Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stranger in a Strange Land

I visited a new (to me) comic book store in the hinterlands outside Gotham this afternoon. The classic scenario: all male, geek central, lots of insider talk about specific issues of specific comics and how there were problems with the color separation or some such, followed by some sort of misogynstic rant about somebody's wife. All very, very loud. Everybody seemed to know everybody, except me, of course, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Even though I am now a paragon of well-adjusted perversion, I still get a bit self-conscious in this setting. Deep down, I still feel like I'm visiting a porn store, albeit one whose contents don't hold the same charge for the other customers. I can't get past the feeling that if I were a "normal" 45-year-old, I either wouldn't be in the store in the first place, or I'd have graduated long ago from the superhero comics to the indies. And it's true, I always make a point of lingering in that section of any store for a while, partly out of genuine interest and partly as a cover for my true motive, which is invariably to check out what kinky situations my #1 hero has gotten himself into lately. I truly wish I could relax a bit more in these stores--I mean, god knows the other 45-year-old who inhabit them are just as weird as I am, and none of us are probably all that weird deep down--but it's just some kind of reflex action.

A store employee eventually asked if I wanted anything, and I got all nervous and fumbly, said I was "just looking," then decided my half hour of browsing was up, grabbed the debut of Frank Miller & Jim Lee's All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder," as the vanilla cover to what I was really there for: the first 4 issues of the 6-part Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. A tip o' the cowl to my online pal LycraMan for not only encouraging me to seek this one out, but passing along some sample panels to explain why:

(You will notice, as LycraMan did, that Batman's cowl fits so snugly in this one that you can actually see his ear, which is a rarety in the comics, and one we'd both like to see more often.) Then there's this delightful taunt...

and finally, one of my favorite villainous threats: the ever-enticing "I won't unmask him, I'll make it so bad for him that he removes the damned thing himself"...

From what I've seen so far, this mini-series ranks up there with the much-reviled Batman: The Cult (and the less well-known but highly recommended The Last Arkham trade paperback) in fetish appeal. If you share my taste in bat-ventures, this one is worthy of braving the trip to your own local geeketeria. (There, I've just alienated all the healthy, well-adjusted adult readers of comics who may read my blog from time to time. Sorry, guys.)


Anonymous said...

I've become interested in comics recently, mostly from meta-commentary on blogs. I find myself feeling much the same, when exiting and leaving a comic store, as I have when I've visited an adult store.

That sort of desire to duck in without anyone seeing me, and an instinctive look around on exiting to see if anyone recognized me. (Though it's never thought of explicitly in those terms, it just happens automatically.)

Wayne said...

Welcome (back?) to the kinky world of comics, my anonymous friend. I trust you'll find--as I have--that the average comic book store is way more exciting than the average porn store, and thus well worth the embarrassment.

It's always great to hear someone else expressing that embarrassment, by the way. I've heard from enough people since I started this blog to know that we're not alone.

Anyone else care to comment on this phenomenon? 'Fess up!