When I was younger, I bought into the Fake Geek Girl thing pretty hard. I didn’t know anybody who observably read comics, nobody at all, and to get into my local comic shop I had to take this journey:

Down an alley of dilapidated commerce, turn right, into another small alley where you can see across a concrete square (it’s more of a covered alcove, really), through a closed door with Emma Frost wide-kneed pin-ups on it, up a rickety carpeted staircase (past wide-kneed Lady Death posters), along a small landing past Witchblade statuettes, through another closed door, into a small room in full view of one of two thin, quiet men. The floor was uneven, the architecture was Tudor probably. Heavy beams, low ceilings.

If there were other customers in there, it was never just a woman. There were never other girls. There was no help to understand which comics were current, or how they related to each other, or what any of them were about. They were all in plastic sleeves. I picked my comics from the rack that allowed me to stand in the room’s one blind spot because masculine observation appalled me. I was unhappy with puberty. But I went every week and spent £3 a pop on floppies (see how I use that word? That’s habit I learnt in order to pass myself off as the real deal) that took me ten minutes to read, full of egg-like breasts, ever-open mouths, and regularly poor storytelling, because: comics. I wanted to be a part of comics.

There were so many hurdles that I was sure and determined that I could jump them all. I would. I could learn all the trivia. I could stand scoffing at everything it did to my self-worth and body image; I could ignore and repress everything I’ve let loose on this site over the past few years. I could know all the names of all the Robins (I’ve shared this before, but once I felt so proud that I could tell people that Robin’s name was Dick Grayson, and he grew up to be a new hero named Nightwing) without giving a single genuine shit about Batman. I could buy trading cards for X-Teams that appeared once and never even had those code names in that book, talk with dry sardonicism about the Generation X film despite having neither seen it nor read the comics, and blah blah blah I could do it all. I could prove myself, OKAY. I knew it, because I knew that I needed to prove myself. I knew I wasn’t who I was supposed to be, to be comics. This was the hill I chose to die on.

stock: Calling All Girls, Parents' Magazine Publication Office, June-July 1945, digital comics museum, April 1960, digital comics museum

I got over it. But sometimes things aren’t destroyed, they just change their shape: I (gleefully, yes) refuse to give the slightest personal damn about Flagship Marvel Cinematics, because at this point… I don’t have to. I am comics. I am myself.

Having worked on this site for three years, amongst a community of people as wrong and valuable as me, I’ve blasted out the cobwebs: I sit in perfect clarity. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, because I have my own worth. My interests are for myself alone, and my identity does not rely on what I can stand, what I can take, or how little I will complain about becoming plasticine to the mould of should-be. My hobbyist identity. My “entertainment identity.” You don’t have to define yourself by stamina! Flagship Marvel Cinematics are closely related to Marvel Comics, and they have themes that I would recognise in and from their source material, and they are ambassadorial, in a way, to the comics audiences of tomorrow. I have no investment in whether or not you like them, reader, or how much. You are master and minder of that knowledge. I’ve read about the ways in which they’re good. That’s cool. But me alone, acting for me? Fuck’em. I don’t care, and I won’t care, because I no longer value the weight of subcultural obligation. Everybody is talking about them. There are so many of these films and shows, and there is constant news of them, and their boring actors, and yet still! Pay attention? I DON’T HAVE TO. Envy me this knowledge, if you don’t have it yet. It can be yours. I promise.

Instead of working to appease that bizarre am I fan enough? guilt (guilt! of all things!), I learnt to work to blow it off. Guess which worked better?

To thine own self, be true.