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GGG Force Friday: Why Rey Merchandise Is So Important

Hey Girl Gang. Molly here with your (slightly late) Force Friday! We’re not going to look at merchandise this week; instead, we’re going to dive a little deeper into why representation is so important.

Last week, I mentioned how the Rey pajamas did not come in adult sizes. I encountered that issue again this week when I saw the world’s cutest shirt at the Disney Store, light blue with Rey on the front and the Join the Resistance logo on the back, available in kids sizes only (it is sold out online, because clearly the young female customers of the Disney Store/their parents have excellent taste). I want to clarify that I’m not actually mad about this. Obviously, I too would like to own a shirt that cute, but the fact that Disney is creating Rey merchandise specifically for young girls is extremely important, and I want to talk about it.

It makes me very happy to see merchandise with female characters, but I can’t see it without noticing how much more of the merchandise only features men. Even while researching Rey merchandise for these articles and knowing that she has more than most female characters, I still get frustrated with how much less she has than Kylo Ren. I’m used to seeing this. I have come to expect it. Representation is nice to see as an adult, but adults are not why it is important.

I am aware that geek culture is typically misogynistic. I know that I have to jump through a thousand hoops to occupy space in geek culture, and that even if I do, I’ll probably be rejected anyways. I know that there are rarely characters that identify as female in geek media, and when there are, they’re usually assigned the role of the love interest, or put into a ridiculous ‘sexy’ costume, or killed off completely in order to advance the male lead’s storyline. I know that there is barely any merchandise for the lone female characters in movies, and if there is, they are very small in the background of a group photo.

But little girls don’t know this yet.

Little girls are not aware of the self-appointed gatekeepers of geek culture trying to keep women out. They don’t know that their mom had to specially look online to find their favorite character’s action figure for Christmas because the stores don’t carry female characters. Although little girls definitely notice when there are no female characters on a show, they don’t know that the women who are on the screen are only there as a love interest, or that their costume is ridiculous – they just know that she’s there.

Seeing toys, backpacks, and clothes with their favorite female character on them is telling young girls that they are welcome in that space. Girls do not have to notice that their favorite character is suspiciously missing from all of the toys in the toy aisle. They don’t have to feel that a franchise or story isn’t for them because they only see that stuff in the boys’ section. There’s always going to be that boy telling them that “Star Wars isn’t for girls”, but it makes it a lot easier for them to fight back against that when the shirt they’re wearing is clearly “for girls”.

Of course, we all know that the end game for any corporation is making money. I’m not naïve. I know that Disney did not create all of this Rey merchandise with the goal of making young girls feel the sense of belonging and inclusion that I’m describing. If they create a new generation of Star Wars fans, it means that they’ll make even more money in the future. But the very fact that they are including young girls in ‘potential future Star Wars fans’ is important. I distinctly remember how difficult it was to find Padme/Queen Amidala merchandise when I was growing up. We had a Lego set that came with a Padme figurine (a Lego with hair was a BFD. Until this point, I used to steal Qui-Gon Jinn’s Lego hair to make figures into girls.) Padme/Queen Amidala merchandise was just hard to find.

That is why something I discovered while researching merchandise made me really happy.

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When you hover over the ‘girls’ section, these are the suggested characters. Not only is our girl Rey featured front and center, but so is Black Widow, a character who, in the past, has famously gotten little to no merchandise. Two out of the four suggestions are franchises that many people would wrongly categorize as boys merchandise. Whether it was the popular #WheresNatasha viral campaign or the popularity of Rey merchandise that inspired this change, it is clear that Disney is starting to listen to the merchandise that girls want.

While looking around the website, I noticed that there is actually less Rey merchandise for women than there is for girls. It is interesting that Disney chose to focus more on children than on the people actually spending money. But it’s also awesome.

If Disney was only making Rey merchandise for adult women, it would suggest that they have already written off young girls as a potential audience. This would mean that all of the young girls who are getting exposed to Star Wars through the recent The Force Awakens merchandise would not become fans. An entire generation of girls would be left out of the Star Wars fandom that so many have grown up with and carried through adulthood. Think of all the young girls who, through seeing The Force Awakens next month, might start participating in other areas of geek culture. These girls might grow up to be active fans, creators, and professionals who help to change geek culture into a more accepting and diverse community. All because they saw that light blue Rey shirt on the ‘girls’ side of the Disney Store.

So I guess it’s okay that those pajamas don’t come in my size. I can deal with that.

Join us for next week’s Force Friday, where we look at some Rey merchandise (I promise!) and also start talking about Finn.

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New Girl Gang Releases 11/10/15

Hey Girl Gang! Happy (almost) Wednesday! Here are some of our pulls for this week!

A-Force Presents Vol. 2 (Marvel) – This is the third volume in a series that collects some of Marvel’s female-driven series. Its great for getting caught up on some of the best comics that Marvel has released in the past two years, especially if you’ve always wanted to read Ms. Marvel or She-Hulk but feel too late or if you know someone who has wanted to start reading comics and needs a good starting point. This volume includes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2, She-Hulk #2, Ms. Marvel #2, Thor #2, Black Widow #2, and Captain Marvel #2.

The Wicked and the Divine #16 (Image) – Maddi and I had the opportunity to see some of the line art from this issue when we visited Leila Del Luca’s table at NYCC (while Maddi was actually cosplaying as the Morrigan!). If it isn’t obvious from Del Luca’s cover, the artwork is absolutely phenominal. Her style is absolutely perfect for telling the Morrigan’s story. I’m amazed at how quickly I went from being disappointed that McKelvie would not be illustrating the series to completely agreeing that it was the right decision. As we learn more about the past lives of the Gods, it makes so much sense that different illustrators are necessary to convey each God’s unique style. After last month’s incredible story about Amaterasu, I can’t wait to dive into the Morrigan, especially because it means getting to see more of Del Luca’s artwork.

Zodiac Starforce #3 (Dark Horse Comics) – I’ve said before that I’m a total sucker for a good magical girl series, and I’ve really enjoyed the team that Panetta and Ganucheau have created in this series. Its a fun read with really great artwork and colors. In this issue, the team opens a dangerous portal to try to find a cure to save Emma. This does not go according to plan, because the portal opens to release monsters into the town. Zodiac Starforce is going to need some help if they’re going to stop the monsters AND save Emma!

What other titles should we be picking up that we should be adding to this list or don’t know about? Let us know in the comments or at thegeekgirlgang@gmail.com!

Happy Wednesday girl gang!

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Force Friday – Rey and female characters in merchandise

I’m assuming that if you are visiting this blog that you have seen the new Star Wars trailer already. I don’t know about you all, but I am already head-over-heels obsessed with the character Rey from the The Force Awakens. Obviously, I have not actually seen the movie yet, but I just know that she is going to be phenomenal. In fact, I am so sure of this that I already have the poster of her and BB-8 on my bedroom wall. When I like a character, I like to show that by spending a ton of money I don’t really have on their merchandise.

It is well-known that female characters are often completely left out of movie merchandise. The #WheresGamora hashtag went viral when she was strangely left out of most of the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise. #WheresNatasha began after Age of Ultron was released, when it was made clear that whoever makes merchandise decisions did not learn their lesson after omitting Gamora. Despite viral attention, it seems that many companies are weirdly refusing to give fans the merchandise they would obviously spend money on.

The better news is that Disney might finally be getting the message. Rey has had more merchandise than many female characters before her – which is good, considering she seems to be the main character of The Force Awakens. She has her own figure in the Black Series of Star Wars figures, she’s on the Star Wars balloon sold in Disney Parks, and she’s front and center on the cinematic poster. The male characters of The Force Awakens, Finn and Kylo Ren, do outnumber Rey in merchandise – but the progress that has been made is still important and worthy of acknowledgement. We thought we would have our own Force Friday where we share some of our favorite Rey merchandise from the film this week. (Maybe if I share all the stuff I want with you all then I won’t impulsively buy it for myself? This seems like it could backfire..)

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Ah yes, POP Funkos. The things we all say are stupid and tell ourselves we will never buy. And then we buy our first one, and just one more.. and somehow end up with 60. I have so many that I really try to limit myself to the ones I NEED. Obviously the Funko Rey, with her three little plastic hair buns and determined brows, is on my NEED list.

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There are a surprising amount of women’s shirts featuring Rey and I’m sure as hell not complaining about it. There are some really cute ones with her and Finn front and center, but this tank with the simple blueprints of her speeder is my favorite right now. I know some people on the Internet are whining about her speeder, but I personally love it, even if it does kind of look like a popsicle. Seriously, who doesn’t like popsicles?! Imagine this tank with skinny jeans + a black blazer + black loafers. YES.

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I’m going to be real with you. I don’t know any kids. I have no nieces or nephews, and my friends/peers are just now starting to get to the ‘married’ stage but are not yet at the ‘kids’ stage. But I really, really wish I knew some kids just so I could send them this pajama set. Unfortunately, I have the feeling these do not come in adult sizes and I’m too big for their biggest size. I may or may not have already checked.

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I mentioned above that I already have the Rey poster on my wall, but for some reason I think it would be way cooler to have a giant almost-life-sized decal cutout on my wall instead. This might be partly because it comes with a decal of the badass new resistance logo. I don’t know. It just looks way more legit when she’s as tall as you on your wall.

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I’m a huge fan of geeky jewelry. I love when my references are disguised in the form of silver Thor head earrings or a heart locket with Leslie Knope’s photo in it or a Dark Tower symbol ring (I happen to own all of these things). Nothing makes me happier than being all dressed up and fancy with a super geeky accessory. This necklace is perfect for that purpose; the frame makes it look classy and appropriate for many occasions, and then there’s Rey’s beautiful face in the center. Its a win-win.

Somehow, there’s so much great Rey merch that I couldn’t begin to fit it in one blog post! Stay tuned for our next Force Friday where we look at even more of the amazing The Force Awakens merchandise that focuses on Rey!

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New Girl Gang Releases 11/4/15

Hey Girl Gang! Happy (almost) Wednesday! Here are some of our pulls for this week!

  • Star Wars: Princess Leia Trade (Marvel) – This is my favorite of the new Marvel Star Wars comics. The story follows Leia between the events of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. After the destruction of Alderaan, Leia makes it her personal mission to rescue the other survivors of her home planet. My favorite part of this five-issue run is the new character, an X-Wing Pilot named Evaan who helps Leia on her mission. Although Evaan is first unsupportive of Leia and her plans, eventually the two become an impressive team. I personally would love to see more of Evaan in other SW media. The art in this book is incredible and the dialogue is amusing and very in-character.  If you’re a fan of Princess Leia or the Star Wars universe in general, you will enjoy this run.
  • Spider-Gwen #0 (Marvel) – It is unlikely that you haven’t heard of Gwen Stacy’s new role in the Spider-verse. Spider-Gwen has been super popular among fans and her costume is everywhere – from cosplays to WeLoveFine’s awesome Spider-verse clothing line. If you have not yet actually read the comic yet, now is your chance to go back to the beginning! Spider-Gwen #0 is a reprint of the Spider-Gwen issue of Edge of Spider-Verse. Its a good idea to read this issue before jumping into the current Spider-Gwen run; otherwise, the first issue is a bit confusing.
  • Paper Girls #2 (Image) – In the comic world, there’s definitely an assumption that if Brian K. Vaughan is writing, then the comic is going to be outstanding. I must say that the first issue of Paper Girls is further confirmation of this assumption. The series focuses on four girls who work the local paper route on their bikes in the late ’80s. In the first issue, on November 1st, the girls come across something extremely strange that seems to be more than a Halloween prank. The second issue will show the girls getting further involved in this weird mystery. The series seems to be somewhere in Lumberjanes/X-Files/Stand By Me territory, and I have a feeling it will be a great series.

What other titles should we be picking up that we should be adding to this list or don’t know about? Let us know in the comments or at thegeekgirlgang@gmail.com!

Happy Wednesday girl gang!

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New Girl Gang Releases 10/27/15

Hey Girl Gang! Sorry about the unintentional hiatus – getting back into the swing of things after NYCC was harder than usual, with work and family stuff piling up. Hopefully this post will be our return to regular blogging! The NYCC 2015 Con Report is coming soon.

Here are some of our pulls from this week!

  • Batgirl #45 (DC Comics) – I repeat this every month, but Batgirl is truly one of my favorite titles right now (and maybe ever). Seeing new Babs Tarr art is such a treat and I look forward to it with glee every single month. In this issue we finally get to see Alycia’s wedding, and I’m so excited to see her and Barbara and the rest of the Gotham gang in their wedding best. You know with Babs drawing the wedding that every single character, even the small ones in the background, will be in gorgeous outfits. Hopefully we will also see some development on the Barbara and Luke Fox front as well!
  • Angela Queen of Hel #1 (Marvel) – Although I’m sad to see Kieron Gillen leaving the Angela: Asgard’s Assassin team, I have to say that Marguerite Bennett was an excellent addition to the last few issues of the ‘Assassin‘ run. I’m really excited to see what Bennett does with Angela in this new series. Also, if I was in a coma and there was only one phrase that would bring me back to consciousness, I’m pretty sure those words would be “Annie Wu variant cover.” Even if I dislike a series, if Annie Wu is doing a cover or involved in any way, I will buy the issue. You can bet I will be picking up Wu’s hip-hop Angela variant cover!
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Marvel) – With the end of Secret Wars, we start a new chapter for Doreen and Tippy and their friends. Kind of. After teaming up with Thor to fight the evil Norse Squirrel God, Doreen is back to being a regular computer science student! That is, when she isn’t fighting bad guys and saving the whole world. No big deal. I absolutely love this series, and I have to watch where I read it because I seriously laugh out loud at almost every page. Once I read it on an airplane and made the old guy next to me really mad with all my laughing. But it was worth it. Also we got to meet artist Erica Henderson a few times at NYCC this year and she was super awesome. Phil Noto is the artist behind the awesome Squirrel Girl hip-hop variant cover, another one worth checking out.
  • Fresh Romance #6 (Rosy Press) – Fresh Romance is another series that I really look forward to every single month. Not only are the stories romantic and adorable, but they also feature a diverse group of characters. The stories remind me of the shojo manga I used to read constantly back in middle school when I first started to get into comics. I’m sad to hear that the Teen Spirit story by Kate Leth and Arielle Jovellanos will be ending in this issue, but excited to read the new story that will be replacing it by Marguerite Bennett and artist Trungles.

What other titles should we be picking up that we should be adding to this list or don’t know about? Let us know in the comments or at thegeekgirlgang@gmail.com!

Happy (almost) Wednesday girl gang!

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GGG is going to New York Comic Con!

Hey everyone! Today we’re starting our journey to NYC for New York Comic Con 2015! We will be around most of the panels related to feminism/diversity in comics and of course at the Women of Marvel panel on Sunday.

If you see two the Wicked + the Divine cosplayers on Saturday, come say hi! It might be us! And if it isn’t, you’ll make some new friends who like WicDiv so are probably awesome anyways!

We really hope to see some of you there!

mmm

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Review – Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

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I vividly remember being in the audience at the Women of Marvel panel at New York Comic Con last October as the announcement was made that there was a Black Widow YA novel by Margaret Stohl in the works. I was super excited that Natasha was getting more stories in a new format. Flash forward to a few weeks ago, when I got a package from Marvel with an advance press version of the book to review for GGG. When I was cheering with the rest of the audience after the announcement, I never thought that I would get to read the story early. Let me tell you this: I was not wrong to be excited for this book.

Forever Red focuses on two female protagonists: everyone’s favorite Russian spy Natasha Romanov and a new character, teenager Ava Orlova. Ava has a lot in common with the Black Widow: both women are red-headed Russian loners and orphans who escaped Ivan Petrovich and his infamous Red Room. After saving young Ava from Ivan’s grasp one fateful night, Natasha Romanov called Ava “sistra” and told her that if she ever needed help, just ask and the Black Widow would find her. Years later, the story opens on teenage Ava who is living a scavenger’s life with a stray cat in a YMCA basement in NYC. In the years since their meeting in Russia, Ava had needed help – and had reached out to the Black Widow multiple times. Help never came.

For months, Ava has been dreaming about a boy named Alex. She does not know who the boy is or if he even exists – until she suddenly sees him in person at a fencing competition. Alex does not recognize Ava, but the connection between them is undeniable. As if finally meeting the boy from her dreams was not enough of a shock, that same day is the day that long-lost sistra Natasha Romanov finally reappears in Ava’s life.

I really enjoyed this book. For the first few chapters, I was unsure where Stohl was going with the story of Ava, Alex, and Natasha and was worried that it would fall into typical YA tropes – girl meets boy, etc, etc – but my fear was unnecessary. Every time I thought I knew what would happen to the trio, Stohl added another twist. The plot is interesting and unpredictable and keeps you hooked. The story reads like a spy novel, but even better because it featured a character that I know and love. By the time you reach Part Three of the novel, it is impossible to put Forever Red down.

The book is a good introduction to Ava, who had her first appearance as the Red Widow in the Marvel comic universe in Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1, which was released last month. I’m definitely interested in seeing more of Ava in comic book form and watching her relationship with Natasha develop past the events of Forever Red.

I want to talk about female representation and why this book is important. Anyone who has heard me talk about comics knows that I have serious problems with the lack of female characters and with the often problematic ways that existing female characters are represented in comic media. I often feel that the companies creating the comics I love don’t care about me as a female reader. Despite the rising numbers of female readership, the existence of female fandom is ignored and even ridiculed.

When Marvel announced this title at last year’s New York Comic Con, I felt the opposite. Forever Red was clearly Marvel responding to their legions of female fans, saying ‘We hear you. Here’s something just for you.’ They branched out into a new format that they know that young fans love in order to give them something they had been asking for: More Black Widow! More female titles! I, and thousands of other female fans, finally felt our existence acknowledged with the announcement of Forever Red.

I doubt we will ever get that Black Widow movie we have been asking for for years. But who is to say that seeing her represented in a different type of media is any less important? Black Widow is the first character to get the YA treatment from Marvel, and although that is most likely because young girls are the largest audience of YA novels, it doesn’t change the fact that they are finally giving Natasha her long-awaited spotlight.

This book is also important because it could be a gateway for many young people to get interested in comics. If a young girl likes Forever Red, they’ll want to read more about Ava and Natasha. They’ll visit their local comic book store and maybe pick up the first trade of Edmondson and Noto’s recent run of Black Widow, or read about Ava in the recent Mockingjay one-shot. Maybe if we see more young girls getting involved in comics, the publishers will finally start to acknowledge their non-white/male/straight audiences and adapt the media they are producing as such.

It just takes one YA novel for someone to start reading comics, and maybe they will be the author, editor, or artist to diversify the comic book genre in the future and make it a more open community. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Widow: Forever Red was that novel.

Black Widow: Forever Red will be released on October 13, 2015.

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New Girl Gang Releases 9/23/15

Hey Girl Gang! We’ve added our personal pulls to the blog – check out the “What We’re Reading” tag above! Here are some of our pulls from this week!

  • Batgirl #44 (DC Comics) – I know I always rave about Batgirl, but it is truly one of my favorite titles out there right now, and I’m always excited for the new issue. In #44, Batgirl must save Luke Fox from Velvet Tiger. As always, Babs Tarr’s art is a joy to see in a new villain.
  • Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #4 (Marvel) – When I started to read Carol’s new book, it was first difficult to adjust to seeing her in such a different setting. However, every issue has been better than the last and I’ve found the Carol I know and love in the heart of the new story. In #4, the Carol Corps must face off against the Thor Corps.
  • Power Up #3 (Image) – Power Up is a fun and adorable book that makes me really happy every time I read it. I love the characters and the colorful artwork. In this issue, the team gets together at Sandy’s house and tries to talk out what has been happening.

What other titles should we be picking up that we should be adding to this list or don’t know about? Let us know in the comments or at thegeekgirlgang@gmail.com!

Happy Wednesday girl gang!

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New Girl Gang Releases 9/16/15

Sometimes its hard to know where to begin if you’re a newbie to weekly comics!  Girl Gang Releases is a weekly series where we identify some of our favorite new comic releases for each Wednesday.

  • Lumberjanes #18 (BOOM) – This is the first Lumberjanes with the new team of writer Kat Leyh and with artist Carolyn Nowak. I was super excited when Nowak first joined the LJ team because her art is excellent and her sense of humor always on point. I’m super excited to see what both of them bring to the table. Also, this issue has mermaids and who doesn’t love mermaids?
  • Black Canary #4 (DC Comics) – Black Canary is one of my favorite books right now. This issue has guest artist Pia Guerra (Y the Last Man) and reveals who kidnapped the band’s guitarist. We will also find out more about the band’s former singer before Dinah, who is not happy that they have been replaced.
  • Rat Queens #12 (Image) – It always seems like forever between Rat Queens issues, but that is just because of how damn good it is. This issue is part two from #11 and follows Hannah on the way to Mage University, where she runs into someone from her old life. This figure knows secrets about Hannah that she didn’t want anyone to know.

What other titles should we be picking up that we should be adding to this list or don’t know about? Let us know in the comments or at thegeekgirlgang@gmail.com!

Happy Wednesday girl gang!

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GGG Sneak Peak!

If you’re anything like us, you could always use some more Black Widow in your life. We were in the audience when Margaret Stohl’s Black Widow YA novel was announced at New York Comic Con last fall, and we have been waiting impatiently for its release for the past year!

For all of you Natasha fans, good news! We’ve got a special advance copy straight from Marvel here at GGG headquarters! Stay tuned for a review!

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