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I was here first!

I'm mostly writing this to rationalize the irrational. I want to put a finger on why I feel frustrated when I hear people who've never read comics say something akin to, "I love The Walking Dead!" My initial response upon hearing a fan of the TV show has no interest in checking out the comic is more or less a socially acceptable verbal flinging of feces. I want to throw them and a hairdryer in the nearest small body of water when they explain to me that they know all they need to about the comic from Wikipedia. I guess I have an ever present case of nerd rage bubbling below the surface. I can justify this with pretty words about how it bothers me that 9 million people will watch a TV show but only 35,000 will pick up a comic each month. Honestly though, it's not even that. I just want to tell them in a very primal territorial way that I was here first. I and I alone (as I tell myself) realized its greatness when I picked the first issue up off the comics rack nearly a decade ago. I want truck loads of kudos (literally or figuratively) delivered to my home. I want people to stop the conversation in its tracks and extend to me their fist that I may receive a transfer of respect via the knuckles. Yes, I really am being this petty over simply having heard of something first. And it's not just The Walking Dead; it merely serves as the intersection between 2 of my favorite things. Zombies and Comics. They were mine until pop culture swooped in like the high school quarterback and told my long time girlfriend that now that she'd lost the acne and grew some top notch boobs that she could roll with the popular kids (not based on actual events). At least, that's what it feels like. I have that tinge of frustration when I see people dressed like Avengers at the midnight showing who can't remember the name of their character. I want their foam toy store Mjolnir to fall immovable to the pavement where it will await the worthy only. But alas this is not to be. And to be sure my clearly unrivaled comic trivia knowledge is recognized by those in my social circle. When Bane was announced as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, I was the one my friends and acquaintances called upon for an impromptu bio.

But despite all my posturing I have to relent and admit I wasn’t there first either. None of us were. We are all late to the party. My ire can’t be logically reduced down to length of devotion. Someone can always beat me there. Does that mean there is only one true fan for any given interest? That would be ridiculous. Is there a cut-off point? Real fans liked it before 5 years ago, anyone after has to wait for the new fan opt in date next fall. Is it being knowledgeable? Do I engage the toothpick thin comic-illiterate hipster in the Thor costume in a game of funny book trivial pursuit? If he wins I leave, if I win he leaves? Or maybe he just has to pass a test on character knowledge. You must know this much to be considered a real fan. What about the little kid with Batman PJs, sheets, toys, video games, and all the TV shows? Are they not a real fan if they can’t tell me who created Batman? My nephew can’t tell me what happened in an episode of the Brave and the Bold while we’re watching it but I can tell you that kid’s every waking thought is about Batman. I don’t think about anything that much. Not sex, not food, not comics, nothing. I can completely own him when it comes to length of interest and knowledge of Batman (as I brag about this, he’s 4) but really he still wins.

Which brings us to the only (semi-)rational reason for feeling this way: Sincerity. I can respect somebody who legitimately cares. But someone who doesn’t? They are deserving of paper cuts (made by cardstock comic covers) and lemon juice. Unfortunately, my sincerity meter is in the shop. Really this argument is immeasurable as well. Sure you can guess a little bit. For example, one of my wife’s friends couldn’t wait to tell me that she loves zombie movies now. I asked her why that was and as you can imagine it was because she really liked Zombieland. I started to suggest other zom-coms she might enjoy but it quickly became clear she wasn’t interested in anything else. This felt insincere at first but I could tell that she really truly liked Zombieland. Does that mean she doesn’t really like zombies? Yeah probably so but what does it really matter. She might hate every other zombie thing on the planet. She might not even really like Zombieland but she paid for the ticket. Hollywood got the fiscal message to make more. Sincere or not, late to the party or not, ignorant or not; financial success means more will be made no matter the quality of the fans. Projects that wouldn’t have been funded a few years ago get to exist. Who thought we’d get a decent zombie TV show even 5 years ago? So I guess I win even if it means I occasionally want to beat someone with their own foam hammer.

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