It’s no secret I adore Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe clothing (she also happens to be the voice actor for Ashoka Tano, one of our family favorite characters of, well, ever). How excellent it is not to have to settle for those few fandom articles designed for men which happen to fit my decidedly not male body decently enough I wasn’t embarrassed in public. To find almost all of my major fandoms represented such that I get to choose which items to purchase rather than sighing as I lay money out for the least of evils.
Last year, at New York Comic Con, Her Universe announced plans to expand into publishing in partnership with Permuted Press to create a catalogue focused on lady-centric speculative fiction/fantasy/steampunk and other related genres. An open submissions publishing arm that doesn’t require an agent’s intercession (for those of you who have never submitted a book for publication, you’ll just have to trust me both of these are huge deals for those still seeking our first real sale). Her Universe Press’ first book, Weirdest by Heather Nuhfer was published earlier this year and is available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
The next bit is going to seem like a non-sequitur, but bear with me. I’ve tried before to get in on the adult coloring crazy without much success. Most of the designs are so complicated, so intricate, so time consuming. For many, this provides extended relaxation. For me and my OCD, it’s a massive, anxiety producing exercise in “let’s finish this and finish it quickly because I don’t have infinite time for relaxation.” Yeah, I know, I know. I’m working on it. Turns out I somehow missed Ms. Eckstein and artist Katie Cook had created Fangirls: A Coloring Book for Girls That Like Stuff and, on June 7th of this year, Her Universe made it thing that exists. A wonderful, glorious thing which exists in the actual world in which we live. One with adorable figurative pages rather than complex, well-nigh unto indecipherable abstract ones. Clean simple lines packed with meaning and inclusiveness for all of us girls and some excellent reminders for the lads.
This is a powerful little coloring book. Yup. A powerful. Coloring. Book.
Beyond providing relaxation and calm, beyond a fun romp through a huge range fandoms, Fangirls remind us a “fandom” can be anything. It doesn’t have to be, isn’t, can’t be a category limited to that which the community of geeks considers geeky. People, men, women, kids, anyone, can geek out over anything they love, anything they enjoy spending time being or doing. Star Wars, Star Trek, gaming, cosplay, sure. But I have to admit, I personally would never have though of “shopping” or “programming” or “cats” as fandoms before I picked up this book but I should have and I do now. I intend to be more inclusive with my definitions in the future and to teach the kiddos to do the same.
I love this book for its inclusiveness. Not only as regards the range of fandoms but also in the range of features the characters posses. And if I’d like to have seen a more varied range of body type (my only tiny nit) I do see every possible permutation of hair, eyes, facial structure, hair style, every way a human figure can express joy and excitement.
I would have shared this book with my kids regardless, but it was a nice addition to our discussions about being oneself no matter what anyone else says. About being of what, and who, you love. Being proud of your huge, wild, curly hair; your height, whatever it may be; your blue eyes or your brown (my son has the former and my daughter has the later). As the Her Universe tagline so succinctly phrases it, “Flaunting Your World.”
My daughter and I have been working our way through Fangirls together. She wiggles and dances and claps her hands every time I pull it out. She is a child of many fandoms: Star Wars, Voltron, Pokemon, Dora, Wild Kratts, Octonauts, Ms. Marvel, Deadpool, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, shoes, dresses… I could go on but I’m sure you can see where I’m leading. She asked me for My Little Pony swag for her upcoming birthday, then asked one set of grandparents for the Lego build-your-own-Rey action figure and the other set for a tool kit. She is going to zoo camp and also to paleontology camp this summer. And she gets to see all of that in this coloring book. She gets to see she can be anything and everything.
Thanks, Ashley and Katie. And thanks Her Universe. I used to hide my geek. Z-monster is growing up in a world where she’ll flaunt hers proudly.
There is no greater gift than that.
Fangirls: A Coloring Book For Girls That Like Stuff by Ashley Eckstein and Katie Cook, published by Her Universe Press, is available online from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.