“Have fun!” they called out from the car. “Remember: You’re just Evil Genius tonight. Not Mum.”
With three kids, it can be a bit hard finding some “me-time.” Even harder when my personal interests are on the geeky side. Usually, I like to share all my geeky stuff with the family; Free Comic Book Day is a great example. But even FCBD this year had an awkward moment: approached by a stranger, also in cosplay, who proceeded to “educate” me in the Doctor Who fandom—since I was dressed in Doctor Who cosplay and clearly needed it explained to me. It was EG Dad (my husband) who had to save me, despite saying the same thing I did but in a less polite tone. Funnily enough, this guy didn’t want to enter a Doctor Who debate with EG Dad, but somehow I was free range?
It wasn’t the first time I had been cornered like that, but I really thought things were improving. I love talking about comics. Especially with the popularity buoyed by screen adaptations. “Fantasy casting” is now becoming reality (although, I never picked Brie Larson for Marvel…) and the social commentary is now reaching more and more of the general public.
Nevertheless, I still struggle to find a group of people I could just chat with about all the ideas and analysis I draw from comic books.
And I am not the only one. When I tapped on the glass door at Kings Comics (Sydney, Australia), I saw a small group of women just like me: about 14 in attendance. Varying ages and race. Some wearing their favourite fandom with pride. Some were just sitting quietly in regular street clothes. I caught one of them give a small smile and nod towards my 4th Doctor scarf.
Siobhan greeted me with a huge smile. “Come on in. Grab a seat. We have hot tea, plenty of goodies. I was baking and there’s… well, a lot of food!”
Already it felt different. And it was good.
My local comic book store is Kings Comics. I could rave about their range of comic books and paraphernalia, but the thing that I really love about this place is the fantastic group of staff members they have. I can walk in there any day, with or without kids, and be able to talk to anyone about any interest.
It was one staff member, Siobhan, who realised they were kind of missing something in encouraging women to express their geeky interests. Inspired by All Star Women’s Comic Book Club (Melbourne, Australia), Siobhan decided to try out a similar social event herself. She put the call out in May this year to see who would be interested in this new Queens of KINGS.
The general response was supportive AND enthusiastic. From both guys (supportive) and gals (enthusiastic).
Of course, there were a couple of guys who needed it explained to them as to WHY a group of “chicks” needs a special club to meet up and talk about comics.
I’m going to spend as much time explaining and justifying it here as we did at the inaugural meeting in June.
We are a group of people who identify as women. Who just want to talk about comics. Who want talk about comics without the feeling we are being harassed again. We don’t really want to waste time explaining it to anyone and don’t really need to explain it to ourselves either.
So what did we do? We talked about what brought us together this evening (new friends within the comic book community); about our favourites; about how we felt within the community; and we talked about our first “Book of the Month,” Y: The Last Man (Vol.1).
The irony was not lost on us.
It was really refreshing to not start with the obvious choice: Wonder Woman. I love Diana, but she is pretty established and I was looking to broaden my horizons. Y was a fantastic choice for the social commentary, the sci-fi element, and the general feminist perspective on the survival of the planet without males.
One of the biggest talking points was how comparable Y was to the current political environment in the US–despite the fact Y was written in 2003. Just talking about that was invigorating! Yes, we talked about politics and comics, and we found it invigorating.
At the end of the night, I truly felt like I had found a place to relax and just kick back with some mates to talk about comics. No judgement, no competition, no justification. Just chatting with friends.
There was no huge party or rockin’ celebration. And no, it was not “just like a knitting group” nor a “parents group.” In fact, it was probably the most relaxed gathering I have been to in a long time. I didn’t feel like I had to put on a persona or explain anything. It was… liberating.
As I walked out the door, I felt lighter. Happier. Confident. I wasn’t just some geek walking out of another comic bookstore. I was a person, finishing off a great night out with some new friends, ready to expand my geeky fandoms.
And I am really looking forward to the next meeting.
Queens of KINGS is a Sydney-based group for women who love comics. You can find out more from their Facebook page. They meet once a month on Sunday evenings–the next meeting will be around 21 or 28 August.
Melbourne (Vic) has the All Star Women’s Comic Book Club. They too have a Facebook page. Their next meeting is Saturday 20 August.
If you have your own women’s group for comic book lovers, share it in the comments below (including the city and country). We would love to encourage more stores to hold events like this!