If you only lived online, you might genuinely believe that the entirety of pop culture was irreversibly toxic, full of bullies and haters and outright shitheads. There is a lot of that in the real world still, but I keep having genuinely positive experiences with other dorks, at the comic shop or in a bookstore or down the local swap meets.
I love the young kids who get super excited about old Tomb of Dracula comics, and the comic shop retailers I deal with are all genuinely nice people who I want to help out, as much as I can. And every now and then, someone does something really nice and selfless for you, and that's always proper heartwarming.
One of my lamest life goals is to assemble a complete 2000ad collection, and I really didn't think it was going to happen for another 20 years yet. I only needed 37 issues, but there were all in the first year of the comic's publication, and they just never, ever showed up anywhere.
Even as I slowly got every single other prog with relative ease, I was now only finding those earliest issues at the rate of one every six months or so, which was painstaking. I kept hoping to find a bulging box of treasures in some second hand store or something, but it just never happened. That little dorky goal that I had been working towards since I was looking less and less likely.
And then I did a deal with this dude called Rico, and got a huge whack of early thrillpower in exchange for some bronze and silver age comics that he was into. And the thing that really got me was that he just trusted me to send him something worthwhile in exchange for these treasures. He never asked for anything, just trusted someone he'd never met before to pay it forward.
Me and my oldest mate Kyle went in on this deal - (Kyle is another good bastard who let me have first crack at Rico's offerings, and scooped up the rest) - did a quick video chat, sorted out who needed what, and it was all done in half an hour. Acres of ancient 2000ad that has rarely been reprinted, with gorgeous artwork by O'Neill and Gibbons and Belardinelli that I'd never seen before.
I had to give Rico some good stuff, not from the sale pile, but from the personal stash. A bunch of random old fun and some genuine key issues. The first three issues of Devil Dinosaur, some Omega the Unknown, and a Star Wars copy that is getting stupid money now because it had some Mandalorians in it.
I still feel I could have give more, because it's true - no good deed ever goes unpunished. By not asking for anything, I wanted to do a fair deal, and get him some really great stuff. I needed to match the brilliance of what I was getting, because if some random bloke out there will do something so nice for me, I've got to do the same
That's how I'll console myself next time I'm online and seeing the latest bullshit from the most toxic corners of fandom. That's what gives me faith in this world.