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Seattle, WA, October 10 - 11, 2015 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

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"Princess Ugg" by ONI Press

"Princess Ugg," issue 1Princess Ugg, published by ONI Press, is the unsung peer to Ms. Marvel. It’s a great coming of age story that deals with accepting yourself even when everyone says you’re doing it wrong.

“Attend, o travellers from distant lands,
For I shall sing unto thee
Of swords and sorority
Of high adventure
And higher education!” – Princess Ugg, issue 1

Princess Ülga is from Grimmeria where the feats of her warrior mother and grandmother are legend. To keep her promise to learn how to lead by something besides the sword, Ülga does one of the bravest things she’s ever done—she leaves her home and enrolls in a finishing school for princesses.

"Princess Ugg," issue 2

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An Eulogy to Nintendo's Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata was not your conventional gaming executive. When E3 rolls around, I typically ignore the suits, the hosts, and the CEOs from all of the other companies, as I know they are just marketing pigeons trying to hype up some product. And that's okay – it's a part of the business, and there are some amazing moments that have spurned from such notions.

But Iwata wasn't cut from the same cloth. He was genuine in his enthusiasm for this medium. When he got on stage or on camera, there was something about him that transcended the presentation; a heart beating for the power of video games. Unfortunately, that heart ceased a few weeks ago. Iwata succumbed to an apparent resurgence of the tumor that attacked his bile duct in 2013, and it was a shock to just about everyone, Nintendo included. I don't know if Iwata necessarily knew if he was relapsing, and I don't know what Nintendo's next step will be in determining how to move forward. But that's not the point of this essay. I want to focus on what he devoted himself to through the majority of his tragically short 55 years: the games.

bfBalloon Fight is one of my favorite old-school arcade games. It has an incredible precision that Joust and other contemporaries lacked, and I liked the quirky design of the characters and feared the sinister fish that swallowed up anyone foolish enough to tempt it. Iwata programmed the game so tightly that Shigeru Miyamoto suggested consulting Iwata about how to handle the task of swimming in Super Mario Bros.! Iwata himself remembered that "one thing I recommended was that instead of calculating the character's position using integers, they should also calculate it using decimal points, thereby doubling the precision. In this way, calculating gravity, buoyancy, acceleration and deceleration all become more precise and the movements look smoother."

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“Descender” from Image Comics

“Descender: Tin Stars,” vol. 1, September 2015, Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Illustrator: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer/Designer: Steve Wands

Image Comics has really been hitting it out of the ballpark lately. Outside of the superhero genre, which is owned by Marvel and DC, Image has the corner on sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural. They have so many new title releases I can’t possibly get them all, even though they’re cheaper than shoes.

Descender, which began in March 2015, is a sci-fi series about man verses machine written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. But don’t let any of the clichés about this familiar sci-fi theme paint any pre-cog pictures.

"Descender," issue 1, March 2015, page 8, Dr. Quon and the megacosmThe megacosm, a population of nine species across nine planets, is attacked by nine moon-sized robots that appear from nowhere. As a result, humans turn against machines and the rock star of robotics, Dr. Jin Quon.

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Better as a Whole Than in Parts

One of the most important, basic human needs outside of the physical is the need to be included. It doesn’t take a room full of psychologists to prove that as a child if you’re not accepted into your own family it has long lasting social, psychological, and emotional affects.

As we mature, familial belonging can no longer satiate us so we set out into the world to find our place. We are individuals but we must know we belong, that we fit, that our existence is approved.

Social media might meet this essential need for a small percentage of people who can’t find inclusion anywhere else, but it’s a poor substitute. In the long run, the negative impact of social media is much, much worse than the holes it fills.

Social media provides so much affirmation that people jump into a community without finding out whether it’s based on truth, is a positive contribution to society, or whether it truly represents them as a person. For the price of an app, we sell our character for a retweet.

Selfie celebrities aren’t the worst thing to come out of social media (seriously, they’re not) but the prolific and organized trolls, shame-bots, and half-assed journalists.

There is no one who celebrates the freedom of expression and the broad and accessible audience the internet provides for creative endeavors more than me. But it is being used for evil, not good.

Social media provides immediate gratification and it is a white water rapids ride that never ends. There are endless band wagons to jump on and a globe of faceless people to shame.

Inclusion is so important that, at the same time these negative groups include you, they are based on exclusion. Public shaming is a highly effective way to make sure someone is outcast. Calling her a fake disqualifies her. Labeling him a misogynist sacrifices him to the validation gods. Demeaning her contributions entrenches your position.

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Books of Summer

In lieu of any new summer television worth watching, I’ve filled the gaps with reading. My choices are all over the map–memoir, non-fiction, humor, sci-fi, thriller, mystery—which exemplifies that summer state of mind.

The Death Defying Doctor Mirage by Jen Van Meter

To start the summer off I went with this beautiful trade paperback illustrated by Robert De La Torre and written by Jen Van Meter.

Doctor Mirage is an existing storyline but I had no trouble picking this up and getting a great surreal and supernatural story.

Dr. Shan Fong, Doctor Mirage, can see and speak to ghosts and has some supernatural hocus pocus. She’s hired by a very wealthy occultist to release him for a demonic binding but, just because someone has the ability to enter the supernatural realms, doesn’t mean they want to.

90 Church: Inside America’s Notorious First Narcotics Squad by Dean Unkefer

This is a stunning memoir written by Agent Unkefer who was part of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the mid-1960s. A specialized unit dedicated to drug crimes was a new concept so the methods for this type of enforcement were still being figured out. The approach taken by the newly formed squad was to fight fire with fire and they became more feared than the mafia.

Forensics by Val McDermid

Still focusing on crime and the macabre I picked up this non-fiction book on the science of forensics. McDermid is a best-selling crime novelist and, in Forensics, she’s categorized her extensive research by specialty--from Entomology and Pathology to Digital Forensics and courtroom procedure.

The thigh muscle is the most stable tissue in the body, making it a good place to find traces of poison.

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