REAL GEEK GIRLS: Stephanie Cooke From TALKING COMICS
The goal of my “Real Geek Girls” series is to show the world that girls truly can be geeky. For some, that seems like an obvious observation, but there’s always that one person, almost always a guy, who will talk about how girls are fake geeks who don’t know what they’re talking. Girls are just doing it look cool and lure in geek guys. They don’t know what it’s all about when it comes to “geek culture” and they’re somehow just there to be admired by geek guys. I’m here to let the world know that girls DO know what we’re talking about. We can be and we ARE just as geeky as the guys. Every now and again, I’ll interview a new geek girl just to highlight how many of us are out there, how real we are all. We come in all shapes and sizes, and love a many number of geeky things. I’m going to show the world that there are real geek girls, and they know as much, if not more, than the somehow more revered geek guy.
Meet Stephanie Cooke! She’s a wonderful geeky girl who is obsessed with comics and cats! I recently got to interview her and below is the interview in which she talks about Talking Comics, Toronto Geek Trivia, working with Bill Willingham and more! Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter here to keep up with her!
What does being a geek mean to you?
Being a geek means a lot of different things to me. The most obvious one is that I’m really passionate about the things that I love. It means that I’m willing to express my passion for those things either by talking about it on a podcast, writing a review, tweeting or just recommending it to a friend in need of some quality entertainment.
I think we label ourselves geeks as an easy way of finding kindred spirits, but truthfully saying that you’re a geek is such a broad topic these days that you could really wind up having nothing in common with someone else that identifies as a geek. Even die-hard sports fans could really be considered geeks, even if they don’t necessarily see it that way.
A lot of the time I hear that being geeky about a movie, TV show, comic or book means that a person knows everything to know about it because they’ve watched or read it that many times. For me if I love something, I try to not excessively take it in over and over again. It used to be something that I did in the past but now I prefer to enjoy it once or twice (if I really like something), leave it and come back to it once it’s started to fade a bit. We can never rewatch or reread something for the first time again, but the closest thing I’ve been able to find to that is stepping away, forgetting details and finding joy in rediscovering those things later. I know after I’ve watched or read something if it’s going to be a favorite thing of mine and watching or reading it obsessively won’t change that.
There’s always someone out there who thinks girls like to fake being “geeks” to fit in with others, what’s your take on that?
It’s such a silly idea that someone would fake liking something to fit in. No one needs to fake anything. You can’t get through life without liking something or even loving something. Anyone wanting to show up at a place like comic con deserves the credit for being there. If you’ve ever been to one of the bigger shows, you’ll know what I mean. Conventions are fun, but if you’re not a fan of something at that show, it is just a big mess of people. You’re swimming through masses of people just to spend your money on art, exhibitor swag and maybe celebrity photo-ops. If you’re not a fan, conventions can be a nightmare so from my perspective, anyone that calls someone else a fake geek at a convention doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
On another note, women are obviously trying to make a big difference in the geek world these days and virtually every week there’s a big viral article pertaining to the subject in one way or another. I think sometimes that our peers misinterpret those articles because some writers spend their time talking about comics, movies, TV, video games or whatever while other writers spend their time discussing their cause. There’s overlap between the two but I think when you take on a cause it becomes a bit consuming and some of our peers wind up not seeing them talk about the geeky things that they love anymore because they’re trying to fight the good fight.
Bottom line is that it’s definitely not right that anyone should be labeled a fake geek when this is a community that needs to embrace every single person with open arms.
You do a lot of work on TALKING COMICS, tell us about what you do there.
Talking Comics is one of the many passion projects I work on. I’m one of the co-hosts of our weekly podcast of the same name and have been for two and a half years now. I write reviews, editorials and articles as often as possible. I’m an associate editor and I’m responsible for helping to find new contributors for the site. I help book guests for the show, occasionally I do graphics for the site and I try to do as much of the social media stuff as I can.
I also helped found the forums that we recently launched and I’m really proud to say that it’s one of the most positive and welcoming communities of geeks that I’ve ever seen and I promise I say that without bias.
Oh! And I JUST launched a new sister podcast on the site as well called The Missfits that I host along with two other lady contributors from Talking Comics, Mara Wood and Melissa Megan. We don’t exclusively talk comics, but rather we talk about an assortment of geeky things that we love and just try to have good discussions about those things. We’re four episodes in with the fifth coming out on April 28.
You run the monthly Toronto Geek Trivia, what is it exactly and can people outside of Toronto get involved?
While the best way to get involved is to obviously visit Toronto when one of the our nights is happening, that’s not entirely feasible but there are ways! The first way is to check my personal web site (https://www.misfortunecookie.ca/category/geek-stuff/). The day after each event, I post the questions up there so that anyone who missed out on the show can see the questions and play along. It’s also a good way for locals to check out what kind of questions I use so that they can see if coming to the event would be something they’d like to do in the future.
I juggle a lot of stuff during the day but Toronto Geek Trivia is on Twitter (@GeekTriviaTO) and Facebook (/GeekTrivia) and instead of just posting about the events all the time, my good friend Amelia posts up daily questions for people to answer there. She’s even picked out daily themes for the questions. Honestly, she’s amazing and it’s a lot of fun to do even if you don’t attend the events.
I’m working on a way to do a LiveStream of the night so people can play along at home. Obviously people wouldn’t be able to win the prizes, but hopefully in the near future that will be a way for people to enjoy Geek Trivia night.
If you were stranded on an Island and were only allowed to take 5 comic books with you, which ones would you take and why?
Oh my god, why would you do this to me?! This is SUCH a hard question, but I’ll do my very best to answer it…
In no particular order:
-Batgirl by Bryan Q. Miller (2011) – Most people are familiar with Barbara Gordon as Batgirl but this short-lived series is with Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. It’s hilarious, witty, fun, filled with GREAT dialogue and it’s just a great overall story. I could read this again and again – and I have. Stephanie Brown is a really unique character and Miller makes her so relatable. Miller kind of did what Kelly Sue DeConnick is doing with Captain Marvel and turned a character that hardly anyone knew about into a beloved icon in the Bat-family.
-Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan (2003) – I got completely absorbed in this series when I first discovered it. It’s a group of kids that discover that their parents are all supervillains and are into some baaaad stuff. They band together and they runaway (thus the title of the comic). They each discover that they have unique abilities, talents and accessories that allow them to survive in the world and it’s a sort of coming of age story that is phenomenal. It gets a little weak after Vaughan leaves the series, but the books with him writing are near perfect, in my opinion.
-Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis (2006) –I just discovered this comic maaaaaaaybe 6 months ago? I had no idea what to expect and just jumped into it. It’s the most hilariously ridiculous and glorious comic you will ever read. I was on an airplane when I read this and I’m SURE the person beside me thought I was insane because I couldn’t stop laughing for something like 75% of the flight. The comic isn’t just a gimmick for laughs either, there’s a great story here as well and there are just a whole lot of laughs along the way. The team that we follow could be considered dysfunctional at best, but somehow they get the job done. Not just one of my favourite comics that I’ve recently but easily one of my favourites of all-time.
-The Adventures Of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks (2013) – This comic was actually out a long time before 2013 but as a web comic. Last year Dark Horse collected it into a beautiful hardcover and I picked one up right away. This is a story about an ordinary girl trying to get by day to day… getting a job, paying rent, making friends and being social and also fighting crime but the whole charm of the story is that Superhero Girl is just an ordinary girl in every other way except for the fact that she has superpowers. This book is charming as heck and is just all kinds of fun and funny.
-Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton (2011) – Another web comic that got collected, Hark! A Vagrant is a series of short comic strips about a variety of things from Nancy Drew to Wonder Woman to Batman to Robinson Crusoe to Canadian Stereotypes to Jane Austen and more. There is pretty much something for every mood you could possibly be in. It’s the ultimate coffee table book that people will actually look through. Hilarious, clever and super smart.
There! I think I did it. All of my other favourites are currently weeping and pouting on the shelves.
You work with the awesome Bill Willingham, tell us a little about what you guys do.
I’ve been working with Bill for over two years now. Bill obviously works on Fables and other things and the bulk of my role is to be his memory and to take care of the things that take him away from his writing desk. I handle everything I possibly can to maximize the amount of work he can put out there for all his lovely readers.
I book Bill’s conventions and signings, arrange travel and set up other appearances and such. When we’re on the road, my job is mostly to get him from Point A to Point B. A lot of the time when we travel, Bill will get inspired by some of the locations we see so I also work as a research assistant and photographer, taking notes on this and that and taking as many photos of designated areas as possible. I’m an amateur photographer in my spare time, so this is a really fun part of my job, although to be fair, I love pretty much everything about my job.
The most challenging thing we ever did was putting on Fabletown and Beyond. Running a convention is craaaaaaaaazy, especially when you only have 2-3 people doing it all.
What are some of your favorite TV shows and films? Which TV show would you love to appear on someday?
This is another really hard question! It’s always tough picking favorites. I feel like it’s similar to having to pick which child is the best (says the person with no children).
I don’t get out to see movies as much as I would like anymore but I LOVED Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s going to be hard for any movie to top that this year. Last year I think it was Pacific Rim and the of all-time, I love pretty much all Disney (especially The Little Mermaid) and Pixar movies (especially Up). Other favourites are Almost Famous, Waitress, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sin City, Spirited Away, The Descent, Snatch, Stardust, Once, Mean Girls and Big Fish.
For newer TV shows, I love Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Orange is the New Black and Arrow. Some shows that are gone but will forever hold a place in my heart are Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Dead Like Me, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica… oh gosh, the list goes on and ON.
And something I’d like to appear on someday? Oooh… I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about this too much, but maybe I could have a cameo in the Wonder Woman movie that will happen SOMEDAY (crossing my fingers!). I think I’d make a pretty good Amazon.
Or maybe a cameo as a crazy cat lady in something. That’s also up my alley.
Is there anything you’re working on right now? Tell us about your future endeavors and what we should look out for.
The Talking Comics podcast is ongoing and The Missfits is still fairly new so I’m going to keep working on that. We’re hoping to do some new things with it in the near future, so that’s really exciting.
It’s so cryptic but I do have one project I’m working on that I’m really excited about but I can’t talk about it just yet. A good way to know what I’m up to is by checking out my Twitter or my blog. I try to update it as much as possible with the things happening in my life.
There are a lot of girls out there who feel like being a geeky girl is embarrassing or that they shouldn’t show it off, what’s your advice for all the geeky girls out there who feel this way?
I never considered myself a geek when I was growing up and there was such a stigma around that word. There still is even though it’s becoming a hip thing, but my advice is don’t force yourself into crowds that you don’t belong in. I tried for years to have “normal” friends and to do “normal” things but clubbing and partying isn’t for everyone and sometimes you just have to embrace that you’d rather spend the evening in with a cup of tea and a book or a movie or a comic or a video game. It took me a long time to find the people that I wanted to be around in my life and when I met those people, I had an epiphany and wanted to shout “THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! They GET me!”
Having stuff in common with your friends isn’t the be all and end all because sometimes the people we choose to be friends with rock for other reasons, but don’t ever try to be friends with someone who doesn’t accept you for the things that you love… ALL of the things that you love.