Hello, my name is Barry … and I’m a geek | AspenTimes.com
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Hello, my name is Barry … and I’m a geek

Barry Smith
Aspen, CO Colorado

I’m becoming a comic geek. Well … rebecoming.

I was obsessed with comics in my pre and early teen years ” Spider Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man, Superman, Batman. I lived out in the sticks in Mississippi in those days, so I saved my allowance and bought subscriptions to my favorite comics. Missing even a single issue was unthinkable.

In eighth-grade English, we were told we had to read “a novel.” Any novel, our choice. My mother took me to a real book store to find one of these “novel” things, and of course I wandered into the comics section. On the shelf I saw a book called “Spider Man: Mayhem in Manhattan.” But it wasn’t a comic. It was a book with words. Only words. And right there, on the cover, it read “The First Spider Man Novel!”



Yes!

I wasn’t sure what made a book a “novel,” but I reasoned that having the word “novel” written on the cover was as good an indicator as any. I get to read a Spider Man book for school! On Friday the teacher called out our names so that we could announce our chosen novel. When my turn came the entire class laughed. And not with me. Jack Turnipseed turned around and said, “That’s immature.”




I considered defending myself, but instead took solace in the fact that I would not be going through life with the name “Turnipseed.”

A sudden relocation to California in ninth grade took my focus off comics ” most of my energy was spent trying to not say “y’all” anymore, in the name of self-preservation. I certainly was a geek in high school, just not a comic geek” not that the addition of comic reading would have increased my geekiness.

So now, nearly 30 years later, comics are returning to my life. I’m both nervous and excited, as if a long-lost romance is being rekindled.

See, last year I read somewhere that comics are now, in many circles, acknowledged as a serious, sophisticated, adult art form. That was good enough for me. At some point in my life I probably should do SOMETHING that’s serious, sophisticated and adult, right? Once again, comics to the rescue.

There are some real benefits to being an adult comic geek. First of all, I have money. As a kid, I’d have to really think twice about whether I could afford one extra comic for a whopping 25 cents and later, gulp, 35 cents. Now I go to the comics section of large bookstores and I see kids in the same predicament, unable or unwilling to buy the comics, so they sit on the floor and read them instead. As an adult with money, I step over these kids, choose my title, and join them on the floor. Something about reading comics while sitting on the floor really adds to the experience. But if I decide I want a certain comic, I can buy it. Just like that. Because I’m a sophisticated adult, and sophisticated adults have credit cards.

Second, as an adult comic geek, there’s nobody yelling at me to “quit readin’ all them funny books,” as I often heard as a comic-loving boy. No, now I’m a sophisticated adult enjoying ” studying, if you will ” a sophisticated art form. If anything, people envy me. Oh yes, they envy my reckless, freewheeling comic-reading abandon. Then, after they’ve envied me for a few seconds, they step over my sprawled out form in the Borders comics aisle so they can get to the financial/investing section.

Oh sure, invest your money! You and your mutual funds and your IRAs and your 501Ks. Go on! I’ll be here reading “the Essential X-Men Volume 3,” because I’m a sophisticated, art-appreciating adult! Oh, and guess what? I’m not just gonna read it, I’m gonna BUY it. That’s right. Because I have $18.99!!

Look, here’s the thing: I like pictures. And I like words. And words with pictures are an awesome combination, and I’m glad I get to enjoy them in my adulthood without shame. I’m an adult comic geek, and I’m proud.

Though I have to admit ” the wedgies do take a bit longer to recover from.