It’s a horrible feeling when you finally realise you’re not cool any more.
Geek chic has just about had its day, so get in quick. The image of the lonely loser hiding in the comic world is fading, but right now nothing is sexier than intelligence, despite dumb society's best efforts.
Even if the world doesn’t move on without you, back to the hard bodies of the late eighties, time will get its own back at you. It’s much later than you think. Before you know it, you’re a crusty old fart, unable to keep up with all the best and brightest new stuff.
For me, the exact moment I felt old and passed it was the day Tom Spurgeon posted his list of the top 50 comic books for 2006, and I had never heard of half the books on there.
This is not a new sensation, and for most of my comic reading life, I had absolutely no idea what was going on in the greater medium. But by the time I hit my early 20s, I pretty much had it going on. From the heights of independent publishing in the mid nineties to the lows of Marvel's output during the same period, I could, at the very least, recognise what was happening. It was a state of mind that carried on for a good decade, with the internet helping me keep track of all the furtherest corners of comicbookland, even when I wasn't able to make the weekly trip to a local store.
But seeing The Spurge's list that day in early 2007, I realised I didn't really know dick. Stuck in a mindset without even realised it, new artists and creators had blossomed with a staggering variety of work, and there was whole areas of the medium that I now knew had suddenly passed me by.
The initial reaction of shock was soon replaced by a creeping malaise. While my level of knowledge of music and movies was a lot higher than the average joe, I had always thought that comics were the one medium I knew inside and out, better than anything else. That might sound horribly arrogant, but comics had always been a part of my life, since before I could read, and I had immersed myself in the whole thing, only to discover there was so much more going on than I had ever realised.
And yet, it wasn't that bad. That list of unknowns was enough to shake me out of the safe little area of comic mindscape that I had carved out for myself, and gave me the impetus to try out something new. Granted, many of these new works were simply awful, and barely worth the time it took to read them, but others took me off to new and wonderful places.
This is what keeping up with the comic scene is all about. There is so much stuff out there, enough comics released every month to crush an elephant. The unknown books eventually become familiar, and if enough trusted critics keep saying how good something is, it's inevitable that it will come onto the radar. In the end, quality wins.
Even if you damned kids don't know it. Now get off my lawn.