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Atlanta is geeking out, in a good way

Georgia’s capital has also become the capital of geek fandom.

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Atlanta wasn’t always recognized as the hub of geek culture. “Geekiness” also wasn’t always recognized as a “culture.” Sometime between the early days of internet forums and the advent of virtual reality, that all changed. Emma Loggins, the founder of the entertainment site FanBolt and self-proclaimed “geek girl,” was in Atlanta to see it happen.

Loggins was born and raised just outside of Atlanta proper and now lives in the Old Fourth Ward area, which she considers the cultural heartbeat of the city. She hopes to buy a house there someday. “When you’re so active in the geek culture space, you feel a part of the city,” she says.

Emma Loggins

Loggins got into geek culture as a teenager and started her website, Fanbolt, in 2002 when she graduated high school. It was a passion project, her creative outlet to write about the shows she loved and the nerdy corners of culture that seemed relatively obscure at the time. People with similar interests found their way to Fanbolt. Actually, more people than she expected; the web traffic even started to overwhelm her server. Bolstered by a bigger audience, Loggins expanded her cultural coverage to include movies, as well as more robust content with interviews. “There was this amazing change that happened,” says Loggins. “It didn’t used to be cool to be a geek. You got made fun of. Somewhere along the way that changed, and I have debates about when that changed. But film and television started that shift.”

In the early to mid-2000s, popular TV shows and movies started to feature a new archetype: the geeky star. Suddenly, heartthrobs could also read comic books and listen to indie music. The more introverted, mysterious character (not necessarily the football or cheerleading captain) had their moment in the sun. Geeky went a bit more mainstream, and that resonated with a young demographic. Atlanta, which had quietly been building its geek culture chops, was ready to house the epicenter of that culture.

From increasing movie production to ever-growing fandoms for cosplay, comics, and gaming, Atlanta continues to be the home base for myriad geek culture niches. That’s thanks, in part, to a significant tax credit the state of Georgia gives for production expenditures — up to 30% — which incentivizes producers to bring projects there. Correspondingly, Atlanta is also full of industry professionals and experienced crews, as well as all the ancillary businesses needed for production: lighting specialists, costume designers, prop makers, makeup artists, and more. Together, these specialists form a collaborative community. For example, God Save the Queen, a local costume design shop, often works with Blue Whale Studios, a nearby shop specializing in makeup and prosthetics. When they work on one ensemble together, it’s a full character transformation.

Catherine Jones of God Save the Queen

Atlanta’s infrastructure and large arena venues also play host to a robust conference culture. MomoCon, an anime and gaming-focused event held annually in Atlanta, had about 30,000 attendants this year (up from an estimated 12,000 six years ago). And that’s just one example. “So much of Atlanta culture is tech and film right now,” Loggins says. “We also have an amazing gaming scene and an amazing food scene.” She’s proud to have witnessed this kind of growth at home. “Being able to see the change and the evolution of the city right in front of me has been so incredible.” She’ll travel for appearances, panels, and events, but has no plans to move out of Atlanta: “Atlanta is such a huge part of my story,” she explains, “everyone that I know who lives here has such love for the city.”

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