The Once and Future Geek: A Call for Inclusivity among the Geek Community

2014-07-04 13.57.52 Where once upon a time, geeks were generally relegated to dark basements, comic book caverns, and landscapes of social isolation, the geek is now seen as somewhat chic. If the popularity of this weekend’s Comic-Con festivities in San Diego don’t prove this, next weekend’s release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy should. Keep in mind, we’re talking about a big-budget production featuring a cast of obscure b- (if not c-) list comic book characters. And if early reviews are to be trusted, Marvel has taken another step in its quest for cinematic dominance. So, in this cultural landscape of geek fantastique, it’s amazing that the formerly-outcasted would complain. Yet, it happens. I suppose it can be attributed to the concept of exclusivity. Comic book culture used to be something that was unique to a certain group. Once upon a time, you could find that special geek in the crowd by yelling “Rocket Raccon” or “I’m a level four Paladin,” and listen for the mating call of a fellow soul. You were bonded by something exclusively yours, which you owned. Nowadays, with the mass-production of comic book materials, it can often feel like something special was stolen and repackaged for a larger audience. This mentality can inspire “true geeks” to cast doubt on the credibility of the fake geeks; in particular, they castigate the sexy “faux geek girl” or the teenager who shouldn’t be wearing that Thor t-shirt, because they couldn’t possibly know the history of Beta Ray Bill. In my younger days, I often endorsed this mentality. I believed the title of “geek” was reserved for those who devoted themselves heart and soul to the geeky practices, instead of merely wearing a shirt with a cool superhero symbol or “nerdy” glasses. Basically, I was, as Kerry Jackson of The Geekshow Podcast claims, “one of those geeks”. Thinking back on those misguided days, I realize this was simply resentment over years of being ostracized due to my geeky nature. Luckily, I’ve moved past that geek elite mentality, inspired by two elements: a realization that my alienation was probably due to a greater social ineptitude, and the birth of my nephew, Jack. While I could devote anthologies to my social ineptitude, I won’t force you to endure that awkwardness. Instead, I’d like to focus on Jack, because I see him as the future of geek. Since his birth almost seven years ago, we’ve become extremely close. His recent desire to engage in geeky activities has reinvigorated my own love of the lifestyle. June and July were especially significant in his development as a geek. Around the beginning of June, I took him into his first comic book shop: Dr. Volts. It was like watching Charlie exploring Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Sadly, no Oompa-Lumpas were present. Dr-Volts-logo3 He rushed from section to section, checking out the treasure trove of colorful comic book characters and detailed collectibles, occasionally exclaiming, “Mikey, what’s that?” I attempted to school my nephew on certain characters, hoping that a few would take residence somewhere in his mind. I was a little terrified whenever he grabbed for an item, aware that some stores detested younger patrons handling their products. When I was twelve, I was perusing comics in a Fresno shop and the owner asked me leave, because he thought I was loitering. Perhaps this can be attributed to the geek elite mentality. Maybe he thought I didn’t take the practice seriously, or I didn’t deserve to touch his product. Luckily, Dr. Volts endorses inclusivity. Dave, the proprietor, spoke to Jack like a fellow geek, answering any questions he had, and even told us where to find the family-friendly comics (which my nephew ignored). He even led me to a somewhat tame Deadpool title that wouldn’t make his parents regret entrusting me with the psychological welfare of their child. Continue reading

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Operation: Zero Tolerance

X-Men066Back in 1997 some exciting things were happening in the X-Men world. Bastion was making himself known and had released Prime Sentinels into the world. The Prime Sentinels looked like normal people who acted like unknowing sleeper agents. At the right moment they would activate and all hell would break loose. The Uncanny X-Men were off fighting the Phalanx in Shiar space and in issue 65 of X-Men, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Cannonball are all neutralized and captured by Bastion. With all our main characters, save Iceman, either in deep space or in the hands of the enemy, who was left to save the day, especially as Bastion now had access to the mansion and Xavier’s Protocols? Continue reading

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