Friday, May 11, 2018

Remember when comic-book geeks WEREN'T cool?

I sure do! As a kid, I lived through the disdain, the bullying, the ridicule of being a comic-book kid.

A shove off my bike because I was thumbing through a much-valued issue of Spiderman? A hard-earned, four-color badge of honor. The mockery and laughter when I was caught buying the latest issue of X-Men at the local drug store? Just part of the price to enjoy my fantastical dream worlds, true believer! Punched in the school hallway because I had Wolverine stickers emblazoned all over my notebook? No pain, no gain! (Although to have Wolverine's adamantium claws at that moment would've been helpful. *Snikt.*)


My torment didn't stop with the school bullies either. My two brothers--one younger, one older--ridiculed me at every opportunity while they pursued worthless pursuits like football. Matter of fact, my nieces make fun of me now, because their dad tells them all I used to do was sit in my bedroom and read comic books. (Soooo not true...I used to watch a lot of old movies, too.)

Honestly, as a loner, at the time I didn't think much of the fallout. Just knew I enjoyed comic books. But to everyone else, I was a superhero-reading outcast. Oh, the shame. Even my parents were all, "What's wrong with Stuart?"

Back in the day, as long as you were under the age of twelve, it was considered acceptable to read comic-books. But I carried the tradition on into my teens, even my college days. Along with reading Salinger, Hemingway, and Faulkner, I thrilled to the writings of Stan Lee and studied the artwork of Jack Kirby. 

But--shamefully, eventually--I bowed down to peer pressure. I kept my comic-book reading a deep, dark secret. While most guys my age were stashing away their porn collection, I hid comic-books under my bed. If I ever got so lucky as to invite a girl back to my room, I made sure comics weren't in evidence, hastily shoved into the closet.

Such was the shame my family and "friends" instilled in me.
Today, of course, it's an altogether different story.  No matter your age, it's absolutely cool to read comics. The geeks have inherited the earth. Hollywood banks on comic fans by plugging billions of dollars into superhero movies. Comicon has become one of the biggest, best, baddest commercial outlets for the entertainment industry. Commercials, clothing, food, for God's sake, are tailored around the comic industry! You can get a Thor taco!

Instead of a Thor taco, I used to eat a fist sandwich for my comic-book sensibilities. Me and my kind paved the way for you comic-reading hipster posers. You're welcome.

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