4.23.2009

Nerd Rage -- Thank You Scott Ramsoomair

I don't much read webcomics. Except for Cyanide and Happiness, there's not one I keep up with on a regular basis. But occasionally, I'll check out the strips that show up in the "Comics" category on Google Reader. Today is such an occasion.

I read today's VG Cats and I was nearly brought to tears. It puts in a mainstream webcomic what I've been trying to say about comics, movies, being a geek and other "I paid my fucking dues, and you get to just show up in the 2000's with an ipod and some acronyms and claim credit" rants.

It's funny that this comic came out this week, as it's right on the tails of a great talk I had with the extremely cool Ed Piskor at Notacon last weekend. If you don't know who he is and are too lazy to click his linked name, Ed works with Harvey Pekar on American Splendor, and put out two of the greatest, most authentic and honest self-published hacker comics I've ever read (and yeah, that's a fairly narrow category, but still - they're FANTASTIC and you owe it to yourself to cough up 30 bucks for the two).

Now, when Ed gave his talk on Wizzywig, he was wearing a righteous Public Enemy shirt and Pittsburgh Pirates hat. He looked like a thinner white Chuck D from the 80's, and I REALLY dug that. His buddy HP ran around con wearing a Kangol and fat rope chains and Adidas, like RUN DMC. And what's great is I knew it wasn't just an act - these guys definitely were into old school hip-hop. So I mentioned it during his talk - I raised my hand to ask about the process of self-publishing a comic book, and before I got to that, I told him that the Public Enemy shirt made me less-than-three him, but the Pirates hat really sealed the deal.

I'm sure he had no idea what to think, but he went along with it. He was really cool about it, and thanked me, and answered my question. But being a self-professed aficionado of old-school hip hop, I really found the entire thing awesome. Here was a comics nerd, who was also a hip hop nerd, who did nerdy hacker comics... This was a guy I wanted to get to know.

Afterwords, I went up to him and introduced myself. Now, a 6'3" jock-looking gorilla going up to you and wanting to talk to you about comics isn't something you're going to expect to want to be interested in. I know I don't look the part, and I had to convince him quickly that I wasn't just some jock who saw 300 and thought it looked neat (Don't get me started on the walking contradiction that I am... I'm keenly aware that I look like a meathead and talk like a nerd, which makes it impossible to fit in with any crowd. The nerds see me as a jock and avoid me, the jocks listen to me talk for six seconds and call me "fag." It's why I spend so much time online with you fine folks... You GET me). And I think I delighted him by showing my chops about the industry and the depth of my knowledge (and the Cerebus tattoo on my right calf helped, I'm sure).

And I think it's because of the depth we both shared in our love of comics that we began talking about how comics are being co-opted these days into mainstream vehicles for great amounts of cash. And I made a statement then that it really pissed me off that, what used to brand me as an outsider and loser when I was young, now makes the young kids of today cool. But that statement was dishonest and wrong, because it wasn't what I hated.

So I halted and amended myself. I said "No, that's not really fair. What REALLY pissed me off was the kids my age, who I went to high school and junior high with, who made fun of me for reading comics and being into sci-fi and RPGs are now always asking me questions about the history of comics, and if I'd seen Wachmen, and if I play World of Warcraft."

And he lit up. I could tell that he knew exactly what I was talking about. And we went on to have a wonderful conversation about the difference between consuming culture and being a part of culture. It was fantastic, and one of the highlights of my weekend. And now, Scott Ramsoomair has put the cap on a feeling I've had for years and years, in a much more public forum, and with much more style than I probably ever could. So I have to thank him.

Because It's SO unfair. It's not enough for me to want those posers to stay the hell out of a culture I adored and they hated when we were younger. No - I think they don't deserve the chance to get to know how fantastic The Dark Knight was, and how deep Watchmen is, and God forbid they ever find Cerebus or Ronin or Akira (which, of course, they will in 2010 when Leonardo DiCaprio bastardizes the thing). I hate that you can be a "gamer" when you don't even know what X-com is. I can't stand that you consider yourself hardcore for having a wireless headset on an Xbox 360, when I spent hours at a time trying to get IPX configured to play Doom over a 26.6 modem with the kid down the street (who also got his ass kicked for being into games and other "nerd" stuff).

I don't mind the fact that entire new generations of people are going to get to see these things and be aware of them and know them and grow up loving them. I know that much about myself now, and it doesn't bother me that you preppy yuppie fucks have kids who are into this stuff. BUT NOT YOU. You don't deserve it. It irks me to no end that those of you who hated on this stuff now act like you're the first-comers, like you knew about it all along, because you saw me (or someone like me) reading it during English class instead of paying attention to who Mary Jane let finger her behind the bleachers last week.

Go back to your frat parties and obsessions with ridiculous TV dramas, please. You cheapen our bliss by being interested in the same things we are. We got into this stuff to escape you and your retarded kakhi-covered world.

Go away.