The original TopGeeks and where they are now


With entries rolling in thick and fast for TopGeek 2.0, we’re tracking back to last year’s competition for a first-hand look at what it’s like to battle it out for ultimate geek supremacy and inspire others to do the same.

Last year’s inaugural TopGeek was Tasmanian-based comic artist Cassandra James, who chose Comic-Con in San Diego as her geeky convention of choice. But that’s not all she got out of the competition.

Since taking out the TopGeek title, Cassandra has spent time illustrating for books, sketch cards and comic books; plus she’s collaborated with some of her favourite DC authors including Gail Simone (Wonder Woman) and Sterling Gates (Green Lantern). Cassandra hopes to one day work full time at DC Comics drawing the characters she loves.

We recently caught up with a couple more of last year’s contestants, Jess Watson and Tahlia Celenn, to ask them about their TopGeek experience and find out what they’re up to now.

Jess Watson – TopGeek 2011 contestant and TopGeek 2.0 Gamer judge

What type of geek are you?
I appreciate all forms of geekery – comics, manga, sci-fi, anime, cosplay, the Internet, tech, tabletop games etc. However, my one true calling is video games. I play, collect, review, write about and talk about games 24/7.

What attracted you to TopGeek in 2011?
I saw the competition and thought “if there’s any competition I could ever win… this is it”. Geek is just who I am; I’m proud to embrace it and want other to know being a geek is awesome.

How have things changed for you post-TopGeek?
The competition inspired me to really concentrate on my passion for games. After spending so much time with like-minded people, talking about my favourite thing, I knew I wanted to keep going with it. I’m now back at uni studying Game Design and spending my free time writing and reviewing games with the Australian gaming website

Any advice for those looking to become Australia’s next TopGeek?
The TopGeek competition is a blast. I had fun challenging myself and being creative, I met really interesting people and have made some good friends. Even if you’re a bit shy, this is a great opportunity to see what you can do. Also take advantage of the geeks you know. If you have a bunch of friends/followers on the Internet, rally your troops to vote; if you’re part of a club, drag your associates in to help. Be proud of who you are and tell the world!

Tahlia Celenn – TopGeek 2011 contestant and geek of all trades

What type of geek are you?
I’m really passionate about a lot of things; I love learning new things and I love books. I’m an avid gamer with a huge soft spot for Pokemon. I attend conventions and graphic novel launches, play the Battlestar Galactica board game and am somewhat obsessed with Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] and True Blood. A geek of all trades, I guess.

Complete this sentence: “I entered TopGeek for…?”
The chance to win a trip to the San Diego Comic-Con or PAX! That would have been so amazing.

How have things changed for you post-TopGeek?
A lot of us formed strong friendships during the competition and many of us hang out regularly! Also, my job as the presenter for the Game Arena Trailer show came about as a result.

TopGeek 2.0 contestants should…?
Keep in touch with each other! The best part of the competition for me was the friendships formed.

So there you go – if you’re um-ing and ah-ing about entering TopGeek 2.0, draw inspiration from some of last year’s contestants. We’ve broadened our search for Australia’s next TopGeek so if you’re passionate about arts, tech, gaming or anything in between – take a deep breath and discover your inner geek.

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