One Year Ago...

By | Sunday, December 16, 2007 Leave a Comment
One year ago today, my buddy Gregg Allinson died. I'll spare you the details -- what few I know, at any rate -- but one thing that his passing taught me was the importance of comic book fandom.

One of the things I really liked about comics back when I was in high school was that I could use them as an escape from my problems. I was socially ostracized and outcast most of the time, often even among the handful of people I could call friends. It was extremely painful for me, and I suspect I had to grow up a bit faster than a lot of other kids because of it. I actually had someone in college later tell me that I looked a good decade older than I was because my eyes betrayed some emotional scarring.

Later, after I graduated from college and began really living out in the real world, I began to meet people who shared my interest in comic books. I could have extended conversations about characters and creators we were familiar with, and establish some sort of bond with somebody else in a way I'd never experienced before. It was sort of under that guise that I first got to know Gregg.

But it wasn't until after he died that I really realized how much more our relationship had become. We didn't talk about comics much after a while -- we talked about all manner of other things. Problems I had with my job. Problems he had with girls he dated. Movies. News. Forty year old TV shows. Whatever. And when I started thinking back over the years I knew him, I realized that it was comic book fandom that really provided a bridge for us to get to know one another. Had we not both been interested in the same comics, I almost certainly would never have gotten to know him.

And isn't that what it's all about? Making connections with other people and getting to know them? What's the point of Life if we're racing through by ourselves, looking out for no one but #1? What's the point if you don't have people to share your experiences with? What's the point if you don't have people who share their experiences with you? Sure, people are going to move in and out of your life and you're not likely going to really connect with more than a few people in a way that carries through your entire life, but it's being connected that's important.

Do you need to connect with people through comic book fandom? Of course not. It's just a bridge, like I said. You could just as easily connect with them on work or sports or TV or food or music or just about anything else. But if you get to know someone through comic fandom, see if you can't pursue that a bit further. See if you can't cross that bridge and make a solid connection with someone else. Go beyond the confines of which character is stronger or which creator has a greater mastery of their craft, and find out what drives that other person. Who are they really?

I miss Gregg, and I still think about him. My heart goes out to his family. But he taught me something about Life that I'm glad I learned, and I only wish he were around so I could share that back with him.
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