Image is automatically assigned to us regardless if we want it or not. Similar to when you get into high school, your friends from middle school may or may not still be your friends, it all depends on what the sorting hat has in store for us. Now, this is not all bad, sometimes change is good. Maybe you find more folks that share your love for Magic: The Gathering, or maybe manga, however, sometimes getting sorted into a new house carries some unfair sorting. Going back to my teenage years, it started. “Aren’t you getting a little old for comics” and as I’ve entered my forties…” you still read comics”? Heads really explode when I tell them I game as well. My favorite is when coworkers ask how was your weekend and you explode in giddiness explaining how you spent 3 days at a comic/gaming/cosplay convention, but the reception is not always bad, however, the unfair stereotypes that come along with the genre are.
We are not all overweight, lonely, and still living at home. We are doctors, engineers, marketing reps, and soldiers. We all don’t have overly oily skin, ill-kept hair, and smell bad. Over the years the geek has grown and adapted to mix and mingle amongst the normies and remain undetected. We even have representation in Hollywood…and no I’m not talking about Sheldon Cooper! Joe Manganiello, Vin Diesel, Robin Williams (RIP) are all on our side, and no you cannot have them back. If it were only that easy. How many times have you seen the head shakes, or been the punchline of a joke solely because of your hobby of choice? It’s just as common as Marvel re-starting timelines, we’ve all been there.
At times, defending your choices becomes exhausting. I can’t tell you how many times I just didn’t mention my hobbies to coworkers out of the sheer thought of having to field their questions. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it always ended with me defending myself on why I’m in my twenties/thirties and I still read comics or collect action figures. Till this day I still get “you don’t look like you’re into that sort of thing”, and then I reply with “look like”, and then it gets awkward.
We as people are an odd bunch. For instance, ask yourself what does a person from the south look like. How about someone that’s a furry? Now, please understand that I’m not trying to dress our culture with no fault, we have plenty. What I am trying to dress our community as, is one with love, support, and endless encouragement regardless of background. What we are is a family…a tight nit family.
I just came back from the NC Comicon in Durham, North Carolina, and it was a blast! It was supposed to be a family event, but real-life stuff got in the way, and I flew solo. Upon ascending the steps of the Durham Convention Center, I was greeted with all sorts of characters. Anime, superheroes, Tom Bakers, and an assortment of video game characters. Everything from the basic costumes, to the professional feel. People of all ages spent 3 days digging through comic boxes, standing in line for a brief chance to meet their favorite artist or writer, carefully scheduling their days so they can attend panels with their favorite artist or writer, or maybe a panel with current world themes such as LGBTQ issues within culture, the Blerd community, and dealing with toxicity within the community, but I digress a bit. I want to go back to my “family statement”.
The Belchers, Belle and The Beast, Domino & Deadpool all played by family members. My favorite was seeing a few grandparents cosplaying with their grandkids and having a blast doing it, but the best cosplay has to go to the young lady who was dressed as seventies-era soldier medic, who held a sign that said “Emergency Cosplay Repairs”, and she delivered as promised, sitting on a nearby seat, at times on the floor, fixing and stitching. That wasn’t the only “medical tent” at the show, someone had set up a table in the cosplay room doing emergency repairs as well. Now, mind you these are free repairs. These kind souls spent their own money and pay it forward. Family. This is what a family does. We scoot over when digging through boxes, we hold a spot in line so our line neighbor can use the bathroom, maybe we help them bring their costume in the convention cause their hands are too full. Family. These days, kids are getting kicked out of their homes for simply loving someone who doesn’t fit their parent’s preconceived notions of what love is, but at the Durham Convention Center, you had parents holding swords, helping with reapplying makeup, and taking pictures with an adoring ear to ear smile. Family.
This edition of Comics, Culture, and more was a bit late due to me going through about three rewrites. Not because previous versions were bad, but the words didn’t speak to me. The image stereotypes that we deal with go deeper than just being called a nerd, geek, etc but deal with so much more. Our culture provides us with an escape. Not from real life, but from the overt horribleness that can be the world. That kid you called fat and lazy cause he didn’t make the team just took first place in the cosplay contest. The girl you teased for liking other girls just sold out of her prints that she sells at conventions. Remember that kid you beat-up in homeroom cause his clothes didn’t fit well and he was just so weird…well, he just landed a multi-million dollar movie deal. You ask what’s in an image, I will simply ask what is in your heart.