For the past month, I’ve been featuring women working in various geeky professions here on my blog. If you’ve missed any, you can find them all here. It’s been an awesome month, and I’ve loved getting to talk to so many amazing women doing cool things in their corner of geekery. Alas, I’m going to be giving the series a break. I’m probably not done with it forever, but I wanted to give it a rest for now. I couldn’t think of anyone better to close out our month of geeky ladies than Catrina Dennis (who gets extra credit points for sending me several pics and gifs of her).
I “Twitter-met” (that’s a thing, right?) Catrina back when she was working for Geek & Sundry. When I decided to start up this blog series, she was one of the first women I approached. I’m so excited to get to have her as a part of the series, so let’s get to it!
What do you do in geek culture (on your own time and professionally)?
I work as a geek culture journalist and host, primarily covering comics-related media. Outside of that, I’m a blogger, vlogger, a huge comic fan, and an angry gamer. I’m also a pretty outspoken activist for inclusiveness in geek culture, and every once in a while, I like to cosplay.
Do you have a day job, or does this pay your bills?
I’m the Channel Manager of all things Superhero over at Moviepilot! It’s a great mix of managing editor and community manager, which is right up my alley. Before this, I worked with the team over at Geek & Sundry as their Social Media and Community Manager.
How did you get started in your geeky line of work, and what got you interested in it?
I honestly fell into this by accident: I answered a craigslist ad for an on-camera personality to conduct interviews at E3, then ended up staying with that outlet for a while. I eventually started writing for them and other gaming outlets, while holding a day job in social media. After a while, I ended up with Geek & Sundry, which gave me more of an opportunity to do journalism based around comics thanks to a new show that had launched (Amy Dallen’s Talkin’ Comics Weekly – check out Amy here! She’s awesome). I met my bosses-to-be thanks to my work with Geek & Sundry, and now I’m at Moviepilot! :)
Who are some of your female geek role models, and why?
Gail Simone is the first person that comes to mind thanks to her vocal and at the same time completely charming activism when it comes to making comics more inclusive. She’s also one of my favorite comic writers of all time and has an incredibly inspiring tenacity in her work that I hope to someday possess, as I’m currently working on my first title. Other names that come to mind are (of course) Felicia Day (one of the most passionate creators I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing), Janelle Asselin, Amy Dallen, Kelly Sue DeConnick, G. Willow Wilson, comicbookgirl19, and Ashly Burch.
You work (and have worked) in some cool places like MoviePilot and Geek and Sundry. What is that like? Do you get sick of asking questions about working with people like Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton?
I love what I do because every new day is very different from the last: there are always new problems to solve, or new pieces of information to put out. Since the core of my work is within journalism, I essentially get paid to geek out over new bits of news that come out in regards to comics. In regards to getting questions about the people I’ve worked for/with, I actually don’t often get bombarded with them! When I do, it’s rarely too probing or weird. I get to work with some extremely inspiring people and I count my lucky stars every day because I’ve gotten to learn from many whom I consider the best in their fields.
Do you encounter any negativity based on your gender or your appearance, and do you find that your readers are more critical of your opinions because you’re a woman?
For me, luckily, the negativity I receive is the least painful and the easiest to combat: fact-checkers. Often, I’ll have commenters who doubt certain aspects of my articles, but a quick citation usually clears things up. What’s funny is that sources and facts are things i always make sure to include, but often end up repeating — because, you’ll find, most people who throw shade at you just skimmed your work before forming an educated opinion. On-camera, though, people can get a little vicious — I’ve been called fat, or boyish, ugly; sometimes, an actual threat to my life or body will make it’s way into the comments section. So, I’d definitely say that women and those of us who don’t fit the norm are given a much, much harder time when we out ourselves out there.
What is the best thing about your line of work?
Oh, this is a tough one. I think the coolest thing about what I do is that a chunk of my job just involves geeking out with other people like me. The sheer excitement you get when it comes to sharing a fandom with another person is one of the best feelings ever. I think my MOST favorite thing about what I do is when someone who’s seen my work decides to read a new comic that I had suggested. Their reactions are a total thrill for me to see.
What is the coolest/most meaningful thing you’ve experienced since working with G&S, Moviepilot, and starting your own vlog?
Really, it’s just that I’ve met so many people who are as passionate about their fandoms as I am. I’ve made some incredible friends, gotten advice from people I’ve looked up to since childhood, and have honestly had my career molded by the way geek culture is progressing. If you told me that I’d be doing what I’m doing years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you at all.
What do you find that is meaningful, special, and/or valuable about what you do?
Getting younger people into comics and crafting a world where everyone is welcome to geek out is my overall goal when it comes to what I do. Being a geek (for comics, video games, movies, and music) has not only provided me with the makings of a great career path, but also helped me lead a positive, goal-driven life working in a field I am so completely in love with. Everyone deserves to find joy in their hobbies and passions — especially if it means they can create something and lead a life that coincides with them — so that’s what I want to help provide for all geeks everywhere.
How do you handle, if you’ve encountered it at all, the negativity against women in geek?
I’m not a very confrontational person, nor am I nearly clever enough to come up with witty/hilarious Gail Simone-essque comebacks to trolls. A lot of times, my initial reaction is just to talk to the person that’s throwing shade my way, but more often than not people aren’t around for the sake of debate — they’re around to make you feel like crap for no reason outside of the fact that they don’t like to see someone that they don’t feel belongs. It’s mind-blowing that anyone would want to exclude another fan based on their gender, looks, skin color, or sexuality. I mean, why does it matter? But it happens often, and it can get scary. It’s ridiculous that I have to report people for physically threatening me just because of my gender or body type. It’s fandom, guys. Chill out.
There are lots of women out there who want to break into the geek industry, be it comics, gaming, writing, or fashion. What kind of advice do you have for them?
Be tenacious. Be open to advice and critique, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something — especially if they’re saying it because you’re a woman. Get every idea on paper or in some kind of physical form before you consider quitting it — seeing it comes to life in some form or another helps you make educated decisions and learn for the future. Put yourself out there and use the incredible tools we’ve been given as a generation to do it with. Most importantly, be supportive of your colleagues. It’s a huge challenge for women of all sorts to break this industry, so encourage other lady creators and help promote their work as well if you enjoy it.
What do you wish people knew about what you do? Are there common misconceptions about what it means to do what you do?
I’m honestly unsure of what could be a common misconception about my line of work, but what I do hope is that others know that this work isn’t just hanging out and reading comics all day: it’s being awake when a story breaks, cranking out content at 4 am, and having a deep-rooted knowledge of your passions. When you’re in a position like mine, your responsibility is to create content that fans like you want; entertaining, engaging and informative. You’re both the voice of your community and the central point of information for them, so being able to keep up and deliver your best to them can be both exciting and extremely tough. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because challenges like these are a thrill for me.
A big thank you to Catrina for talking with me, and thank you to the other amazing women that I’ve gotten to chat with: Sarah Rodriguez (who, incidentally does a podcast, the Rebel Base Podcast, with Catrina), Lindsay Cummings, Christina Janke, Megan Gotch, Kat Miller, Marissa Reynolds, Vicky Connolly, and Tiffany Wangerin. You can read the entire Women in Geek series here!