Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Strange Interlude

I met a comic book geek today - the exterminator. When he was spraying in my bedroom, he noticed my collection. Said it looked like I was a Marvel Fan. I said, no actually Batman's my favorite, those are all just the ones that I feel like dusting. Anyway, I ended up having a conversation wherein I was face to face with, I think an average guy - a comic book, specifically superhero guy.

And he's excited by the 'New Superman'. And the new Green Lantern. Recced me his favourite local/nearby comic book store.

But he also said somethings. Some things, not just about liking that Superman bleeds now and even loses sometimes and that makes him more relatable - while I stood there thinking about Superman's extended cast being in danger or held hostage or his principles holding him back and wondering if that kind of writing is somehow not 'enjoyable' to the average fan - even one saying he likes that Superman has to try and out think his foes now.

The thing he said was - I'm an average comic book geek and I think girls who like comics are the best of both worlds. It's awesome.

I was able to distract him - unintentionally - from his job (he still had to deal with upstairs) for about a good 15 minutes just talking about comics; talking about learning to read on comics, and having fallen for old school representations of certain characters; growing up on Alan Scott's Green Lantern and The Phantom and Dick Tracy and reading Spiderman and Batman and World's Finest and Huntress as Helena Kyle Wayne.

And it just struck me that he thought I was so uncommon. Either cause I'm black and a woman individually or combined. And I don't think I'm uncommon at all.

And I was just struck in a visceral way on expectations and representation and self-fulfilling prophecy. I may always be that woman he had a conversation about comics with this one time on a job, who talked about her father getting her comics and her father's favourites and her own. And other graphic novels and Watchmen and more. And maybe it'll mean something uncommon to him, that I was talking about old school character history and a 'remember when'.

And maybe it wouldn't be so damn uncommon if the perception courted and perpetuated that 'Girls/Women Don't Read Comics'. If it was accepted that we like a good story as much as anyone, have favourites, are interested in elseworlds, can say things like 'Damien's kind of Jason 2.0'. And 'Dick will never be my Batman' - if we weren't treated as such an oddity.

The last time I felt like such an 'oddity' was back in highschool being quizzed. And it felt that way again, with him watching my face to see if I knew who this person was, or that person, or this arc or that arc. Dropping 'Logan' as if I don't know it's Wolverine. Or Kingdom Come as if I'd have never heard of it (granted I read the novel). Though maybe I shouldn't think of it as a test, maybe he was just being geeky the way I was just being geeky for that 15 minutes; talking about growing disinterested or dropping Marvel or DC or both, and friends who've given up or gotten back in.

But it still felt so weird and oddly upsetting, that it wasn't 'Oh hey, a comic book fan'. But 'OMG! A comic book fan! Really? Are you really?!'