Comic Book Curious

Growing Up with Geek Culture: A Retrospective Look at My Childhood Obsessions

January 12, 2023

I really don’t think most of y’all are interested in my family life during childhood, but as a quick recap of who exactly I am and where I came from I’ll go ahead and cover the basics. I was born in The Bronx (New York) and lived there until I was 4 before moving out to Long Island to live closer to family.  Growing up I was emerged in 80’s pop culture at a very early age, toys and cartoons and movies of that time period were epic. 

Some of my earliest memories are playing with Ghostbusters toys in my grandma’s front yard the weekend we moved out to “the Island”. Then within that same month or so I distinctly remember going to see Batman (1989) in a quaint village movie theater that’s still open to this day even though the mega-plexes have eaten up much of their business. Since then I’ve seen hundreds of movies at that theater and even worked there very briefly after high school. 

After moving to LI it’s all a blur of the stereotypical 80’s mass consumer kids toys and TV shows. I owned large collections of every toy line you could think of ranging from G.I. Joe, TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), MOTU (Masters of the Universe), Transformer, even going as deep as having many of the Toxic Crusader toys(?!). A Saturday Morning Cartoon based on a gross out Troma horror film, who would’a thought? 

As a kid “geek culture” wasn’t a thing, these were just the toys I grew up with and it’s interesting to see them idolized and put on such a pedestal 30 years later as if it’s some underground culture that suddenly came out to the general public. They were just toys, kinda like comic books in the 1930’s were folded in kids back pockets and baseballs cards in the 1960’s were used between bicycle spokes.  

Toys in the 1980’s were (gasp) played with and discarded after a couple years! So thats what I did, by the time I was 10 or 11 I started to discard my old toys and move on to a new obsession/collection. By the mid 90’s Spider-Man and the X-Men had insanely popular cartoons on television. I would rush home from school to watch episodes as soon as I could and get caught up in the ongoing storyline and continuity.

So it wasn’t long before I asked to be brought to a comic store and found a couple of the first comic books I ever bought. A copy of DC vs Marvel issue 1, X-Force vol 1 issue 50 (or something like that) and a handful of Spider-man and Venom books that escape me. Those were the very first comic books I ever purchased. I still have my very first DC vs Marvel #1 but I am sure the other issues got sold off over the years. 

I spent my tween and teenage years following these storyline religiously and understanding the inner workings of the characters and how they relate to each other better than I understood the actual people around me. Every single Wednesday for over a decade I went to a comic shop (or had books mailed to me). I followed every super hero you could think of from Aquaman and Hawkman at DC to Fantastic Four and Iron Man at Marvel and every character in between. I also went deep in to indie books like Witchblade, Fathom and Battle Chasers to name just a few.

I started mowing lawns and I got my first part time job as a bus boy at a restaurant to afford comic books. At first it started small, maybe $10-$20 a week, but over time I started to buy nearly $100 a week in comics. I literally built a strong work ethic because I had an addiction. Thank god that addiction was to reading and collecting comics! But seriously, I worked my ass off and continually had a job through high school almost specifically and solely to afford comic books.

Throughout middle school I may have gotten one or two of my friends in to comics with me for a bit, but they quickly dropped out by the time we moved to high school to move on to whatever cooler things teenagers do. Not me though, if anything I got deeper in to my own world because by the time I was 13 I added horror movies to my list of obsessions and would spend entire weekends boarded up in my room watching all the Friday the 13th or Leprechaun films. 

I started visiting the local video store the same way I would go to the comic store. I would rent every absurd horror film you could possibly find and then as eBay came around and video stores started closing their doors to Blockbuster I had nearly 500 horror movies on VHS in my personal collection. Of course I got rid of them at some point in the early 2000’s as VHS seemed obsolete and now just like every great collectable story, those same old VHS tapes are skyrocketing in price and selling on sites like eBay for sometimes upwards of $100 for a single tape. 

While everything up until now may make it sound like I was a super loner or some such, I had a ton of friends throughout high school, they just had to deal with my room over flowing with comic books, VHS tapes and toys if they came to hang out at my place. This didn’t phase me one bit, I never felt a sense of being immature or as if anyone made fun of the fact that I had “action figures” hanging on my wall. My collections were a big part of me, I spent so much time curating them and reading the books and thinking about the characters in film and comic. 

But I never felt that stereotypical geek shame you hear about in movies or TV shows, where folks feel like an outcast for liking comic books or Star Wars. I didn’t necessarily find my tribe of like minded comic geeks at an early age, my friends were all in to different things than me, but I also still at least felt like they respected my geek collections even if they didn’t fully understand my obsessive nature. 

Through my 20’s I sold off my comic collection and all my old collectables at a flea market that I ran a booth at for two seasons. I lived in a Volkswagen bus for two years so I needed to get rid of everything to be a Jack Kerouac type of hippie I had set myself out to be. I set up under a tent in a field with dozens of other vendors and I sold off more or less my entire collection. Between the flea market and eBay and gifting things out to people I entered my adult years with very little to show for the decade+ I had spent obsessing over comics and movies. 

Like I already mentioned I lived in a VW Bus for two years and drove back and forth between NY and PA working for a ski resort in the winter and then a beach front restaurant in the summer. I sold tie dye shirts, went to music festivals, helped set up some local events and just lived a very minimalistic life style, taking road trips whenever I wanted and spending weeks on end just sitting at the beach and getting stoned between seasonal jobs. It was one of the greatest time periods of my life. 

From there I went on to create an Art and Music Collective called The Art Lab with some old friends. We rented an event space, got over a dozen bands, four comedians, a chef, vendors and artists all under the same roof and spent the next 18 hours partying with 300 people. We ended up in a local news paper and because of that I was invited to join the board of directors at a community park and help them organize their annual summer art and music events.

I spent that year doing business to business canvassing for new vendors, meeting artists and musicians to invite to play at events and creating a podcast and YouTube series highlighting local creators. This was in 2011 when podcasts were definitely not on the top of peoples minds, but me and my friends were organizing people in real life, recording and creating the content, releasing it online and promoting the heck out of it. A couple dudes who had just been having drinks at the bar turned their convos in to a massive collective of people contributing towards the same goal, it was beautiful. 

I ended up meeting the mother of my daughter (we’re not together anymore… long story) during the filming of a podcast where we had a bunch of folks hanging out during filming. I asked if she would want to be featured on the next episode playing her violin along side our friend Dameon who would play his didgeridoo. It was one of the weirdest wildest musical experiences I have ever witnessed live. 

Long story short, this girl and I ran off together to Virginia, left our lives behind and found jobs in a small boondocks town where we knew absolutely no one. I worked at an Applebees and she got a job at a school. We spent 11 months living there amongst cow and cotton fields with very little social interactions and hardly any trips back home to visit family.  So it was no surprise to either of us when we found out she was pregnant!

This is going to sound crazy, but instead of going back home, we packed up a truck (with her due date just 3 months away) and we said “Lets move to Austin Texas”. I had read an article that Apple was building a campus out there and hiring nearly 4000 people and with like 2K in our bank account we set off to find a new home and for me to shoot my shot with trying to get a job with the biggest company on earth.

We got to Texas and lived in a hotel for two weeks, I worked at a restaurant for about two months while I applied for every job you could imagine and one day I got an interview with a company called Volt. I showed up to find out they sub contract with Apple and I was actually applying for a position doing technical support for Apple! This was absolute serendipity, I had no idea what this company was or that they were connected to Apple, but my goal was coming to life!

Long story short, I got hired! We got married, had our kid and generally lived an adult life together in Texas. I thought about adult things like the KPI’s at my job and how to afford diapers for my daughter. Life started to move fast and the things I loved as a kid seemed like a million years away. I still wore t-shirts with Spider-Man on it and I saw some of the early Marvel movies in theater but it was just kind of a passing fancy, not exactly the same passion I had when I was younger. 

Around 2017 or so I got a new cube mate at work who immediately started talking to me about things like The Flash TV show (which I’ve never seen) and the new Doctor Strange movie that would be coming out soon. I had alot of opinions on these things because I loved the Flash comics and I know enough about Doctor Strange to be able to hold a convo about him. So after being out of the comic book game for nearly 15 years me and my buddy from work got tickets for Austin Wizard World (Comic-Con).

I walked through the aisles and two things occurred that day. The first was that I purchased a Batgirl DC Super Hero Girl doll for my daughter. She had never played with any super hero before that. She had played with My Little Ponies and Barbies but that day I began her journey with DC characters. I was beyond excited that she latched on to the Batgirl doll and ended up owning pretty much every character and knowing each of their powers. I am a bigger Marvel than DC fan, but seeing my daughter get in to classic super hero characters was huge for me. 

Check out my article all about that experience here:

The second was that I seen an issue of a comic book I had purchased 10 years earlier selling for $800!! I sold a copy of NYX #3 at the flea market a few years earlier for $50. I made a good return on it considering I had bought it brand new for $3. But seeing it going for $800 made my stomach turn. I went back to my normal life after that comic con but literally could not stop thinking about the fact that a comic I had owned had sky rocketed so much after I sold it. 

So I dived in super deep in to the current affairs of comic books again. I re-bought a bunch of comics I used to own. I started getting new comics every week from a shop in Austin, I began to research new creators and learn whose art styles and writing style I respected the most in the new generation. I started attending and even volunteering at different comic convention in Texas and eventually New York and I generally just found myself living that passion I used to have as a kid again. 

Since then I have worked with comic creators helping promote their Indie GoGo campaigns, I’ve helped develop and run a small comic convention, I took a spot at a small booth at a flea market again to sell some of the comics I no longer want (in order to purchase more that I DO want!). I've really taken on not just reading and collecting comics, but I’ve also delved in to the community aspect of being a fan. Getting to know the inner workings of conventions and meeting creators behind the scenes rather than just at a booth. 

Additionally I got very deep back in to the world of horror movies. I met a ton of fellow horror fans on sites like Twitter and Reddit and created a Discord community for like minded horror movie fanatics. We have nearly 400 people in the server and every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night we host watch alongs where someone will stream a movie and 10-20 folks at any given time will show up to watch the film and chat along. 

I’ve been doing this for about three years now and made some incredibly strong friendships out of it. People who I have known for years now and talk to multiple times a week! It’s been super interesting becoming so deeply involved with an online community and feeling a connection with people over horror movies that I never found when I was younger. The comics and horror movies I watched back then made me unique (or whatever), but now I have found a community of unique folks who like the same stuff I do and it’s been so cool getting to know them and learn from them. 

Comics and horror have been an ongoing passion of mine throughout life, even if they were just on the back burner for a few years while I built my career and my family. So I was honored when Comic Book Curious brought me on as a staff writer a bit over a year ago to share my passion with folks around the world. While I know a tremendous amount about the world of comics and horror movies I think it is important to be welcoming and encouraging of new fans and folks who have been out of the loop for a while alike. 

Learning about a fandom or how to start getting in to comics or Star Wars or horror movies can be tough, in my case I got in to them at such a young age that it became like a second language. I can take a few years away from geek culture but as soon as I get back in again it is like riding a bike. Now its been nearly 6 years of collecting comics as an adult and I’ve built a considerably more impressive collection than I had when I was younger. I don’t regret having sold all my collectables in my 20’s because it’s what gave me the opportunity to move, build a better bigger life and then come back to the collection with different perspective. 

So here I am, writing for a comic book blog as my passion, working for Apple to pay the bills, playing with awesome toys along side my daughter, creating a community of like minded horror fans to hang out with and sharing my stories here on CBC with y’all! Hope you enjoyed learning a little about me! See ya on the flip side. 

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