Posted by Anika
It’s another Friday and another Fangirl! I like to call Sarah my fashion twin on the West Coast; we once had a Shoe Closet Twitpic exchange that sealed the deal. Besides being fabulously fashionable, Sarah sometimes gets to make her living being a fangirl. She’s been our collaborator through Alert Nerd and someday we are all going to write a MARVEL GIRL movie together. Fantastic Fans, meet Sarah:
Name: Sarah Kuhn
Where do you live? Los Angeles
What is your job? Education? I have a B.A. in Communication (with an Ethnic Studies minor) from Mills College. And I’m a full-time writer — I’ve worked mostly in entertainment and geek-centric journalism for the past 12 years, though I’ve also taken weird detours into writing, like, articles for swimming pool magazines and encyclopedia definitions for the official Star Trek website. In other words, I can expound at length about both on-ground pool accessories and the Jem’Hadar. I know you are impressed.
Is there a geek-centric article you are most proud of? Or one that’s particularly interesting? Let’s see…well, I’ve done pieces on stuff like when it’s appropriate to sub in nerd curse words (frak, frell, etc.) for real ones. And I’ve had the opportunity to profile quite a few of my own geek heroes, like Joss Whedon and Nana Visitor. But I think one of the most flat-out fun things I’ve ever done was a series of articles about actors who parlayed small roles on TV shows into something more — like, they were just supposed to be a guest star and then ended up being so popular, they became series regulars or recurring players. I talked to folks like Sean Gunn from Gilmore Girls and Vik Sahay from Chuck and David H. Lawrence XVII from Heroes and it may not have been the most obviously nerdy story I’ve ever done, but it did delve quite a bit into TV minutiae and what makes characters resonate for audiences.
How long have you been reading comics? Since I was a wee child. I started with Archies (I only remember the most randomly random of stories, like the issue wherein Jughead created his own sub sandwich-esque hamburger and named it “The Jughead Burgerino.” Or the Veronica spin-off series, wherein she jet-setted to a different country every issue and had fabulous adventures). But my deep hunger for complicated, near-incomprehensible continuity eventually led me to the X-Men and other pockets of the Marvel U.
Do you have a favorite comic of all time? A favorite character? Oh, gosh. The “OF ALL TIME” questions make me all nervous, cause I will surely forget something. I guess I’ll be a big ol’ nerd cliche and say “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” because it blew my tiny mind at a very young age and has stayed with me ever since and sort of contains everything I think a powerful superhero story should have: massive stakes, gut-churning emotions, dizzying plot spins, and swoony romance. I also adore Brian Michael Bendis’/Michael Gaydos’ Alias, because it blew my mind in a completely different way. And Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday, Jen Van Meter’s Hopeless Savages, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s The Middleman all have that special quality where I feel like they were created JUST FOR ME.
As far as characters go, gotta give it up for Jean Grey and Jessica Jones.
And Jenny Sparks. And Jimmy Woo. And Emma Frost. And Jen Walters. And Lydia Park. And I will keep going unless I stop right now.
What comics are you currently reading? I read everything in trade at this point, so I’m not totally current on anything. I’m always eagerly awaiting new trades of Fables, Terry Moore’s Echo, Invincible Iron Man, Buffy, anything Agents of Atlas-related, and Secret Six, and am looking forward to reading the conclusions of recently-ended series like Air, Madame Xanadu, Unknown Soldier, and the iteration of New Avengers that wrapped up last year. I’ve dipped in and out of various X-Men and Avengers books in recent years, but the stuff I’ve enjoyed most lately has either been in the miniseries vein (like Kathryn Immonen’s Pixie Strikes Back) or sadly short-lived (S.W.O.R.D.). I also dig various webcomics, like Kevin Church’s/Benjamin Birdie’s just-finished The Rack, Max Riffner’s Drunk Elephant, Paul Horn’s Cool Jerk, Chris Haley’s/Curt Franklin’s Let’s Be Friends Again, and Faith Erin Hicks’ The Adventures of Superhero Girl.
What’s your favorite thing about comics? Why do you read them? Well, this will probably sound hopelessly dopey, but I love the way comics combine something so visual with the written word: you can tell a story in such a unique way. Comics provide me with characters I invest in fully and…oh, hell, can I just link to Sigrid’s amazing response to this question? I love what she said and I completely agree. And actually, that relates to something else I love about reading comics: there’s a communal aspect to it, a heightened passion within the fandom. Connecting with other fans on Twitter, geeking out over plot twists at cons, getting into heated debates about which ‘ship you ‘ship: sometimes that’s just as fun as, you know…reading the actual comics.
So, what kind of fangirl activities do you do? Oh, you know — the usual. I tweet, obsess over who they’re going to cast in the Hunger Games movies, get needlessly enraged at people who diss The Vampire Diaries. I wrote a geek novella, One Con Glory, that’s all about a fangirl who enjoys doing similar things. I love going to cons — I was on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con last year called “Geek Girls Exist.” I have a little gang that plays D&D semi-regularly. I’m also part of a couple of nerd collectives. One is Alert Nerd, a small press/website dedicated to fiction, essays, and other writings about geek culture. The other is something called The League of Extraordinary Ladies, and I can’t say too much about it yet…but watch this space: http://thelxl.com/
Tell me more about your own writing. I have three projects I’m working on right now. One’s a TV pilot I wrote with a friend, one’s a novel that will hopefully take me pretty far out of my comfort zone, and one’s an adaptation of Glory for another medium. All three have superhero and/or comic booky elements. I know I sound awfully vague, but I’m always afraid to talk about a thing in-depth before it is A Thing with a capital T. I am hopeful that marvelousness will happen with all of them, of course, but we’ll see.
What’s been the response to One Con Glory? It’s been beyond my wildest expectations — though I guess I’m not sure what I expected, exactly? Outrage at my possibly inaccurate depiction of Dance Dance Revolution? I don’t know. In all seriousness, my heart is warmed by the fact that so many fellow fangirls — and some fandudes, even — have told me they connect with the main character, Julie. She’s grouchy, wildly opinionated, and extremely resistant to change — I don’t think she’s easy to like, so whenever someone tells me they were rooting for her, it brings a small tear to my eye. Also, a few folks that I’m a big, huge fan of have read and claimed to enjoy the book and that makes me all giddy and stuff. I’ve always wanted to read a con-set romantic comedy, so it’s nice to know that other folks apparently wanted to read that as well!
Do you think there is a comparable difference between Geek Culture and Girl Geek Culture? I think big picture geek culture still treats women differently, despite the heightened visibility of lady nerds in recent years. I think the girl geek is still often greeted with either suspicion (are you a real nerd?) or astonishment (hello, girl nerd, do you realize that you are a UNICORN?). But I also think — thanks to the heightened visibility I mentioned — that is finally starting to change. For me, it’s been very inspiring to see geek girl culture become its own thing. There are tons of women who blog about comics now, there are a fair number of strong geek girl characters showing up in various mediums, and there’s a whole convention dedicated to the female geek. None of those things were really happening when I first got involved with fandom. I don’t know if all that really answers your question. Is there a difference between the two? I guess in geek girl culture, it’s a given that a wide range of lady nerds exists. In big picture geek culture, I think it still feels like you have to prove yourself a bit — and that’s lame, cause why do I want to expend valuable time and energy doing that? But like I said, hopefully things are changing.
Thanks for talking with me, Sarah, and I for one am SUPER excited for all your projects. Good luck!
Posted by Anika