Her Universe hosted its second annual panel at Comic-Con last Thursday, with Ashley Eckstein moderating a panel entitled “What Women Want in their Female Sci-Fi Heroes.” The six announced panelists were Dave Filoni of The Clone Wars, Betsy Mitchell (Editor in Chief of Del Rey), Gail Simone (comics writer, including Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and the upcoming Batgirl), Chris Sanagustin (Senior VP Development & Current Programming for Universal Cable Productions), Bryan Q. Miller (Exec. Story Editor for Smallville, comic writer Batgirl), and Melinda Hsu Taylor (writer/producer- Lost & Medium and Supervising Producer on Touch) . They were joined by unannounced panelist Alison Scagliotti (Claudia on Warehouse 13).
Eckstein started the panel by giving each panelist a question regarding developing female roles in their particular media, especially with the female audience in mind. Watch portions of the panel:
- Introduction of Panelists by Ashley Eckstein
- Chris Sanagustin on making characters accessible to the audience, including a bit about Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome
- Bryan Q. Miller on character vulnerabilities and breaking down the notion that a butt-kicking heroine has to be either a robot or a sexbot
- Betsy Mitchell comparing now to 30 years ago for women sci-fi readers and women writers and editors, and the rise of female-oriented urban paranormal fiction.
- Gail Simone on progress in the portrayal of women in comics, moving past the Women in Refrigerators trope, and the industry’s gradual awareness of growing female readership, and developing female characters.
- Ashley Eckstein commenting on the progress in recognizing that there is a female fan base in science fiction.
- Finishing up with Gail Simone and then Melinda Hsu Taylor on being inspired by sci-fi growing up in Maine, and some of her favorite female characters from science fiction and fantasy.
- Dave Filoni on the process of developing a female Jedi character like Ahsoka Tano and also reading Éowyn as a child.
- Allison Scagliotti on playing her character Claudia Donovan, the women characters of Warehouse 13 and the issues of being a female actor – and being a role model of the cool smart girl.
In the Q&A, Simone, Filoni, and Scagliotti fielded most of the questions, with Filoni and Simone clarifying how their approaches to writing female characters were similar. Even though the panel went over time, the audience remained and the panelists stayed on stage to answer questions about incorporating female biology into developing and portraying female characters, the differences in creating female villains from male villains, predicting the future of the importance (or nonimportance) of being critical of gender for characters (and for creators), and finally ended with a young fan thanking the panelists for making it cool to be a young female fan.