Friday, April 4, 2014

Growing Up Nerdy

This week, the boys talk music, ComicCon etiquette and the end of the world.

I often get criticized for my taste in music, even to the point where I get bullied by some of the kids at school for it. What should I do?
- Paul in Georgia

P.S. Congrats on your 17th Pulitzer. That’s got to be a record or something!

Mike: Let your freak flag fly, dude. Love whatever music you want to love. We’ve all been there. I’m 35 years old and I still deal with bullies. In fact, let me tell you about the time Patrick, my "friend" and our fearless leader here at FTM, discovered that Adam and I bought tickets to see Green Day in concert last year.

Turns out Patrick isn’t a fan of Green Day. That’s fine and not shocking at all. I knew that Patrick might make a joke or two about it, but what happened next I wasn’t prepared for. He was relentless.

For example, every email I sent to Patrick was replied to with a Green Day joke in there. Here’s an actual email exchange we had at the time:

Patrick: All jokes aside, you should have told me you built a time machine.
Mike: I knew I'd take a hit for telling you about this, but this is worse than expected. Now I wish I really had a time machine so I could go back in time to befriend the guys at another site
Patrick: Seriously, I hope you have the time of your life.
Mike: I give up.
Patrick: I'm sorry. It's bad, I know. Sometimes I even give myself the creeps.

If you’re completely unaware of Green Day and their songs, you might not recognize the jokes in his responses. Trust me when I tell you, they’re there and they’re funny.

The good news is that Patrick has laid off of the Green Day jokes for now. He’s gone on to make fun of me for countless other things, but music is currently not one of them. I only fear what will happen when he finds out Adam and I can’t participate in the next FTM Twitter fest because we have Spin Doctor tickets.

Adam: Wait…. we’re going to see the Spin Doctors? Sweet!

Mike: Just go ahead now!

Adam: You should never be embarrassed about liking a song or band ever! You just need to come to terms with the band. I’ll start: My name is Adam, and I’m a Spice Girls fan.
I love the Spice Girls. I have every album. I own Spice World and watched it many more times than I care to admit. I also love N.W.A., Waylon Jennings, and the B-52’s. I will jam out to anything. On my drive to work this morning, I belted out along with Taylor Swift, followed promptly by “Straight Outta Compton.” Go ahead, lay into my ass all you want. I love the Spice Girls and think that “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift is a great song. I can’t explain it. People have different tastes. 

Your taste in movies is just like a taste in music. There are guilty pleasures. I’m sure you have these movies that you love and you just can’t explain them. The day I bought my copy of the movie Spice World, the guy behind the counter at Tower Records told me that I “have no soul.” Fuck that guy! Spice World may suck, but I have fun watching it. So walk over to your window, open it up and shout out “I know all the lyrics to 'Kiss from a Rose' and enjoy Pauly Shore movies!” This is what I’m assuming you would say...just assuming.

I went to a ComiCon with my friends and they refused to enter Artist Alley. What is so bad about that place?
-Duncan in Kansas 

Let me be very clear: I think anyone that spends the money on a booth (they’re not cheap) and takes the time to spend the weekend showing the world their art, their comic books, their whatever, is brave to do so and I respect the hell out of them. It can’t be easy to sit all day behind a table trying to get people of all ages to check out your work. The inhabitants of Artist Alley are almost all really nice and super excited and passionate about their work. For those reasons alone, I think they’re awesome.

With all of that said… Artist Alley can sometimes be a NIGHTMARE. Because the artists are looking to find an audience for their work, they can be really aggressive with their sales pitch. It’s never been inappropriate, but I have a hard time sitting through a sales pitch when all I want to do is find the guy that draws superheroes to look like Peanuts characters. I realize that for some artists it’s imperative that they get your attention, because after a few minutes roaming Artist Alley, it can all begin to look the same. They need to distinguish themselves and engage. Being socially awkward, this can be a turnoff for me.

Years ago, Adam and I came up with the “No Eye Contact" rule for Artist Alley. This is very important. If you don’t see them as they attempt to flag you down, you seem a little less like a dick when you walk right past. The trick, however, however, is not to ignore the actual work they’re displaying. If they have something that looks interesting, I’ll stop and check it out. Otherwise, I charge forward.

With all of that negativity out of the way, I will say this: if you see something you like, and they’re not charging an arm and a leg for it, buy it. The three dollars you spend on someone’s homemade comic book means the world to them. Also, you never know what or who you’ll discover.
Adam: Artist will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. You must be cautious. If your friends are avoiding Artist Alley, they aren’t getting the full ComiCon experience. Artist Alley is like channel surfing on a Saturday afternoon: just when you think that television has been taken over by shows that begin with The Real Housewives of… you see that WGN is playing The Warriors and all is right with the world.

The terrible thing about Artist Alley is that anyone can be there -- incidentally, that's also the best part about it. For the right price, anyone can get a booth and try to sell you a zombie comic book. Don’t worry though. Their zombie book is different than the four thousand other indie press zombie books. 

Have faith though! Through all the zombie book-wielding hopefuls, there are the gems. Guys like Joe Madureira, George Perez or Oliver Coipel could be hiding in the tables to sign your books. Not to mention that through all the tables, the occasional kick-ass book -- and I stress the word occasional -- arises. It was only a few years ago that Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead) was in Artist Alley trying to get copies of Battle Pope to the public. One of my favorite comics of all time, Scud: The Disposable Assassin, started off in Artist Alley, and writer/artist Rob Schrab went on to write for TV and movies (including Monster House). So while most of the guys in Artist Alley won’t make enough money to be there next year, you never know who you’re going to run into. They just may be famous some day.

Dear Growing Up Nerdy,
I can’t shake the feeling that the end is near. What should I do to get ready for the apocalypse?
-Dan in Santa Fe

Adam: When preparing for the apocalypse, look no further than movies. Everything you could possibly need to know about surviving the end of civilization can be found in various movies throughout the years. From nuclear war, killer machines, natural disasters to zombies, every possible scenario has been covered.
1) Stay the fuck away from Kevin Costner. Nothing good has ever happened to that guy after the apocalypse.
2) Never trust women. There are so many examples of the ladies putting guys in very bad situations. Tina Turner turned out to be a real bitch in Beyond Thunderdome. In A Boy and his Dog, they used young women as bait for men. In Hardware, half the guys in that movie would have been just fine if they would have just left the girl in her apartment.
3) Learn to roller-skate. If Solarbabies taught me anything, it’s that all the cool kids will be doing their transportation via roller-skates. You will want to be one of the cool kids.
4) Fresh water and gasoline are going to be HUGE. Mad Max, Solarbabies, Waterworld and countless others have water and/or fuel as a major sticking point. Personally, I think water is a lot more important than fuel, but who am I to question The Road Warrior?
5) Find at least one African-American dude and befriend him. Pick a post-apocalyptic movie, any one of them. Chances are in 90% of them, there is an African American guy who makes it to the end, close to the end, or, if you’re white, ends up sacrificing himself to save your ass. In many cases, those same African-American guys are the only ones who know what is really going on.
6) Bullets, Guns, and more Bullets! “There are two types of people in the world, those with a gun, and those who dig.” Basically the guy with the gun is the guy who is in charge. The only drawback is that when the machines eventually take over, bullets don’t do much against them. Hope those help to put you on the right track, Dan.

Just remember, you only need to wait things out a few years until you can join whatever evil dictatorship takes over. It’s easy sailing after that!

Mike: I have only two things to add to that.

7) If you don’t already have a chiropractor as a friend, get on that. With all of the walking, running, lifting and roller skating you’ll be doing, you’re bound to develop some back issues. And speaking of back issues (I’m so sorry)... 
8) Bring your comics and books with you. If and when the apocalypse happens, I can only assume that those lucky (or unlucky) enough to survive will do a shit ton of reading. Because, let’s face it -- what the fuck else is there to do in an apocalypse? Maybe leave your copy of The Road or The Walking Dead behind. Instead, grab something like your run of Spider-Man books or movie adaptations since you’ll likely never see a film again. Or maybe something mindless like your copy of the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records.*

*When I was little, I would read my Guinness Book of World Records every night and fantasize about making it into the book. I have ZERO talent, so I came up with the idea of growing the worlds tallest grass, because how fucking hard could that be? I’ll keep everyone posted on my progress.


  1. Having seen the "cover" to issue #5, for some odd reason I have a strong desire to see The Warriors. The original cut, not the horrible "special edition."

    1. It was on IFC a few weeks ago.... I fucking love that movie.

  2. Awww, you Green Day fans sure do walk a lonely road.

    Serious question, Nerds! My real comic collecting days are long over but I've recently taken to buying some "graphic novels" here and there (mostly because Heath) - I have a local comic shop I've talked about visiting (and feeling totally out of my nerd depth) before but Amazon prices usually come in at about $5 cheaper for the $20ish books - I guess this could be a broader question about e-commerce vs. small local businesses in general but I'm wondering if you Nerds have a philosophy about your comic book purchases - do you support your local nerdrepreneurs as a rule or F em and go cheap as possible?

    1. Depends if you are part of the stores comic "club" or not. Most places give you 10-15% off, if that's the case go to the store. Also, if you're not saving on shipping, it's almost a wash, we talking maybe a dollar or two. I buy a lot of Trade Paper Backs online, mostly because of selection. Your local comic store will have a lot of TPB, but usually won't have the selection you can find online. With all that said, I will NEVER pass up an opportunity to go to a comic shop. Every time I go there I browse the new issues and end up picking up something I've never read before. For instance, if you're not reading "Saga" at this point, you need to start... like yesterday.

    2. I thought you might say that - maybe I'll start with going in and picking up Saga - just checked it out and it looks awesome! Vol. 1 is currently going for $9.99 on though - hopefully my local shop is close to that - I'll look into whether or not they have a "club". Thanks Adam!

    3. I think it has a $9.99 cover price, so you're set! It's well worth it. Also, sorry my initial response to you appeared below. Computers are not my friend.

    4. "Saga" is awesome so far Adam - thanks for the recommendation (any more would be welcome) - though there was a tag for $10.95 covering the $9.99 cover price, for some reason she only charged me $9 so score!

    5. Any of youse guys planning on picking up the weekly series Batman: Eternal that starts this week? I'm cautiously excited. Also for Original Sin.

  3. I think I can speak for Adam when I say that we buy almost exclusively from our local comic book store. Adam and I became friends because we would walk once a week together to buy our books at Dreamland Comics by our house. The people we've met at the store when we were little are still very close friends of ours today. So many of my fondest memories as a kid and a young adult take place in that store or simply because of it. Therefore, I feel like for me comic book shops are special and I love supporting them. There's a cool sense of community at these stores and I love it. With all of that said, if a comic shop is selling a graphic novel for $25 and Amazon is having a sale where it's $10, well, that's tough to pass up. If all things are equal, or close to it, I'll likely buy it at the store.

    1. It's a good rule. No one can beat online prices for trades and hardcovers ( always sells their collected editions at 40-50% off) but for single issues, your local comic book store really could use your support. They're the little guy trying to stay afloat in a digital world. If you can build a relationship with them then there's nothing like it.

    2. Thanks Mike - I grew up in a little town with a comic shop - though me and a small gang would converge at the drug store every Wednesday for new comic day, it obviously wasn't the same as a dedicated shop so I'm foreign to the whole sense of community idea you speak of. I fear it might be too late - get many 30-something newcomers welcomed into yours? :)

      I'm going to try and make a new habit of going to the one near me and stick to Amazon for the really good deals only.

      Maybe this site is ready for spin-offs - F This Comic Book! (or F This Video Game!) could be a thing...

    3. Sorry that's "little town withOUT a comic shop". Words are not my friend.