Episode 51: Desi Geek Girls

Episode 51’s covers: Preeti and Swapna stand on either side of Mark Hamill at a convention photo opportunity.

Flourish and Elizabeth talk to another pair of podcast hosts, Preeti Chhibber and Swapna Krishna of the eponymous pop culture podcast. Topics covered balancing joy with critique in pop culture conversations, Star Trek and Star Wars (and the experience of being brown at Star Wars Celebration), traveling cross-country to see “Monsoon Wedding” onstage, the ways that fandom affects a career path, and how a novice can get started reading comics in the year 2017.


Show Notes

[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by Stefsax.

[00:00:53] Want to listen to Desi Geek Girls? Here’s the iTunes link!

[00:03:38] Flourish’s article on Beyonce. She did not get to title it.

[00:05:52]  As is often the case, our interstitial music is by Jahzzar.

[00:07:11] Preeti is @runwithskizzers on Twitter!

An EXTREMELY BOLLYWOOD MOMENT in animated gif format.

[00:08:18] This is actually a talk by Sacha Judd entitled “How the tech sector could move in One Direction”.

You thought Flourish was joking about the standee? Please.

Flourish takes a selfie with her Harry Styles standee.

[00:13:40] Swapna is @skrishna on Twitter!

An animated gif in which BB8 replies to Finn’s thumbs-up by sticking out a protruberance with a lighter on it and lighting it.

[00:25:00] Preeti’s former podcast was “Oh, Comics!”

[00:28:29] Here, have some pictures of Preeti and Swapna at Star Wars Celebration:

Preeti (L) and Swapna (R) take a selfie in front of a life-size AT-AT.
Swapna (L) and Preeti (R) in a posed photo with Riz Ahmed.

[00:34:25] Monsoon Wedding!!

The poster for the film  Monsoon Wedding .

[00:35:40] The famous “Bakwaas” jacket:

Preeti wears a black jacket with “BAKWAAS.” painted five times in white on the back.

[00:48:05] The recommended comics: The Wicked + The DivineSaga; Wicked and the Divine; Saga; all comics by Raina Telgemeier (some are Drama and Smile, Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series! 

[00:50:09] Swapna’s piece on SyFyWire about Black Panther’s cancellation.

[00:52:29] The goods on how diversity definitely didn’t kill Marvel’s sales!

[00:54:54] Swapna recommends Fantom Comics as a great shop!

[01:04:08] As always, please support us on Patreon!


[Intro music]

Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish.

FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for and about fandom.

ELM: This is Episode 51, and we’re shamelessly lifting the title of the podcast of our guests, “Desi Geek Girls.”

FK: Yes, so we’re going to be talking to Preeti Chhibber and Swapna Krishna.

ELM: They are journalists, they are pop culture experts, and they have a relatively new podcast called “Desi Geek Girls” where they talk about things that they’re really into, and I know that they’re both really good critical, when we say “critical media fandom,” I think that they really embody that. I know I follow both of them on Twitter and they tweet a lot and they are very good at being simultaneously super passionate and super critical. It’s like, this kind of platonic ideal of the critical media fandom.

FK: I’m really excited about it because you introduced me to them. I have never met either of them before, so…and I also hadn’t listened to their podcast before they were going to come on, I’m very excited because it’s super fun. It’s so nice to listen to a podcast where you’re like, where just like you said, it hits that balance where you’re like “Oh, you’re so excited about things and you also have good things to say.”

ELM: Yeah. It’s the same way I feel about, if anyone remembers from way back in the day we had Caroline and Anna. Caroline Crampton and Anna Leskiewicz from the New Statesman. It’s a similar sort of thing, they have a pop culture podcast called “SRSLY.” Sometimes I try to listen to certain major cultural criticism podcasts, like a certain one that a lot of people I know really like, and they are so negative about everything. It just makes me want to strangle someone.

FK: [laughing] I think we all know that you have strong feelings about everything, Elizabeth.

ELM: Do you know what I'm talking about and specifically what I’m subtweeting right now? And very specifically this famous cultural conversation podcast, and someone was talking about a movie they really loved that was an old cult classic, and they gave literally a 10-minute speech about everything they loved about it, why they loved it, it was weird and not really popular and it didn’t catch on, and they finished speaking and one of the hosts was like, “I thought that movie was garbage.” And I was like, “Who hurt you? That you felt the need to follow up someone's impassioned 10-minute speech about a movie that obviously wasn’t very popular that they loved with that you thought it was a piece of shit. What is wrong with you.”

FK: I don’t know what makes people do that. [ELM laughs, they talk over each other] I share your rage.

ELM: This was like three years ago that I heard this episode and I was like, “I’m never listening to this again, I cannot handle this.” You need to give equal space to both things. And don’t be needlessly, don’t be a jerk. It wasn’t like she was like “That’s so problematic, you shouldn’t like it, I thought it was bad so I think you’re bad.”

FK: I have trouble with this. I usually, when I like things, I need—it’s not that I don’t want to be critical of them, it’s just that it takes me a cooling-off period, and I know that about myself.

ELM: Yeah, you wrote that article. Like a year ago. Was that a year ago or so? The one about taking things too personally in fandom, and it was pegged to Beyoncé for some reason, but it was good otherwise, except the Beyoncé part was confusing to me?

FK: The Beyoncé part was because the reason the article existed was, somebody asked me to talk about Beyoncé’s fandom, and I was like “I guess I can write something pegged to that? Sure, why not, I’ll try?” And that’s how that came out.

ELM: It was when Lemonade came out so it was like last spring, right? And it was about Beyoncé’s fans rushing to her defense.

FK: Yeah, and it was like “Look, I’ve actually stopped seeing movies that I know I’m gonna care about with some people, because I know they’re gonna want to critique it in a good and useful and I’m gonna enjoy talking to them in a critical way about it, but not the moment I come out of the movie.” The moment I come out of the movie I’m gonna be really excited and happy and I’m not gonna want to want to talk about criticisms even when it is a definitely and obviously bad, like, for instance, the first Hobbit movie which I hate, but I couldn’t…upon walking out of it I wasn’t ready to appreciate how bad it was yet. You know?

ELM: Which is funny!

FK: I needed to cling a little bit.

ELM: You chose to go to the Fantastic Beasts movie with me, and we both were utterly underwhelmed and I think a little disappointed, but I guess it’s sort of like…I trusted you to be like, to understand what that means to me contextually. And I feel like maybe it was mutual, we both knew that if one of us loved it we would have been like “OK!” But if we’re both like “ugh,” which we were, no offense…

FK: Then it would be fine. No, totally. This was the way, also for the second X-files movie, which I actually wish I could get my money back for, and which I nearly…when Nick really kindly and lovingly bought me all of The X-files on DVD as a present once, and he included separately and specially the second X-files movie, and I was so happy and then I opened the second movie and I was like “Oh, I don't want this one.”

ELM: Did you send it back?

FK: No, I still have it, because I couldn’t…once I had it I was like, “Well I guess I’m gonna keep it.”

ELM: You’re a completist just like me! My coworker just called me a completist.

FK: Yeah. You are. Well anyway, point being, though, I appreciate the way they have takes on pop culture cause I feel like…

ELM: Oh my God, yeah, sorry, so off-topic. I mean it’s not off-topic, just kind of a rambling road that we just walked down. So yes. I mean, you guys will see if you’re not already listeners of “Desi Geek Girls,” then maybe this will be what converts you. So…

FK: All right, so should we call them?

ELM: We should totally call them.

FK: All right.

[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, I think it’s time to welcome Preeti and Swapna to the podcast! Hello!

Preeti Chhibber, Swapna Krishna and Elizabeth Minkel, in chorus: Hi!

ELM: Thank you for coming on!

PC: Thanks for having us, we’re very excited!

SK: We are!

ELM: So are we. Oh God, this is a lot of ladies talking at once.

SK: It’s awesome!

FK: OK, so our traditional first question to all guests on the podcast is to talk to us about your fandom…

PC: Oh God.

FK: Existence. Your fannish history, what you’re into, how did you come to identify as a fan?

ELM: OK, but also I think we tend to ask people how the, if that led you to your career—which I’m imagining that for you guys both that’s been a big influence, that you were fannish to begin with. How that intersects.

FK: See, she’s the actual journalist here. [PC laughs]

ELM: Just finessing the question! So who wants to go first?

PC: I can go first.

ELM: OK that’s so, for our listeners, that’s Preeti.

PC: Hi, sorry, yes! I can go first. Preeti.

ELM: K, perfect.

PC: So I am basically a walking exclamation point. When I love, I love deeply and fiercely, and when I like a thing I fall face first into the thing. And it becomes every part of me. So I just like to like things. And if you go back far enough I guess it’s Harry Potter, it’s Bollywood, my youngest fandom experiences are Bollywood, 100%. I was six years old, talking to my mom being like “I’m gonna marry Amir Khan when I grow up!” And she’s like “OK, sure.” I was like a tiny little teenybopper when I was like six for Bollywood actors.

ELM: That’s really impressive. Precocious. [all laugh]

PC: And so it just kind of expanded from there from books and movies and the Backstreet Boys [laughs] when I was in high school…I taught myself to code so I could make a Backstreet Boys website.

FK: That’s so relatable.

ELM: That’s really good, yeah.

FK: Have you seen the article about One Direction fandom leading people to become coders?

PC: It’s not surprising! I think teen fandom influences you and inspires you to do things in order to be a better fan, right? You’re like, “What can I do to make myself more, be more in the community?” And it’s like, you’re in those chat rooms and everyone else has a website so you’re like, “I’m gonna build a website! I can figure this out.”

ELM: Or now you teach yourself how to make a vid, and then you’re like, “I guess now I know how to do video production.”

PC: Or how to do a podcast!

ELM: Yeah. Exactly! So people who are not professionals, who have not used their fandom for professional things, take heed. Heed? Is that the right word?

PC: Yeah!

FK: Yeah, take heed!

ELM: There’s always a post that makes the rounds on Tumblr that’s like, “You think fandom’s worthless? Look at all the skills you have!”

PC: It’s true!

ELM: So go for it!

PC: And I feel like it teaches you early networking…

ELM: Yeah, that’s right!

PC: Right?

ELM: Yeah, precisely! OK, so that’s how you got your job, because you made a Backstreet Boys website.

PC: Yeah, directly. I sent it to, I work at Scholastic during the day and I sent it to the guy who owns Scholastic and he’s like “YOU’RE HIRED. I also love Nick Carter.”

ELM: Oh my God, that would be incredible if it was true. [all laughing]

FK: Well, I will say that everybody at my work did send me a Harry Styles standee for my 30th birthday, so you still have some hope. You should just tell everybody and maybe they’ll come through for you. [all laughing]

PC: Oh no, I don’t want anyone at work to know.

FK: Too late!

ELM: It’s gonna be out there!

FK: This is on the internet!

ELM: It’s gonna have a transcript, it’s gonna be SEO searchable. [all laugh] Sorry. Not cutting that out.

PC: [through laughter] It better be number one. It better be my first Google result.

ELM: That’s really good.

FK: OK OK OK. But continue. From Backstreet Boys…

PC: Backstreet was when I was in high school, it was this AOL starting to become…people had it so you were on the internet more often than I think our parents wanted us to be. If my parents then could see me now they’d be like, SIGH. [all laugh] Loud sighs of disappointment basically. Because at the time when I got in trouble it was like, “You’re not allowed on the computer!” I was like “NO THAT’S MY BACKSTREET BOYS CHAT ROOMS!” [wailing] And it was like, people used to do those newsletters? You’d be like, “Can you host the Nick Carter newsletter this week?” And be like “YES. It’s gonna be background cyan, hot pink text, Comic Sans! With the four pictures in it!”

ELM: Oh, aesthetics were so much better back then.

PC: I know! [laughing]

ELM: What happened?

FK: You say that as though that’s not some of our aesthetic now.

PC: Oh no! We’ve come back full circle, right?

ELM: I’m saying that too many web designers, too much negative space, embrace the colors, people.

PC: Bring back the chaos!

FK: The little construction gifs, little construction men gifs.

ELM: Yeah, that’s right.

PC: YES! And a midi file playing.

ELM: Yeah, automatically playing [through laughter] against your will!

SK: I don’t need the autoplay. [all laughing]

FK: It’s like the chlamydia of websites. [full span of nothing but laughter] I’m sorry Swapna.

SK: GIANT SIP OF WATER and I almost spit it out everywhere! [all still laughing]

FK: Sorry!

ELM: Oh man. Flourish. Don’t drink anything right now. OK! So, so fast forward a little bit, when you went on to the workplace, and I don’t mean to make this very separate interviews cause I obviously want to talk to you two at the same time [all laugh] did you kinda hide your fannishness at first or did you always lean into it? I’ve been using the term “lean in” too much, I apologize in advance.

PC: I did lean into it. When I interviewed for my first job in children’s publishing, I went into my interview and I realized the woman I was interviewing with had a High School Musical pen, and a mug, and I was like “I LOVE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL!”

ELM: That’s fantastic.

PC: And I got that job and I am 100% convinced that she was like, “Oh, this girl is relatable.” I was like “Zac Efron? YES. Same.”

ELM: That’s great, so that’s been an asset for your whole career then, right? Just enthusiasm.

PC: It has, cause I think you have to love what you do. I mean, not have to. But it helps if people can tell that you love what you do, and they treat you like you know…they know that you know what you’re doing, because they see how much you love it and they know you spend time on it. So now I work in young adult books, pretty much exclusively, and people know that they can come to me for recommendations, they can come to me for what’s coming, and my bosses know and my bosses’ bosses know. It’s a fact because I am very vocal about it, because I am a fan, and they know that it’s not disingenuous.

FK: That’s awesome.

ELM: That is awesome. All right.

FK: All right, Swapna, now you’re in the hot seat.

ELM: Now you have to go back the cradle.

SK: Yes, I’m ready!

ELM: The very beginning!

SK: I guess I started out on Star Trek fandom. That was, I’d say, definitely my first fandom. Star Trek or Star Wars, honestly I can’t remember which but I will say as a kid I was more into Star Trek simply because there was more of it. For Star Wars there were three movies; Star Trek it was The Original Series and Next Gen when I was really young and then Deep Space Nine and Voyager as I got older and also Enterprise, but I…can’t say I ever really got into that one…BUT. So yeah, I was a Star Trek fan, full nerd, went to conventions, dressed up, I met LeVar Burton a few years ago [Flourish hugely gasps] And we became best friends over my…cause yes, LeVar Burton and I are best friends. [all laugh] We are! We became best friends over me telling him how I dressed up as him for Halloween [all awwwww] when I was a kid and I made my own visor out of a yellow headband and duct tape. So I was into it. My parents were a little weirded out at how into it I was.

And so as I got older always been a Star Trek fan, always been a Star Wars fan, and then as I got older I kind of started moving towards making fandom, making a career out of fandom. So now I’m basically a journalist and I work in, I write about halfway between…half of my work is sci-fi, science fiction and fantasy, and half my work is actually space NASA science, spaceflight journalism. So it’s kind of, it’s my…cause I was a huge space geek as a kid as well, and that stemmed from being a Star Trek fan.

So yeah, I definitely turned my fandoms as a kid into my career now. Which is great, it’s awesome, because I wake up every day and I can’t believe I have the job I have.

FK: Can I just say that it was incredibly hard to avoid immediately making a STEM pun when you said “stemmed from.”

ELM: Wow, Flourish.

FK: I’m sorry, that's where my mind went instantly.

ELM: You think you’re the comic relief, you think that’s comedy? [all laugh] Can I just say I love that…OK. Do you think, chicken-and-egg, space and sci-fi. Is it just, did one of them come first? Or did you always love, did you love these properties because they were set in space and you love space?

SK: I loved them because I, as a brown kid growing up in Oklahoma, I saw myself in science fiction. I mean, it was. I saw myself in Geordi LaForge in The Next Gen, yes. I'm South Asian, he is black, but I saw somebody who looked something like me. Uhura, and Sulu on The Original Series, I saw people who looked something like me on screen as opposed to so much of the other stuff I was consuming wasn't as relatable. I saw people I wanted to be. It was very much an “I can do anything.” And Star Trek actually is what got me interested in engineering, which is what got me interested in space.

ELM: Gotcha.

SK: So that’s how it goes. And I’m talking at a really young age, probably like six or seven. My parents bought me a technical manual of the Starship Enterprise and I used to read through the technical manual for me.

FK: Hold up…

ELM: Does Flourish have this behind her? She’s looking at her bookshelf right now.

FK: I don't have it right behind me. I have it in another room.

SK: I still have it!

FK: I own the technical manual from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

SK: And as an Indian kid it is my parents' utter consternation that instead of being an engineer I write about [drowned out by laughter] But still, it influenced my…it influenced me. As much as I do love Star Wars, and I’m a bigger Star Wars fan now probably than Star Trek, but Star Trek was the most formative influence in my life, hands down.

ELM: One thing I really love about that, I obviously love the story of representation and seeing yourself in things, but the space idea too…I feel like, do you know how many random things I learned so much about because of fandom? People are like “Why!” I was just at Flourish’s house the other day, and I just bought the Odyssey, which I’m gonna read—which I haven’t read in 15 years—to write a fanfic. [PC laughs] Cause the character in the show that I’m writing about references it once. Right? And it’s like…I feel, all right, I don’t want to say I feel like a loser telling people outside fandom this, but I might not tell people outside of fandom why I’m reading this giant stack of random books.  You know what I mean? But I love that you were able to parlay that into…you know what I mean?

SK: Yeah, it is shocking…it actually is shocking how much this pop culture thing, how much influence it had on my life. It sparked so many interests for me, and I think watching Star Trek is why I’m so interested in representation and those kinds of issues as an adult, but it’s also just why I think space is so cool and why I think science is really cool. Yeah. It’s, I can’t really stress how much it meant to me and how much it still does.

FK: It’s really funny cause I feel like for a long time I used to argue that “Oh no, people know the difference between what's on TV and what’s in real life, people understand the difference between these things, they’re not the same and we know it,” all of this. And yet when I look at it, I have similar stories to you guys, I know Elizabeth does in terms of being inspired when you were a kid by your fandoms. But even I look to today and I’m like, “Yeah, would I really be into weightlifting so much if not for Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica?” Almost certainly not.

ELM: That’s why you go to weightlifting? Reveal things to me, Flourish. [all laugh]

FK: Wait you didn’t know I like powerlifting?

ELM: I know you like powerlifting but I thought it was cause you were like a tech bro or something. [Long pause, lots of laughter] I don’t know! All I know!


ELM: In the valley they love getting swole! I don't know if you’ve heard, it’s the new thing!

FK: I do love getting swole, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly because of Starbuck.

PC: That is amazing.

ELM: That’s so much better than if it was because of Silicon Valley.

FK: Why would it be because of Silicon Valley?

ELM: [laughing] I don’t know!

FK: I don’t know how you would ever think…anyway…this is all incredibly beside the point.

ELM: OK, all right. I wanna know about what brought you guys together.

SK: Oh God. [both laugh]

ELM: Do you have a meet-cute story? Did you run into each other in a bookshop?

SK: We were friends through Twitter…

PC: Yeah, we were internet friends…

SK: Brown people who love nerdy things…

PC: See, here’s the thing about being brown: you tend to, being brown and creative, in creative industries, you tend to find the other ones. Cause there are not that many of you.

SK: There are not a lot of us.

PC: So I was like, I think I was talking to Eric Smith who is a friend of both of ours and he was like, “You know this brown girl who has a book blog?” and I was like “WHAAAT.”

SK: [laughing] I did not know this story!

FK: Yes! We’re facilitating better friendship! [all laugh] Fansplaining: bringing people together!

PC: Yeah, and then, it was Bookriot, I guess?

SK: And we both went to Bookriot, and then I took over Panels, which was Bookriot’s comics website for a while, and I was managing editor there. And it was just kind of, it was really…our friendship really crystallized around the trailer…. [over Preeti laughing] This is when we went over pretty good internet friends to being best mind-twin friends. Platonic soulmates.

PC: Straight up bosom buddies.

SK: Yes. The release of the Force Awakens trailer. Because Preeti and I went down such the weirdest rabbit holes of fan theories.

ELM: Oh my God.

SK: All hours of the day for like three months we would just get on Gchat first thing in the morning and start talking to each other about “OK, I was thinking last night about Luke and BB-8, and…” without saying “hi” or “hello” or anything. For months it went on like this.

PC: You’re like “Look at this picture I found of Mark Hamill’s hand. Now look at this screenshot of the trailer of the hand.”


PC: Are they the same hand?

SK: That’s a really small hand! Then I google “Mark Hamill small hands.” Literally. [all laughing] I am not making this story up. This is really what happened.


PC: That hand is so small! Does he have small hands! I don’t know!

SK: Yes.

ELM: He’s a small guy, right?

SK: And then we also were basically the only two people on the internet where absolutely our favorite character in Star Wars was Luke Skywalker.

ELM: I have people on my dash that you could meet.

SK: There aren’t a lot.

ELM: If you want more. I understand that it’s a minority faction, but.

FK: Wait wait wait hold up, I really like Luke…

SK: But he’s not your favorite.

PC: Is he your favorite?

ELM: Who’s your favorite, Flourish? Flourish doesn’t like male characters.

FK: I don’t, I have to say that it is neck and neck with Mara Jade though and they usually come as a pair in the Extended Universe, so…I like Luke more because he has the good taste to like Mara Jade.

SK: He does!

ELM: That’s great, that's the ultimate female gaze. I like him via this woman.

FK: That’s so accurate!

ELM: SO. All right. So you guys became best friends over your fan theories which I am assuming were all jossed. Did any of them come true? All your speculation?

PC: Our speculations were such garbage! They were so bad! I look back now and I’m like, “Uh…” No one knew anything.

ELM: Just wild speculation.

PC: Tiny glimpses.

SK: I think the one thing that I did say that came true was I was like, “There’s no way BB-8 is actually Rey’s droid cause she’s too poor to have such a nice droid.” And that was right and I think that might be the only thing.

ELM: [over all laughing] Good observation!

FK: Well spotted.

ELM: Like a class, Marxist reading of the trailer!

SK: But it was true!

ELM: It’s true.

SK: I can’t think of any! I also can’t think of half of them.

PC: I know I feel like…

SK: They were so crazy.

PC: It was not good. It was like two in the morning and we were like freeze framing the trailer and being like “OK.” Which we did for the new one too, by the way. I watched that new trailer like 17 times in a row.

SK: So many times. I’m almost at a point where I’m like, “All right, I need something new to focus on cause I’ve seen it too many times.”

ELM: All right. So it’s not about the observations, it’s about the lifelong friendship you made along the way.

PC: Yes.

ELM: Yes. OK. Did you guys collaborate before you started the podcast, or is this your first collaboration?

PC: We wrote posts together…

SK: Yeah, so at Panels in BookRiot…we’ve written posts together and stuff like that…

PC: Well, “Oh, Comics!” you guested on “Oh, Comics!”…

SK: Yes, I guested on “Oh, Comics!” which was the Panels podcast a couple times, Preeti was one of the regular hosts, but I think this was our first kind of regular collaboration. People might argue our Twitter accounts are a collaboration. [all laugh] Half my tweets are to Preeti. But…yeah. I think this is our first official collaboration.

ELM: OK, so for anyone who hasn’t listened, can you talk about, can you talk a little bit about it, but also why you guys wanted to start it?

PC: Sure! “Desi Geek Girls” kind of came from my podcast had ended, “Oh, Comics!” ended, in fall of last year, and I was kind of missing having an avenue to talk about geeky stuff and also we had joked about starting a podcast that was for women of color.

SK: For years. I feel like we’d been talking about it for like a year.

PC: We both sort of finally had the time, I guess, and one day we were like “We should just do this. We should just have this space for us, this safe space where we could talk about fandom and culture and race and that kind of stuff, and not feel like we have to explain it.” Because there is an immediate understanding here which is really nice. I’m North Indian and Swapna is South Indian so there’s a small cultural divide, but we’re both first gen Indian Americans, and so we have much more in common than we do different in terms of our culture. And I think that’s where it came from.

SK: Yeah, and I think it’s just a place to be positive and excited about something rather than…I feel like first, the internet’s first reaction to everything is to tear it down. And we love some problematic things and that’s OK, and we want to enjoy them, of course, but also be able to talk about where they’re problematic without tearing them down or, you know, we love these. Everything is problematic, that’s OK, let’s talk about why and still celebrate the fact that we like them. That’s OK, and I feel like sometimes Twitter makes it difficult to like things that are problematic.

Because every time you say “Oh I love this thing,” people come into your mentions like “Let me talk to you about why it’s terrible.” I know it's terrible, I’ve just spent the five minutes tweeting about why it’s terrible. I still love this thing, that’s OK! And so it was, I think, almost a refuge for me.

PC: Yeah. Same.

ELM: So, I would say, I’m trying to remember the wording you guys used. “Through an Indian lens” is part of the way that you describe the work that you’re doing on the podcast, and I mean maybe the way that you describe your work in general. And I’m interested about how you see that balance in terms of…I guess I wouldn’t say it seems like you’re centering it so much as saying exactly that, “It’s a lens. We’re not here explicitly to only talk about,” you know. “We’re here to talk about everything involved in our fannishness and geekiness or whatever, but just FYI, this is…this is the way we’re going to see the world.” How would you, that’s not a very clear question, I apologize.

SK: Well, I think I get at what you're trying to ask. And I think with Preeti and me in both of our work, generally, that we’ve done as fans before we met each other, after we met each other, and the work we’ve done together has been kind of lifting up South Asian voices. We’ve both worked really hard to find people of our community doing great work and talk about them and spread the word about them. So it was always, I don’t think there was ever a question—and Preeti, pardon me if I’m wrong—but I don’t think there was ever a question that we would do it through the lens of being Indian. A big part of that is because a lot of what we both discuss is what it’s like to be a brown fan in mostly white fandom spaces.

ELM: Sure.

SK: It is, and I think that’s a…I hope that’s a valuable perspective, and I think it’s important to talk about it. For example, Preeti and I went to Star Wars Celebration earlier this year which was amazing, but one of the first things we both noticed when we walked in was that it’s super white. Which is not necessarily representative of Star Wars fandom. I feel like Star Wars fandom is pretty racially diverse, but this con, I think the people who can make it, you know, to the con and such and put a priority on it are, it was very white. So it’s just interesting to look at it from that lens and through that lens. I think we both just enjoy having a space to talk about that because, you know, I think like one of you said, we do see…it’s just how we experience the world. You know? That’s how we experience our fandom naturally, it’s not something we can take on and off.

PC: I think that’s sort of what I was gonna say. You can’t disconnect the two. They’re always, one experience will always feed the other, so you can’t help but notice or like Swapna said, walking into a space where it’s largely white, and you’re immediately like, “Well, OK. This is what this is like.”

FK: Yeah! I mean I think that…the thing that makes me interested about it is that I think a lot of times when people talk about race and fandom spaces there’s an assumption that if you’re gonna talk about race at all it’s because you’re coming from a very activist perspective. Right? You’re going to be like, calling out every…and that’s not necessarily the only way to think about race in a fandom perspective at all. In fact most people think about race often, but not from that perspective, cause they just happen to be watchin’ a thing they like and can’t disassociate themselves from the race they are.

PC: Exactly. You’re always…I’m always aware, always. When people say this idea of being colorblind, it’s not. You can’t. It’s not true. You can’t. No people of color can just be like…“I guess I’m nothing now. I am a clear color. I guess.” You are constantly…

ELM: That would be gross if you were clear. That would be so gross.

PC: It’s like Inside Out! [over all laughter] Sorry. [continuous laughing] So you’re always always aware. Constantly aware of what…and you know, we talked about Rogue One earlier and the lack of female representation, but every single man in that cast is a man of color.

ELM: Totally.

SK: And that matters.

PC: Huge huge huge deal. When Swapna and I went to Star Wars Celebration we met Riz Ahmed and it was incredible and it was validating and it was this moment of like, pure recognition and it’s, it kind of gave us this moment of like, “We do belong here. There is a reason that we are…” Not that he’s the reason. But we had never felt from Star Wars before that our…

SK: We existed in this universe.

PC: Exactly! Thank you.

SK: Mind twins! [all laugh]

PC: I was like…where are the words…!

FK: Yeah, I mean, that...obviously not all oppressions are the same oppressions, they don’t exist equivalently by any means, but it seems extremely relatable to think of that in terms also of another oppression that we actually do share, which is seeing a female X-Wing pilot, you know? Being like “Shit! I sort of knew I could be an X-wing pilot, but I definitely know I could be an X-wing pilot now!” You’re like, “In theory this was obvious, but in actuality there they are!”

PC: And it stops you from, when I was a kid and I’m sure everyone has this experience, when you’re a kid and you wanted to be a Disney Princess, it was like, “Well, you can be Jasmine? I guess?”


PC: And you’re like, “Cool.” [sighs heavily]

FK: I hope you like tigers. [laughing]

PC: I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE BEEN THE MERMAID, BUT. I guess I’ll be the brown one.

ELM: Is that the princess you would want to be? The Little Mermaid?

PC: I mean The Little Mermaid came out when I was nine, and so YES. [laughing] That was the one.

ELM: That was the one that imprinted on you the strongest. I was curious.

PC: I mean I love Aladdin, definitely, but…I, like, straight up wanted to be Ariel.

FK: I feel like there is nothing quite like having the moment when the princess who is perfect for you comes out at the time when you are perfect for the princess, which for me was Belle, and it was like…AHHH. You know? Cause it was just so, ooh. And I can’t, I hope everybody has that opportunity in the future, because it truly is a magical moment. And imagine: white men feel this all the time!



PC: No wonder the…

SK: I CAN'T. [all laughing]

ELM: I feel left out. I’ve never related to a princess, you guys, what do I do?

SK: I know, same actually! I was thinking that and I was like “Aw.”

ELM: K good.

SK: I mean Princess Leia, I guess. Like, that was my princess. [laughs]

ELM: Yeah, no. Not really my bag. But that’s fine. [all laughing]

FK: Oh no, now I feel guilty.

ELM: Yeah. You thought you were saying “Yes all women!” Look at that.

FK: I feel so called out right now!

ELM: Yeah you should! You’re the most problematic person here.

FK: AHHHH. [everyone else laughing] Oh I hate you forever. All right. I think it’s time for a break, and then we’ll continue the conversation!

[Interstitial music]

ELM: OK so we’ve talked a little bit about your approach, but mostly on your podcast it seems like you are just talking about stuff that you’re enthusiastic about, or you know, criticism and enthusiasm—obviously they go hand in hand. I’m wondering, I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about some of the stuff that you are into right now, and Preeti, I know you just went to, flew across the country to go to something, right? Which is admirable. I understand.

PC: Yeah, so a friend of mine, also Indian American, messaged me four months ago going “Do you want to go to San Francisco for a weekend? Cause they’re doing a stage production of this 2001 Mira Nair movie Monsoon Wedding.” And I said yes. Like, immediately. Not because I’m necessarily this huge Mira Nair fan or something, I do like the movie, I haven’t seen it in 12 years probably…

ELM: You didn’t rewatch it before you went?

PC: No! No I did not. I wanted to be fresh, because I saw Amélie recently and I hadn’t rewatched the film and I liked it a lot more than my sister did who had just rewatched the movie. So I was like, “I’m not gonna rewatch it, I’m just gonna go,” cause I feel very much that as South Asian nerds and fans we have to put our money where our mouth is when we can and support creatives who are South Asian, because it is still really hard to do the thing. When you’re going up against…so we flew to San Francisco to see Monsoon Wedding and it was amazing. I had the most Indian weekend of all time.


ELM: Say more!

PC: We show up, my friend Rue [?] wears this amazing jacket that was very much inspired by Gujarati fashion, so it’s like, colorful with mirror-work and just really shiny. I wore this jacket my sister got me that’s like…


PC: It’s Desi street style, Desi means Indian person, Desi street style that just says “BAKWAAS” all down the back, and “bakwaas” means bullshit.

ELM: Oh that’s amazing, and we’re putting a picture in the show notes if you’ll let us please!

PC: Yes, of course!

ELM: OK thank you.

PC: So we look Desi as hell, rolling up to this show, we walk in, they’re serving chai and pappadum and all this Indian food as show snacks, these peanuts covered in a really delicious spicy masala mix…so good. We’re in the second row.

ELM: So nice!

PC: And it’s like a small theater because they’re workshopping it, hoping to get it to Broadway next year, and the entire cast is South Asian, the audience is easily 60% South Asian, and the show proceeds to be mostly in English but a solid amount is in Hindi and they have these jokes that work on multiple levels if you are a Hindi speaker, which was really really fun. I was gonna tell one, but I’m like it’s not…it’s not funny. [laughs]

ELM: It might work for some our listeners!

PC: [laughing] So there's this character in the play, Dubey, and he’s fallen in love with one of the servant girls, and he says “something something happens in my heart.” And he says it in English. Swapna just got it! [everyone shouts] My friend Rue and I lost our minds because he basically said the name of this very famous Shah Rukh Khan movie called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

SK: One of THE most famous Indian movies.

PC: We were…it was so funny because you could hear the spots of laughter in the audience of people who got it. It was just this really great experience. During the intermission the row in front of me were these like, much older white people who were so thoroughly enjoying themselves, but [laughing] one of them turns to the other and she’s like, “I just don’t understand it.” And her friend’s like “What?” And she’s like “That girl was Christian?!” Because…

ELM: Oh my God.

PC: Because one of the characters is Christian and she just couldn't understand how there was a Christian Indian person in the play…

FK: Wait really?

PC: Yes! Because there are…

ELM: How many millions of Christians are there in India? Like…

PC: So many!

SK: SO MANY. I don’t even know, but it’s not a small minority.

ELM: No, it’s not like there's ten thousand people, it’s like millions.

PC: Amazing.

ELM: I remember, her name is Alice, right?

PC: Alice! Yeah.

ELM: I remember that very distinctly.

PC: So all of that happened and it was incredible and the play was so fun, and then afterwards there was a Q&A with the cast and Mira Nair was there.

ELM: Oh wow.

PC: We got invited to hang out with the cast and her and so we had dinner and…

FK: On the strength of your jacket?

PC: They did, they were obsessed with the coats. They went over very well.

ELM: That's incredible!

PC: And then we ended up inviting some of the cast members to come to this Bollywood dance party Saturday night and so we partied with them! [laughing] And danced to Bollywood songs! It was the most amazing.

ELM: That’s so good.

PC: There was immediate understanding, immediate, again, validation, so much of this is about validation and recognizing that you belong there and it matters that you exist in that space, and you can support those things, it was just really…it’s not a feeling we get very often, because there is, it is so few and far between, you know, these large events that happen that are specifically catered to where you’re from and the languages you speak. So it was just really cool to have basically two full days of that and not have to worry about…not second guessing and not thinking about everything you’re saying and making sure that it’s not too…not that you always do this, but that it’s not too Indian and not too foreign.

SK: Yeah.

ELM: Sure. You feel like it gave you the space to kind of…so one thing that we were talking about recently, because we had guests on from Con or Bust, which sends fans of color to conventions, and they were both people of color and we were talking about this, the idea of not really being able to let your guard down, waiting for the other shoe to drop when you're in fandom. And obviously you have old white ladies in front of you saying microaggressions or whatever, just ignorant things, but I’m wondering how that contrasts when you are in what you feel is a white dominated fandom space. I don’t know why I said “what you feel,” what is a white dominated fandom space actually. [all laugh] You know what I mean?

PC: Yeah.

ELM: Do you feel like you can’t really fully let go and get in there and be your full fannish self? You guys are super fannish!

SK: I think it depends. So definitely for example, I used the example of Celebration earlier, and when we walked in it was definitely like “Oh, do we belong here?” Cause there are some very toxic elements of Star Wars fandom. The vast majority of Star Wars fandom's great but there are some incredibly toxic elements of Star Wars fandom. So it was very much like “Are people gonna say something?” And we ended up being so nerdy! [all laugh] And so…we did not have a single, everyone was so nice, we did not have a single negative encounter with any of the fans, but there’s always that niggling voice in the back of your head that asks “Do I belong here? Am I really a part of this?” And when you're in an environment like Preeti described, when it’s all just brown people, that little voice isn’t there.

PC: And you feel safe. We went to Star Wars celebration in April which is right when there were a slew of shootings that had happened to people of Indian descent in America and so it was like, part of that’s in your head and you’re like, “I have to sort of be as quote-unquote ‘American’ as I can be to prove that there’s nothing to fear.”

SK: Yeah.

PC: And so it is kind of, you put a dampen…a dampening a little bit on the cultural identity.

ELM: Sure. And you probably wouldn’t go into that space saying “I’m gonna,” bringing up some discourse points around race and Star Wars. I mean maybe you would, I don’t know, but.

PC: You could, though, you know?

SK: Preeti, well, Preeti [laughing] I can actually tell a story about this, Preeti wanted to make a shirt beforehand [PC laughing] that said…cause she made her own shirts for the con and they were excellent but one of the ones she wanted to make was “Star Wars, now with fans of color.”

PC: No no no, I wanted it to be “Star Wars, now in color” but with browns and tans.

ELM: That’s really good.

SK: Because Rogue One had lots of people of color. And I was just like, “Eh, we’re going to Florida, to a Star Wars convention. I just don’t know if this is going to invite people walking up to you and saying terrible things.”

ELM: So you didn’t do it, but your instinct was that you wanted to do it.

PC: Oh yeah.

FK: I guess, if you decide that you’re willing to have those terrible thing conversations then maybe…you know what I mean.

PC: It’s not necessarily conversations…

FK: Like carrying a sign that says “Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you,” it’s like you’re gonna have some of the conversations then.

SK: Yeah and you shouldn’t have to. You should be able to celebrate that aspect of Star Wars fandom without second guessing…and now it might be a little different, but…we just come off those shootings, and it’s going to Florida, which is, you know, and it’s Star Wars fandom is also, like I said there’s just really toxic aspects.

FK: Well, and it’s also if you’re carrying a sign saying “queer as in fuck you” that’s pretty aggressive language, whereas “Star Wars: now in color” is not aggressive and yet you still have to prepare for the same type of reaction.

ELM: Yeah, but would people still think that’s aggressive because white people are ridiculous fools.

FK: That’s what I mean, that’s what I was saying.

ELM: Yeah. That’s the takeaway. White people are… [all laugh] We didn’t need a podcast to figure out that white people are ridiculous fools. It’s fine. Yeah. You and me.

SK: We’ve all learned something today. [over laughter]

FK: I like to imagine that everybody is a good person but some people are misguided.

ELM: Nope. Sorry. [all laugh more]

FK: This is my relationship with Elizabeth in a nutshell over every topic.

ELM: Oh my God. That’s something Preeti has done recently, Swapna, is there any fannish stuff that you’ve been really into recently?

SK: Oh my God I was thinking about this and all I can think of, Preeti’s gonna laugh so hard, CYCLING.

FK: Wait, cycling.

SK: This is one of my weirdest fandoms that I cannot explain and even Preeti does not understand, even though she loves it. And embraces it in a general “I love that you love it, but I will not watch it” sense.

PC: That’s true.

SK: So I am obsessed with men’s professional cycling.

ELM: Like the Tour de France. Outside.

SK: Yeah, the Tour de France. [yelling] TOUR DE FRANCE STARTS IN A WEEK AND I’M SO EXCITED, OH MY GOD.

FK: Can I just say I’m so glad to hear that there’s somebody else who’s nerdy about…

ELM: Some random sport? Yeah. Some RANDOM sport, though.


ELM: No it’s great!

SK: To be enthusiastic about, but I love it. I am obsessed with it. So I am watching right now the Tour de Suisse, which is the tour of Switzerland, just finished, so I’m catching up on that before the Tour [de France] starts, and we’re in the depth of cycling right now, cycling season right now, cause the Tour de France is about to start, the Giro d’Italia which is the tour of Italy just ended, and it’s just, it’s so great to be a cycling fan right now. I LOVE IT.

ELM: That was a lot of enthusiasm and not at all what I was expecting.

SK: I know! Everyone’s like, “Really? That?” I’m like “Oh my God.” Right now that and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman’s the other thing I’m really enthusiastic about right now.

FK: So it’s interesting because speaking of Wonder Woman, I've been trying to understand more about comics, and this is a little bit transitioning because I have a bee in my bonnet.

ELM: What a smooth transition this is.

FK: It’s a bad smooth transition. It’s a non-smooth transition. It is a rough transition and yet it is one I'm going to achieve because I have a bee in my bonnet about it because both of you guys really like comics and are engaged with comics, and I am trying to embrace that part of myself more. And hoping that at San Diego Comic-Con this year I can experience it more from a comics point of view than from a sort of general pop culture point of view. And I'm interested in hearing about what you guys have to say about comics being a woman and a fan of color in comics, but also recently I realized that the Wonder Woman comics currently are about Wonder Woman’s brother and they’re written by a dude, the new ones…what’s the comics landscape like right now in this moment where we have Marvel and DC is clearly finding its feet for more people than it used to have engaged, I don’t know…

PC: Well…

SK: Well…


SK: No it’s not about the transition, it’s that I don’t have good things to say!

FK: Oh shit.

PC: No, well wait!

SK: About Marvel and DC right now.

PC: Well, that’s the thing.

SK: What those two companies are doing. Comics as a whole, there are some really awesome things happening. Marvel and DC specifically, I’m so frustrated with those companies right now.

FK: Well, let’s talk about comics as a whole! What should I be looking at that’s not Marvel and DC? Because what I mostly know to look at is Marvel and DC.

PC: If you’re looking for Image…every publishing, publishing in general whether it’s books or comics or whatever is broken, so deeply.

ELM: Correct.

PC: SO SO SO DEEPLY. But there’s The Wicked + The Divine, which is an incredible series out from Image. Saga, of course.

SK: Yes.

PC: Scholastic has some great stuff under their graphics line, like I love Raina Telgemeier, I think her stuff is really good. Kazu Kibuichi also, the Amulet series. There’s a lot of good stuff that's happening in the comics world. What the comics publishers need to figure out is how to…how to talk to the people who are actually reading the comics, and not the people who they think are reading the comics.

ELM: Sure.

PC: That’s, they’re canceling books before they even have a chance to make it to trade, which is where a lot of fans of color and women pick up books.

ELM: Wait, can you tell me what that means? I don’t know how comics work.

PC: So single issues come out weekly. It’s usually a 22-page stapled floppy comic.

ELM: Sure. What I think of as a comic book, a little thing.

PC: Yeah, a regular comic book.

FK: The kind you put in a longbox if you want to keep it.


PC: Then they’ll bind them up into six, usually five to seven issues, into one trade volume that you can pick up at Barnes & Noble or wherever you are.

ELM: It’d be like a heavier softcover? I feel like I’ve seen this.

PC: Yeah it’s a paperback, you can sometimes get them hardcover if they’re deluxe, but a paperback, $14.99, something like that. Bound-up series. Which is how a lot of people discover new comics, is from a Volume One. Versus an Issue One.

SK: Because that’s where you can pick up at bookstores, that’s what you can pick up at libraries, that’s the easiest route. And comics, floppies or issues, you can only get at comic shops.

PC: It’s a barrier to entry for readers.

ELM: I know so many people who would not step foot in a comic book shop.

SK: Right, and there’s a reason for that.

PC: But comic book publishers don’t look at trade sales. They don’t look at Barnes & Noble sales, they don’t look at trade volume sales, they base everything on single issue sales.

SK: So here’s an example…

ELM: Like…WHY? Go ahead.

SK: It makes us both so mad!

ELM: Yeah, it makes me mad!

SK: So recently, I wrote, I actually wrote a piece on this for SyFyWire, but Marvel recently canceled Black Panther: World of Wakanda, which was co-written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay.

FK: Wait they canceled that?

ELM: Didn’t you hear, Flourish?


ELM: Diversity doesn’t sell, they said. [all speaking over each other]

FK: What the fuck.

SK: So they recently canceled that…

FK: Literally all the people who would read that are people who would buy it in paperback though!

SK: So they canceled it, six or seven issues have released, and the trade release is later this month. It has not released yet. [someone sighs heavily] Yeah! So they canceled that and for those of you, people who aren’t aware, it’s a queer love story between two women of color. And it is basically tailor-made for the new readers that Marvel needs to bring in in order to survive. Marvel and DC are struggling really badly and they so badly need new readers.

FK: And it’s by Ta-Nehisi and Roxane Gay!

SK: Yeah! It's all by Roxane Gay! It is, on so many levels…and they canceled it two days after Black Panther was one of the most watched Marvel trailers. It…on so many levels it’s stupid.

PC: It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because there’s this idea that women don’t read comics, that people of color don’t read comics, whatever, and it’s because they’re not marketing in the way that they should be marketing. They’re trying the one-size-fits-all, “We’ve always done it this way so why doesn’t this work?” And it doesn’t work because you have to talk to people in the spaces that they are and not expect them to come to you. Cause that’s so arrogant. It’s just so frustrating when you’re like, “You have…” Because Marvel has a lot of bad new stuff happening right now, but they also have good comics coming out by strong writers, you know?

SK: Like America, America is written by—America Chavez’s solo series is currently being written by a queer Latino woman and the whole creative team I believe is Latino/Latina/Latinx. They have really good stuff coming out.

PC: It’s just they're not, I love when they came out and said “People say they love diversity, but they’re not buying it!” And then the internet basically called bullshit and was like, “We’re gonna get the actual numbers and show you that your best-selling characters are Ms. Marvel—Kamala Khan, Miles Morales…”

SK: Kate Bishop.

PC: Characters from marginalized backgrounds being bought by people who want them. But they’re just being bought in Barnes & Noble and not a comic book store. And they, for whatever reason, they’re all…the company, and DC is same way, they don’t…

SK: Same way.

PC: They don’t look at the trade volumes and it’s so short-sighted.

SK: And my frustration with World of Wakanda is that it shouldn’t even have been released in issues. It should have been released…because there are financial arguments you can make, and valid ones, that Marvel, the way their pay structure is, they pay people per issue, so it’s hard for them to wait until…they have to be making money on a book by a certain amount of time. But if you release something as a graphic novel…

ELM: Right.

SK: Then you, you know, you take away a lot of those issues. And they have for some comics. For example, Squirrel Girl is an incredibly popular comic that sells so poorly in issues but does really well in trade. And they’ve kept it around and they released a standalone Squirrel Girl graphic novel that did really well. So they’re starting to do it, but they’re applying it so haphazardly and they’re not giving these really great comics chances to shine and it’s just…like Preeti said, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it’s so frustrating, as a comics fan who wants comics to do better, for me to see them doing this over and over and over again.

FK: So what I’m hearing from this is that if I want to actually learn to engage with comics in the right way, I need to get over myself and go and put some holds on some comics in my local comic shop…

SK: No, because there’s no one right…there’s not a right way to read comics.

PC: Yeah, you can do it digitally.

SK: THIS IS A HILL I WILL DIE ON. There is not a right way to be a comics fan. There’s not a right way to read comics.

FK: Oh my God.

PC: All right hold on though, actually, you can read…you can do it digitally, which is super easy. Basically every single, you can buy single-issue comics on your phone or your tablet or whatever.

FK: Do they count the same way?

PC: The numbers don’t count, no.

SK: No, but if you…there’s online comic shop you can also use, I’m gonna shout out Fantom Comics, F-A-N-T-O-M, which was my local comic shop back in Washington DC, and they’re a very inclusive comics shop. They’re one of the top 10, for example, they’re one of the top ten retailers of Bitch Planet in the country.

FK: So you’re saying I could put my holds through them…

SK: And they will mail it to you.

FK: …without ever having to physically go into a comics store.

SK: And they will mail them to you.

FK: They’ll mail them to me!

SK: Just get on their website. Yeah!

ELM: Can you guys provide us a list of comic shops that our listeners can support even if they don’t live nearby?

SK: Yes!

ELM: Or if they do live nearby.

SK: Fantom is lovely. The people there are lovely and yeah. So that’s a way you can…there’s no right way to read comics, but if you do want to buy in issues and you don’t feel comfortable going into your local comics shop there are some ones online that you can support and they’re really great!

ELM: All right, that’s good to know!

FK: Amazing.

ELM: Flourish, I bet you’re really excited to join the comics world now!

FK: Well, I’m just…I’m feeling inspired. I used to read more comics than I do now cause I went to a college with a comics library, and when I didn’t have to engage in any awkward interactions with anybody to get comics I read a lot more of them. So now maybe I should go back to that. Cause I like them.

ELM: All right.

FK: It was super easy. You just walk in and read a comic. And then you would not have to interact with anybody or have any negative interactions or have anyone ask why you were there. You would just be there. So.

ELM: Super weird.

PC: It’s weird how you’re like “IT WAS AMAZING” because we never get it.

ELM: No one spoke to me and it was the greatest thing ever.

PC: No, but sometimes that's all you want!

FK: It’s not even that no one spoke to me, it’s that no one questioned why I was present or threatened me in a nerd way…

ELM: Or interrogated your knowledge.

FK: No one was like, “Don’t you know about Superman?” No, I don't fuckin’ know about Superman, I’m reading Ultimate Superman for the first time cause I literally never read it before! What’s wrong with you!

PC: It’s so silly. When I started doing the comics podcast I was on I was a very casual comics reader and my biggest fear—and I definitely got these responses sometimes—was my biggest fear: the fans who would be like “Oh, that was actually Daredevil Issue #78 from 1963, and you said ’64.” Like… [all laugh] That was my fear and I cannot tell you how often it came true.

SK: Yeah! So when I started running Panels, I came to Panels as a writer; my voice was the person who’s new to comics. And then the few months later I’m running the place and I got so many comments those first few months that were like, “Wasn’t she the one who was talking about being new to comics? Why is she…?” And it happened all the time, and as I dove in and proved my cred, it happened less and less and now it doesn’t happen at all. I’m also not running a comics site so that helps a lot. [all laugh] It’s terrible, because it’s constant, and especially when people won’t talk about the merits of your argument, they’ll get into the semantics of “Well, you said it was this character and it was really this other character that also only appeared for one issue in a hundred-and-five issue run.”

PC: Just let it go, man.

SK: That’s not the point.

ELM: If those are the arguments that, not just men but it tends to be more of a dude thing, I always think if you’re gonna quibble about this…I feel the same way with book criticism, if you’re gonna quibble about these details it just shows that you don’t have enough critical thinking capacity to actually say something about this. So. This is how I convinced myself that I didn’t need to get an English PhD to be a book critic.

PC: [laughing] It’s true though!

ELM: “Well, I can write better about this random YA novel than you, saying you read all of Dostoyevsky,” or whatever…that’s how I feel. Fuck them. Fine. [all laugh]

FK: Well one thing I can say is this is making me feel like A, I should, and B, I could return to reading comics more. So.

SK: Yeah! And for any new reader what I’d recommend is going to your library first and figuring out what series you want to buy before diving into buying issues, cause that is an expensive habit.

PC: It is very expensive.

SK: So go to the library, figure out what ongoing series you want to get into and kinda catch up on them, and then start buying in issues or start reading in trades or however you wanna do it.

FK: Good advice.

ELM: Yeah, great advice.

FK: I think we’re getting close to the end of our time.

ELM: Yeah, we are definitely out of time. [PC laughs] But I could ask you a million more questions, so guys, okay, we’re gonna include all of these links in the show notes, right?

PC: Awesome.

FK: Yes, and I need them personally so we’re definitely gonna include them. I'm not gonna let them get away.

ELM: And people can find you on Twitter right, like, talking at each other constantly, is the ideal way, correct?

PC: Yes.

SK: Yep, I’m @skrishna.

PC: And I’m [sighs] @runwithskizzers.

ELM: Do you have to, do you always sigh when you say your…?

PC: I do, because I signed up for Twitter with my college AIM screen name because I didn’t know it was gonna be my professional presence on the internet, and now my professional presence on the internet is “runwithskizzers.” Everywhere.

ELM: Like, scissors…

PC: Like S-K-I-Z-Z-E-R-S.

ELM: Pronounced wrong.

PC: Pronounced “skizzers.” Cause I was 19 and emo and I thought it was cool.

ELM: Look, we all should have respect for our AIM selves.

SK: It's better than my first AIM screen name, which was “Trekk,” with two Ks, “47508.”

PC: That wasn’t my first one.

SK: Oh? OK. Well.

ELM: What was my first one?

SK: My first one doesn’t count, because my brother… [SK chortles] My older brother set up our AOL screen names and he spelled my name wrong on purpose cause he was a jerk. [ELM laughing] So my first one doesn’t count cause I had no say in it. My first one that I made myself was “chikku14.”

ELM: These are really sweet screen names. Mine were not interesting in any way. And Flourish’s became her legal name.

FK: No, it wasn’t my first. My first AIM screen name was like “lildragon1987.”



FK: If anybody was on some X-files mailing lists and chat rooms in the mid 90s, hey, it’s lildragon! What’s up! [all laughing]

SK: Same, re: Star Trek AOL chat rooms, and mailing lists…

PC: Were you guys not in the Backstreet Boys chats??

SK: I was not cool enough for Backstreet Boys.

ELM: If anyone reconnects with you guys over this, we’re gonna have to do another episode, basically, where we talk about the past.

FK: OK but we’re really running out of time.

PC: Sorry!

FK: It was so delightful having you.

ELM: Thank you so much for coming on you guys.

SK: Thanks for having us!

PC: Yeah, thanks for having us!

All, in chorus: Bye!

[Interstitial music]

FK: [sighs] It is, well, it’s always a delight to talk to all of our guests, but in this case it was especially a delight to have people on who are clearly such good friends and I felt like we were having a friend double date or something.

ELM: It genuinely did feel that way too. Is that, are we cheesy? That feels cheesy.

FK: We’re so cheesy! But it was so much fun to have them on.

ELM: Friend double date. Yes, it was so much fun. That was awesome. I’m still not gonna get into comics, but you have a nice time.

FK: I am…we’ll see how it goes! I will report back on how trying to get more into comics goes for me this San Diego Comic-Con when we go.

ELM: You know I get stressed out by cartoon characters, so, it just is like…

FK: I do know, this is not a match made in heaven for you.

ELM: It is what it is. I bought a couple comic books a couple years ago to try to do it and it’s not gonna happen. It’s fine.

FK: [laughing] All right, let’s see. What should we talk about. Our Patreon?

ELM: So, coming up, as we’ve been saying, we’re gonna do a pledge drive kinda situation, but that’s not for a little while. But you don’t have to wait! Patreon.com/fansplaining if you have $1, $2, $450 a month to spare…

FK: If you give us that much money I will knit you Weasley sweaters.

ELM: Yeah, and actually at the rate that Flourish knits the Weasley sweater, it will come just in time for it to be cold again.

FK: [laughs] It’s so accurate.

ELM: Just in time for you to go to, if people are gonna go to King’s Cross, cause it’s the day, right? The actual day in the books is this year.

FK: It’s true! And if you want a Weasley sweater for that you should give us a lot of money right now and I will knit it for you.

ELM: And it will be ready in time for September 1, but there’s no way it's gonna be cool enough, they are very heavy duty sweaters, they are great to wear in front of the fire in the dead of winter.

FK: That’s true. They are very heavy duty sweaters.

ELM: Just FYI. Molly wouldn’t make a lightweight sweater.

FK: I really don’t believe Molly would.

ELM: No.

FK: Also as always our website is fansplaining.com, you can reach us at Twitter: fansplaining, Tumblr: fansplaining, fansplaining@gmail, if you go to these places you will also find that we have a phone number that you can call and we will play it on the podcast, so please do that.

ELM: Yeah!

FK: And is there anything else?

ELM: iTunes, we got a few new ratings and reviews, but we would love more, because that's a way for new listeners to find us. So if you have a moment just to hit the number of stars you think are appropriate, which is probably five. [FK laughs] Then just go find us on iTunes…we should make a little post, cause sometimes it’s kinda, it’s unpleasant using iTunes to navigate to things. We should give people a link so they could just click on it.

FK: We’ll do that. We’ll do that! It’ll be easy.

ELM: Yeah and if you have, you know, a minute or two to spare, and you’re interested in writing us a review, obviously we would be so grateful. But also a five star review would be preferred.

FK: OK, are we done shilling now?

ELM: Look, we gotta get more listeners! We gotta get more people involved in the Fansplaining community.

FK: That’s true.

ELM: I’m gonna spin it in a positive way. Communities!

FK: Elizabeth, I might need to talk to you later.

ELM: [laughs] That sounds really threatening!

FK: That was the idea but I thought you would find it funny and not awful.


FK: OK. [laughing]

ELM: No, I mean literally gonna see you outside, right?

FK: We’ll see each other outside at some other point, possibly sooner than next episode but also possibly later.

ELM: [laughs] Outside. I don’t know why…that’s, OK, goodbye.

FK: Bye Elizabeth!

[Outro music, disclaimers and thank yous]