She Makes Geek Chic
I discovered ComicBookGirl19 last summer on YouTube when I stumbled across her brilliant analysis of the baffling movie Prometheus. It was funny, articulate, and so well-researched that I felt like I was sitting in a university classroom learning from a film teacher. After that I was hooked: I needed to watch every single one of her videos so I could soak up as much comic book and movie knowledge as I could.
Then last September I was lucky enough to run into her at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Fan Expo in Los Angeles…and it was love at first sight (how can you not fall in love with this girl – just look at her!) But as anyone who has seen her show quickly realizes, she’s a lot more than just a pretty face.
I recently had a chance to chat with CBG19 about everything from her upcoming projects to the ongoing debate about fan girls and their place in “geek culture.”
Check it out:
Blake Northcott: Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, ComicBookGirl19!
ComicBookGirl19: Thank you! Glad to be here.
Blake Northcott: So you’ve been doing your YouTube show since early 2012, and it’s basically a commentary on comics and movies. Can you tell everyone a bit more about it, and what inspired you to start your own show?
ComicBookGirl19: Well, this whole thing started off with the idea of me doing a type of “Drunk History” video about X-Men, and it had developed into something bigger unexpectedly. I remember one night I was hanging out with some friends, and I started ranting about something, and this one guy said something along the lines of that I needed some subtitles and visual aids when I talked about stuff. I thought that was a great idea.
I guess I just get really excited about things like comics and movies, and I just wanted an outlet to talk about those things. I am a “teacher” according to the Myers-Briggs Test, and I think that is a pretty accurate assessment because I love to tell people about all the stuff I’ve found that I think is really great. This show gives me a lot homework to do, and I love having a reason to do more reading, research, and critical thinking, and relaying the information I have uncovered.
Blake Northcott: That’s how I feel when I watch your show, like I’m learning about literature, mythology and other interesting things at the same time as I get to hear your comments about comics and movies. It definitely sets you apart!
ComicBookGirl19: Total overanalyzer over here.
Blake Northcott: Well it works for you.
ComicBookGirl19: My partner helps out a lot too with keeping me in line and more focused.
Blake Northcott: Your video about Prometheus was how I initially found out about you, which got me hooked on your channel. It now it has over 230,000 views! Did you ever see your channel growing so big, so fast?
ComicBookGirl19: No and it is the most pleasant surprise ever! I am very grateful and shocked at the overwhelmingly positive response we have had.
Blake Northcott: You seem to generate a lot of conversation surrounding your videos, both on YouTube and Facebook. What is the craziest response you’ve ever received to one of your videos?
ComicBookGirl19: Well I will tell you it is quite surreal to read pages and pages of a thread of people arguing about my Prometheus video and my authenticity on a message board. I find it odd how some people violently react to opinions I state. It’s the classic Simpsons’ “Comic Book Guy” comments where they go nuts and tell me what a bitch I am because I don’t like some character that they like.
I want those people to know that they are more than entitled to their opinion, just as I am entitled to my opinion. No one is “right” or “wrong.” But that kind of negative response hurts comics in general. It makes people who are interested in comics scared to try to get involved.
Blake Northcott: YouTube comments and online discussions in general, when it comes to comics and movies, are very male-dominated. I know there has been a lot of criticism recently about girls and their “geek cred,” and people accusing them of just wanting attention, and not being genuinely interested in geek culture. Do you think some of the violent reaction is part of that mindset?
ComicBookGirl19: Oh definitely. And I’ve dealt with that crap my whole life. Can you believe that there was this crusty classmate in high school who literally gave me a written test at our local comic shop so I could prove my comics cred?
Blake Northcott: Oh my god that is hilarious! So did you pass? Was there an official grade?
ComicBookGirl19: I passed…not with an A, but with a C.
Blake Northcott: Well at least that’s a passing grade! (laughs)
ComicBookGirl19: mainly because I couldn’t name enough Avengers (laughs). Nobody liked The Avengers back then.
Blake Northcott: I probably couldn’t either. Don’t feel bad!
ComicBookGirl19: (laughs) Well I guess I can now.
Blake Northcott: So you’re used to taking crap for being a fan girl?
ComicBookGirl19: I get more than a few emails from guys who tell me when they first saw me they thought I was going to be another fame whore who was trying to manipulate “geek culture,” and then when they watched my show their perception was dramatically altered.
Blake Northcott: At comic cons there has been the perception of the “booth babes” to draw attention, where pretty girls cosplay or just wear revealing outfits to draw guys in. But there are legit fans who are female, and the demographic is growing from what I can tell, and I think that some people see a young attractive girl with opinions about geek culture and think “she’s just doing this to get into acting” or some other endeavour.
ComicBookGirl19: Yeah, I’d like to state for the record that I am not an actress, but I am an artist. But I think viewers can tell if you watch my first video and watch my most recent video. It’s pretty evident (laughs).
Talking into a camera is hard, but I think I am definitely getting better at it all the time. Anyways, that is something that has bothered me, as I am sure it bothers others, seeing people try to jump on the ole nerd bandwagon because it is considered hot right now. That is part of the reason I started the show, to have a show where the people who make it really care about their subject matter.
There are a lot of jocks out there on YouTube pretending to be nerds.
Blake Northcott: Yeah! Stay out on the football field, jocks! We don’t want your kind on our interwebz. This ain’t high school anymore…now the nerds are in control.
ComicBookGirl19: Yeah, Jock will come back in style though…it goes in cycles.
Blake Northcott: You’re probably right. Well, they have ESPN for their discussions. We have comic and movie forums (laughs). I love the “trolls” that show up periodically in your videos, where two little troll puppets pop up and insult you. Is that your way of laughing off some of the criticism that you generate on YouTube? And was that your idea?
ComicBookGirl19: The Trolls are definitely a way for me to deal with all the negativity that comes along with having a Youtube channel. And let me tell you, voicing those trolls is absolutely therapeutic. It really gets the hate out, ya know? But the trolls came about partly as way for us to address certain commenters, partly to make fun of myself, and partly because I love the idea of puppets!
Blake Northcott: Puppets are awesome…very underused in 2012, in my opinion. And they’re cute!
ComicBookGirl19: Much more charming than any bad CGI.
Blake Northcott: Oh yes, for sure.
ComicBookGirl19: And there is such a problem on Youtube with crazy comments.
Blake Northcott: It seems to be a hundred times worse on YouTube than anywhere else. I don’t know what it is about video that brings out the crazies!
ComicBookGirl19: They think that I don’t read the crap they say, or think I am some celebrity with tons of money soaking up the sun, which is not the case. The problem is a lack of understanding and empathy. I got feelin’s too!
And I love when other people tell you how to deal with trolls, that cracks me up.
Blake Northcott: Oh, for sure.
ComicBookGirl19: People are always like “don’t feed the trolls” blah blah blah…but if they had someone saying the crap to them that they say to me…they would lose their minds!
Blake Northcott: So where do you see the future of your channel: more of the same, or are you planning to do something different? Or any projects away from YouTube – or offline?
ComicBookGirl19: I want the show to become a vehicle for specific things we want to do, including documentary films, comedy skits and writing comics. We really want to spread good ideas and get the word out about things we think are important Right now we are still evolving the show and we don’t want anyone to get too comfortable with any one format because we are constantly learning new things, and there are a lot of things we want to try!
Blake Northcott: Very cool! Well I’ll be along for the ride, and from the looks of it, so will a lot of other people. Are you ready for the lightning round?
Blake Northcott: Alright, here we go: You’re stuck on a desert island and can only bring one graphic novel. What is it?
ComicBookGirl19: It’s too hard to pick just one! Can I bring some paper and pencils instead?
Blake Northcott: Sure! It’s my game, I can change the rules. I’m like Neo.
ComicBookGirl19: (laughs) I’d rather spend the time to write and draw my own comic on a deserted island.
Blake Northcott: I love that. OK, easier question: One comic or series that you’d recommend that people might not have read or heard of?
ComicBookGirl19: Empowered by Adam Warren. It looks like a cheesecake comic, and the pages are done mostly in pencils which may put some people off initially, but Warrens pencils are crazy good, full of energy and life. And the story and the main character “Emp” or Elissa really resonates with me. It’s funny, it’s fun, it’s observant, it’s got hot sex, action, and it’s beautifully drawn. It’s a comic for girls and boys.
Blake Northcott: Watchmen: great graphic novel, or the greatest graphic novel?
ComicBookGirl19: Important Graphic Novel! A must read, a classic, and a rite of passage in a way.
Blake Northcott: Most underrated comic book movie ever?
ComicBookGirl19: The Shadow. I know it’s terrible but I can’t help but like it, Alec Baldwin looks too good and I love Margot’s costuming! Although this is an example of a movie that should be remade, and could be remade way better.
Blake Northcott: Best movie of 2012 so far?
ComicBookGirl19: I haven’t seen anything life-changing this year, but 2012 was a big year for movies.
Blake Northcott: (laughs) The Avengers didn’t change your life? Sacrilege!
ComicBookGirl19: If I had to pick the one that I had the most fun at, I would say The Avengers…with Dredd a close second.
Blake Northcott: Me too! I loved Dredd. If someone was going to play you in a movie, who would it be?
ComicBookGirl19: Prometheus should have been my favorite movie. Damn it.
Blake Northcott: I agree. I wished it was mine, too. Who would play you in a movie?
ComicBookGirl19: I would say Darryl Hannah in the early 1980’s?
Blake Northcott: I can see that! What flavor should more things come in?
ComicBookGirl19: Sweet Potato. Although sweet potato fries are really starting to catch on! That’s a good sign.
Blake Northcott: I’m sorry, but the answer I was looking for this week was “Dr. Pepper flavored,” but I’ll accept that as well. I’ll give you a solid “C” for sweet potato.
ComicBookGirl19: Oohhhh damn it! I meant Dr. Pepper! No really….before I kinda gave up soda I was Mrs. Dr. Pepper.
Blake Northcott: (laughs a lot)
ComicBookGirl19: I miss it, and when I’m feelin’ crazy I love a cold can of Dr. Pepper…not the plastic bottle crap or fountain…I want it in a can.
Blake Northcott: Yeah, screw plastic. Moving right along – if you had a superpower, what would it be?
ComicBookGirl19: I would have to guess that when my latent mutant gene finally kicks in…it will probably be psychic powers that I would enhance with Magik.
Blake Northcott: Nice! And one final question: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
ComicBookGirl19: I want to hear the X-Men cartoon Theme music. It would be a prelude to my adventures as an X-Man in the Marvel Universe. Mutant and Proud!
Blake Northcott: Best answer to that question that I could have ever hoped for. Thanks so much for your time – this was so much fun!
ComicBookGirl19: Thank you!
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter, or pick up her best-selling Sci-Fi/Superhero books Vs. Reality and Relapse over at Amazon.com.
Blake figured out The 10 Most Underrated Comic Book Movies (part 1) and Part 2, and documented The 5 Hottest Trends of 2012’s Summer Fan Conventions.