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A site by, for, and about Geek Girls!

Jackie Estrada: Comic Book Insider and Lifelong Geek Girl

Message from the Editor: One of the goals for The Geek Girl Project has always been to find those trailblazing geek women from previous generations and tell their stories. As long as comic books have existed, female comic book fans have, too, and Jackie Estrada, the force behind Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s, has shared her story with us in her own words. Please support her Kickstarter.

Jackie Estrada: First Generation Geek Girl

Frank Miller, Jackie Estrada, and Neil Gaiman at San Diego Comic-Con 1998 (image courtesy of Jackie Estrada)

You might say I’ve been a “Geek Girl” all my life, going back to the 1950s. I always read comics as a kid, and I was checking out (and voraciously reading) science fiction and fantasy books from the adult section of my local library by the time I was 12. In my teens (this was in the mid-1960s), I got caught up in the Marvel Age of comics and visited to the newsstand every week to buy not only Marvels but just about everything else coming out: DC, Charlton, Gold Key, Harvey—you name it! I was a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society and wrote fan letters to creators like Steve Ditko and Jim Steranko (and they wrote back!).

When I graduated from college (B.A. in journalism) in 1968, I married Davey Estrada (fellow comics geek), and our collection of books, comics, and record albums took over our apartment. I went to work for a textbook publishing company, but I did freelance writing on the side, including articles about the burgeoning popularity of comics, that appeared in national publications.

When I heard there was going to be a comic convention in San Diego, I was there! I went for one day to the first “Golden State Comic-Con” at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego in the summer of 1970. I got to see Jack Kirby and Ray Bradbury speak. I was hooked—and I’ve been to every San Diego Comic-Con since! I started volunteering in 1975, I’ve run the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards since 1990, and I’ve been on staff at Comic-Con International since 2008.

As a journalism major in college, I got involved with photography, and became more serious about photography in the late 1970s, when I took lots of classes and had my own darkroom. My picture taking at comic conventions really ramped up at that time, and I always had my camera equipment with me not only at San Diego but other shows I attended. My photos were used in lots of Comic-Con publications. (Most recently, dozens were used in CCI’s 40th anniversary hardcover book.)

The 1990s were a huge transition year for the comics industry—and for me as well. I met cartoonist Batton Lash in 1990 (at a comic convention in Chicago!), and we were married in 1994. We started our own company, Exhibit A Press, to publish his comic book series, Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (aka Supernatural Law). We were part of the self-publishing movement, and traveled to shows like SPX in Bethesda, MD and the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in Oakland, CA to hawk our wares with fellow independent publishers. I took lots of photos at those shows, too!

Also in 1994, I was in on the beginnings of Friends of Lulu (founded by Heidi MacDonald), an organization to promote more involvement of girls and women in comics, both as creators and readers. I served as president of that organization for five years. FoL was a nonprofit that had booths at major shows, put out publications, and in many other ways drew attention to all the great comics and graphic novels that were being done by women or that would bring more women readers to comics. There will be several photos from FoL’s early years in the book.

The thing I love most about comic conventions is the people. It has been a true joy to interact with so many wonderful creators over the years. I’ve met (and photographed) Golden and Silver Age writers and artists, fan-favorite comics creators, underground comix folks, industry movers and shakers, newspaper cartoonists, science fiction/fantasy authors—almost all of them truly wonderful! One of the things fans really liked about my first book, Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s, was the commentary included with the photos. And there will be plenty of anecdotes in this book as well.

So, yes, I am a lifelong Geek Girl, and I have the photos to prove it!

-Jackie Estrada


One Comment

  1. The thing I like most about the comic con culture is the sense of community. As the cons get bigger, some of the intimacy is lost. But, Jackie’s first book does a marvelous job of capturing what a wonderful and open hobby that we share. I’m very much looking forward to the second volume.

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