When I first stepped into my local comic book store, it wasn’t about me. Well, it was, but it wasn’t. I’d wanted to explore any comic book store since the first X-Men movie released, but I didn’t think I belonged. It wasn’t just an issue of being a “fake geek girl,” but even more along the lines of I’m too old to start now feeling. I worried I’d be called out as a fraud for not having grown up with comics, and my conversation base would be limited to the comic related movies I’d seen. My fear settled in the no-one-will-take-me-seriously department, and it stayed there until I had kids.
When I came across an article on reluctant readers and the wonders of comics, I finally worked up the courage to pass through the glass doors plastered with comic book characters I couldn’t name. But I didn’t do it alone. My daughter is a fantastic reader, but a very uninterested one. I’d hoped introducing her to comics would spark a love of reading that was passed on to me by my parents. Not much else had worked up to that point, although I had to drag her in, and she became half my shield. My son became the other half with his love of superheroes and dress up. Any day of the week, he’s dressed as Spiderman, Batman, or Superman. All I had to do was walk in with these two kids and no one would ask for my geek card. I knew they’d assume, and they were correct the first time, I was there for my kids. No one would judge.
When we walked through the doors, I did what made sense to me. I rushed to the comic displays marketed toward kids. My first purchased titles were Spongebob Squarepants and Teen Titans Go! because they were familiar kids programming titles that we enjoyed. The comic book store owner offered me the newest My Little Pony, and my daughter then begged me to leave. Her disinterest in reading continued, and those comics now sit at the bottom of a drawer somewhere. They didn’t really hold my interest either. But it was a start, and sometimes that’s all you need. I’d gotten through the door unscathed.
I’d never realized as a busy mom how much I’d needed comic books in my life. Don’t laugh. I’m not talking about escapism from my busy life; instead I’m talking about the time I’ve lost since having kids. The days of reading a four-hundred page book from start to finish are on hold. The last time I visited an art museum, my son climbed up an art sculpture and the older kiddo whined for the entire twenty minutes we were there. I love being a mom and prefer spending time with them on activities of their choosing, but I’ve allowed a creative void to exist, which thankfully comics can fill. It has taken me two years of repeated exposure to learn what kind of comic books I like reading. Each month I return to my comic book store and pick several comics. Most of which can be read while I’m leaned against the counter cooking dinner or waiting in car pick up line. I get art and great stories all in one neat little package that fits inside my purse.
I know infiltrating a comic bookstore isn’t the only way to buy comics. There are an abundance of digital comics to download, and eBay has about every comic title out there, all of which can allow someone to enjoy comics without the pressure of entering a comic book store. Personally, I’m a browser and an impulse buyer. I like the thrill of digging through the dollar bins or being able to flip through the first few pages and make a decision on my purchases as I would in a regular bookstore. To be honest, I hate that I wasted so much time being scared of the unknown.
Since my very first visit, I’ve made myself visit all four of my local stores. Not a single clerk or owner has ever treated me like my money didn’t spend as well as anyone who’d been buying comics for years. All my questions are answered, and not once has anyone requested to see my geek credentials or quizzed me on my comic book knowledge. The more exposure I have to my local comic book stores and to comic books in general, the more comfortable I am when I walk through the door. I don’t need to be pointed in the direction of suggested comics; I know the set ups and what I’m looking for. I go in without my kids more than with them so I can enjoy perusing the aisles and make selections based on my tastes, not theirs. They’ll never really understand how much I appreciate them getting me through the door, and while my goal had been to introduce them to the world of comics (which I did), I also introduced myself to a place where I deserved to belong.
Now I’m working on my insecurities to feel this kind of empowerment at comic cons. Load up kids, Mommy needs to meet Princess Leia!