May 4, 2012

Diary of an unreformed geek


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The scene: My bedroom.

The time: My senior year in high school.

The characters: Myself and the first girl ever to venture into said room while my parents were away.

All systems were go. That was until this exchange:

“Who are they?” she asked, pointing to the large X-Men poster on my wall.

“Them?” I replied. “The X-Men … um …”

“I mean who are they?”

“They’re characters in a book …”

“Cartoon characters?”

“Not really,” I said. “Comic books.”

I jumped off the bed and approached the poster. I then might have picked up a pencil or pen to use as a pointer. I then began to identify the name, mutant power, convoluted origin and backstory of each member of the X-Men.

One at a time. Maybe using a pen.

It might have been around the time I was describing the events surrounding the Dark Phoenix Saga that I noticed she had switched into pure, hanging out mode.

I’d like to think that I didn’t ruin my first attempt at joining the ranks of The Mack, John Edwards and Wilt Chamberlain that day, but that might be what happened.

All systems full stop.

Not much has changed since those heady teenage years. I still like comics, though I don’t decorate my room with their imagery.

I don’t apologize or make excuses for it, either.

At this point it’s clear that the form has ingrained itself into the mainstream.

Walk into any comic store around here or in Portland and you’ll see a trendy hipster browsing alongside the occasional mouth-breathing nerd.

Look closely and you’ll see the nerd’s and hipster’s girlfriends at some other wing of the store, usually flipping through Japanese manga books.

Geek culture is no longer “geek culture.” It’s now simply culture.

I might now hide my appreciation for comics, though I do bristle at how I am lumped in with everyone else who enjoys the form.

When I meet people who find out I dig buying trade paperbacks at More Fun in Ashland, they usually reply with something like: “That’s cool. Hey, you should meet my friend Sean! He really likes comics, too. You guys would talk for hours.”

Upon meeting Sean, I usually find that he might read a genre of book that I can’t stand. And vice versa.

But, by the simple fact that both of us like the form, we are expected to spend the next two weeks playing Dungeons Dragons in each others’ garages, the pizza boxes and Mountain Dew bottles piling up around us.

That’s like saying a hockey and a basketball fan should naturally exchange friendship bracelets. After all, aren’t they both sports?

Having said all this, I’m pretty excited about (maybe) buying a midnight ticket in the coming days and seeing “Marvel’s The Avengers” on the big screen.

The trailers for this movie are like crystal meth for my inner geek junkie.

Soon, my inner geek is going to pull its four-wheeler into the living room and disassemble it and begin cleaning the parts with starting fluid. And then put it back together. And then take it apart again to clean.

When you’re a kid, you always speculated what it would be like if they put Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, etc. into a movie together.

You never, ever thought they’d actually do it.

“Avengers” is book-ended this summer by the third and final volume in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise.

“The Dark Knight Rises” looks dark and depressing, the way a movie about the crumbling walls that separate civilized society from the violent, chaotic horde should.

Will these movies be good? Who knows. Will they inspire and create a new generation of comic readers? We can hope.

Cut to: My bedroom on that day.

We ended up having an interesting discussion about Wolverine. The girl thought he looked pretty tough, but talked mucho smack about his hair.

Her favorite character, she decided, was Beast. He looked like her dog and he was a genius-level intellect.

At one point, right before she left, she noted that, “The art is really, really good. It’s amazing how talented you have to be to draw these things.”

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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