an incredible lineup that includes Bonnie Burton and fellow Geekmoms Kelly Know and Jenn Fujikawa on Saturday;  Romance is a Feminist Genre, my own brainchild, which will talk about why the romance genre is so awesome and positive for women on Sunday at 10 a.m.; and Women in Comics: What’s Left To Do, a panel featuring members of the pioneering feminist webzine, Sequential Tart.

Mostly, I already love this con because of this mission statement:

GeekGirlCon is dedicated to celebrating female involvement in all fields of math, the sciences, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, fiction, gaming, and more.

As Kelly Knox pointed out in her preview post for GGC, this is a con that has nearly *everything* geeky. I’m not going to find a DIY science zone for all ages at NYCC or in San Diego or at Boston Comic Con, which was very superhero focused. GGC promises to be a shorter version of a Maker Faire combined with feminism combined with geeky pop culture.

And it’s in Seattle. Where I’ve never been before.

Alas, there’s one person I won’t be able to meet in Seattle, Batgirl/Tomb Raider/Red Sonja writer Gail Simone, who was a guest at the first two cons. But speaking of Simone…she made news already this week.

Red Sonja: image copyright Dynamite Entertainment

The Barbarian and the She-Devil Are Getting Back Together

Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja are getting back together, in an adventure kind-of-way. Because the rights to new stories about the characters are owned by separate companies, they haven’t appeared in a story together for over fifteen years. From the press release:

Dynamite Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics are proud to announce the 2014 crossover of swords-and-sorcery icons Red Sonja, She-Devil with a Sword and Conan the Barbarian, a reunion that fans have asked for since their last team-up over fifteen years ago. Two series will be published, Conan/Red Sonja and Red Sonja/Conan, by Dynamite and Dark Horse, respectively. Acclaimed writers Gail Simone and Brian Wood are confirmed as the writers for the epic crossovers, both firmly established as valuable contributors to the Robert E. Howard fantasy mythos.

The most important parts of that statement for me? Brian Wood and Gail Simone are writing this.

So far, no word yet on the publication date or the artists for the series.

And, by the way, if you’re not reading Simone’s Red Sonja series and you’re a fan of fantasy sword and sorcery stories, you’re seriously missing out.

Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Tomorrow!

Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, SF Romance

As someone who has been flogging the “romance is fun for geek girls” theme for some time now, I’ve been thrilled to watch the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club with Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Bonnie Burton and Kiala Kazebee take off.

This week’s selection, to be discussed on the Hangout tomorrow, April 30, at 8 P.M. PST is Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. Continue reading Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Tomorrow!

GeekGirlCon is This Weekend…See You There?

Be still my heart! There is actually a convention for us girls now! It’s in Seattle, so those of you on the East Coast have a ways to trek it (haha, I made a geek funny), but there is indeed a convention made “just for her” and it’s called GeekGirlCon!

That said, I’m dragging my husband with me this weekend to the maiden-voyage of the event. I was looking forward to the GeekGirlCONcert, but it is on Friday night and we won’t make it into Seattle until Saturday. The rest of the weekend proves to be just as entertaining though, with celebrities like Star Wars crafter Bonnie Burton and TV writer Jane Espenson. (I might have a small geek-out if I meet either of these ladies this weekend.) D&D  blogger and podcaster @SarahDarkMagic will also be there, and I’m crossing my fingers to run into her and meet her in person (since I have been following her on Twitter FOREVER).

There are a slew of workshops and games to play in the gaming room. With names like Steve Jackson and Looney Labs on the playlist and workshops like “How to Paint a Miniature,” I have a feeling a major part of our weekend will be spent here (since our daughter will be attending too).

There is a Masquerade on Saturday that my daughter and I might take part in or at least attend for photos. We will be wearing our matching Pokémon skirts that were a hit at PAX, but whether we make it depends how tired we are by Saturday evening.

My list of vendors to visit is HUGE. I’m quickly becoming a comic book fan as my daughter is interested in them too. There will be several female comic book authors and artists there to visit. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the Cute Factory is all about and Geek Stained Glass.

Finally, Sunday I will be moderating the Geeks Raising Geeks panel. Panelists include Nancy HolderBelle HolderCarrie GoldmanKatie GoldmanJenn FujikawaSharon Feliciano, and Stephanie Kaloi.

If you are going to be in Seattle this weekend, I hope to see you there. I will be tweeting (@GamerMom1_0) if I can get reception on my phone. Be sure to say hello!