My Geek: A Brief History
Much to Fella’s eternal chagrin, I’m not much of a geek. I didn’t grow up sucking down comics, tapping controllers, or digging on horror flicks, Magic the Gathering, World of Warcraft, anime, or any of the equivalents thereof. My most successful forays into gaming were with Mario Bros. on 8-bit Nintendo, and a little later, Mario on Game Boy, first generation.
I am, by most reports, a hipster (much to my eternal chagrin). I like indie rock and Wes Anderson movies, specifically his, but also that genre of artfully rendered pictures about quirky people who are either narcissistic or intellectual, and I read mostly literary realism by authors who people outside of Creative Writing programs have not heard of. I’m trying to increase visibility of good, smart books as a personal crusade, and in so doing, I’m learning to branch out.
I’m discovering that the book market–with all its hard lines and rigid categories and neat definitions–is going to need to undergo metamorphosis in order to remain intact. We are clearly not learning enough from our friends in the music industry.
My brother is of the DC/Marvel persuasion (I have heard him pontificate on the virtues of one over the other), plays video games; I have had a modest number of decidedly geekish boyfriends along the way, but a peripheral awareness has been the beginning and end for me.
I was mildly intrigued when Child’s bio dad was reading Sandman by Neil Gaiman et al, and I was reading it over his shoulder, but I imagine you can understand why those memories are fraught for me, and why I have not been eager to revisit.
When Fella and I first got together, he explained patiently (if with an edge of condescension) that geeks and nerds are two different things, and that I would require an education in all things geek.
Thus there was Zombies 101 early on Fella’s and my date-having time line. That was our last course on geekery, as Fella found my lack of interest frustrating, and I found his interpretation of my contemplative absorption (and sometimes sleepiness) as disinterest to be frustrating.
It was around Halloween, which is my favorite holiday, and I made a brain jello that I served with canned Lychees at the Historic Genetti Hotel in Downtown Williamsport.
Until recently I was one of those regrettable studious sods who dismissed things known as comics strictly on grounds that some well-meaning collection of intellectuals and smarty-pantses whose taste and judgement I admired, wrinkled up their noses at the comic or graphic novel, pronouncing the word as if it stank of rotted skunk. It was the same disdain they showed toward anything known as genre fiction.
Don’t misunderstand. I am not suddenly gleefully reading The Hulk and Captain America or Tom Clancy and Danielle Steel. I’m just starting to see that it’s not ALL crap, and that it might be useful for us literary types to expand our definition of genre, or our definition of literature.
In any case, I am sure you can imagine the tandem flurries of incredulity and joy in my house when I announced a few months ago that I would be moderating a panel at the coming Wildcat Comic Con on Zombie Lore with Dave Sims, John Weaver, and Jim Zub. More, that I would be immersing myself in the context and culture (more academically than physically).
So over the next six weeks or so, I’m going to be taking in a plethora of geek fodder. I’ll be reading World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide, and probably at least a few of the stories in an anthology of short zombie fiction called The Living Dead. I’ll be watching more zombie movies, and reading more comics as I prepare for the interviews I’m doing with people as awesome as Dean Haspiel and David Small and others I won’t mention until the interviews are finished.
And I am fortunate to have as tour guides the panelists listed above who are well versed in Zombie Lore and, from what I can tell so far, have reasonably literary taste. I am also fortunate to have automatic context for some of my new comics reading in my work as a journalist.
Tuesday night, after my presentation at ComiXnite, which I am pleased to report went over well, I met with my fellow panelists to discuss the angle from which we’ll approach our zombie discussion. It is going to be a lively and interesting talk.
Each week, I’ll be posting at least once under the category: Weeks to Geek. You can enjoy the ride with me.