I recently cut and pasted everything I’ve written for this blog into one file, and was fairly astonished to discover that I’ve written nearly half a million words in the past two and a half years. That’s like eight decent-sized novels (or one Alan Moore novel).
I’m not surprised how much repetition there is in those hundreds of thousands of words, or how often I bang on about the same old shit, but there are also a lot of posts that I’m genuinely proud of.
So for the next month, while I go away and write other things that I’ve been putting off for years, I’ll be recycling 31 of my favourite posts here at the Tearoom of Despair, starting with the very first one, which I put up on my 34th birthday. I really did follow this path, which is how I ended up here, but I never regretted taking those steps.
Path of the Geek
Originally posted January 7, 2009
Welcome to the Tearoom of Despair, another blog that is mainly concerned with comic books. Because the world really needed another one.
Please take the following quiz. Results are unimportant, but may be used for entertainment and education.
You're barely walking, and your favourite uncle is reading scary horror comics, watching Hammer House of Horror and playing the guitar. Do you:
A) Read those horror comics until they fall to bits and have nightmares about blonde vampire women for years.
B) Watch Hammer House of Horror and have nightmares about phone boxes that bleed and disappearing houses for years?
C) Pick up the guitar and try and learn a few chords.
If you answered C), you become a rock god in your own mind and play in dozens of shitty bands, before bouncing into the spotlight with a novelty single that everybody hates for six months. You are dead at 28, on just the wrong side of cool.
If you answered A) and B), read on. If you only picked one of these answers, the geek pull is not strong enough and you become a computer programmer with an interesting collection of clocks.
You're starting school next week, but you just realised you understood every single word in that Unknown Soldier comic your grandmother gave you and now you can actually read. Do you:
A) Give up on this reading business now that you've cracked it.
B) Go get some more.
C) Build a fort.
If you answered C, you join the army at 18 and accidentally shoot yourself in the foot during training. You spend the rest of your life working in a respectable pet shop that specialises in hamsters.
If A is your answer, you are crushed beneath the wheels of a two-tonne truck at the age of eight when you cycle straight through an intersection without reading the stop sign.
If you answered B, life goes on.
You're 10 years old and you've asked Mum to buy an issue of the Indiana Jones comic book. You're trying to get the second issue of the Temple of Doom adaption because that movie is just about your favourite thing in the whole wide world. She brings home an issue of the Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, which you can't understand. Do you:
A) Throw a big sulk, and then spend the rest of your life feeling guilty about not appreciating your bloody mother?
B) Save up your pocket money and buy a whip?
C) Become an archeologist.
That second option just lost you an eye and your depth perception. The third leads to a life of respectability, until an Incan Mummy bites your face off when you desecrate an ancient tomb. The first answer is the right one, because you get that second issue five years later and it's rubbish, so you end up throwing the whole series out. Now go give your Mum a call before reading on...
You're still only 10 years old, and you're in the hospital two days before Christmas. Even though you don't feel so bad, everyone is making a fuss over you because they're scared you'll be in hospital over Christmas. You don't mind as the food is excellent, but your Mum asks you if you want anything to read. Do you ask for:
A) Whizzer and Chips
If you asked for Playboy, your Mum will give you a clip over the back of the head. You're 10 years old! Go back and choose again.
If you're a Whiz-kid or a Chip-ite, you are massively entertained for two hours, and then get bored with the whole thing. No more comics for you. That's kid's stuff.
If you answered B, your Mum gets it so right and comes back with the Mean Team smashing people in the face with giant maces, Sam Slade shooting robots in Ian Gibson glory, Bryan Talbot's magnificent take on Nemesis the Warlock, some Wagner/Grant/Kennedy Dredd (which is about as good as Dredd ever gets), and a Pete Milligan/Barry Kitson short story. Read the drokk on...
You're still 10 in a year that never ends, and there is a competition to win every single Doctor Who novelization published by Target. It's a competition advertised on national television, at a time when Doctor Who is being aired in primetime. You enter once. Do you:
A) Sit by the letterbox every day for six months?
B) Have dreams where a big box of books show up on the doorstep, and feel genuine anguish when it turns out not to be real.
C) Get completely baffled by the arrival of a Target badge in the mail, one year after the competition, with no letter of explanation.
The answer is: D, all of the above. Move along, nothing to see here.
You're 13, and browsing around a small town video store on a Friday night at the tail end of the eighties. Between you and your mates, you have just enough money for one video for the night, some hot chips and a bloody big bottle of coke. What do you get out?
A) Die Hard
B) SummerSlam '88
C) Zombie Flesh Eaters
The answer is, again, all of the above. The zombie film first, then you come back for the wrestling the next Friday, and the Willis on a Building the next Friday, even though you've seen it a dozen times. It's a small town, what else are you going to do on a Friday night?
You're 15, and your best mate is trying to convince you to go halves in a bottle of wine. You have just enough for that, but if you buy it you won't have enough money to get that sweet issue #255 of the Uncanny X-Men that is waiting to be bought at the local bookshop. Do you:
A) Go get some chips.
B) Get the wine, get the wine, get the wine!
C) Hold on to that money and buy that comic later in the week.
If it's A, you're a fat bastard and die of a heart attack at 47, while making love to your sixth wife.
If it's B, you die of liver failure at 48 while breaking out of your seventh crack at rehab.
If it's C, you're going to live forever.
You're 18 and earning your first money, and all you wanna do is buy comic books. Your big sister is flying off to another country when you have a quick look in the airport bookstore and find a whole bunch of early nineties DC comic books going for two bucks each. These include the first issues of Sandman, Legion of Super Heroes v4 and Hellblazer that you ever see, as well as a buttload of recent Superman comics and more Armageddon 2001 annuals than is really healthy. What do you do?
A) Say your farewells like a good brother and miss out on buying the comics because your whole family needs to get back home quickly.
B) Say goodbye and grab a quick couple of issues on the way out the door.
C) Say see ya! And race back to the bookstore and grab 30 of the very best issues, weighing up the pros and cons of picking up the Simonson/Bogdonave Man of Steel over the Loeb/Sale Time Breakers comics.
If you answer A, you're a good person, and good things will come your way. If you answer B, you make the odd mistake, but still live an honourable life. If you answer C, read on. Nobody ever said you were going to be likeable.
It's your 33rd birthday and you think about starting a blog about comics. Do you:
A) Forget it for the stupid idea it was.
B) Decide to give it a go.
C) Just fucking do it.