Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall Nostalgia...

The coming two months of September and October have always seemed to be the periods where my geekdom thrives. I can only assume this runs back to younger days (that I have mostly blocked out) and how those were always the months where I had an excuse to stay inside and indulge in all those geeky pursuits. While during the summer for as long as I can remember I always had a job or the parental pressure to get out and do something, anything, the back to school time is when I was given the go ahead to sit around and, school work permitting, start feeding the young geek that I was. And at least one of those hobbies did, and still does, indulge that was video games, which is why fall still kind of kicks this off for me.

Like I said, I don't remember really remember much about my youth - there's really not much worth mentioning - but I remember the fun I had and that fun usually came in video or panel grid form. I remember the first time I experienced the death of Aeris on FFVII, and the subsequent times I relived that moment as I aspired for Master Materia for my entire party. I remember trying to get the "Master of Unlocking" through a zombie (and giant fucking snake!) infested mansion. And I remember September of '99, my first year of college, when my main geek focus was hoarding as many Magic cards I could and that pursuit leading me to a new comic shop that opened locally in my hometown (which had a very sad and minute history with such places of business) and it reinvigorating a love of comics I had lost because, well, the 90's sucked for someone like me who was growing up enough to realize the mainstream stuff was becoming ridiculous but wasn't mature enough to enjoy the REALLY good stuff that was coming out then or had missed out on before.

So, as the leaves have fallen my fondness for certain media and dorky pursuits grew. I leveled up, I put together variants of Stompy decks, and I read my favorite comic of all time, THE SANDMAN, for the first time... and the second... and the third. Needless to say, these months tend to mean more to me and, honestly, just feel right to me. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not exactly a lazy person, but by god do I love an excuse to laze about for the day. In the summer I feel kind of like a jackass in that regard because, c'mon, it's nice out and since I've always lived in the Easter Ohio/Western PA regions you do need to take advantage of the few (mostly) sunny months we get (even if they are getting longer and hotter and hey, we may be scum as far as our relationship with the planet goes).

But then it hits. Football, both in its physical and digital forms, kind of ushers in the layabout in me. Not that I indulge in Madden anymore now that I'm not a dorm dweller, but it is the harbinger of digital delights to come, and boy do they ever after Labor Day comes and goes. And as for that excuse to laze about? What better than the background noise of greedy, overpaid borderline illiterates who can't shut their mouth about "gettin paid" smacking the hell out of each other and bringing karma down on themselves (and their knees) to make for something to read a nice book or comic run to? And it gets better! The beer, oh, the beer. The best beer comes out in fall. Pumpkin Ales, Oktoberfests, and a cooling weather to enjoy a nice stout to. Yeah, that's not something I really did in those fall months when I was of the more impressionable age, but you grow a bit and you develop some new hobbies.

Needless to say I tend to focus more on those things that influenced me and made me who I am when this nostalgic time comes. I used to do yearly rereads of my favorite comics and that was always a great way to settle in on a Sunday afternoon of football and food, getting through a few volumes of PREACHER. I've read some of those titles a bit much now and have given them a breather on my shelf, but that nostalgic period is calling to me again and, quite frankly, I could use a reminder of comics in a time when I honestly, genuinely enjoyed them more than I do now. Not to get into that discussion and, of course, there's plenty of great comics out there now that I truly enjoy, but the industry/medium really does not feel the same as it did just ten years ago. Or at least the mainstream side of it and even I still really want to read and enjoy some of my favorite capes and tights books or some of the more creative jaunts the Big Two produce via their imprints. Let's be honest here, ten years ago the best things about comics were pretty much all coming from DC, and that being Vertigo, which was probably at its best ever, and the ABC line of Alan Moore's; two things that are at the VERY forefront of my reminiscing when I think about those growing days.

But even those truly mainstream books were bristling with some energy, and longevity in their runs, and that is what I miss and am jonesing for and am indulging myself in with this September sweep. And they are probably what I will be posting about for the next couple months. I'm already through my first reread of Warren Ellis's STORMWATCH and THE AUTHORITY and they are were the epitome of what nostalgia can do; i.e. make you remember something as better than it probably really was (STORMWATCH) and make you realize that even something you always thought of as brilliant was more brilliant than you knew (THE AUTHORITY). Sure, it's kind of cruel to that younger self of mine that thought he knew everything and was all edgy about it, but it's also a delight to figure out that, hey, maybe I wasn't as stupid and self-important as I thought I was and just knew some fucking great stuff when I saw it and was spot on.

And, god, I miss those days. When an Ed Brubaker could write CATWOMAN and just have his way with a title and then end it, or he and Greg Rucka could make a GOTHAM CENTRAL and, by fuck, it actually lasted three years. Imagine that. Or a relative newbie by the name of Geoff Johns could say "I have all these plans for the JSA" and get the blessing of editorial and James Robinson and run with that for half a decade and it could be *shock* its own book. Christopher Priest could write a BLACK PANTHER, HITMAN could exist, etc. Not that these are absolute rarities these days, but dodging cancellation after ten issues or not getting arbitrarily thrown into yet another yearly event (fuck me, there was a time for about six years when you only got an event or two back then!!) does not seem to happen much these days. My only regret is not reading more of these gems back then or having neglected to read them at all still (oh my how I need to read PAD's CAPTAIN MARVEL) or read them since.

So that's what I'm doing now. With some tasty beer and delicious bourbon. With a HD football in front of me (and making way for hockey in just 44 days), a smartphone and fantasy football updates to a side, and an alcoholic beverage to the other. And a stack of comics and/or TPBs in front of me that take me back to, not a better place (I do genuinely enjoy what my life offers me today, for the most part), but a less jaded one at the least. And a quality RPG that I can waste away weeks of my life on as the leaves get covered with snow. Shit, I may even go on a Joss Whedon binge of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly I'm so ready to indulge in that era of my life. That is my place and this is about to be my time. So glorious. Cheers...


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  2. as the light grows dimmer, we spend more time searching for the light within?