Lyz Reblin is currently pursuing an MA in Media Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Screenwriting and minor in English from Chapman University in California, where she also interned at Dark Horse Entertainment and on the horror-comedy indie feature, Chastity Bites. You can find her comic reviews on Ain’t It Cool News (handle: Lyzard) along with her film reviews and podcasts at The 8th-Circuit Network (www.8th-circuit.com).
Combining her experience of both working in genre entertainment, reviewing it, and studying the marketplace, Lyz coined the term Fan Grrls. She runs the Fan Grrls Tumblr page (www.fangrrls.tumblr.com) and Twitter account (@Fan_Grrls), acting as an ambassador for the movement.
Lyz speaks to us about Fan Grrls and more:
1) Can you explain and tell us a little something about the evolving and modern “Fan Grrls” audience?
The Fan Grrl audience has always been there. I coined the term because fan girls has such a negative connotation and I felt it easier to create a new phrase than to try and re-appropriate. My little manifesto for Fan Grrls is:
Crazy for Comics?
Fan of the Fang?
Mad about Monsters?
Fan Grrls are fearless in their appreciation for comics, fantasy, gaming, horror, and sci-fi.
That’s a general overview, but it is catchy and gets the point across.
I say Fan Grrls have always existed because we have driven the genre market in many, unremarked ways. Carol Clover, who came up with the Final Girl theory in slasher cinema, her penultimate work Men, Women, and Chainsaws was written prior to reliable data in regards to theater attendance. There was a great article written by Richard Nowell in Cinema Journal from the Society For Cinema & Media Studies entitled “There’s More Than One Way To Lose Your Heart”: The American Film Industry, Early Teen Slasher Films, and Female Youth. In it he reveals how much agency girls had when it came to the growth of this genres , how not only were they the ones that made the decision to attend, as many of those movies were date movies, but that the films were made and marketed specifically with them in mind.
I find that there have been two obstacles for Fan Grrls to overcome. On one hand you have the inclusive nature geek culture maintains. There is a tendency for fans to question each other’s passion and be very guarded towards new members. Then there is the internal struggle with other women who find our choice of fandom questionable. You know “girls aren’t supposed to wanna dress up like Freddy Kreuger. Girls shouldn’t be reading comics.” We (girls, women, females whatever you want the term to be) hold ourselves back sometimes by constricting others to cultural stereotypes. I mean, men do this too, but I find it worse when those of our same sex treat us like this. I would never call myself a feminist, but the rise of third-wave feminism has started to change the idea of what is acceptable for girls to like. That movement is all about how you can wear makeup and tight clothes and not be a pawn to the male-driven clothing market nor be an object just because you show off your body. But it is also about how you can play sports and Magic: The Gathering if you want to.
My belief is that the success of women in entertainment is less pertinent on whether or not they are producing female-material, but that they are making successful films, shows, books, what have you. I don’t feel obligated to always adhere to the Bechdel Test and I think that is very liberating. Once, I presented this scene at a meeting of the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. Most of the work before me were great pieces on womanhood, sexual abuse, discrimination. I’m staring down at my two pages, featuring two fanboys debating Star Wars versus Star Trek in regards to their lack of hard science, and almost backed out. The group ended up laughing so hard that they missed some of the jokes as the actors read ‘em. Quality is what matters, showcasing of women, a better representation of us, will spawn from that.
So going back to what Fan Grrls is all about, it is trying to be fearless in your expression of fandom. Not only should you not have to defend yourself, in fact I’d rather women turn the other cheek and bite back by creating their own material instead of bemoaning their marginalized state, however that is a personal ideology, but I also want women not to feel judged for liking not only genre work but genre work that isn’t necessarily women-friendly. I use Supernatural as an example of this. The show has a tendency of killing off female characters rather quickly. So what if the show is masculine in gender? So what if you just wanna ogle the Winchester Brothers? You, as a Fan Grrl, have the right to like what you want for whatever reason you have.
2) What UK writers and actors do you like – if any?
I think a good portion of my generation is Anglophiles, which I’m gonna blame on Harry Potter and the resurgence of Doctor Who.
Writer-wise, Kim Newman. He has my dream job, writing more theoretical/film studies work like Nightmare Movies and fictional pieces such as his Anno Dracula series. I’ll cheat a bit and throw in X-men writer Chris Claremont since he was born in London and is one of the most fan-friendly “celebrities” I’ve had the honor of interviewing.
Then there is the Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg duo. My first press interview was a roundtable for the Spaced DVD in America. There I am, nineteen years old sitting across from Wright, Pegg, and next to Jessica Hynes. I was quite overwhelmed and couldn’t get a question in fast enough compared to the other journalists. Their PR manager came over and said we had to wrap up the interview, but Hynes put her hand on my shoulder and said “Excuse me, but this young lady has a question.” I’m amazed I was able to get any words out, but it did result in Pegg announcing his next movie, which at the time was Paul. The trio even took some time to talk to me afterwards. I got to tell ‘em how Shaun of the Dead inspired a lot of my writings and when they offered to sign some autographs I just “happened” to have the DVD in my bag. In the five years since, some of the most congenial celebrities I’ve met and/or interviewed have been British. Peter Serafinovich, Emily Blunt, Anna Walton, Luke Evans, Henry Cavill. I’m not saying I haven’t had great experiences with those from the States, but there is just something I look forward to when I get to do press coverage with UK involvement.
I can hear my post-colonial professor screaming in my head when I say this because I’m totally aware that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom, but he is from “across the pond” so I’m gonna say Jonathan Rhys Meyers. My friends have gotten tired of me bemoaning the state of Dracula adaptations and their lack of fidelity, so they were surprised to hear how excited I was about the new NBC show. My response in regards to faithfulness or lack thereof to the novel: There is a line and that line is Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Probably should mention some girl power. Helen Mirren obviously, but I’ve noticed a trend with other British actresses I am a fan of. I have a very specific type for those I have a girl crush on: tall, brunette, English women who have played vampires. So we are talking Jamie Murray, Kate Beckinsale, and Rhona Mitra. I’m gonna avoid any Freudian analysis of what this might mean.
3) What horror comics and books do you suggest Fan Grrls check out?
I mentioned it before, the Anno Dracula series. I’ve been covering its re-publication for AICN and I am so excited to currently be reading Johnny Alucard.
Staying with this UK thread, I’d also suggest David Hines. I haven’t kept up with his recent work, but his run on The Darkness: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, along with Ryder on the Storm, were brilliant works of comic horror. Interviewing him, he’s very intelligent, able to explain himself with both brevity and clarity. I’ve actually cited him a few times when I’m discussing culture clash.
I’m not sure how popular Invader Zim was in the UK, but the horror-comedy (my favorite subset) Eldritch! is a lot of fun. Think Invader Zim meets Lovecraft. The main character, Anya, I’d compare her to Claudia from Warehouse 13. Just this spunky, witty, kick-ass girl.
4) Are there any women comic writers that are popular with Fan Grrls?
Gail Simone and I’ll tell you why. She did great work on the Birds of Prey comic and also wrote one of the best Batman: The Brave & the Bold episodes (The Mask of Matches Malone) which featured the trio singing a raucous song song filled with sexual innuendos about DC superheroes, but she also has written for Deadpool. He has gotta be one of the most misogynistic characters in comics, though it is all for laughs, but I love the idea that she can do both. Simone was on also on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in I think 2010 entitled Girls Gone Genre that also featured Felicia Day and Marti Nixon. It was great to be able to see so many strong women together laughing and sharing stories about their struggles and success.
5) How do Fan Grrls network and meet up? It would be great if there was a “Fan Grrls” pub meet-up party at New York Comic Con and at London Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con. How do Fan Grrls find each other?
Right now, it is just a Tumblr and Twitter account that I run. I keep both updated daily and cover topics that are either directly attuned to Fan Grrls or about genre work in general. It is all about bringing attention to this sort of “movement” for girls and women to be proud of their fandom and instead of having to go on the defensive, inspire them to go out and create their own works. That’s another area I’m focusing on. Whether it be my scholastic writings or my scripts, I’m trying to create material for Fan Grrls to be proud of.
I would love to see “Fan Grrls” expand, both geographically and in numbers. Social networking is a great way to make it global, but beyond the re-tweeting, replying, and liking online, I would love to have fans reach out to me to find out what THEY could do to spread the gospel of Fan Grrls, like organizing these meet ups or chapters if you will. Fan Grrls. It’s plural.
I guess my immediate dream goal at the moment is for us to have some sort of panel at a convention in 2014.
6) You are writing an original television series with Erik von Wodtke. Markosia is releasing (in October) an illustrated novel entitled Apollo, which is written by Erik and beautifully illustrated by Douglas A. Sirois. I have attached a preview for you to check out and look forward to your thoughts. Are there qualities in this Apollo book that would appeal to Fan Grrls?
Fan Grrls would be attracted to, first off, its visual style. We appreciate the new. A different creative style gives us hope for advancements in entertainment, that one day more material that we would want to see can be made.
And secondly, both Greek mythology and Lovecraftian lore are huge hits amongst Fan Grrls. The Greeks and those thieving Romans have numerous myths featuring strong women with agency and Lovecraft, well Lovecraft just appeals to any horror fan because regardless of your gender your probably gonna end up dead any how.
7) Could you tell us a little about “Mt. Baldy”. The television series and Fan Grrls Horror comic?
The story is about a high school girl, Annie, who moves to Mt. Baldy from Texas, with her dad and little brother. A few weeks into the school year, the forest ranger is murdered and then a sort of modern type Twin Peaks investigation begins, with Annie caught in the middle of what’s happening at Mt. Baldy High and the mysteries hidden in the woods.
So Twin Peaks, meets True Blood, crossed with Buffy.
I think there is a lot for Fan Grrls to latch on to. Obviously our main character. My goal with writing Annie is to capture the thoughts of a sixteen year old, focusing on the dichotomy of what a teen thinks compared to what they actually say. The mythos of the show is quite off the wall and avant-garde, so I try to keep the characters as well-grounded and realistic as possible. I like to play with stereotypes, so don’t expect an adherence to the Carol Clover Final Girl theory. In the world of Mt. Baldy, no one is safe.
As for the comic, medium multiplicity is the key with entertainment nowadays. Everyone wants to adapt comics because there is a built in audience, but comics also have a unique opportunity to reach a global audience simultaneously. TV shows are not aired around the world at the same time, some countries get a program months apart from its original release. Comics, on the other hand, especially with the online market, can be obtainable to all and that provides a great networking opportunity. Fan Grrls everywhere can talk about Mt. Baldy as a horror comic and no one is left out of the loop.