Friday, January 8, 2010

A year and a day

One year ago, the world desperately needed another top comics blog, which could examine the mechanics of comics both old and new, stripping them down in an effort to explain why these comics were funny, moving and entertaining.

Instead of that, the world got the blog of Bob Temuka, who cries when people don’t like stuff he likes, spends far too much time thinking about the filing system for his comics and physically hugs the massive pile of 2000ads in the corner of his spare room.

One thing the dweeb does have going for him is that he truly, genuinely, loves the medium of comics. All of them, from the shittiest unending superhero franchises to the stand-alone personal stories of heartbreaking familiarity. He loves ‘em all. And he loves talking shit about them.

I didn’t always know you could do that.

* * *

There was almost nobody to talk to about comics when I was a young teenager, living in a town of 3000 people on the arse end of the world in the late eighties.

There were still a few kids around who liked Battle Action Force or the X-Men or GI Joe, but nobody who wanted to know about everything. Nobody who was obsessed with the whole glorious mess, who liked Joe Kubert and Alan Davis equally, who devoured everything Marvel and DC had to offer, from Power Pack to The Weird. Who would eat up adaptations of Indiana Jones films while equally enjoying the sight of Judge Dredd running over punks with his giant motorbike and then shooting them in the face if they got a bit lippy.

It didn’t really matter, this isolation. For all the fetishes for the monthly serial and glorious packaged collections, comics are something that happen in your own head. Ideas catching fire across the medium don’t need people talking about it, although a bit of proper analysis never hurt anybody.

But comics were for rainy Sunday afternoons when you couldn’t go out, or the last five minutes of the day before the lights had to go out, or something to read while you’re chowing down on some Weetbix. Real life was for getting out on the bike and swimming down the river and getting together for a zombie movies and a feed of chips on a Friday night.

Then the internet came along, and I realised how unique I wasn’t, and it scared the piss out of me. Even if you’re one of a million, that still means there are thousands of you online.

I don’t know why, but I was seriously freaked out by the concept of the internet when it first started to go public like a virus. Maybe I’d just watched the first two Terminator films once too often, or maybe I was just stupid, but it took me a few years before I even dipped my feet in the vast waters of the internet.

And once I did, it all came flooding in. In those first few months somewhere in 1996, I was still impressed by comic news websites that updated once a week, and the first message boards I found had some kind of message posted almost every day. It was incredibly exciting.

It took another year or so before I found a decent comics community, considerably longer than I thought it would. This may have come from my shock over that weird geek anger, something I’d never really seen before. I’d seen the bastard mix of an inflated sense of entitlement and sheer bile before in comic shops, but the amount of moronic bravery displayed by geeks who could hide behind a shit username was astounding. I’m still amazed by much of the bitching and whining that takes their comic books so seriously.

But geek culture is so much more than that, and for the first time in my life, there were plenty of people to talk to about the new Justice League line-up, or whether there would be any more Grendel Tales comics, or wonder what would be coming out next in the fledging trade paperback scene.

And yeah, so many of the conversations would wither and die, or take off in some weird tangent that I had no interest in. But there were also plenty of opportunities to talk about anything, and plenty of people from all over the world who had something interesting to say.

* * *

And then I realised I could make my own stories and put them up and people would say nice things about them even though they were really, really terrible. My name is Bob and I was a fan fiction writer.

And it was so much fun, especially when it all got collaborative. You could write anything you want, slap it up on the internet, and people would tell you that it was great, even though it clearly wasn’t. But it didn’t matter, because we were all rubbish, all doing our own thing.

There were certainly plenty of fan fiction communities to choose from, but most limited to a particular continuity. I picked one that took little bits from frigging everywhere, in another of those ‘nexus of all realities’ things that are so useful for stuff like that.

It must be 10 years since I wrote a story for that community. It’s still there in a completely different form, even if it’s the same forum. I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I miss it terribly.

* * *

A life as a message board denizen never seems to last too long and by the turn of this century, posting lost its lustre, but that was okay. I’d meet a bunch of fascinating people, mainly through that embarrassing foray into fiction. I’ve only met a couple of them in the flesh, but I trust their opinions and follow their recommendations.

And they’re people from all over the world, who through sheer chance and shared interests, find common ground in meeting places that don’t physically exist. Friendship doesn’t have to be defined by geography any more.

* * *

And now it’s 2010, I turned 35 yesterday, and I’ve been blogging for a year. Things have been slack recently, but that’s only because it’s a beautiful summer in New Zealand, and who can be arsed sitting in front of a computer when you could be down the beach with a six-pack of beer and a pile of old comics and magazines?

Sometimes I walk out of comic shops grumpy and confused because I couldn’t find anything I really wanted, but I still get a kick out of a good comic that beats any other medium. I really fucking love comic books.

And I love talking about them. In comments on other sites, the odd message board post and through this blog. Getting this idiotic shit out of my head and into words is still a thrill like no other, and the Tearoom of Despair is ready to roll on into a whole new year.

Because the fact that there are thousands of people who like the same shit I do isn’t something to be scared of, it’s worth celebrating. And worth talking about.

Thanks to all those who read this blog, and all those who have left comments. 2010 will be business as unusual for the Tearoom of Despair.


Nik said...

Keep it up mate, one of us has to!

Zom said...

It's great to have you around, Bob. If you're ever in the UK and have some free time you should get in touch and I'll rally the Mindless Ones

The Beast Must Die said...

Definitely. Your tastes in comics and reminiscences often run weirdly close to mine. Uncanny!

One of the few blogs I check with regularity. Keep it up.

Bob Temuka said...

We've been to the UK twice in the last couple of years, but child plans mean we won't be back for a long, long time.

You guys should all just come to New Zealand instead. The weather is much nicer.