Ryan Thomason

Geek Dad Report: Free Comics are the BEST comics!

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i think i can hear the cicadas from here

There is a new public library near where we live.  As you enter and walk the long hallway to your left there is a glass enclosure where there is currently a Star Wars exhibit of sorts.  Just from those first twenty or so steps in, I knew this was my kind of place.  Being brand new, this library is very high tech.  You return books on a conveyor belt that scans the UPC codes and confirms them as returned in-route to being dumped into the large collection bin.  You check out a book by showing your library card to a scanner, and simply laying your book on the table, Science! then takes care of the rest for you.

Though, I love this library for a whole different reason. The Graphic Novel section (cue angelic choir singing).

Much as my 2 year old makes a break for the kids section, I perform as his twin when I go the opposite direction to make my way to the graphic novels.  Encompassing six full length bookcases worth of material of various ranges and styles a full plate of variety, really. For someone who has been out of the comic game for far too long, it is a dream come true.  This is where I read the first two trades of Preacher, revisited The Watchmen, and finally read all of the Frank Miller takes on Batman.  My favorite character Deadpool? Yeah, I’m devouring everything that is Deadpool that I don’t already own. Curiously some trades that I already have the original comics of but feeling too lazy to find THAT box in the basement.

I’ve had a weird relationship with comic books in my lifetime, in 5th grade, I discovered X-Men.  I can’t remember how, but collecting Marvel Cards were all the rage, thus I started my comic book collection.  My cousin Dayne, was the only other person in my family that I remember really getting into comics.  I used to envy at all of the X-Men comics he had and would sit around for hours reading through his collection.  My parents didn’t much support the habit, I remember luring them into card shops with an fake intent of sports cards related purchases, but sneaked out with a couple of comic books instead.

Like all things that came and went during childhood. With such infrequent touches of geekdom, I left comics to be.  I picked it up again in college, some 10 years later.  While drunkenly stumbling through downtown of where I went to college, I realized that the flower pot one of my friends was barfing behind was in front of a small comic shop I hadn’t even noticed.  Like a holy light, the flashing CLOSED sign rained upon me, or, it was rain.  I was really drunk that night.  The next day, I started the habit again, held it steady for a few years since I was working part time, single, and going to school, I had no better use for my money other than alcohol.  Oh, and food.

I lost my touch for comic books when I got through hard times financially. I hung my head low as I sheepishly told Mark, the owner of the store.  I couldn’t afford my hold anymore. I even did one of those dramatic look behind my shoulder for ‘one last look’ before leaving.  If only that mopey ass song that always gets played during those situations were on to seal the scene or it was raining outside.  I couldn’t bring myself to ever step inside that store again, it helped bring me up to speed on so much of my childhood.  Now, some six years later, I’m slowly trying to nurture my comic geekdom again.

I’ve learned to never ask my wife to “just pick something out” if she goes to the Library on her own. No. Don’t ever ask anybody to do that. You end up with a graphic novel that looked like a twelve year old drew it with a story line about two kids and an island that has a volcano erupting.  Or, you get some religious graphic novel, and when you look at them with a curious look on your face.  They stare back with a, this is what you get for making me do your dirty work.

I think I’m on my own for now.

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