I hope everyone will read this post before answering the question, because it's more complicated than that.

Lately, I've been contemplating why it's important for comic book culture to be recognized by the comics community at large.

I have been a fan, like everyone here, of comic books long before they were a part of the cultural zeitgeist. We all knew who Iron Man, the Avengers, or any of the comic book world explosion became the fodder of movies and TV shows. It didn't bother me. I can honestly say that I, for one, was never bullied for this fact, although I get that it was a part of most comic book fans' childhoods that they were stuffed in lockers as a result of their fandom.

Now that they are cool--with a lot of perks because of it, including great movies with great actors--I will occasionally see or hear stories from people looking down their noses at people who have just come along because of the movies, but whatever.

What I don't understand, however, is that we now have everything we wanted, so of course everyone finds something to complain about.

I'm not sure it's as simple as "people love to complain no matter what", so I've really been contemplating this recently.

If you see your fandom as something that sets you apart, is acceptance something people really want?

I have a lot more to add to this conversation, but I wanted to get the discussion started before I veer too far off.

What do you think?

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I'm not sure what you're looking for, Sensei. For my part, I didn't know any comics readers after about age 8, and kept my hobby mostly to myself. I didn't look for or pine for acceptance for literally decades. Today's acceptance is mild cause of internal gloating -- "I knew this was cool already!" -- but doesn't affect my daily life or mental state much.

It is weird to hear conversations about Mon-El or whatever from unexpected people, which is amusing.

Wandering Sensei said:

I have been a fan, like everyone here, of comic books long before they were a part of the cultural zeitgeist. We all knew who Iron Man, the Avengers, or any of the comic book world explosion became the fodder of movies and TV shows. It didn't bother me. I can honestly say that I, for one, was never bullied for this fact, although I get that it was a part of most comic book fans' childhoods that they were stuffed in lockers as a result of their fandom.

Now that they are cool--with a lot of perks because of it, including great movies with great actors--I will occasionally see or hear stories from people looking down their noses at people who have just come along because of the movies, but whatever.

If this is the heart of what you're getting at, then I'd say comics geeks who become snobs to people new to the field are just as bad, and just as wrong, as any other kind of snob.

The only time I remember comics as a shared activity early on was that a friend had a coverless copy of an EC comic. It was the one with the murder victim at the Four Corners monument. I think I bought a reprint of it and have it somewhere. Generally, I kept comic books to myself because of the societal prejudice against them. I bought them in the Army but only read them privately. The most overt thing I ever did was post a copy of the Batman Returns poster in my office after I had received all my promotions. Today, friends and family know I’m a comics person. I don’t bring it up when first meeting new people because of the still-existing societal prejudice. As for looking down on people who only know the movies, I can't imagine doing that.

Sorry, I realize that I've started a kind of meandering thread without a real sense of the destination, but that was done on purpose.

Why is it important for anybody's hobby to be cool? Is it important?

I think of comics as being similar to alternative music. When the Pixies weren't well-known by the masses, their fans seemed to feel awesome about loving them. But then the instant the become mainstream, their fans try to separate themselves from that populace, even though they felt the surge of acceptance when they did become mainstream.

Has anyone here found this to be the same with comic books?

I have definitely found this phenomenon to be true across other parts of culture, including myself.

I live in Indiana. 95% of people in central Indiana are Colts fans. So am I, but I don't really flaunt that part, because it's the lowest common denominator around here. Also, if you live in Indiana, you know that people who didn't go to college (or otherwise have no reason to be a fan of anything else) are automatically Indiana University fans for basketball and Notre Dame fans for football. I went to Purdue, and the only people who are Purdue fans are the people who graduated from Purdue. I would definitely say that I am a Purdue fan much more than I am a Colts fan (for those who aren't inclined that way, one is pro and one is college). Even around here, when you see another Purdue grad sporting the black and gold, you say, "Boiler Up," and you feel that common thread. I don't mind that the rest of the state aren't Purdue fans, because I know when I see someone wearing Purdue, we're a bit more connected because of what that indicates.

I am also a Cincinnati Reds fan. I feel extra good about this (admittedly) because so much of the area--let alone the nation--are Cubs fans. I realize this is because of WGN playing all their games back in the 70's and 80's all over the United States back when there were 4 channels, but I still feel a little unique as a Reds fan, and I instantly feel a kinship with anyone wearing Reds gear.

It's been a couple years since I have done karate, but I know that the karate crowd felt a huge surge of acceptance when karate made it into the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. Then, it was recently announced that in the Paris games of 2024, karate will no longer be a part of the games. You should have seen the wailing wall that Facebook became for so many of my friends and acquaintances because the sudden "mainstream-ness" of karate was going away before it even got started.

I understand where they were coming from, but I guess I don't share the thought process.

To me, being a comics fan kind of sets me apart, and I don't care if the fans of the Marvel movies suddenly know who Carol Danvers is (or if, to them, she is the real Captain Marvel). In fact, I kind of like it, personally.

That doesn't mean I'm right. But I have been thinking about it for awhile, trying to figure out how to articulate what it says about tribalism versus mainstream acceptance.

Sorry, this is just something that's been on my mind lately.

I think I understand what you're getting at, but haven't really experienced it myself. I confess to being mildly annoyed that people immediately assume that I'm a superhero fan when they hear that I read conics--but at least they know that much about comics. My wife still can't keep the DC and Marvel heroes straight!

I'm also a jazz musician and critic, and that's another relatively small cultural niche nowadays. There are certainly snobs in that world. But most of the critics I know personally--as well as the younger jazz musicians--have musical interests outside of jazz, and they're not embarrassed to admit it.

Hmmm. I think I see what you're getting at, but it's still somewhat outside my framework. I'll give it another go.

First, I never look down on anyone's hobby, having experienced that myself. You're a big football fan who paints his face on game days and decorates his living room in team colors? OK, I think it's eye-roll-worthy, but you go, girl -- it's not like I don't have a 1:1 Green Lantern power battery in my comics room. If it's your passion, then I give it a thumbs up -- even if I don't share that passion, or think it's kind of dopey. Maybe especially if I think it's dopey.

OTOH, don't try to rope me in on it. A flower enthusiast tried to get me interested once (he may have been hitting on me, too), but I said on the front end I wasn't interested and I meant it. Go grow your garden, and have fun. I'll never put you down for doing so. But leave me out of it, because it bores me like comics would probably bore you.

By the same token, I am not an evangelist for comics. I don't expect friends or casual acquaintances to be interested in my hobby, and I do not bore them with the details. When people ask me "what's your favorite" or "what are you reading now" I usually dodge the question. Either they're being polite or they're looking for The Best Comic Book and either way the answer is way longer than they really want. I give a polite answer. That's what most people want, anyway.

I'm not butt-hurt at all that some hobbies -- like football -- were always more popular than my hobby, comics. If I was worried about that, I'd have dropped comics and picked something more popular. Clearly, being a comics fan means never having to say you're sorry not worrying overmuch what people think of me.

But I do get my nose out of joint when people with more popular hobbies than mine look down on me. Dude, it's like the difference between a cult and a religion -- it's just numbers, man. The extra numbers don't mean your hobby is better than mine, just more popular. Keep some perspective.

Also, keep in mind that the best-selling hamburger in America is McDonald's. Popular doesn't mean good.

So I've kept my love secret all these years, and now comes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and everybody gets to make out with my secret love. What's my reaction?

None, really. I'm glad I can make Wolverine jokes and people actually get them instead of laughing politely. But that's about it. I didn't love comics because they were cool, but because I enjoyed them, because I have lots of great memories of reading Legion of Super-Heroes during the moon landing and getting emotional strength from Peter Parker's resilience and learning what's right and wrong from Superman. Nobody can ever take those away -- those are mine, and mine alone. So some new kids are learning things from Peter Parker and enjoying many of the same things I did -- that's really cool, and good on them. But those experiences are theirs, and I'm glad they get to have them. Some other guy finally getting why I've loved Captain America all these years takes nothing away from me, and gives him a cool moment of his own. Maybe someday we can compare notes, and that would be fun.

Ultimately, we are all individuals trapped inside our own heads. When we can find common ground and share, we all grow a little -- and grow a little closer together. Someone else enjoying Marvel characters just means that we have established common ground. But the differences are what we will discuss -- different platforms, different generations, different "aha" moments-- and hopefully have fun doing so.

And eventually, the MCU will not be as popular as today. The fair-weather fans will move on. And we'll still be here digging our hobby, as we've always done.

I'm holding out for the functioning power battery.

Yeah, a better title for this thread would have been “Is Acceptance Important?” That’s the heart of what I was getting at. How boring it would be if we were all the same!

Joining in, I know circumstances vary for all of us.  In my case, I was a Navy brat with two younger brothers -- one, Terry, just 10 months younger than me, the other, Donald, 6 years and 4 days younger.  Terry & I both got into comics as little kids, but by the time we were about 9 & 10 our comics tastes were wildly diverging.  I was very much into Marvel at the time, mostly the superheroes, while he preferred Harvey and a few DCs, but wasn't much into superheroes at all.  And despite my being 10 months older, Terry had grown a bit bigger than me and had bullying tendencies both towards me and Don and sometimes, when he got mad at me, he'd rip up some of my comics, part of an effort to start fights with me.  He eventually got over that phase, started hanging out more with his friends, including a girlfriend and quit reading comics altogether.  Me, I kept at it, although I also got into the Beatles and other rock music, and became a recluse.  I eventually grew out of that phase and eventually quit impulsively buying dozens of comics a month, although that took until I was in my mid-20s rather than mid-teens.  But then, I didn't really quit comics altogether, just became much more selective in what I purchased and, as evident that I come to this & other comics sites, I certainly didn't lose interest in my old superhero faves and I still have all those old comics I collected decades ago. If that makes me a bit of weirdo, my attitude is, so be it, I don't care.  Making me even more odd is that I've never liked watching sports, and especially don't like football, which to some sports fanatics almost seems unAmerican!  Amusingly, among friends of mine who know of my love for comics, some just assume that I know everything about comics, which certainly isn't true and for the most part I haven't kept up with what's been going on with my old favorite characters for over 30 years now and I've never even read a Deadpool comic.  With the mass popularity of so many comics-based movies and tv shows, it doesn't seem as much of a social stigma now to have been into the comics those movies & tv shows were based on and I do regularly bring up in discussions afterwards the various differences between those shows and the original comics.  It's a bit funny, but in my little social group, although I'm known as the comics expert and even Beatles expert, I'm also known as a history expert, as well as knowledgeable on a variety of other topics, which is helpful for our trivia nights.  Of course, I'm not the go to guy when it comes to sports questions.  

That's a really good perspective, Fred. Thanks for sharing. It makes a lot of sense. Sorry to hear your brother was abusive while you were growing up.

My enjoyment of football has really waned over the years, in particular professional football (and not just because of the whole Colts thing). The whole thing has become a big corporate mess. When I say I like Purdue for football, that's just in as much as I actually am a fan. I would actually be fine with it if they dismantled it because of the head injuries, but that's not going to fly for the aforementioned corporate reasons.

I just look at the strides people make in the hopes that their "thing" will become more mainstream, and wonder why, but I think you've answered that one pretty well. I get it.

I think that I'm pleased that comics are more acceptable is the near-disappearance of the TV/movies bit that anyone who reads comics is stupid and/or immature. That prejudice is the reason I concealed my hobby for most of my working life.

Yeah, reading comics used to be a shorthand for stupid or mentally deficient. Hence Gomer and Goober Pyle reading comics. We were supposed to laugh at them. Ditto Radar O'Reilly in M*A*S*H, who was supposed to be childlike.

As for general knowledge, I was a terror on Trivial Pursuit when it first came out -- except for Sports. It didn't take long for my opponents to realize that whenever I hit the center they should choose a Sports question. I'd usually still win, but it would usually take until I got lucky with a Bobby Orr question. (In the first edition, "Bobby Orr" was the usual answer to any hockey question.)

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