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I Read Comics

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Men of Tomorrow

I just got done reading Gerard Jones' book Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comics Book (to be reviewed on an upcoming show) and I was struck by his characterizations of science fiction fans in the 1920s. Observe:

...And through fandom, there was now a community - others to encourage keeping one's core in that other world even when school or work demanded the presence of one's outer self...It was a generation of misfits who were given a choice other than the complete withdrawal from the world or indentured service to it...Once in the subculture the boys fine-tuned one another's identities around the self-definition "science fiction fan" - an indifference to clothes and appearance, a manic but unsentimental bonhomie in their meetings, an amused disdain for the drones who didn't understand them...In their correspondence they strutted with forid self-advertisement masked as self-parody, held onto each other with in-jokes and acerbic wit, like fifth-graders with collegiate vocabularies. They craved clearly marked territories. They argued endlessly, obsessively, about whether science fiction must be based on proven concepts or could stray into speculation...They labeled and listed and ranked and included and excluded and collected and with passionate exactitude - such hyperrational ordering being the most entertaining way to keep the disorder of life and emotion in check.
(pp 34-37 of the hardcover edition)

Hmm. Monkeys still be monkeys.


  • I think that, maybre from the 70's or the 80's, a new kind of geek has appeared. It's what I call a semigeek.
    A semigeek is the fanboy that likes everything a fanboy likes, but doesn't like the social aspect of being a fanboy, and thus he doesn't let himself to become a total comic geek but just a semigeek.
    The difference between a geek and a semigeek is clear: when a total geek doesn't mind what people are going to think about him (or maybe he even LIKE to be seen as a geek, as someone out of normal social parameters) the semigeek cares about how he's seen.
    Of course there are some sacrifices the semigeek has to do, some parts of the fact of being a fanboy that he won't fully develope. For instance:
    -He has to be able to talk about other topics than comics and movies and stuff like that.
    -He has to waste some time taking care of how he looks like (a time that should be spent reading comics or watching a movie!)
    -He has to accept that a lot people will never appreciate the art of comic-books and be able not to feel anger against them.

    I think plenty of today's geeks are in fact semigeeks, fanboy-born guys that have evolved towards integration into mainstream society without leaving their liking for comics and subculture.
    It's hard, but necessary.

    PS: I talked about fanboys but of course I think it also works with fangirls. In fact, I actually believe that fangirls transform herself into semigeeks more naturally than fanboys.

    By Anonymous Israel (from Barcelona), at 11:07 AM  

  • the distinction you're describing is the same one I've heard to delineate between Geeks and Dorks. Where Geeks are highly intelligent and have strong interest in something considered "geeky" while a dork is a geek but with no sense of social interaction.

    By Anonymous JM Campbell, at 8:09 PM  

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