One thing that really bugs me when I’m signing comics for folks at a shop or convention is how some of you all refer to yourselves as “fanboys” or “geeks,” calling yourselves all kinds of bad names and making it sound like loving comics means being something less than human. I’ve met a lot of you, thousands of you, over the years. You’re a smart bunch, a literate bunch. You’re fun to talk with. The bad eggs, and the much-mentioned crazies, are few and very far between. I’m lucky to have the readers I have, and I’m grateful for your attention and loyalty.
A self-contempt, even a self-hatred, suffuses our amazing little field, expressed as often by publishers and writers and artists as by readers. The origins of this industry-wide inferiority complex are historical and foolish. Yes. We are a bastard industry, much maligned. Ours is a story form considered by many, even most, as juvenile and unworthy. So was the novel, once. So were the movies. And maybe people in my position, writers and artists, haven’t yet produced enough superior work to make the rest of the world think better of us. But superior works have been done, and more are in the pipe. The field is rich, very rich, in talent. The art form is unique in its capabilities. Our best days are ahead of us. Comics readers are likewise ahead of public perception. You know you love this stuff. Give the rest of them time to catch up, sure, but don’t think you’re a geek because you love good drawing or a good, dramatic story told well.
We must admit our love for our crazy little business of comic books. Screwy as our history is, unjust and splattered with the lifeblood of our best as our history is, we must move forward, unashamed, even a bit proud. Only that history can drag us back, and down. Only old, bad habits. Only that old, stupid self-contempt.
We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.
I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the way comics fans embrace nerd and geek as descriptions of a subculture. It feels a little self-loathing and a little high school. I don’t know that I can eloquently articulate why I feel this way, just that it rubs me in a weird way. I think Miller hits it closest when he mentions the self-contempt. Maybe that’s my issue.
Anybody have thoughts?
(While we’re talking Miller, The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, the Miller/Dave Gibbons satirical future epic with one of the best black females in comics, is getting a softcover release in June. 600 pages. 20 bucks. You do the math.)