Perhaps by coincidence and perhaps not, my introductions to both comic books and anime involved vacations.

I was about fourteen or fifteen when I first became interested in comic books. I had finally gotten around to seeing the Batman movies of the day and had fallen in love with them. From there I started becoming attracted to superhero mythos on television from Batman to Darkwing Duck. I’ve always been like that: I discover something new and immerse myself into it. To be honest, the idea of actually buying comic books never appealed to me until I stumbled across a rerun of Simon & Simon involving the death of a comic book writer.

I bought my first comic book from the convenience store right down the street from me. They only had Batman, Superman, and a couple others. I bought Batman and the next day my family left for one of those 12 countries in 21 day European tours. The vacation left a lot of time on the bus. While the rest of the family was peering out the window looking at strange (well, Europe, so not that strange) foreign lands, I had my nose in the comic book. I literally read that thing at least 100 times that trip. With that comic book as my only experience, my imagination ran wild with what other comic books might be like. Almost immediately I was creating comic books in my head.

By any measure, the comic that I had ran a mediocre plot with a fourth-rate villain (Maxie Zeus), but I had no way of knowing that. I read the letters to the editor fifty times, too, and my first order of business upon getting back was buying the storylines referred to in the letters. That meant actually going to a comic book store, which blew my mind. It wasn’t all good. Apparently some of the comic books cost a whole $1.75 instead of $1.50. Of course now I doubt you can get one for under $3.

When it comes to anime, I was actually introduced slightly before a vacation. I was introduced by a friend named Zane. I thought Zane was the coolest guy ever and wanted any excuse I could find to spend time with him. So I would hang out at his friend Mick’s house (Mick’s house was cool cause his dad left and his mom was a dispondent drunk) and we watched some anime late into the night as we took turns chatting online. I only got a couple opportunities to do so before the vacation to Shell Beach, but before I left Zane loaned me his collection so that I would have something to watch.

Clint went with me that year and what time we didn’t spend talking about girls and whatnot we spent watching anime. The first one we watched was a show called Ranma, which was about a boy that turned into a girl when doused with cold water (and then back to a boy when doused with warm water). It didn’t seem like something particularly good, but so many of the people we knew online were into it we had to see it for the culture value alone.

In the US, when there is a TV show and a movie with the same characters, it is typical the the movie came first and the TV show followed (think Highlander). So we figured that the movie should be watched first. Generally (though certainly not always), it works the opposite with anime. The movies come after a TV show has ended (which is increasingly the case in the US, too). But we learned this too late and the movie we thought was going to introduce us to Ranma and company literally had 20 or so characters all chasing each other in the first ten minutes as each chasing member would bump into someone else that had reason to chase them until there was a virtual herd. Akane, the female lead, yelled at Ranma, “Ranma, you do this every time!” We had no idea what the heck was going on, but there were enough one-liners to make us start watching the TV show, which slowly started filling in the backstory.

When we got back to Colosse our first order of business was procuring more of this stuff. Clint quickly befriended an anime friend and basically started dating her so that she would make copies of the anime for us (well, that wasn’t the only reason, she was also very unrigid, affection-wise). Piece by piece, though out of order, we started getting the Ranma story filled in. We also soon discovered a video game rental store that also dealt in anime and within a semester we cleaned out their relatively paltry selection.

It wasn’t until the next summer that we finally made our way to a place called Animenian Outpost in downtown Colosse. The video game store had maybe 100 tapes in all. This place had walls and walls of it, including the entire Ranma series and every other series I’d heard people talking about online. Clint was so excited that he was shaking. I looked at the wall, determined that I wanted to rent about 70% of it, and was trying to figure out what bank I was going to need to rob to make that happen.


Category: Ghostland, Theater

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9 Responses to Dipping My Toe In Geekdom

  1. Peter says:

    It’s funny, apropos of the “geekdom” issue. If a man gets involved with anime, or generally related things like sci-fi and fantasy, he risks being labeled as a geek or nerd. He then might face all sorts of social scorn and women may avoid him like the plague.

    In contrast, if a man gets totally obsessed with, say, fantasy football – which is just as geekily detail oriented as anime or sci-fi, and is not athletic in any way – he’s much more likely to be considered “Alpha” and will be far more popular with women.

  2. logtar says:

    Wow, Peter… your comment about “Alpha” kind of struck a chord for me… Can a geek be considered “Alpha”?

    I am a leader by nature, have been and have been told I do it very well, however, I like Anime and Chess and various other “geek” activities… does that make me less “Alpha”?

    In any case. I am actually about to start with Comic books, never been one but I want to start reading Green Lantern.

  3. trumwill says:

    Peter,

    Past high school I don’t think I faced any negative social consequences for being interested in the geeky things that I am interested in. The problem is that it didn’t serve any positive purposes, either. Being interested in sports-related things will make you guy friends and being interested in {????*} might help you with the girls. Anime helps you with a lot of people that you aren’t excited to be friends with**.

    * – I have no idea. What hobbies are good for picking up women. Yoga? Church?

    ** – I’m way overstating here. A lot of really cool people have geeky interests. But as a group they’re not going to be as much help socially.

  4. trumwill says:

    Logtar,

    What he means by alpha is different from what you mean. My definition used to be the same as yours (alpha = aggressive personality, natural leader, etc) but by and large I’ve had to jettisen that definition in favor of “someone that gets sex”.

  5. Spungen says:

    I got into comic books by dating guys who were into comic books. Sometimes the guys were artists who drew comic books, sometimes not.

  6. Spungen says:

    In any case. I am actually about to start with Comic books, never been one but I want to start reading Green Lantern.

    I had a boyfriend who read Green Lantern! He was actually one of the more popular guys I dated in college.

  7. Peter says:

    Being interested in sports-related things will make you guy friends and being interested in {????*} might help you with the girls.

    Being seriously into sports is an indirect but effective way of meeting women. As you note, a man who’s into sports will expand his circle of male friends, and that in turn will increase his chances of meeting women (relatives of his male friends, for example). He’ll also build social skills with his male friends that may carry over into his encounters with women.

    Feigning interest in a girly type activity such as yoga as a way to meet women is an old trick, but I’m somewhat skeptical. A man would have to be a very good actor in order to avoid having it all seem too obvious.

  8. Peter says:

    What he means by alpha is different from what you mean. My definition used to be the same as yours (alpha = aggressive personality, natural leader, etc) but by and large I’ve had to jettisen that definition in favor of “someone that gets sex”.

    There’s a great deal of overlap between the two definitions.

  9. trumwill says:

    In any case. I am actually about to start with Comic books, never been one but I want to start reading Green Lantern.

    I have a couple Green Lantern shirts. I’ll never forgive them for bringing Hal Jordan back from the dead, though.

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