MUST-SEE WOMEN POWER PANELS AT SDCC:  A Diverse Collection of Great Panels by and for women and fangirls are coming to San Diego Comic-Con

In the case of female fans and professionals in the film, animation, and comic industry and conventions, we came way before they built it.  I started going to SDCC over 15 years ago, I’m sure I’m not alone.

So if you’re a girl geek looking to surround yourself with other girls who can rattle off Game of Thrones or Star Wars trivia, or you just love supporting and celebrating powerful women on your favorite shows and movies both in front of and behind the camera…ALERT: at this year’s San Diego Comic-con, there’s some great programming for you.

I’ll start with my own panels.  Through Cinema Siren, and as a female critic and film lover, I really wanted to create some panels that were specific to women in the film and animation industry. I approached two non-profit organizations I respect, Women in Animation and Women in Film: LA to be part of panels that talked about the state of the industry, statistics, and how fans can make a difference. They were both wonderful and supportive of the idea, and honored me by sending their best and most knowledgeable to take part, Marge Dean, co-president of WIA, and Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women in Film: LA.

Then I pulled it together a diverse collection of women who have done, and are doing amazing work, to talk about their experiences and their future projects.  The main purpose, beyond education, is to activate fans to get buzz going or spread the word for their current and coming endeavors.  We were incredibly fortunate to have Wattpad sponsor Women Rocking Hollywood.  Reward them by checking out their website, and become one of their millions of monthly users

Ultimately, this led to two panels, **Cartoon Creatives: Woman Power in Animation and **Women Rocking Hollywood.  Both are planned to be yearly events, and not only am I thrilled at the lineup for this year, some of the women who couldn’t do it but loved the idea are already excited about taking part in 2017.  See in the list below for more information on these, which are happening on Thursday and Saturday.

Here, however, are all the panels bringing some balance, inquiry, and celebration of fangirl power to SDCC:


Thursday, July 21 • 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Learn from this group of veteran female artists working in film/live action, TV, animation, commercials, and toy industries. There will be new announcements of current projects and how you can get involved. They will bring an exclusive look into their work, including displayed props, puppets, and works in progress, and discuss how to maintain a successful career while staying creatively fulfilled.Danelle Vierkant (designer/builder, The Revenant, Comedy Bang Bang), Ivonne Escoto(designer/builder,Tron Legacy, Alien vs Predator, The Creature Shop Challenge), Denise “Dee” Chavez(background designer, Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig), Melissa Doss Diwa (designer/builder, The Creature Shop Challenge), Kristin Donner (painter/illustrator, Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Odd Parents), and moderator Christine Papalexis (fabricator, Team America: World Police, Alien Resurrection), with special panelist Tracy Black (curator, Unlocking Wonderland and The White Rabbit Project).  Room 25ABC

**CARTOON CREATIVES: Women power in Animation

Thursday, July 21 • 4:30pm – 5:30pm

While Women in Animation’s initiative strives to have a 50/50 workforce in the animation world by 2025, there are women leading the charge right now, creating, innovating, and guiding cartoons into a future filled with talent that goes beyond gender, and their fans are loving every minute of it. Scheduled to appear are Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Brooke Keesling(director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation), Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron: Legendary Defender), Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the upcomingFrozen Holiday Special), Gina Shay (producer, the upcoming Trolls), Katie Krentz (senior director of development: Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) and Marge Dean (co-president, Women in Animation), talking about their experiences and upcoming projects. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop. Room 24ABC *sponsored by Women in Animation!


Thursday, July 21 • 5:30pm – 6:30pm

You might be seeing more popular media starring women, but are there more that are actually about women? With so many stories failing the Bechdel Test (a test that measures whether a story has two women in it who talk about something other than a man), it leaves many wondering if pop culture is making any progress at all. Here to discuss the Bechdel test as well as diversity in media (and the lack thereof), are Action Flick Chick, Katrina Hill (100 Greatest Graphic Novels), Janina Scarlet (Superhero Therapy, Star Wars Psychology), Jennifer Stuller (Ink-Stained Amazons, GeekGirlCon), Patricia Tallman(Babylon 5, Quest Retreats), Jessica Tseang (Little Geek Girls, Girl on Geek), Tony B. Kim (Hero Within, Crazy4ComicCon), Ashley Bles (Henderson State University), and moderator Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia, Most Craved). Room 24ABC


Friday, July 22 • 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Sheyne Fleischer (assistant editor, Project Runway, The Bachelor), Alicia Minette (prop master/fabricator, Hellevator, Paradise Run), Sabrina Wichner (miniature VFX artist,Interstellar, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday), Claire Hummel (production design, BioShock Infinite, Fable Legends), and Rachel Noel (narrative designer, Armored Warfare) explore the nontraditional rolls of women in the entertainment industry. They will discuss their careers and experiences working in their various fields, focusing on success stories and how to follow your dreams in the industry while exploring gender roles in the creative professions. Moderated by Glenn Freund (League of S.T.E.A.M.). Pacific 24, North Tower, Marriott Marquis & Marina


Friday, July 22 • 6:30pm – 7:30pm

As the demographics of the industry continue to change, this panel focuses on the impact of female fans (not female creators) and how they are changing comics from the ground up in surprising and positive ways. More than ever, their grassroots efforts can be seen everywhere from comic shops atond conventions, and from cosplay to social media. Panelists include Jamie Broadnax (Black Girl Nerds), Sam Maggs (Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy), Rose Del Vecchio (Fanmail), and Constance Gibbs(Black Girls Nerds). Moderated by Ed Catto (Bonfire Agency). Room 26AB


Friday, July 22 • 6:30pm – 7:30pm

A group of innovative and pioneering female cartoon creators discuss their careers and the opportunities for women in animation today. Panelists include women responsible for the original Nicktoons from the 1990s and others who are making some of today’s best animation for TV and the web. Hosted by Rachel Heine (Nerdist) and including panelists Lauren Faust (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Mary Harrington (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko’s Modern Life), Vanessa Coffey (Rugrats,Doug), Rikke Asbjoern (Pinky Malinky), Margaret Dean (Women in Animation), and Maija Burnett(California Institute of the Arts).  Room 24ABC


Saturday, July 23 • 11:00am – 12:00pm

In 2010, nine women gathered onstage in front of a packed and engaged crowd at Comic-Con International to dispel the myth that “Geek Girls, like unicorns, don’t exist.” The subsequent six years have seen an explosion in female representation in geek spaces. Surveys tracking attendance numbers at fan-based events, as well as data regarding women gamers and comic book readers, are suggestive of gender parity within geek culture. Headlines coming out of Comic-Con itself proclaim that “women totally dominate” the event and that we are experiencing the rise of fangirls. But how far have women in geek culture really come since that landmark “Geek Girls Exist” panel? Andrea Letamendi (Pop Culture Hero Association), Jamie Broadax (Black Girl Nerds), Kristin Rielly (Geek Girls Network),Suzanne Scott (UT-Austin), Sam Maggs (Bioware, Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy), Marie Poole (Lone Shark Games), and moderator Jennifer K. Stuller (GeekGirlCon, Ink-Stained Amazon) talk about what interventions are being made in the culture, what areas still need work, and what the fangirl future holds. Room 25ABC


Saturday, July 23 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm

There’s more to being a geek girl than meets the eye. From Princess Leia, to Katniss Everdeen, to Hermione Granger, fandom is full of awesome female characters-but what about the women who create these iconic individuals? Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy), Sabaa Tahir (A Torch Against the Night), Kiersten White (And I Darken), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Kathleen Smith (The Fangirl Life), andMargaret Stohl (Black Widow: Forever Red) discuss feminism and fandom in a panel moderated byMadeline Ashby (Company Town).  Room 7AB


Saturday, July 23 • 2:00pm – 3:00pm

This exciting new panel features powerful, talented women changing Hollywood from the inside.  As creatives, directors, and producers, they are breaking box office records and showing Hollywood altering the status-quo just makes for better movies. Scheduled to appear are Victoria Alonso (exec producer, Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War), Deborah Snyder (producer, Wonder Woman, Justice League) Angela Robinson (writer/director, D.E.B.S., True Blood, How to Get Away With Murder) Catherine Hardwicke (director, Twilight, upcoming Love Letters to the Dead) and Kirsten Schaffer (exec director, Women in Film: LA)  talking about positive changes in tinsel town, their work, and future projects. Marvel, DC, blockbusters, indies, and powerful women-This panel brings it all! Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Cinema Siren.

  Room 25ABC  *sponsored by Wattpad!


Saturday, July 23 • 4:30pm – 5:15pm

A discussion among fierce, fearless actresses Morena Baccarin (Gotham), Melissa Benoist (Supergirl),Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead), Tatian Maslany (Orphan Black) and Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman), who open up about the power and privilege of playing women that redefine the rules and refuse to yield.  Hall H


Sunday, July 24 • 12:30pm – 1:30pm

From Ms. Marvel to the A-Force, from Twitter to tumblr, women in comics has been one of the most talked-about topics in comics recently. Join the conversation as women from multiple disciplines in the creative process at Marvel discuss what it’s like working as a woman in comics today and what it means for the future of the industry. Panelists include content development director Sana Amanat, producer Judy Stephens, social media manager Adri Cowan, Marvel Live host Lorraine Cink, writer G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. costume designer Ann Foley, and others.  Room 6DE

I hope you’ll sign up for my panels, because they promise to be fun and informative! See and support as many as you can, especially those that most resonate with you, and get you even more excited about the crazy whirlwind that is SDCC!  Let me know if I’ve missed any, and write below about which ones you are psyched about…Congrats to all those who put these together and the panelists taking part!  We’ll see you there!