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The scenario is fairly simple: a friend asks you for a decent recommendation, you analyze what they like, and you make your references. For most people within any kind of interest, recommendations aren’t a fairly new concept, and most of the time, these sorts of instances within our lives are just so. For me, though, these situations have led to some of the most delightful friendships and interactions I’ve ever had. Moreso than any other area of interest I’ve had, the comic book fandom is one of the most passionate (in my opinion) and die-hard groups of people I’ve ever met. Whether at my local shop or at Comic-Con, I have rarely encountered fans with such dedication and connection to any form of media like this one. As a proud member of the comic book crowd, I’m always delighted to meet anyone who shares my interest, whether they’re a seasoned comics veteran or a brand new reader who liked Guardians of the Galaxy.
For a troubling amount of my peers, this is where the rainbows and fanfare come to a screeching halt…
With the wave of popular comic book movies and access to comics from practically anywhere thanks to the internet (and apps like comiXology) the influx of new fans is monumental. Count that alongside the increasingly vocal (read: previously drastically under-represented) fans who have been here the whole time, and you’re certain to have a few curmudgeonly comic book oldies turn their noses to the air.
These are the fans I feel the most pity for. Let me clarify that — there’s a severe difference between the feeling of pity and the feeling of compassion. I do not pity the fans that were and still are under-represented; we are proving almost daily that barriers can be broken and that what’s considered the ‘norm’ most certainly isn’t. What’s more, comic power-houses like Marvel are happy to oblige, because, let’s face it (in the most bland terms, since I’m sure the awesome people at Marvel think about more than just this and actually care about their fanbse): more comic book fans means more comics sold.
Pity is not what the comics “minority” needs, we need action.
So why do I feel sorry for those that think people like me have no place in comics fandom? Why feel any concern for people who don’t want me, or anyone who doesn’t fit into the niche of their crowd? Easy: These are the people who don’t recommend comics to everyone. These people will never know the feeling of your heart welling up as someone recounts their reading experience based on your ideas. These people will never understand what it means to make an impact on someone simply because you connect strongly through comics. These are the people who will not spend late nights discussing a villain’s motive with an increasingly close friend. These people will never recall the day one kid found them at the local comic shop and thanked them for a previous introduction to now-cherished comics.
One of the greatest joys of comic book fandom is being able to share it with others. Not welcoming new fans in and talking to them is essentially doing a disservice to the entire comic book world. On a black and white level, you’re keeping the industry itself from making money – but on a human level, the one that matters within the fandom, you’re telling someone that they can’t have something you do not own at all because of who they are. If that doesn’t sound like the essence of ignorance and bigotry to you, please take some time out to really think about how that attitude has led to some of the worst events in our human history.
Share the Love is a familiar keyphrase in our society, yet we rarely do. Here, within comic books, we have the opportunity to make various levels of impact on the life of someone we cherish. The entire idea of sharing comics is a binding experience that can lead to great friendships and relationships: getting to know someone (either over time or by asking them a series of questions) and recommending titles that you sincerely think would fit them, or titles that you think the both of you could share. Our real world is already plagued with people spreading hate and isolating themselves – so now, more than ever, the comics fandom needs to step up and be what I always thought it could be: welcoming with open arms, because comics are for everyone.
If you’re looking to get people into comics, here are some great resources:
comiXology is a comics app that often has great sales to help get new readers up to speed.
Comic Shop Locator can help locate a local comic shop near you.