Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.
A comic book helped me learn to read. I’ve been reading them ever since. I’ve been a lifelong DC fanboy. It’s a self-proclaimed title and I say it without hesitation, even when DC does things to piss me off. Which, lately, happens pretty damn often. For years, I’m ashamed to admit that I mostly hid my fandom. Once, when I was in the 7th grade, I even entered my local comic book store and, upon seeing one of my classmates buying baseball cards, I too pretended to buy baseball cards. I don’t know why I thought, so sincerely, that buying pictures of strange men to possibly trade with other people for rarer pictures of men, would be a less odd thing than grabbing the latest issue of Superman, but that’s middle school logic for you.
I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of comic readers out there today with similar stories. Like me, they’ve probably grown out of that niggling sense of embarrassment and embraced their passions wholeheartedly. But, like me, they’re probably a bit confused about the new breed of fanboys that surround them these days.
Before I go any further, I want to clarify that this isn’t an issue of age. I’m relatively young. It’s not an issue of how long you’ve been a fan either. Hell, I blew through Doctor Who (from 2005 on, at least) in under a month, and no fan has ever questioned my love for the series since, like me, they classify fanboyism more as an issue of passion than anything else.
What really annoys me is honestly an issue of semantics. It’s arbitrary and counterintuitive and, I expect, not limited to me. Not by a long shot.
The issue is this: a solid 90% of people who tell me they’re Batman fans have never picked up a comic book in their lives. In fact, they’re not really “Batman fans” at all. They just really enjoyed Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and they have fun imitating Christian Bale’s “Batman voice.” That’s all well and good. I mean, I thought all those movies were amazing; not quite “Batman,” but always well written, wonderfully acted, and masterfully directed.
But those people, those self-described “Batman fans”… I’ve tried playing on their enthusiasm and suggesting comics to them. I’ve told them about the classic graphic novels, and the New 52, and even the animated shows and movies if they want to ease their way into that world. They’re not interested. And I’m seen as a geek for trying to talk to them about comic books. It gets frustrating.
I have a steady job. I interact with people on a daily basis. I don’t live in my parents’ basement. I talk to girls sometimes (I’ve done a bit more with a few of them, as well). Most of my friends don’t really care about comics. They couldn’t tell you the roster of the Justice League without naming a few Marvel characters. I never try to force my interests on them. They know I like comics but we rarely discuss them. My rampant fanboyism and limitless knowledge about men in tights is usually reserved for Internet forums. I’m a functional member of society with a hobby I care about. It was a hobby that helped me learn to read, which in turn gave me a love for storytelling and the written word, helped me excel in school, get into a good college, graduate with honors, and get that good, steady job I mentioned earlier.
Yet, to this new breed of fans, I’m some kind of freak for loving comics and trying to share that love with people who claim to care about the same characters I’ve spent my life enjoying. They confound me. Pop culture has come a long way in the last few years. Superheroes are everywhere. But there’s a disconnect. There’s this assumption amongst my peers that Man of Steel and The Dark Knight pulling in millions of dollars at the box office has made my hobby more mainstream. In reality, it’s just made it harder to sift through the bullshit.