At my age, I can’t tell you what I did last week, but I can remember the music I listened too in High School. The cartoons I drug myself out of bed to watch on a Saturday morning. (Yeah, no netflix or Cartoon Network, kids) The toys I clamored for as a child.
I might not get too excited about what’s on TV now, but have Facebook pop a picture of Darkwing Duck and I light up. Give me an episode of Scooby Doo any day over the crap that’s on the cartoon channels now. But I digress. What is it about the things we grow up with that changes our attention span? I can’t keep up with the New 52 or Marvel’s Ultimate line, but give me a few hours and I can tell you the family history of most of the known comic universe…the way it used to be at least.
What brought this bit of nostalgia on? Well, True Believer, I was walking around the tables at the Tulsa Comic Expo last week and thinking. Ok, let me rephrase that a bit. I was running from table to table, geeking out like some ten year old. I mean, let’s be honest. There was some pretty cool stuff there! I mean a full scale metal replica of Cap’s shield sold for over $600! Belt buckles made of comic pages! Masks and all sorts of props! Comics everywhere! And, oh my God, it’s Abe freakin’ Sapien!
Ok, I MUST take a breath. I’m sorry. It’s still fresh in the ole memory and it was awesome. But what is it about things we love that triggers something chemical in us? I mean, it triggers something akin to Bruce Banner getting angry. It’s like adrenaline pumping through our veins giving us a rush like none other. It transforms us from the old tired adults we’ve become to the children we all are (or at least was) inside. If you could bottle that up and sell it in a store, it would be revolutionary.
But you can’t. Like the children we used to be, our energy is wasted on our youth. But, for one short minute, it comes back and, in a flash, it’s gone. Is that why we fan-boys and girls grip our fandoms so tight? Is that why we cling to the things that bring that energy back, if even for a moment. I, for one, believe it is. It’s the glimpse of an old comic. The feel of a classic action figure in or out of the box. It’s the image of our childhood heroes on the big screen. The sound of that song you danced to at the prom. It is the energy that keeps us alive and vital. It is the life that the work-a-day world tries to suck right out of you.
They told you coming out of grade school, “Grow up. Big boys don’t play with dolls.”
“They’re action figures” You mutter as if they cared.
They told you as you went to High School, “Grow up. Cool guys don’t read comic books.”
“Are you kidding? That’s a classic mint condition, Clairmont Uncanny X-men…” You replied but they weren’t listening.
They told you as you graduated and went to work or college, “Anime’s for emo teenagers and God forbid you still watch old episodes of Invader Zim! It’s just not becoming of an adult…”
But, thank the good Lord above, somewhere down the line, we stopped listening.
We returned to the comic book store and found us a new D&D group. We watch what we want on Netflix without a care for what the world thinks. REVENGE OF THE NERDS was right! We all ARE nerds! Each and every one of us. And, finally, we’re not afraid to admit it.
So celebrate every chance you get, TRUE BELIEVER! Work on that cosplay! Go to the cons! Get that issue of Spiderman signed by Angel Medina! Get your picture taken with the Ghostbusters and the Storm Troopers standing around the Tardis and be proud! Because that’s youth, pure and simple. To celebrate the things we love without a care in the world and no matter who’s watching. To enjoy it, not only alone, but with others who love the things we love!
I may not be able to put my finger on the scientific formula for youth, but I know one thing. The unending pursuit of the things we love and even of newer, more potent things to love is the essence of life. Grab it with everything you got and with all the tenacity of a child who will never, EVER let their favorite toy go.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have a date with the Fantastic Four, the John Byrne years. Maybe I can remember how they used to be and catch a little lightning in a bottle!