Pop Culture Snapshot: Geek Redemption at the Local Comic Book Store

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

When The Big Bang Theory appeared on TV, all my friends told me I should watch it. They said, "it has science jokes, comic books, nerd stuff. You'll dig it." I would insist, "I'm not really a nerd or a geek." No one believed me. After a few of these conversations, I started to take stock. I love science. I love comic books and superheroes. I love geek culture.

Point taken.

A friend loaned me the first four seasons of the show. Well-written humor, well-developed characters, and the pure fun of it captured me.

One of the striking themes is the tight-knit geek community at the neighborhood comic book store, The Comic Center of Pasadena. The place is a haven for the four main characters to talk, argue, and live their lives together as friends. They talk about geek stuff, of course, such as answering the pressing question of whether Superman would sweat on Krypton, his home planet.

These discussions often develop into deeper conversations about life, and into meeting people in the neighborhood. In other words, the store is a community center.

The Big Bang Theory tells everyone what we geeks already know: the comic book store is no longer just for teenagers and lonely men. It's a full-fledged community with men, women, and children taking a great interest in comics.

My local store, The Laughing Ogre, is two blocks from my house. I can hop on my bike and be there in minutes. The staff, both women and men, greet me when I open the door. The shop is full of people I know from the community. We chat about our kids, soccer, and the latest road work on High Street.

Of course, we are bound by love for a common thing: comic books and graphic novels. We talk about what our favorite superheroes could or couldn't do. We measure the age-old question, “Marvel or DC?” or avoid that discussion by preferring any number of indie comic book publishers.

But as I look deeper, I see what really drives these discussions. Sure, Batman is cool, and Peter Parker's/Spider Man's struggles are something everyone can understand. And, really, who wouldn't want to fly like Superman or create things with your mind like Green Lantern (my personal favorite)? Beneath all of this, however, my fellow geeks show the deep need for human friendship.

C.S. Lewis describes the beginning of friendship as "You too? I thought I was the only one!" The deep need for community is ingrained in all of us. And when that community gathers around compelling stories, we are more likely to grab the meaning behind what St. Columba of Iona said: "If all the world is a story, shouldn't we believe the one that is most true and right?"

I pursue St. Columba’s words at The Laughing Ogre because superheroes and their exploits are the medium for something deeper: a story-loving community searching for truth.

Image by stevendepolo. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post written by Jonathan Ryan. Jonathan is the author of the upcoming Urban Fantasy novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, to be released March 2013. He can be found on Twitter at @authorjryan.