When I was little, I was a serious comic book fan. I was obsessed with Batman and X-Men and all of the many spin-off titles and one-shots that came along with it. I was also completely and totally obsessed with The X-Files. I was entirely too young to watch it at first, so I would sneak off to record it and stealthily watch it later. I participated in forum chats for X-Philes discussing the show and collected anything that had the iconic logo on it. I was what you'd call a nerd.
By the time I had gotten to high school, I had purposefully stopped going to the comic book store each week. In fact, I had stopped going to the comic store at all. I packed my comic books away in the attic and aimed for a social life in high school. I was so afraid of the "nerd" stigma that I had consciously made a choice to put that side of me away forever. I wanted to sit at the "cool table" in the lunch room. Too many of my formative years had been spent watching Screech get beat up in old Saved By The Bell reruns to destine myself for the humiliation that I was certain would come should anyone find out about my nerdy likes.
Flash forward to today -- I attend every Marvel movie at midnight on it's release date. I semi-secretly salivate at the thought of the next The Hobbit film. I check out StarWars.com daily for any tidbit of news. So when I heard that IDW Publishing was working with The X-Files creator Chris Carter to continue the story of Agents Mulder and Scully through comic books in The X-Files: Season 10, I had a complete nerdgasm.
At first, I began purchasing the comics through Amazon -- where an anonymous brown box was delivered right to my doorstep each month. A few issues after that, I ventured to my local comic book store to set up a subscription. It was my first comic book store visit since grade school. Then I read online that Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Md. was holding a huge party for Free Comic Book Day. Joe Harris, the ingenious writer of The X-Files: Season 10, was going to be there signing, among many other talented writers and artists. I knew what I had to do.
I took the 90-minute trek to Annapolis to visit Third Eye Comics and get my books signed, but something else happened: In the rush of cool figurines and toys, special edition comic books, excited fans dressed up like various characters and artists hand signing their work, I made a decision then and there. I'm coming out of the nerd closet. I found myself overwhelmed with a feeling of pure joy as I perused the stands. I began chatting up perfect strangers about an interesting looking comic they had in their hands. I had a Star Wars versus Star Trek debate with two different people (FYI: the answer is Star Wars). In all, I had a seriously fun time.
I've realized that there's nothing at all wrong with liking comic books or watching nerdy documentaries or being a fanboy. It's a part of who I am. In locking away my inner nerd in some proverbial closet, I denied myself years of pleasure for no other reason than to fit in. Never again will I try and change who I am to fit in with the "cool kids." I'm going to be who I am, unapologetically. And about that "cool table" in high school, one of those kids now has a Superman tattoo on his bicep... and all is right with the world.