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The Mary Sue is One Year Old Today!

The Mary Sue

It’s hard to believe a year ago today, Jamie and I were coming off of two straight weeks of work getting the site ready, and we were hoping that anyone would look at it at all. That anyone would care about another nerd site, that people who knew what a Mary Sue is would see the wink in our name and read further, and above all, that other geek girls, who so often have a hard time identifying with anything branded as “for women,” would see that there were some geek girls behind this one. It was kind of a crazy time…

Jimmy Fallon mentioned us in his monologue; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was being upstaged by an upstart zero budget volunteer production; Wonder Woman’s television costume had just been revealed and we were still hoping the show would be good; Limor Fried made the cover of Wired; The Hobbit had just started filming after many a pre-production woe; we were just looking at concept art for Brave. Some things weren’t so different, though: BioWare still had to explain to a fan that just having some gay options in a game doesn’t mean there aren’t enough romances for straight male players. Some things hadn’t even appeared on the horizon: The New 52 was but a closely guarded secret, and nobody knew just how bad Green Lantern was going to be, or quite how good Batwoman and Wonder Woman would turn out to be. We didn’t know that an anthology of professional and aspiring female comics artists would become one of the most quickly funded Kickstarter projects in history. And nobody on the site had read The Hunger Games yet.

Since last February 28th, The Mary Sue has got nearly 4,000 posts under its belt, and nearly 40k comments. We hope that we showed you at least a few items of interest. And if we had time to thank you personally for each and every click, well, we would, but we have posts to write for you and I’m pretty sure I know which one you would prefer. …Yes, as long as we’re talking statistics I’m going to tell you what our most looked at post for this year is, but not before I explain my dread for doing so. Because if there’s one thing that a few years of blogging has taught me, it’s that the most popular post on your website is never one that you’re particularly proud of, threw any effort into, or indeed has much to do with your core message. This holds mostly true for The Mary Sue, as well. Among our top ten most popular posts, seven are Power Grids. But the most popular? That honor, as I suspected, goes to this art post of Disney Princesses with tattoos.

But it’s our birthday! So lets open our presents: we decided to get a set of gifts that weren’t just for us, and those gifts are four new ladies to join the cadre of cosplayers you see at the top of the site on every refresh. Three of them we chose beforehand, and the fourth, well, I’ll get to that.

When it came time to design a graphic for a site for geek girls, I didn’t want to go with something very, very stylized, like the basic bathroom-door-style stick figure with glasses idea that was floated. I wanted something that actually represented the diversity of geek women, both in our interests and our backgrounds, instead of merely alluding to it. And I wanted to create a graphic that defied all the stereotypes that surround the idea of a woman who is interested in science, genre fiction, comic books, video games, or cartoons. Stereotypes like “geek girls don’t really exist,” or “girls who play WoW are ugly,” or “girls don’t actually know anything about geek stuff…” you get the idea. What Christianne Goudreau delivered to us was a set of figures whose flexed arms reminded not a little bit of Rosie the Riveter. Their hidden faces helped emphasize the idea that it could be any geek girl embodying that heroic figure, but their visible smiles helped give a “come at me bro” air to all of them. No unattainable model silhouettes here, the figures exuded confidence, both in their own strength and their own aesthetic appeal. We called on Ms. Goudreau again to make us three more logos of ladies dressing like their favorite heroes:

We decided that Storm’s classic 90s costume was our favorite:

We couldn’t resist paying tribute to Nichelle Nichols’ groundbreaking role:

and, well, it’s about time we gave both Disney a nod and had a woman in man’s clothing up there:

They’re already in rotation, and so I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before you find them.

As for the fourth logo, well, we did say we had a present for everybody, right? We don’t know who the fourth new logo is going to be, because you guys are going to choose it, and some of you are going to get prizes for doing it! We’ve got a lot of stuff sitting around the office just waiting for the right occasion to send it to a lucky reader, from Star Wars to X-Men to Transformers and Disney, and we’re going to try to give it all away in this contest. Tune in later today for the details!

And before I go, I should probably say again: thanks for showing up. It’d be a lot lonelier without you.

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