geekery

San Diego Comic Con Special Edition: Jenna Busch

Toni Adams
SGLS Team Writer 
San Diego Comic-Con 2014Jenna-Busch-headshot

One of the most extraordinary powerhouses in the geek industry was also the most difficult to meet. After the near misses because of the massive throng of people or crazy,packed schedule, it became like a deranged warped version of Pokemon.  Jenna Busch may be elusive but she is not aloof. Busch is a prolific geek personality and can be found in many,many,many outlets.  She has a strong passion for women in the geek industry and has many projects under her belt to prove it. Here is a bullet list of her current projects:

* she has her own blog

* she created the Legion of Leia

* she works with Geek Nation

* She  is a co-host for Most Craved

* she co-hosted Cocktails with Stan (Lee)

These are just the smidgeon of Busch has done in the geek industry.

Prepare to meet this sword-wielding, Star Wars fangirl.

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You were one of the panelists at the “Dangerous Woman in Comic Con”Panel. What was your favorite part?

Getting a chance to hang out with some of these women. I know Adrienne Curry and Jane Espenson for a long time. Amazing panel of women from different parts of pop culture with really different tastes.

During the panel, I talked about getting the word out there about people already working in the industry. A lot of girls don’t know how many jobs there are in this.

Adrienne, a model and actress, wears cosplay outfits that are more revealing than most cosplayers. Which is still important because a lot of time women in the industry tend to critique each other. We shouldn’t be doing that, we should be standing together.

Then you have Jane,who has been writing in the industry for a long time. Incredibly well respected. The big takeaway  is writing women as full fledged characters with different kinds of strengths. It’s not always have them do what a guy would do and kick ass.

Even though that is awesome.

I know you’re a huge fan of Star Wars. Could you explain about starting the  Legion of Leia?

It came out of the initial Star Wars casting announcement. There was only one woman and then Carrie Fischer returning, and a huge group of guys. Now it has obviously been changed since and there are more amazing  women in the cast, and it’s become more diverse. That’s wonderful!

At the time, I was really upset. I wrote a post on my blog and talked about how when I was a kid, I played as Leia. I would also play a tom if there was another girl in the neighborhood. There weren’t any other female characters to play as.

It just upset me that my niece was only going to see one female character in the Star Wars franchise and my nephew would see a ton of men. I wanted my nephew to see a ton of strong female. Or just see that women populate the world. Even in this fictional galaxy, gender ratio would be 50/50 and that was not represented. Anything that they can do to make it work is wonderful.

There are some strong female characters in Star Wars Rebel and Clone Wars.

Basically Legion of Leia came about because I didn’t just want to be negative or wag my finger. I wanted to do something and I wanted to do something positive.

So I wanted to started profiling women in the industry: Adrienne Curry, Jane Espenson, Bonnie Burton, Gail Simone. We have celebrities and non celebrities.

We have people doing podcasts such as Dr. Andrea Letamendi. She’s been in comics and she does a podcast all about Batman. She is also a clinical psychologist who work with people similar to those in Arkham Asylum.

We also talk to costume designers, character profiles of fictional people we love every Thursday. What we would like to do is sponsor art contest, fiction contest, and hear stories from young women. We would like to partner with the Geena Davis Institute. They notice that 20% of the crowd scene are women and that’s across the board. We’re so used to seeing it that way, that when we do see women, they stand out. It’s very jarring. She talks about maybe gender swapping your characters, like the pilot happens to be a woman.

What we ultimately would love to do is to be able to fund projects for young woman with a project they would like to do. If a woman were to come up to us and tell us about a film or a short, I would like to one day be able to help. We’re not able to do that now, but at some point, that is definitely a goal.

I noticed that the common thread in all of your works seems to empowering women and showcasing women. What would you say your main mission is?

That is the main mission. It’s to really inspire young girls. I was doing a signing at comic con and I had a women bring her son. She wanted to him to see female role models. When I first talked about, people online were wondering if we have to make everything politically correct, do we change the numbers. I just want the whole world to be represented. The par of the goal is that what I’m doing won’t be necessary.It won’t be an issue to deal with any of this. At some point, we don’t have to say it’s a female astronaut, just that we would naturally assume it could be either one.

Is there anyone you idolize or look up to in the geek community?

Absolutely. Definitely Jane Espenson. She is so prolific. If there is a cool show I love, then it’s most likely she worked on it. Amy Berg who writes and produces Eureka and is now working on Da Vinci Demon’s. There are so many.

Then there are those who got me into this universe. Anne Mc Caffrey (Me:YAY!) I am so excited that Warner Brothers is considering this as a franchise. There…there may have been squeals.

She was the most influential woman out there. The first book I read was Dragon Song (first book of the Harper halls trilogy). Which is why I wanted to get into musical theater (that was my first career years ago).I wanted to be a cross between Menolly and Lessa. I hadn’t read anything like that. From there, I always just expected there to be strong women in books, movies, and things. When there weren’t I was surprised. She’s really the reason I had an awareness when I was so young and why it has stuck with me ever since.

For a woman to start in the geek pop culture now, where would you have her start?

If we’re talking movies, then Star Wars. Not…the prequel. They should also get into the Marvel universe right now.

Here’s a story: I had just finished doing a Thor podcast at a store, and a woman came up to me after watching the movie. She was wondering where should she start with the comics, she never read comics before. Then she got reamed for it, saying things like your just into comics because you think Chris Hemsworth is hot. My feeling is that it doesn’t matter how you get into comics.

For comics, I’m very into Saga. Walking Dead of course. Then there is also Fables. If you’re not a comic person, that would be a good way in.

For television…gosh there is so much. For loyalty reasons, Joss Whedon, I would start with Firefly.

I also noticed that your connected with Coz Day Clothing. Could you tell us more about that?

It was a weird way in. I am good friends with someone named Ryan Patrick McGuffy. Years ago he told me about a project he was working on. It was about Showrunners. He was going to do a movie and talk to these people on what it is like to run a show. He would interview people who did all the writing.

coz day launchI had some connections so I helped him with some of the showrunners. He had his own connections with a ton of people: Steve S. DeKnight ( SPARTACUS), Jane Espenson (ONCE UPON A TIME), Bill Prady (BIG BANG THEORY).

I ended up moderating the SPARTACUS panel at San Diego Comic Con 2 years ago and ended up in the movie! We were talking to Coz Day clothing to co-sponsor.  I was currently doing some work with Geek Nation.

During the launch party during SDCC, I was lucky enough to wear the signature slave leia dress designed by Leetal Platt. So it was so cool. I want to wear it everyday. Every day.

I also noticed that you became involved with Cupcake Quarterly?

Yeah!! I love pin-up stuff! I always loved that stuff. A friend named, Elisa Jaeger and this is her baby. She asked me to come and model. So I did one session and I brought a whole bunch of stuff. I have my own swords. We did a star wars piece and I ended up being in the first two issues. The first geek issue and a non geek issue. I was lucky enough to go back again and cosplay as Cersei from game of thrones. Elisa just won the costume contest at SDCC and she got to meet George R.R. Martin. She got the spread I did signed by him. I don’t usually fangirl over movie stars but I do for authors. I am still not over that.

I am notorious for being a ridiculous fangirl. Tears and all. Who else have you fangirled over?

I just interviewed Terry Brooks on his Shanarra series. He was so nice and wonderful. I also met Michael Uslan who bought the rights to Batman in 1979 for a small bit of money because no one wanted him. He’s the reason we got out first Batman movie. I just met him at the British Choice Television awards. He was fascinating and I was lucky he agreed to do a super long interview with me.

Is there anything that people would be surprised to know about you?

People are starting to know it now, but I was a musical theater actress for years. I played Evita for a year and I was actually on the QBC and home shopping network selling deluxe beauty and toothpaste cosmetics. That’s really random.

They might not know that I do the voiceover for the “My little pony” DVD trailer. The voice is terrifying. I have frightened many people with my pony voice.

This is a fun question. I’m stealing this from a person who asked this at a panel Q & A. What would you do during a zombie apocalypse?

I….live in a house with many, many swords. We have an arsenal. 4 light sabers, 4 swords. See, guns run out of ammunition. Swords would be the way to go and I would not leave my house.

I would be the first victim.

What is in your reading arsenal right?

I just finished the first book in the Outlander series. So good! I got to interview the cast and saw the first two episodes. Absolutely love it. I’m about to read a recommended book with a bunch of dragons by Naomi Novik. I think I’m going to do a 14th re reading of the Anne McCaffrey books. My boyfriend bought me a companion and character guide-book. I feel that I’m an expert at the world of Pern.

Do you think you would qualify for a dragon during the egg selection?

I’m gonna say…I would really believe that is the case. If I cannot fly a dragon, then I would be a harper.

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Jenna Busch is one of the positive influences for the female geeks and geeks in general. I appreciate and root for all of her positive messages and tactics. Although trying to keep track of Jenna Busch and all of her extensive network in the geek community can leave you cross-eyed and winded.  She keeps on through, her finger tips on many trend pulses and figures.  She does it all with a great smile, energy, passion, and infectious personality.

The geek masses have agreed. Jenna Busch is currently a nominee for Best Online Personality on Geekie Awards.

 

With every fiber of this fangirl’s soul, I would like to thank Smart Girls Love SciFi, San Diego Comic-Con, and M4 PR company for granting me access for this interview.

 

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