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Comic geeks are sophisticated

Barry SmithVail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyBarry Smith
ALL |

Im becoming a Comic Geek. Well … re-becoming.I was obsessed with comics in my pre- and early-teen years Spider Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man, Superman, Batman. I lived out in the sticks in Mississippi in those days, so I saved my allowance and bought subscriptions to my favorite comics. Missing even a single issue was unthinkable.In 8th grade English we were told we had to read a novel. Any novel, our choice. My mother took me to a real book store to find one of these novel things, and of course I wandered into the comics section. On the shelf I saw a book called Spider Man: Mayhem in Manhattan. But it wasnt a comic it was a book with words. Only words. And right there, on the cover, it read The First Spider Man Novel!Yes!I wasnt sure what made a book a novel, but I reasoned that having the word novel written on the cover was as good an indicator as any. I get to read a Spider Man book for school! On Friday the teacher called out our names so that we could announce our chosen novel. When my turn came the entire class laughed. And not with me. Jack Turnipseed turned around and said, Thats immature.I considered defending myself, but instead took solace in the fact that I would not be going through life with the name Turnipseed.A sudden relocation to California in 9th grade took my focus off of comics most of my energy was spent trying to not say yall anymore, in the name of self-preservation. I was certainly a geek in high school, just not a comic geek not that the addition of comic reading would have increased my geekiness.So now, nearly 30 years later, comics are returning to my life. Im both nervous and excited, as if a long-lost romance is being rekindled. See, last year I read somewhere that comics are now, in many circles, acknowledged as a serious, sophisticated, adult art form. That was good enough for me. At some point in my life I should probably do SOMETHING thats serious, sophisticated and adult, right? Once again, comics to the rescue.There are some real benefits to being an adult comic geek. First of all, I have money. As a kid, Id have to really think twice about whether or not I could afford one extra comic for a whopping 25 cents, and later, gulp, 35 cents. Now I go to the comics section of large bookstores and I see kids in the same predicament, unable or unwilling to buy the comics, so they sit on the floor and read them instead. As an adult with money, I step over these kids, choose my title, and … join them on the floor. Something about reading comics while sitting on the floor really adds to the experience. But if I decide I want a certain comic, I can buy it. Just like that. Because Im a sophisticated adult, and sophisticated adults have credit cards.Second, as an adult comic geek, theres nobody yelling at me to quit readin all them funny books, as I heard often as a comic-loving boy. No, now Im a sophisticated adult enjoying studying, if you will a sophisticated art form. If anything, people envy me. Oh yes, they envy my reckless, freewheeling comic-reading abandon. Then, after theyve envied me for a few seconds, they step over my sprawled out form in the Borders comics aisle so they can get to the Financial/Investing section. Oh sure, invest your money! You and your mutual funds and your Ruth IRAs and your 501-Kays, go on! Ill be here reading The Essential X-Men Volume 3, because Im a SOPHISTICATED, ART-APPRECIATING ADULT! Oh, and guess what? Im not just gonna read it, Im gonna BUY it. Thats right. Because I have $18.99!!Look, heres the thing I like pictures. And I like words. And words with pictures is an awesome combination, and Im glad that I get to enjoy them in my adulthood without shame. Im an adult comic geek, and Im proud.Though I have to admit the wedgies do take a bit longer to recover from.(Next time: Barry bumps into Jack Turnipseed at a comics convention. Theyre wearing identical costumes.) Read more about Barry Smiths adventures at http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com.


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