Laura Kadner
July 24, 2014 6:00 am

San Diego Comic-Con is here at last! Fans of pop culture, rejoice! And we have more reason than ever to cheer this year as an unprecedented 12 panels will have a female-centric focusForty percent of attendees are women, which comes as surprise to those not in the know. To others, these new panels—which kick off Thursday—reflect an obvious evolution in the programming of the event. While that evolution will undoubtedly be a slow one, I, for one, am still excited for the progress. Geek girls and nerd ladies, please come out in full force and if you’re headed to Comic-Con, point yourselves in the direction of these awesome women:

1. Jenna Busch

Jenna is the founder of Legion of Leia, a group on a mission to raise awareness that women love sci-fi. When the cast of the new Star Wars film was announced and it was revealed that originally out of 13 main roles, only 2 were to be women, Jenna wrote a pointed blog post about the absurdity of the lack of female representation. Sing it, sister! She’s written for publications all over the internet, been on G4’s Attack of the Show, podcasts for multiple fandoms like GoT and True Blood. Oh, she also co-hosted a little podcast called Cocktails with Stan Lee. No biggie. Just total amazing-ness. She’ll be on the panel The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con: Positive Portrayals of Women in Pop Culture.

2. Tatiana Maslany

In case you’re living under a very unfortunate rock, Tatiana stars on the show Orphan Black where she plays about nine different roles. She’s a Clone Club unto herself. While she was impossibly snubbed for an Emmy, she remains the queen of all our hearts. Tatiana and the rest of the cast seem to genuinely love their fans and whenever I’ve seen her speaking off the cuff on TV she’s basically been a pure delight. She also has a background in improv and a crush on Rick Moranis. Need I say more? She will be on the panel Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass.

 3. Rachel Hawkins

If you haven’t yet read Rachel’s latest book Rebel Belle do yourself a favor and get thee to a library! Or bookshop. Whatever. In any event, check out Rachel at Comic-Con if you get the chance. She’s the writer of the wonderful Hex Hall series, which is about a gal who discovers she’s a witch and gets sent to a reform school for witches, faeries, shape-shifters, and the like. Her writing is hilarious and she somehow manages to make the plight of teenage-witches-and- cheerleaders-turned-mystical-guardians relatable. Check her out on the panel What’s Hot in Young Adult Fiction!

4. Felicia Day

You may know her from her days on Buffy, her turn on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, or The Guild and that’s just to name a few. She also started the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, covering everything from comics to cosplay. Admire her as an actor, a comedian, a writer, and as a total geek goddess. Felicia is an inspirational lady to female creators everywhere and someone you don’t want to miss. See her at The Latest from Geek & Sundry! Wil Wheaton’s TableTop Season 3 and the new scripted series Spooked! event or stop by the Geek & Sundry lounge just outside the convention.

5. Ay-leen The Peacemaker

If you don’t know Ay-leen (also known as Diana M. Pho), get to know her now. She founded Beyond Victoriana “the oldest-running blog about multicultural steampunk and retro-futurism—that is, steampunk outside of a Western-dominant, Eurocentric framework.” You’ve got our attention. She has traveled around the world speaking about social justice, has written about steampunk from here to kingdom come, and is currently an editor for Tor Books. She’ll be on the The Witty Women of Steampunk panel and I think you should be lining up already.

6. Colleen Coover

Colleen is a comic book artist and illustrator of works such as Bandette, Gingerbread Girl, and a host of Marvel comics. If you’re interested in stories about teenage costumed burglars; tales of a potentially nutty twenty-something chick who dates boys and girls, likes sushi, and might’ve imagined she had a sister; and realistic, bold lady characters and digital comics in general, Colleen’s your go-to gal. She’ll be on the panel Strong Female Characters.

7. Fawn Veerasunthorn

Fawn is a story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios and she has an Oscar to show for it. From where did this award spring? No big thang, just her work on Frozen. Fawn was a med student in her homeland of Thailand when she realized it wasn’t for her. At just 19 she traveled all the way to the US to study animation. Good decision, Fawn. She’s brave, talented, has an awesome tumblr, and followed her passion to Academy gold.

8. Tara Madison Avery
Tara is a “trans woman business owner, bisexual activist, and self-taught, self-published cartoonist.” Tara is a Prism Comics board member and definitely one of the leading forces in the digital realm of LGBTQ comics, with her work like Gooch and Dirtheads. Prism is a non-profit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) comics, creators, and readers.  She’ll be moderating the panel Wild Queer Women of the Web.
9. Nicole Beharie
Nicole Beharie busted on to all our radars with her fantastic turn in Sleepy Hollow. But she was already kind of a big deal thanks to her performances in American Violet, My Last Day Without You, Shame, and 42. Like fellow Women Who Kick Ass panel mate, Tatiana, Nicole is a huge fan of her fans and always tries to make time to sign autographs and take pictures no matter how long it takes. She also is a “vocal advocate of visibility, diversity and empowerment” and is another kick-ass chick for us to look up to.
10. Marjorie Liu
Marjorie Liu is a queen of comics and fiction and does it all, writing everything from paranormal romance, to urban fantasy, to comic books. Her background is intriguing: she started out studying East Asian Languages and Cultures alongside Biomedical Ethics before heading to law school. After traveling and working all over Asia for 16 years she decided to follow her creative dreams. She’s since written novels and for Marvel Comics. Go, Marjorie! She’ll be on panels like FANTASTIC FEMALES: Heroines in Paranormal Fantasy and Superheroines! Power, Responsibility, and Representation, not to mention Spotlight on Marjorie Liu.

Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

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