Comics Gene

I’m a nerd, always have been, and presumably always will be.

As a kid, my nerd interests of the moment almost always involved collecting things. First, it was Transformers—the original Transformers, not Michael Bay’s bastardized explosion-fests. Then, I became a voracious reader, with shelves and shelves lined with Star Trek and Star Wars books, neatly arranged chronologically or alphabetically, depending on my mood.

In fact, it turns out that all this collecting may be in my genes. I recently spit into a test tube and mailed it off to 23andMe. While I wait for them to analyze my DNA, the 23andMe website has a series of surveys to entertain me, and to be used for various research projects.

Some of the surveys ask obvious questions about my health–those are boring. The much more interesting ones are the personality surveys. So far, I’ve learned that I am introverted (no kidding) and neurotic (yep). Relevant to my nerdom, I scored highly above average on the “Systemizing Quotient”, which means that I am quite driven to arrange or reduce things into a system. This isn’t surprising, and probably explains a lot about my various geek tendencies over the years. I am genetically predisposed to collect and organize things.

With all of this being said, it’s a bit surprising that I never really got into comics as a kid, seeing as that seems like a hobby tailor-made for a kid like me. I had a phase, but it was not particularly long-lived. I picked up the Death of Superman TPB at K-Mart (not exactly a local comic shop), and I followed the various Supermen stories that came out of that for a while before I got bored. I was also a big fan of the X-Men, but I just couldn’t keep up with all the titles. I would watch the cartoon, and then be massively confused by all the different characters in the comics. I still remember one issue that I bought primarily because it had a shiny cover. I was thoroughly confused, and went back to following comic book movies, but not comic books.

I received a copy of Marvel: The Untold Story for my birthday, and it actually explained why, despite all signs pointing to me being a childhood reader of comics, it never came to pass: comic books weren’t very good in the 90’s. There seems to be a consensus that the quality of comics has improved lately, and indeed, my semi-dormant nerd genes have awoken in a way not seen since I amassed a triple-digit DVD collection in college. I’m reading comics.

A sample of my collection.

I’ll put the quality of Saga, All-New X-Men, or Hawkeye up against anything on the bestseller lists. Even my skeptical wife plowed through the entire run of Y: The Last Man and eagerly awaits new issues of Saga. And for somebody like me with so little time to read for pleasure, 22-page issues are the perfect mental health break.

If I’d read this post before I started this hobby, it would’ve been very helpful. Fortunately for me, I had my own Comics Godfather to help me get back into comics, telling me what was essential reading (House of M and A v X) and what to skip (most of The New 52, except Scott Snyder’s Batman). Fake-Internet-Celebrity Merlin Mann was also influential by turning most episodes of Back to Work into a comics podcast—and more specifically, by talking incessantly about Saga until I started reading it. (Seriously, read it. But only if you’re a Mature Audience.)

At first, I was reluctant to admit that I Read Comics, but now I’ve embraced it. I’m a Collector, and right now that means collecting (digital) comics. It’s in my genes.