Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yes, I Am a Geek

          Comic Con opens, as I type, in San Francisco. It’s the largest comic book, Sci-Fi-Fantasy convention in the North American hemisphere and just as in years past, I long to be there.  I always get a kick about how big of a deal it’s become especially because, historically speaking, comics and science fiction have usually been looked down on by the mainstream.  Comic-Con is now the launching point for Hollywood movies trying to capitalize on the new found public awareness of comics.

First comic I ever bought.

          I bought my first comic at a gas station next to my Grandma’s hair dresser and I’ve been hooked ever since. During my younger years, Mom and Dad were cool with it because all kids read comics. Dad used to go on and on about Pogo. As I got up in the junior high phase, there was no slowing down until my Dad put his foot down and I could only buy one comic per month.  Having to make my own Sophie’s Choice, I went with Marvel’s Star Wars.  

1970s Comics were so cheesy...

 Side Note: I could do a whole blog just on how much Star Wars and Star Trek had an effect on me while growing up but that is another day. I am trying to stick to just the world of comics.

      At some point in high school, I gave up comics entirely. It was kid’s stuff and no one seemed to respect it. As I look back, it cracks me up at how embarrassed I was about enjoying comics. I was so desperate to fit in during my teen years that I turned my back on something that I loved.
          Fast forward to the summer of 1989 where a twenty year old Robby was working at Camp Glisson and surrounded by comic book geeks. Tim Burton’s Batman had come out and somehow I fell off the wagon and have never gone back.
          I wish I could explain it but comics are a true passion of mine. I used to think that part of it was it completed a minor OCD tick of mine which is to complete things in sets. The older I get, the more I think it’s because comics are another way of storytelling. A well written comic has some pretty sharp character development complete with rising and falling action.
 Some comics get pretty sophisticated. Neil Gaiman wrote a comic about Morpheus,  the lord of dreams. Because the comic was set in his dream realm, Gaiman scope of stories were unlimited. He wrote about everything from how Shakespeare got his ideas, serial killer conventions, lost gods and even a story from the point of view of a cat. Reading his stories gave me a sense of pride because I realized that I had to have a bit of knowledge to “get it.”

Now mainstream society thinks it’s “cool” to read comics no matter how old even though the Japanese have know this little tidbit for eons. On one hand I am happy because I can see more people enjoying something that I have loved for years and I am more than happy to share. Yet, I also get a bit irritated. I consider myself a fairly intelligent guy who is somewhat well read, Why have I had to fight so hard against people to have my guilty pleasure? Parents, teachers, even an ex-wife have all tried to get me to give up something that as much a part of me as my love a history. It’s all because people don’t understand it or dismiss comics as “kid’s stuff.”
It cracks me up to see how comics are now getting respect though they are now referred to as “graphic novels.” The kicker for me was a few years back when I chaired a committee at the middle school I was teaching at to select appropriate  “graphic novels” because their librarian had read about them in one of her school librarian journals. It was quite satisfying to deal with the same sort of teachers who used to chastize me for reading comics and now be able to tell them that we are getting titles like Maus which won the Pulitzer back in the 80s.
Mary asked me the other day if I had introduced Jude and Veronica to my world of comics yet and I was sorry to say that I haven’t. It just has not had the opportunity to come up. Mary suggested she bring some Spider-Mans and a few Archie comics when she comes to visit in a few weeks. At that point that I decided to sit back and let Mary be the one to introduce it to them.  I am getting the hang of this dealing with kids thing and I realize that the cooler something is to me then it’s not cool to rising 4th graders.
I like the idea of Mary being the one to broaden Ronnie and Jude’s world a bit and I am taking a bit of pride in it. Growing up, Mary was always my sidekick and we shared in all things together like comics. Her collection is almost as good as mine, I’m proud to say. I think it would be awesome for Mary to share something we both love and has been a formative part of lives with my two new sidekicks. They just better not be a fan of DC because we’ve always been a strict Marvel family……

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  1. I had nearly erased The Bad Era from my memory, you know.

    Keep on collecting. There's a place here that I drive by all the time, but I never go in. I figure one day you'll be here and I'll take you there and watch the fireworks. I guess you could say I'm saving it for you.

  2. i loved comic books. the biggest regret i have is my breakup with them. it wasn't a growing out so to speak but a passion i put on hold and always would go back to one day. one day when i could really have the time and patience to take in the social and heroic elements. i packed up all my comic books in tupperware containers and when katrina flooded with 2 feet of water, they were all ruined. truly one of my greatest regrets but still the memories live on for EVER and this just served as a testament to that.