Tuesday, February 24, 2009

She’s with me.

You know why geeks love everything Joss Whedon does? Because the man gets them laid.

He’s the ultimate wingman, showing these gorgeous females that genre is nothing to be afraid of, and there is something to be said for that. Chicks dig the Whedon, and god bless him for that.

You see it at comic conventions a lot these days. Nerds with hot girlfriends, making sure that everyone in the room knows he is getting laid and is personally responsible for the destruction of the ‘living in basement’ generalization. They keep dragging these girls around the displays and dealers, laying claim to them when other members of the herd draw near.

It’s pretty cute, actually. It’s much better than the days of freakouts in the aisles cos’ there wuz a hot chick comin’, even if some stereotypes never quite go out of fashion. There will always be those obnoxious jerks who forget to treat women like actual human beings, and there has been some disgraceful behaviour recorded at the world’s largest comic conventions in recent years.

But this is the age of instant information spreading around the world like a virus. You can’t get away with that kind of abhorrent behaviour for long, and the majority of geeks have got over their weird misogyny, and can actually take to woman as if they are proper people. Which they are.

The geek couple is a concept that has always been there, and there have been a few notable couples who have worked together on comics and other media, such as the Pini elfmasters, and the adorable Alan Moore/Melinda Gebbie partnership, (although we are all still waiting for that Brian Azzerello/Jill Thompson masterpiece). But now they’re everywhere, and I reckon it’s all Joss’ doing.

I always thought I would have to give up my comics and horror films and movie magazines when I settled down and got married. If I ever did. There was a significant possibility that I was going to end up as one of those professional 42-year-old geeks, with an empty house and shelves full of cool dork stuff.

Fortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Instead, I met the prettiest girl who ever smiled at me at journalism school in 2004, and we celebrated our second wedding anniversary last month.

Now, an affection I didn’t even realise I was missing grows by the day. I love her more and more every hour, more than anybody I’ve ever known. I would do anything for her, and know with absolute conviction that she would do the same for me. She’s my favourite person in the entire world. And getting her to read comic books is like asking her to chop off her toes with a blunt spoon.

I can’t really blame her. Garth Ennis once said he couldn’t understand how anybody could like superhero comics unless they started reading them as a young kid, and I have to agree with the affable Irishman. She will never share the joy I felt reading Superman Beyond, and I wouldn’t expect her to.

But I am getting there, and, once again, I have to go back to my man Whedon. Three years ago, when we were just getting serious, she had no time for genre. Outside of The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story, she had no real interest in anything involving fantasy or science fiction or horror. She thought most of it was stupid. (She’s right, of course. Most of it is pretty stupid, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a lot to love there.)

And comics were the worst. She wouldn’t even pick up the works of heartbreaking genius that I would leave strategically open on the sofa. Her theory was that the pictures on the page took away the thrill of imagination that a novel or short story brings. That it was taking all the fun out of fiction. I’m still trying to come up with a decent rebuttal to this argument. It’s not happening.

When I first told her I really, really liked Buffy The Vampire Slayer, she laughed in my face. I couldn’t convince her that it was even worth a look. Even though it was a show that had hot chicks in tight leather pants beating the snot out of each other, while also featuring some genuinely moving and emotionally devastating moments. She just thought it was silly.

And then I started watching a few episodes while she was cooking dinner or reading a book, and she gradually got sucked in. I think it was Spike that did it, or maybe the epic levels of sarcasm that the show prided itself on, but whatever it was that caught her eye, it caught her bad. She ended up briefly obsessed with the show, and the musical episode in particular, and is now a genuine fan of Whedon’s work.

(I like to delude myself that she doesn’t notice, but I’m doing the same with The Venture Bros right now. She is still not interested in actually watching the episodes, but she will absorb a good quote or two and thinks Dr Girlfriend is adorable. I should have her fully into it by the end of season two.)

This was the first step. Now, she is still a little baffled by the enthusiasm I show for good comics, but she seems to enjoy letting me indulge. A shift in priorities meant I wasn’t spending as much on comics and other geek shit as I would be if I was single and alone, but the benefits of married life certainly make up for that.

Now she will quite happily sit and watch Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who with me, where once she scoffed. It’s a two-way street, of course, but I have little problem with her efforts to make me a better person. (Somewhat unfortunately, while she has attempted to turn me into James Bond, a plan I wholeheartedly agree with, she somehow ended up with an Ianto Jones.)

And once I got her into a slightly geeky mindset, it suddenly wasn’t so hard to get her to read the odd comic. There is still zero chance of getting her to read a mainstream superhero comic, but she devoured V For Vendetta and From Hell, and that's a good start.

I try not to show her off in that obnoxiously nerdy way, which isn’t that hard when she is quite happy staying well away from the comic shops and tiny local conventions. But she indulges my own little geek tendencies with good humour, and I can’t help but love her all the more for it.

Now if I could only convince her to give Love and Rockets a try….


Duncan said...

Bob - I thiiink actually Brian Azzarello's wife is Karen Berger and she edits and sort publishes(?) pretty much every comic he's ever written.

I think.

RAB said...

"There was a significant possibility that I was going to end up as one of those professional 42-year-old geeks, with an empty house and shelves full of cool dork stuff."

Hey! Some of us are in your audience!

David Bishop said...

Hmm, you could try her on Bone. [The comic book, stop sniggering at the back. Honestly.] Or Calvin and Hobbes collections. But yeah, I can see how superheroes are a problem if you didn't grow up reading them.

David Uzumeri said...

Duncan, you're definitely off regarding Azzarello's wife - it's absolutely Jill Thompson. You might be thinking of Shelly (formerly Roeberg) and Philip Bond, perhaps?

Bob Temuka said...

No worries, RAB. I still love ya, you just remind me a bit too much of myself sometimes. I was always comfortable with the idea of turning into that guy, but am more than pleased with the way things turned out.

David B: She actually gave me the one-volume Bone book for my birthday a couple of years ago, but I think the sheer size of the bloody thing is a bit intimidating. I'll still get her to read it some days, but it's a long-term project. We're still young. I got time.

Zom said...

That it was taking all the fun out of fiction. I’m still trying to come up with a decent rebuttal to this argument. It’s not happening.

Lots of ways of tackling this one. For a start, I have to ask, does she feel the same way about film? Because if one were to take this criticism seriously then one would have to be really down on virtually all cinema. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, why do people always feel that the written word is incapable of colonising the imagination in the same way that images are - that the written word allows more room for movement? What about all the things that comics don't show? What about the gutter? What about the comics formal possibilities - their ability to throw abstraction or expressionism or impressionism into a conventional narrative?

I could keep going.

My wife has zero interest in reading any comic. It fucks me off. Mind you, it probably has something to do with her being a blog widow, so I can't really complain

Bob Temuka said...

Yeah, I tried all that. She isn't having a bit of it. But I will make her like comics. Oh yes. One day.