Ladies’ nights don’t have to be about cheap, watered-down cocktails. They aren’t always about sitting in a room with face packs on and spending exorbitant amounts of money on “all natural” facial products.
There’s a race of women who don’t think a ladies’ night needs to be gender-specific. It might sound a little counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Comic books. Board games. Manga. They aren’t just for the boys anymore. Women across the world are filling out comic book stores in droves, both in front of and behind the sales counter.
In an effort to bring these comic book-loving ladies together, Andrea Brown and Sylvia Douglas, employees of Edmonton’s Happy Harbor Comics, created a monthly event to do just that.
LADY GEEKs uNITE (or #LGN) takes place each month at the Happy Harbor store on 104 Avenue between 7:00pm and 9:00pm.
“Ladies’ night basically originated from the group the Valkyries, which was created by Kate Leth,” says Andrea.
“Kate is an artist and creator herself,” says Sylvia. “She started the Valkyries to create a network for women who work in [comic] shops.”
Female interest in comic books is exploding—either that, or it’s just coming out from under the covers. LADY GEEKs uNITE celebrates this interest and hopes to provide a safe space for people who want to learn more or who were originally put off by the genre’s male-dominated nature.
“I’m not going to beat around the bush: the comic book industry is pretty sexist.” – Andrea Brown
“What’s great about LADY GEEKs uNITE is that it’s creating a safe environment,” says Sylvia. “When I got comics as a kid—in junior high and high school—I hated going into comic book stores. It sucked. The staff were mean to me, but I had no other choice. And then when I got older, they were gross. It totally felt unsafe.”
Those of us who have dabbled in some of the smaller, shadier comic book stores will know the truth of this statement. For many years, most of these stores weren’t frequented by a large number of women.
“I’m not going to beat around the bush: the comic book industry is pretty sexist,” says Andrea. “We want people to feel safe buying comics here and not be judged…we want to encourage people to buy whatever they want.”
It isn’t just women—LADY GEEKs uNITE is open to anyone looking for a safe, non-judgmental space in which to read and discuss comics. Non-gender, transgender, and even males who haven’t previously felt comfortable integrating into the world of comic books.
“…when it affects how you’re treating the opposite gender, that’s a problem.” – Sylvia Douglas
The male resistance to women invading the comic book turf isn’t universal and can be practically non-existent for many men. There are those, though, that feel very strongly about comic books becoming gender neutral.
“For a long time, it was kind of a boy’s club,” says Sylvia. “They’re afraid they’re going to lose their pleasure entertainment and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when it affects how you’re treating the opposite gender, that’s a problem.”
“Like at [conventions] and stuff, where girls dress in cosplay, people just grab their asses and take rude pictures,” says Andrea. “You just don’t feel safe.”
Other than offering a space for people to purely enjoy comics, the LADY GEEKs uNITE event has big plans for its future development, including board game nights, potential Magic tournaments, and the possibility of featuring well-known guest speakers from within the industry.
The first free event was held on April 3rd, during which attendees brought along a copy of their favourite comic and participated in a discussion about each comic’s merits. The next event, scheduled for May 1st, will feature discussion on which comic book inspired everyone to begin heavily reading comics.
“It’s going to be a primer for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 3rd,” says Andrea. “People can keep their eyes out for titles that are free comics that day.”
Whether you’re a hardcore comic fan already or simply want to learn more about the many different kinds available, LADY GEEKs uNITE will introduce you to some great comic literature and some even greater people.
“We’re creating a space for people who want to enjoy these things,” says Sylvia.
“Let’s get rid of the stigma. Comics are for everyone.”