Friday, November 02, 2007

Love Romances

I've got something of an open-ended question today: is it possible/advisable to seek romance within the comic book community?

Comics, as you've probably figured out, are a BIG part of my life. And, although my soon-to-be-ex-wife has denied that they had anything to do with her leaving, I can't help but figure that there was some negative impact on our relationship because of them. If nothing else, it was a big part of my life that she actively did not want to share. (To be fair, though, she made quite an effort. And even though she enjoyed some of what she read -- heck, I'm the guy who turned her on to Neil Gaiman in the first place -- she never really "got" the medium on the whole.) I think it stands to reason that, in any healthy relationship, the two people involved are not going to completely agree on everything. Take that as a given. But it makes sense that there ought to be some overlap, at least on the most significant aspects of your life. It's not infrequently cited that significant differences in religious beliefs often are the cause of marital problems -- in large part because those beliefs generally form the very core of a person's identity.

So for someone like myself, who really, really enjoys comic books, I have to wonder if my "soul-mate" can really only be someone who's relatively passionate about the medium as well. Or would it be sufficient to be with someone who at least appreciates what comics have to offer, and regularly read a handful of titles?

I'm aware of a handful of folks who met and/or fell in love through their comic book connections. Harvey Pekar met his wife Joyce while she was hunting down a copy of American Splendor #6. I believe Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern met their respective wives at comic book conventions. The owners of my LCS are a husband and wife team. And my buddy Dave is dating a woman he met at a convention -- I also happen to know their first date was at a showing of Ghost Rider.

That being said, though, I'm obviously only aware of a small portion of those relationships. I'm certain that my own marriage looked perfectly happy to any outsiders before she left. But it seems that comic books can at least provide something of an anchor for those couples to help prevent them from drifting apart. So maybe part of what I need to do is simply keep a more attuned eye out on the convention circuit. Someone attending a comic book convention is likely to have more than a passing interest in comics, right?

The downside, of course, is that comic book conventions aren't exactly prime hangouts for the fairer sex. The industry on the whole tends to cater to a Y-chromosome crowd, which makes for a significant initial gender disparity. Then, of course, you've got to figure there's a percentage of women who are unavailable -- either because they're in an existing relationship and/or they simply aren't interested in pursuing one with a man. And that doesn't even begin to speak to other issues of compatibility!

The next hurdle, it seems to me, is the nature of conventions themselves. What percentage of people at any given convention do you suppose are going to take time away from the convention-ing to do something else? For the women who dress themselves up in skimpy Wonder Woman or slave Leia costumes, they're going to be in a state of perpetual defense to ward off the inevitable gawking fanboys. Then most of the rest of them are going to focus their attentions on the back issue bins or the creator signings or the industry panels or whatever it is that interests them. The convention, by its nature, has a finite time limit and forces people to budget their time.

The next problem I'm sure is not unique to me, but it's not one that necessarily is universal: striking up a conversation. Me? I'm absolutely abysmal at starting conversations out of the blue. Or, for that matter, engaging in an existing conversation with more than one or two people. I'm not even talking about chat-up lines here. ("I've got a Giant-Size Man-Thing in my pocket...") Anything beyond "Hi" and I'm pretty much at a loss. I suppose I could carry on a conversation in a more informational sense ("Do you know where the Warren Ellis panel is?") but unless I was the one answering questions, it'd sound forced. Because I'd already know the answer to any question like that.

That all being said, I'm not discounting all hope! Stranger things have happened. (Hell, I got married in the first place, and I was sure that was never going to happen!) But the reason I'm bringing all this up, mainly, is to solicit stories from you folks. If you and your significant other met somehow through comics, how did that come about? Are comic books necessarily a part of your continuing relationship? Am I just way over-thinking this whole subject?

Thoughts, stories and anecdotes would be appreciated.

4 comments:

Kurt Busiek said...

>> I believe Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern met their respective wives at comic book conventions. >>

Well, I met Roger's wife at a comicon, and I believe he met mine at one as well. But that's not what you mean.

I met my wife-to-be in college. She had been a comics reader before I met her, and by the time I actually proposed was clerking in a comics shop. But I met her because we were in the same dorm in college, and both got involved in the university's film club.

kdb

Anonymous said...

Well, first condolences about your breakup.

There really is a big gender disparity I guess- the odds of finding a woman who loves comics as much as you are pretty slim..

"As much as you" being the key words. Being upfront with your dates about how passionate you are about comics is a great idea.

But it might be good to ask yourself if comics is crowding out a lot of other great things in life, that you can also share with your future S.O.

It's always good to keep growing as a person, and experiencing other things meaningfully : art, literature, cuisine, movies, tech.. well the more well rounded a person is, the more likely one will find common ground with a potential mate.

Definitely keep and cherish yr passion for comics. But do ask yourself if you're excluding other things. Just a thought. Best to you!

Anonymous said...

Do you really want to be with someone who's a female clone of you and your interests? Wouldn't it make for a more enriching and diverse relationship if you were with someone who complimented you, or brought different things to the table?

My wife has never read a comic book in her life, and has little interest in doing so. And that's fine by me - comics are "my thing". We both read a lot - she reads her stuff and I read mine, and that works well for us. We have other interests we share, and we have in common most of the "big things" - stuff way more important, IMHO, than sharing every hobby.

So my view on it is: deciding that your ideal match has to be wayyyyy into comics, too, is setting yourself up for a letdown and limiting your options needlessly.

plok said...

The comics girls are pretty damn cool, though...

I think a person just needs something happy-medium-ish. I dated a girl once who never wanted to watch Marx Brothers movies with me, and that was fine. Then I found out that she hated the Marx Brothers with a burning passion, and resented me for liking them, and that wasn't so fine.

Conversely, I dated a girl once who rolled her eyes at my interest in theoretical physics. I mentioned spacetime; she laughed her head off and called me Spock. "Spock!" she'd shout at me, whenever I really wanted to tell her about some flash of insight I thought I'd had. "Damn it, you're half-human!"

But this was not like the Marx Brothers thing at all, but in fact totally fine. She wasn't interested -- like, at all! -- in what I was interested in, but she respected my interest. Jokes notwithstanding. And we had many other things in common.

Well, it may not be the kind of story you were soliciting, but it's a story, right?

I don't know, Sean. I think, for the really big parts of your life, you do have to find a way to share. If I had been spending eight hours a day cogitating about physics, my old good girlfriend and I would've had fewer things in common. But I didn't spend eight hours a day on it, and she at least thought Einstein was an admirable guy, and she'd at least read a little of my favourite genre fiction and understood it (even if it wasn't her favourite thing, she understood it) and that was enough. Whereas the bad old girlfriend simply abominated what I adored, and therefore we were alienated from each other before we even began.

But, sorry...to crib from Kurt, that's not what you're talking about, is it?

Maybe your wife is being honest with you about the comics thing not being a factor, and maybe nevertheless you're right about it having some kind of negative impact. But there will always be things that have some kind of negative impact, I think. The crux of the matter is, did those things open up a gulf between you, or didn't they? If they did, then yes: seek a comics-loving girl, because where the "fat pipe" of interest goes, there the relationship has to go too. I wouldn't necessarily want an SO to enjoy Watchmen, but I don't think I could hope to make anything work with someone who thought Peanuts was just stupid...! In the same way, great artists -- and I'm not saying one has to be a great artist (or even a mediocre one, he said, looking in the mirror pensively), but it's that fat pipe thing again -- rarely can make marriages work with those who don't have any interest in art, and this is really as natural as breathing air. That great film critics don't wind up happy with spouses who can't tell the difference between Michel Gondry and Michael Bay is no surprise either. Someone who "appreciates what comics have to offer"...guardedly, I'll say yes, as long as we're talking about the you I know being something like the real-life you. But that's a very broad category I've just named, with lots of people in it.

If I may get personal (more personal?) for a moment, Sean: it's possible (though not by any means certain!) that a rebound relationship lies in your future, as you move on into this new chapter in your autobiography. And we're all awkward, of course; but then, you know, hey! We're all awkward, if you see what I mean. Awkward is part of the package, and that's just the way it is. And so bearing these things in mind, why wouldn't it make sense to keep an eye out for someone whose interests overlap with yours in a different way from your wife's? I don't think you'll meet any clones, and there's no point supposing when you can test, so my advice is: open those eyes, and see just how awkward the conversation really turns out to be, or doesn't. Couldn't hurt. And maybe you'll find out how important the comics thing really is to your relationships.

Possible and advisable, check: it's never a wrong thing to look for common ground, as a rough indicator of compatibility.

Necessary, though? Well, we don't know, do we?

Good luck, Sean. You forgot Crumb and Aline, by the way.