Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Collecting Memories Project: You Were Into Superheroes, Fantasy and Sci-Fi Before It Was Cool

If you're over a certain age, you remember a dark era in the long, long ago when superheroes were not cool.  Reading science-fiction, fantasy or comics got you labeled a "geek" and "nerd" in an era when those words were legitimate slurs, not a comment vis-a-vis "I have an interest outside eating and breathing".  There was a time when the average person on the street did not know the name of the company that published Spider-Man comics, was pretty sure there were only four super-heroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Spider-Fellow) and they had never heard of The Avengers.  Many people found it inconceivable that all comics were not just published by one company.  

Reading an article in was actually a pretty good reminder of what it was to bear the secret shame of your hobbies.  As I begin so many posts here:  "The kids will never know..."

When I came back to The Signal Watch after a hiatus, it was, in part, because I realized that when I felt like talking about comics and pop-culture, it was from a perspective of an elder statesman.  It's one thing to be young and full of excitement about comics and movies.  It's another to be older and have been around the block a bit.  And, of course, remember the time before a Comic-Con in every city, when being seen with a Superman comic would get you assigned "permanent virgin" status, when you only let folks in an elite inner circle know about your extensive knowledge of X-Men trivia, and - really - in a time when comics had no internet, and it wasn't necessarily a very social thing to do.

As much as I think of my experience as typical of comic nerds, there really isn't a typical experience.  Everyone's story is unique.  Not everyone was a straight white dude living in North Austin pedaling their bike to Ballard's gas station to grab some funny books, candy and soda on a summer afternoon.

Here's the thing:

I want to hear your stories.  
  • How was it finding comics where you lived?  
  • What drew you to comics, sci-fi and/ or fantasy?  
  • What did the folks around you think about your interest in comics/ Hobbits/ Vulcans?  Your friends?  Families?  Classmates?  A significant other?
  • The image of comics and sci-fi readership was a straight, white, male.  And most of the narratives reflected the 20th Century's ideas about what a heroic lead looked like (straight, white, male).  How did that work for you?
  • What were you most afraid of in regards to your readership?  Most embarrassed of?  Any trauma inflicted?
  • What made it all worth it?

I want to know all this and more.  

I'd like to start interviewing you guys, or welcoming you to submit your own guest posts on the topic.  What was it like reading American comics in Europe or Canada?  What got you to pick up that first Bradbury novel?  What was it like having so little in the way of representation of someone who looked like you in comics and novels?  Shared your experiences?  

If you want to go ahead and participate right off the bat, please do feel free to email me at this site.  Again, I'm welcoming both guest posts and agreements to be interviewed via email.

I may be reaching out to you via social media or email.  No pressure to participate, but I'd love to make a history out of all this and see what turns up.

Who I'm looking for:

  • It'd be good if you started getting into sci-fi, fantasy, comics, etc... before the internet was in every home, or at least in the days of BBS's.
  • Probably born before 1982 or so.
  • A diversity of folks - men, women, gay, straight, non-white people, white people
  • Creators
  • Retailers
  • Fans
  • Bloggers and former bloggers
  • Non-Americans and Americans

To Participate:

Your Fellow Participants:

If you'de like to see what else has been sent in, just click here.

I don't know what kind of response I get, but I hope my problem is managing all the stories coming in.

Let's do this!

*and box office returns the past decade may have proved me right

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