Once upon a time, Sarah Kuhn belonged to a “nerd collective” that put out a .pdf zine with a geek focus: Grok. For each issue, the collective came up with a theme, and everyone wrote a piece around that topic. And from the theme of Pon Farr, Kuhn’s geeky romance novella, One Con Glory, sprang into existence.
“I had this idea about a girl who hadn’t had sex in seven years,” Kuhn said. With that initial premise, she was able to create a character she felt hadn’t been appropriately represented in fiction before: the geek girl. Kuhn wanted to draw a character who was combative, rather than a wallflower, and Julie was described by the author as opinionated, even a little angry. Julie’s search for a rare collectible, and her one-night-stand with an actor (or is it more?) is dotted with dozens of pop culture references, everything from Farscape to Secret Six. Her initial un-provoked disdain for the actor playing a comic-book character on the small screen makes for a nice commentary on the prejudice still present within the community, and the eternal question: Are you geek enough?
Kuhn’s own geeky background stems from her early days in a small town in Oregon. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV, but managed to sneak in X-Men cartoons and Batman: The Animated Series. Kuhn was also very much into comic books, Star Trek, and Star Wars. She said with Star Wars, she “fell in love with what a story could do.” The idea that a person could watch them hundreds of times – as she had – really spoke to their power.
Her novella was serialized through the zine in three parts, which eventually became the three parts of the book when the nerd collective branched into publishing with their own small geek press: Alert Nerd. Now One Con Glory has been optioned as a film by Hall Squared, for which Kuhn wrote the screenplay. She couldn’t speak much about the project, but said that the script is being read by various people.
While One Con Glory makes the rounds, Kuhn is keeping busy, breaking a spec pilot script with her television writing partner and writing an urban fantasy novel with superhero elements. She recently made the trip to Seattle for the very first Geek Girl Con, and took part in a panel about geek girl characters in popular culture.
“At Comic-Con, not this year, but last one, I was part of a panel called ‘Geek Girls Exist,'” said Kuhn. “That panel was at least part of the inspiration for Geek Girl Con because it ended up being packed. It was standing room only, and one thing I heard was that one thing that made it so impressive was that it was opposite the Scott Pilgrim panel, which has a huge female following. The fact that they could pack a panel like ‘Geek Girls Exist’ opposite that was kind of cool.”
Give them a reason, and geek girls will turn out in force, as they did at Seattle’s City Center this past October. Kuhn said she would have attended even if she hadn’t been invited as a guest.
“I thought the programming was really smart, and focused, and there was something for everybody,” Kuhn said. “There was a real sense of community from everybody there, and it seemed like everywhere I went, people were just really happy.”
If you happen to be at Comikaze Expo this weekend, you can find Sarah Kuhn at a reprisal of the Geeks in Pop Culture panel. She’ll also be at the League of Ladies table #124 on Saturday. Tell her I said ‘hi.’