Oh god. It’s my first article. And I don’t know what to do.
HULLO! I’m new here.
I’ve ahhh… created this here column, “NRRD PROBZ,” with the idea that all of you readers can submit said problems and/or inquiries, and I will do my best to answer them! I know there are many concerns/complaints when it comes to this industry, especially for women. Comic-land is not always the safe and welcoming environment of our dreams. So please, in the coming days, weeks, and months, share your concerns with me. Tell me your problems. I will answer with the sagest advice my gigantic brain can conjure up.
Now perhaps you are wondering, “Who is this strange person? And what on earth qualifies her to give advice?” Well, tough noogs. I am a lady of mystery and refuse to reveal my dark past. However, I can tell you the following savory nuggets:
*I was reading comics before I knew I was reading comics. Somehow as a child, I thought superheroes had to be involved to make something a “comic.” Also, comics were for boys, and boys were gross. Ew, no thanks. I eventually learned that all of those Betty and Veronica digests I tore through during visits to the supermarket were exactly what I so loathed. So, for obvious reasons, I quit reading them.
I didn’t read comics again until my angst-ridden early teenage years, when there was a seemingly big upsurge of goth comics. Everyone I knew was reading Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee!, Lenore, and the like. Being obviously too cool to be swept up in such a fad, I waited awhile to read them. But when I did, ohhhh boy. My dark fantasies were laid out before me as if I had written the comics myself. The remainder of my high school years I read comics incessantly, and started drawing them as well. Of course, when I say “comics” in this case, I mean everything BUT superhero material. I was reading mostly alternative press and a lot of manga. Still on my high horse, I thought that any story featuring characters with capes and secret identities was not worth my time.
I got to college. I made some (NRRD) friends. They started giving me comics to read. I made a conscious decision to stop being such a narrow-minded elitist, and I read my first Batman comic. Can you guess which one it was? It was obviously The Dark Knight Returns. Holy. Shit.
* I became a little obsessed. I read every comic my friends owned, I took comic classes in school, I applied for jobs at local comic shops, I started reading comic literature in my free time, I drew and drew and drew. For three years my love of comics raged, punctuated only by that pesky “university” and “job” I was responsible for seeing to.
And. then. I. got. a. job. at. a. comic. shop.
It was like my dreams had come true. Everything I had been doing for the last three years had surely led up to this crowning achievement. My life was complete! I was going to ride this out ’til the end!
My first day of work was Free Comic Book Day, and I was so unprepared for what awaited me. I have perhaps forgotten to mention that while I am a generally normal and pleasant functioning member of society, I am also prone to extreme bouts of anxiety and claustrophobia. As you might imagine, I was in hell for roughly 8 hours that day. It was not the last problem I would face.
The following three years at the comic shop went better for me. I acclimated to every type of person who came into our store; from the loud and boisterous, to the quiet and reserved, to the old and creepy. These were all my people, and I would be the one to point out new titles and discuss whatever egregious lack of continuity had transpired in the various universes that week. I took pride in it, and it became an integral part of my identity.
All good things must come to and end, however, and I had to get out of my college town before it trapped me forever. With much sadness, I packed my bags and headed elsewhere.
* I still work in a comic shop. My good luck continued after I sought greener pastures and landed another job at a comic shop. It is one of the best I have ever stepped foot into, and I am so glad to be there. We specialize in small press and self-published work, and since I started, a whole new world has been opened to me. One that I hope I can share with you. I still draw daily, and sometimes I draw comics. I am working on one right now!
So there you have it. I might be young, but I’ve been at this for awhile. I’ve seen and interacted with every stereotype of nerd you can imagine. I’ve dealt with rude and ignorant people. I’ve been harassed by men claiming that I certainly don’t know anything about comics because I’m a woman. It’s run the gamut. I’ve experienced a lot, and it wasn’t always good. But I still love it. The hope for this column is that through having me answer your concerns, you won’t miss out on experiencing what I consider to be a true joy. This industry can be an unforgiving place, but the people I’ve met in this community have been some of the nicest and most welcoming I could ever hope for. Comics are just the best, dude.
Email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.