Respect, by Mike Gold
R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Find out what it means to me / R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care, TCB
When Otis Redding wrote that song back in 1965, I doubt he could foresee its impact on our culture. Everybody related to its sentiments, and today it’s common do see the word used as a major bone of contention in virtually all types of disputes, from labor negotiations to street gang antics. It makes sense. We all want to be respected for who we are and what we do.
Over the past couple years the comic book medium has started to receive its proper respect – but comic book fans have not. Matt Groening’s Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons is breathtakingly clever, but we forget that the guy is also a member of Mensa. I only know a few comic book fans that actually look like CBG, myself included, but a good many of those were Mensa members. One even dated Marilu Henner; sadly, that wasn’t me.
Mensa members deserve respect as well. They’re nerds; they don’t get respect. The only nerds that get respect are rich computer wizards, with the emphasis on rich. Wealth gets respect, and therefore I assume there’s a lot less respect going around this month than there was last month.
That shrine to our popular culture, the San Diego Comic-Con, is astonishingly successful. It pumps millions and millions of dollars into the local economy – a sum further enhanced by the several successful comic book publishers in the area – yet San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders felt it save to piss all over the comic fans last year. “We’ve put up with the superheroes and now we’re on to the people with actual talent,” Mayor Ungrateful Jerk said. What an ass. I guess he knew the Comic-Con was locked into a contract for several more years.
Why the disrespect? OK, we wear goofy t-shirts, but we’re hardly the only Americans who are fat. We are trailblazers of our popular culture: it ain’t only fanboys and fangirls going to all those big budget movies and HDTV-pushing special effects teevee shows. Not in the least. We are there first, but we are not alone.
Here’s some advice. Do not ever let anybody deny you your proper respect. Go ahead, read comic books in public, on the bus, in the park, in the doctor’s waiting room. What the hell, you’re already wearing a Doctor Doom shirt. If you’re standing in line for the next mega-budget movie and some clown sticks a microphone in your face and asks you why you don’t have a date, tell him your lover is busy buying up cheap real estate and will join you when the show starts the day after tomorrow.
We’re comic book fans, and we’re proud. Don’t take shit from anybody.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.