Stories are carefully crafted illusions that are supposed to make sense in a way that life does not. Most of the time it’s a simple matter of picking up the book, popping in the DVD, or opening up the comic to start the story. You follow it all the way through to the end, and you’re done (at least until the sequel comes out). However, there are some stories and mediums where the lines are blurred and the entry point for the story is not nearly as obvious. The prime example I can think of is comics.
I’m still pretty new to the world of comics and graphic novels, and they can be really hard to get into. I remember after watching the Marvel film Doctor Strange, I wanted to learn more about the character. But when I went to look up the comics, I immediately faced a major problem: where should I start?
Few lines make my hackles rise more than hearing, “It is your destiny,” particularly if it is said by some old guy in a black robe. I have some serious issues with the concepts of prophecy, destiny, fate, and Chosen Ones. From a practical standpoint, they are overused tropes and cliches in works of fantasy. Predestination is a lazy cock-and-bull story made to justify plot threads or character motivations. But on a deeper level, the concept is actually rather disturbing. I’m a big believer in free will, so the idea of having everything I have done, am doing, or will do laid out for me with no ability to change it is both creepy and frightening. Continue reading “The Wyrding Way”→
In light of recent developments in the comic, gamer, and cosplay worlds, I plan to do a series of entries about “fake fans” and how established fandoms treat newcomers, women, and minorities. This first entry is the Comics Edition, wherein I focus on the comic book community.
How do you decide if someone is unworthy to be part of your fandom? How do you label someone a poser, a noob, or a fake? Whom do you invite into a fandom and why? Whom do you reject and why? What are the criteria to go from noob to knowledge-master? How does someone graduate from being a “fake geek girl/boy” or “fake fan” into a “true fan”? Is such a thing even possible?
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how unfriendly the nerd culture can be to newcomers, or even to established members if they start commenting on flaws with the status quo… especially if those members are women. (Yes, #GamerGate, I’m looking at you.) It seems like there are two prevailing extremes: either the fans are portrayed as the most friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming group around, or they are seen as the most close-minded, antagonistic, sexist group alive.
So far, I’ve been fortunate to escape the fake geek label, but a lot of people, especially women, haven’t been so lucky. And I have yet to learn of a standard for judging someone’s relative geekiness. Is it the number of comics you read? The variety? The age? The popularity? Do you have to be super-obsessed with one particular facet of comics or do you have to have the entire history of Marvel and DC, or every plot contrivance of Batman on the tip of your tongue to qualify as a true fan?
I’m currently glowing with the aftermath of my fourth viewing of Marvel’s The Avengers. Until about two months ago, the movie was on the periphery of my radar. Now I have gone to see it in theaters every weekend this May, from the cool, buzzing anticipation of opening night to the heat-soaked afternoon of my Memorial Day weekend. And I have enjoyed every second of it!
Before I continue, I must post a disclaimer: I know nothing about American comics. Everything I am aware of has come from the recent slew of Marvel movies. Those are the only versions I know. I’m sure that some comic book fans out there are just waiting to pounce on my ignorance as I bubble over with fangirl enthusiasm, so I’m gonna take a leaf out of Captain America’s book and say: “Son, just don’t.” If you enjoyed the movie as much as I did, great! High five! Keep reading and know you are not alone! If you just want to point out all the discrepancies or ways that it failed as a comic book adaptation, as a film, or both, please don’t. You can keep reading if you want, but please froth at the mouth quietly.
THIS ENTRY MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
So, now that that’s been taken care of, on to the question that I’m sure some of the people I know in real life have been asking: