I am a third generation Comic book fan. My grandfather was a kid when Comics really started to take off and actually has some of the first Superman and X-men comics from way back. He was the youngest of seven, yes seven, boys and the only one who wasn't old enough to go off during WWII, at age 12, and he got a love for Captain America during this time. My father and uncle then got into comics in the the 70's when they were kids, and they would buy two copies of every comics; one to read and one to keep in mint condition. Together they have over $300,000 in collectable comics. It's insane that they had that foresight as kids. Then on my mom's side they were really into Superman comics, but being raised catholic they had to hide their comics since they were frowned upon. My uncle on her side, however, is now a social science professor and uses X-Men to teach the lessons.
That brings it to my brother and I. My brother LOVED Batman and Robin and anything to do with them. I loved comics too, especially X-men, when I was younger, but in about the 3rd grade I specifically remember getting teased by my friends for liking "boy stuff." I use to pride myself in being able to name every singe X-man, their powers, identities, and their complex relationships with each other. But I quickly found myself conforming to the gender roles of playing with Barbies and liking Boy Bands, even though I really didn't like it. But all my friends did so I stuck with it. I still played superheroes with my brother, who is two years younger, but our estrangement started when my friends would come over and I'd pretend to think Batman was "weird."
This went on until 6th grade where I had a nasty fight with my "friends" and realized that that was not who I wanted to be. I could have easily been the catty, petty cheerleader and in the "popular" crowd, but I made a female friend who also loved Batman and I realized then I didn't want to go about pretending to be someone I'm not.
So, I embraced my love of comics again and slowly got back into them. I made new friends who also loved geeky things, not just comics, and I was happy. The older I got the more I went from loving the action to also appreciating the plot, the characters, the art, the writing, and just everything. Instead of just following characters, I started following writers and artists as well. So now I'm in college doing studying nothing to do with Comics, however I still want to be involved in the community.
My brother on the other hand started swimming and is popular in High school. As a senior now he is a "closet geek," his own words. He dares not let his girlfriend or friends know he has a massive batman collection and can practically quote every superhero movie.
It's sad to think that comics are considered "not cool" at any age for girls and past middle school for boys. Many comics are amazingly written and drawn with fabulous story lines that keep you coming back for more. It's amazing that everyone will love the movies, but not even care about the comics. The extreme retaliation is the "you're not a real fan" issue.
Next time: "You're not a real fan" - Where is this coming from and what does it mean.