Gazetteers :: The People Who Inspire Us
The Gazetteers are women with a genuine passion for what is going on in nerd culture. We aren’t about gender-bias; we’re about sharing ourselves, our fan love, our ideas and opinions, and writing about the nerd world as we see it.
The People Who Inspire Us.
Often, the interests that define our nerd identities can be attributed to the individuals who inspire us. No doubt some of the people we most admire are some of your favorites too, or perhaps you’re about to discover a new role model. Read on as Gazetteers, Jessica, Kaymonstar, Kristin, and our newest addition, Allison Franks share with you the people who have affirmed our geek passions and how they have influenced our nerd pursuits.
Growing up, I could not get enough of Bill Nye the Science Guy. He was (and is) the epitome of the “cool nerd.” I don’t care who you are, you enjoyed Bill Nye programming and if you try to tell me you didn’t, I’m calling shenanigans.
Bill Nye was the first public figure who made me feel comfortable in my geeky skin. Although I lived in a community where kids were generally apathetic to those who were different from them, I was occasionally teased and shunned for getting good grades and dressing slightly differently.
So I did what many insecure kids do – I attempted to conform.
But then I would watch Bill Nye and I saw this guy wearing a bow-tie and lab coat, quirkily go on about science topics. I thought about how much people liked him and how he was WAY nerdier than I was. This, in turn, made me think that perhaps people would still like me if I were just my regular nerdy self.
Of course, this was very deep thinking for an eight-year-old, and it took until high school for me to really start owning my geek cred.
I was also fascinated with the concept that science could be cool. After all, my summertime attempts to teach math and science to my younger siblings never went well, and no one ever seemed to want to join me in science-y experimentations. HOW was one guy so capable of getting kids excited about topics that normally bored them?
That question plagued me for my entire life and in most ways shaped my career. I have an intense passion for teaching kids about engineering and try to emulate Bill Nye’s enthusiasm while recording my own educational videos.
Nowadays, I’m also gushing pretty hard on Felicia Day. She is an awesome lady who quickly got frustrated in Hollywood being cast as the “quirky secretary.” Rather than give up, what did she do? Oh, just created an awesome web series called The Guild.
Not only did the series garner a large cult following, in 2008 she partnered with Microsoft to offer free episode streaming available through XBox Live. Day also recently received funding from Google to launch own YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry. Not only is this channel the new home for The Guild, it also hosts six other shows targeted to folks of the nerdy persuasion. Felicia Day has transformed herself from quasi-successful actor to media mogul. She’s completely reshaping the way we consume content, replacing hackneyed cable shows with entertaining (and free) internet programming.
Felicia Day and Bill Nye inspire me every day to mold my job around things I’m passionate about. They’ve both taught me that you just need a bit of ingenuity and a lot of passion to make a career out of the things you love. And as they say, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
There are a lot of folks who inspired me to be who I am today and who continue to inspire me to want to be better. Depending on what we’re talking about I probably have about two or three people in mind at any given time. My role model choices are usually based off of different variables such as skill-level, style, and work ethic. I’m not going to go into detail about every single thing that inspires me, but I’ll at least give you four examples of people who are currently huge influences in my life.
The first on the list is my favorite illustrator, Gris Grimly. I first fell in love with his work while on a trip to New Orleans. I found myself in a tiny back alley art gallery when I saw this children’s book sitting on a pile of art books. It was called Little Jordan Rays Muddy Spud. As I flipped through the book I could feel my heart swell from the amount of joy the pictures brought me. Particularly one image which is called “The Water Nymph”. From then on I tried to locate as many of his books as I could. A couple years later I had the fortune of meeting him at one of the Scream Fests held in Orlando. I had him sign all my books and I probably made a fool of myself in the process. He’s constantly producing work too, and I’m very excited for the Frankenstein book that he’s currently working on.
The second person that comes to mind is Michael Turner. The first thing I ever saw of his was an illustration of The Flash and if you don’t know how much I love The Flash, the answer is a lot. I thought he drew such beautiful men. But Michael Turner isn’t a role model for me because of his art style. The thing that struck me the most was that he kept working after being diagnosed in 2000 with chondrosarcoma, a form of cancer in his hip. I remember reading in a Wizard Magazine that because he was in pain when he sat down, he would lie down and draw instead. Not only that but I mean, he had been a pre-med student before he dropped it all to become a comic book artist. From there, he went on to found Aspen comics. I regret not being able to meet him in person (he died in 2008). In my mind Michael Turner represents the kind of work ethic that I wish I had and that I strive towards. He also represents to me the ability to do whatever you put your mind to.
Next up to bat is Karl Kerschl. I fell in love with Kerschl’s work on Teen Titans: Year One and what he did with The Flash. I also try to keep up as best as I can with his webcomic, The Abominable Charles Christopher. I love the way he draws faces, and really everything he does is magic to me. I find myself more into animated and exaggerated looking comics than realistic looking styles.
Last but certainly not least we have Skottie Young. With Skottie I was drawn initially into his work with Human Torch. He had a very graffiti style at the time. If you compare his older drawings with his new work you can see a pretty drastic change. I absolutely adore his newer works including The Wizard of Oz and some of the covers he has done for other titles like Iron Man, X-Babies, Deadpool, etc. When I think about it, Skottie’s newer stuff reminds me of Gris in a lot of ways. I still love his older works but his newer work resonates a little deeper with what I like to do now.
All four of these men have had an impact on my development as an artist. Even if they never know that they’ve had such a profound influence on me I’m happy that they exist and that they continue to leave an impression on me either with their legacy or by continuing to create awesome works of art.
I think it is safe to say I am a product of television and the Sunday morning funny pages. Those pretty much owned my life for the longest time. Waking up early to watch Mr. Wizard, David the Gnome and Eureka’s Castle were a daily routine for me. That and my crazy love affair with Nancy Drew novels. But if you ask me what really inspired me to grow up with the hobbies and interests that I have now would have to be the fiery redhead Barbara Gordon.
I love her. I feel like she was the big sister I never had. First, there were never too many redheads in cartoons, comics or pop culture, and definitely not ones that captured my adventurous imagination. Being a redhead, I can say that looking for someone who was also a ginger in cartoons and such was something I actively did. One morning I was watching Adam West do his “POW” and”KABLAM” all over the screen, and there she was: my crimson angel, coming to steal my imagination and ignite it afire! Now don’t get me wrong I have always loved the Batman franchise, and I really truly adore Adam West. The movies were great too, but they completely messed up my Babs (UGH don’t get me started on the Batman and Robin movie). But Babs, oh my Babs she was everything I wanted to be. Strong, independent, intelligent, a decent athlete, and she always looked like she had the most fun. So following her antics and crime fighting was really one of the major ways I grew up with my so called geeky interests. I played with Barbies sure, but my Barbies were crime fighting with my TMNT figures. And I had a redheaded Barbie that I took a purple marker and a black sharpie to her entire plastic naked body to transform her into Batgirl. She would run across my LEGO cities I built battling plastic dinosaurs and searching for hidden LEGO treasures from scurvy pirates.
But when I say my role model was Barbara Gordon, I don’t just mean her as Batgirl–I mean Barbara Fucking Gordon. When she was crippled by the Joker in The Killing Joke, I was so upset. I didn’t know if it was the end for her, but happily it wasn’t. Oracle emerged, and oh boy did she overcome just about every obstacle and emerge a powerful force to be reckoned with. Birds of Prey brought me back into comics after a few years of being on hiatus from them. I managed to get down to my local store and there she was. I read it in the store, like a jerk. Got super excited and bought it, took it home and read it like 10 more times in a week. I was excited for the new story arc. I was excited that after such a traumatic event she didn’t let it completely ruin her. I was excited because she proved that you can rise above horrible experiences and instead of letting them ruin you, you let them forge you like a weapon ready for battle. I know, I know, I am sounding cheesy, but I mean she was that for me, she was my role model! Even now thinking about it I get this tingly energy inside that I just can’t contain- I am so excited over this character, so bloody excited!
When I heard about the New 52 I wasn’t immediately ready to jump to any side regarding her out of the chair. As Oracle she was an inspiration to a lot of disabled people, and now they were just miraculously taking her out of it. It seemed too easy, too good to be true, especially when it was clear that she was meant to be in that chair. It was her destiny. So then DC was changing her destiny, that seemed a little too convenient. But then part of me knew she wanted to be out of that chair, and that was the part of me that was excited. Not for what she meant to fans, not to what it would mean in the new DC Universe, I was happy and excited for her. It was like she was my real life friend, and she was going to walk again, and I was beyond excited for her. I was also relieved when I learned Gail Simone was taking the lead. I loved what she did with Babs in Birds of Prey and I knew if anyone could really truly give Barbara and her fans the respect and care they deserved, it was her. I wrote a pretty elaborate blog entry about it, I don’t think I could keep my feelings about it to myself.
I won’t get into the New 52, that will be another article. I will say though I am immensely excited to get to experience another chapter in Barbara Gordon’s life and career. She helped shape me into the woman I am today–a woman not ashamed to spend all her money on action figures or dress up like a dinosaur and roam around the yard. Sure I am not the athletic, brilliant, crime fighter I dreamed I would be growing up, but Barbara Gordon gave me the guts to be proud of who I am, and to take whatever shit life gives me and make some of the most delicious lemonade Gotham city has ever tasted.
Growing up is hard. Determining your identity, aspirations and what pushes you to accomplish your goals can sometimes take a lifetime. Looking back, I have to admit I’m kind of a weirdo. I’ve always had a tendency to isolate myself from others and become absorbed by books, video games, art, music etc. But I know for a fact if it weren’t for a few people in my life (real or fictional) I’d have never become the person I am today.
When I was twelve I caught my first episode of Sailor Moon at a friend’s sleepover and proceeded to ignore everyone for the rest of the night to stay up and watch the marathon by myself in the other room. It was right then that my Sailor Moon obsession started and has done nothing but blossom since. Why you ask? It’s simple really, watching Sailor Moon led me to discover my inner girl. At the time I saw a lot of myself in Usagi-chan. I was clumsy, bored with school, obsessed with games and let’s be honest, totally boy crazy. But despite all her childish tendencies, I always admired how she was able to stand up and fight when she needed to. I know it’s goofy. Hell, half the episodes consist of group transformations, panty shots and the same cliché catch phrases. But I can’t help it. To this day Sailor Moon still makes me cry and without it I just wouldn’t be the same.
As I’ve gotten older my perspective on life has changed and that has led me to find another completely opposite role model in life; Tank Girl. She’s mean, she’s tough, and completely vulgar but that’s what makes her special. Today, Tank Girl is the girl I wish I could be. I want to kick ass, rob a liquor store, chug some beer and not get fat! Who doesn’t? And it’s not just her, everyone in the Tank Girl universe has a very likeable, couldn’t-care-less attitude which has me completely envious of their lifestyles; out on the road completely free from our wretched consumerist society and all of its bullshit. It’s beautiful! Too bad it’s only fiction, right?
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, does this girl have any real role models? Well, the answer’s yes and his name is John Waters. What a guy! To me all his films are priceless, particularly Cry Baby, Pecker, and Polyester. If only I could get inside his head and catch a glimpse of that genius brain he’s carrying around. Trashy has never seemed this beautiful before! Thank you for that John Waters.
Well now you know my top three, but I have to say with all the charming role model types out there like Tom Waits, Harley Quinn, and Felicia Day I had to make some very tough decisions. But what’s apparent is how each of these individuals has helped shape my outlook on life, love and freedom. Thanks guys, I couldn’t have done it without you.
Who inspires you?
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