When I hear industry insiders talk about movie theaters being overrun with comic movies, I have to chuckle. Yes, this may be the case but if you were a nine-year-old boy growing up, this is the time you would have lived for. I would not have known what to do with myself if I was able to see those movies, wear those shirts and collect comics in the open during those times. Instead, I had to hide them from the other kids in school. Just to try and fit in.
When I think back to those days in elementary school, but mostly junior high, when I started to avidly begin collecting comic books, there was this certain sense of joy. The reason I use the word avidly is because that is when I started buying bags and boards for my comics. It wasn’t much later that I bought one of those comic boxes and neatly organized my comics. You know, so I would look like a professional and mirror the layout I had seen in the local Pee-Wee comic shop.
“You’re a slacker.”
The junior high I went to was three blocks away from the comic store. If I deviated almost a half a block on my way home, I would be able to dip inside. However, when you are in your pre-teens, some people tried hard to fit in. See, I was too much of a geek in elementary school that I alienated the girl that I had a major crush on. I vowed to never do that again.
Let’s call her, Daisy, for the sake of this blog. I had nothing to offer Daisy, but what can you offer a girl when you’re only nine? She was popular, pretty and a few levels higher on the social food chain for anyone to notice me.
To make a long story short, I told her that I liked her and she said “that was sweet.” It was that moment when I understood the words spoken by Obi-Wan, “I heard hundreds of voices cry out in terror and then suddenly… silence.”
“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
After graduating from that school, I figured that moving up into junior high was a way for me to reinvent myself. So I tried by getting cooler clothes and stopped reading comic and collecting toys. Okay, I never really stopped. I just had to be a little slicker about it. Since I knew people would see me leaving the comic store, I would go there on the weekends to buy comics. For toys, I would dip in on days my parents kept me out of school and get them during school hours.
Sounds like a solid plan, right?
“I do it for the same reason I always do, Jen. To have sex with a lady.”
Fortunately, not many people came over to my house. The ones that did liked the same things I did, but never told anyone that I collected toys or comics. Was it foolish to try and hide what I liked for the sake of a girl? Yes, but every one of us had done something like that at some point. Some guys do that when they get older. They dump their toys, video games or comics when the girlfriend doesn’t like them, only to try and get them back after they break-up.
Now, I look out at the landscape and see kids openly wearing an Iron Man T-shirt, or see a couple of high school girls picking up comics during free comic book day. These are the kind of girls that would have laughed at me in high school. Even girls that I knew in high school have finally gotten in touch with their inner geek and love some of the stuff I post on my other site.
Even now, for every girl that makes fun of my geekiness, I can find half dozen others that share it. Not to mention, finding a girlfriend that shares my geekiness and helps me cultivate it more by going to Comic Con or special comic events. To think if I could go back to my old nine-year-old self and say, “Everything is going to be alright. There is a purpose to the ridicule.”
The geek culture in this country has gotten so big that the movies I waited a lifetime for has finally happened and millions of people want to see it. Whether they share my geekiness is irrelevant, but the fact that they paid money to see something I have loved since I was a child: it makes the geek in me proud. More importantly, the insecure little geek that still resides in me is incredibly proud. He can finally smile and say, “It’s about time all of you caught on.”