Huey Lewis and the News came out with a great song in the 80’s entitled “Hip to be Square”. That song and I connected right away because, as the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries, I was never “hip”. I didn’t wear bell bottoms, never got to show off my belly button, never got strung out or drunk and, believe it or not, never got to go to dances – not even one! I didn’t have long strait hair like Cher (in fact my hair has always been a little kinky). I was never stick thin like Twiggy and never did live on my own like the original That Girl, Margo Thomas.
Not that this left an indomitable stain on my life (well not much). I did miss going to my senior prom. But by then I was planning my wedding so it really didn’t matter that much.
When I met my future husband and discovered he loved to read as much as I did, I knew I had found my true soul mate! In fact, when we were first married in 1972, our special night out always included a trip to Half Price Books. This is a tradition that continues to this day forty-three years later.
But it was what he loved to read that I found endearing – comic books. Now back in the 60’s and 70’s reading comics was considered to be a real geek-fest. These outcasts who enjoyed them were called nerds and a hundred other cruel euphemisms I refuse to remember. Although the harshest thing I ever heard was from a close family member who dared to tell my husband he needed to get rid of “those damn comic books”.
Within the last few years the coming of age of the baby boomers has brought the closet comic book fans to light. From this darkness has emerged movies, television shows galore and wonderful books! Just think about the movies Iron Man and The Avengers and the television shows like Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield, and one of my favorites The Big Bang Theory.
Something else has emerged from the brains of the children who waited with baited breath for the comics to be delivered to obscure places like the Cole and Haskell Drug Store in Dallas. The comic book conventions have arrived in full force! In fact, tickets to the San Diego Comic Con actually sold out in a matter of minutes!
Now, I have been to my share of comic book conventions. In the beginning they were small and poorly attended. In fact, I was one of the few women who would show up. As a writer, I found them very interesting. I would find a quiet corner somewhere and take copious notes on the joyful reactions of individuals reliving their youth by looking through the pages of beloved friends.
The last one I attended at the Arlington Convention Center was jam-packed with people in colorful, massive costumes. Men and women alike looking for great deals and the very thing that would bring back a happy memory from their childhood. In fact, I found a set of Norman Rockwell collector cards I wouldn’t trade for the world.
For me, the best thing of all was seeing the families there. All enjoying the day, having fun, and snapping pictures like crazy. I think the faces behind those wonderful masks were smiling just as hard as the children who stood beside them. I can hear childish voices in school on Monday morning, “I got to fight with Spiderman this weekend and I won!” I mean, how exciting is that?
Now that being a comic book fan is actually cool, we can all relax and enjoy the show that has brought a new appreciation for fantasy. I personally wish to thank C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and now my latest love, Pam Munoz Ryan for writing wonderful stories that ignited my imagination and gave me the ability to appreciate the fanciful comic fans of today!