Out of the darkness

A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away there existed people who were outcasts, shunned by mainstream society, bullied, picked on, and made fun of.

These were people who enjoyed strange and bizarre things. They read comic books, and enjoyed science fiction and fantasy. They stayed up late at on Saturdays, but not to go to the bars or nightclubs, no, these people stayed up to watch horror movies on TV; movies introduced by horror hosts.

These people would go to drug stores to purchase (shudder!) comic books! And they’d carried them home in unmarked brown paper bags.

They’d go to bookstores and lurk in the dark recesses where they kept the science fiction and fantasy novels. And when they’d walk through the store, they had “Conan the Adventurer” or “Tarzan of the Apes” sandwiched between ordinary best sellers by Erma Bombeck or Jackie Collins. Then at the counter they’d say, “I changed my mind about these” and they’d just buy the Conan and Tarzan, and the clerk would wink knowingly.

At home, they’d put on their Battlestar Galactica jacket (which they could never leave the house wearing for fear of ridicule) and go into their closet, pull out a musty old box labeled, “Grandma’s quilts,” inside of which was their secret stash of Marvel and DC comics, Warren and Mad magazines, and their collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. And they’d read!

It was a secret society. There were no meeting places, no memberships, no secret handshake, because you never knew who was watching you.

You never flashed the Vulcan salute because, like a gang sign, you couldn’t be sure who would see it. Maybe a school jock would see it, peg you for “one of those pencil-necked geeks” and before you knew it your ass would be on fire from a wedgy or you’d find yourself face first in a toilet receiving a swirly.

We lived in constant fear that our secret life, our forbidden passion for comic books and science fiction and fantasy, would be found out.

But today, that has all gone mainstream and geek has become a pop culture phenomenon.

We didn’t have comic books stores where you could speak geek with others who shared your interests. No Internet with forums for our kind.

Now there are whole shelves at Target devoted to superheroes, Star Wars, video games, entire online stores, like Think Geek, selling nothing but geek-inspired items.

Television is inundated with superhero and sci-fi shows. The biggest blockbusters at the theater feature the Marvel Universe.

We had Lou Ferrigno in green make-up as the Hulk. You have CGI. We had Robbie the robot and the robot from Lost in Space. You have R2D2 and some round little thing. We had Captain America in a motorcycle helmet and an Evil Knievel-like suit. You have Chris Evans. We had Adam West. You have the Dark Knight. We were laughed at by the girls. You have the beautiful women of Cosplay.

We blazed the trail, we took our lumps, we hid in the shadows. You get to come out of the darkness as the force awakens.

You’re welcome.

-30-

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