Friday, October 22, 2010

These Kids Today Don't Know Their History!

Some years ago, I moderated a Fantastic Four message board. We would chat about various aspects of the characters, and favorite issues, and what we thought of the current storyline, and all the normal stuff you would discuss on a comic book message board. Periodically, often shortly after a new creative team started work on the book, new folks would join in the discussion. Inevitably, they'd have questions that delved into the annals of history.

"What did Reed mean when he said...?"

"Who was that guy in the background with...?"

"When did they did they first fight against...?"

All of which was cool because A) they were new to the characters and were trying to learn more and B) I regularly got to show off my knowledge of FF trivia. It also not infrequently gave me ideas for content to post on the FF website I was also running at the time, as I figured those questions meant that further/extended explanations were not readily available online.

But, after a few years, some of the questions started to get old. Not because of anything different on the questioners' ends, but because I had already answered the exact same questions a half-dozen times already. (Or, just as likely, pointed people to the answer on my website.) It was totally self-centered, but these were questions that I knew the answers to because I had spent the time to look them up. I had already done my research on the subject and relayed those learnings on to others. I don't want to do that again.

(Despite having a number of teachers in my family, I absolutely could not do it myself. As should be fairly self-evident in the preceding paragraph.)

I eventually gave up moderating those boards, in part, because I didn't want to feel obligated to have those same conversations any more. Nothing against those who were participating in them for the first time, obviously, but I'd been there and done that far too often already.

While I don't have the same discussions any more, I am surprised that I see some of the same items come up on the comic "news" circuit every few years. Someone who hadn't seen it before re-discovers Jack Kirby's original design sketches for Herbie the Robot. Or the pre-Fantastic Four 1960 Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo comic strip featuring Willie Lumpkin. Or the original Fantastic Four logo designs. Or the original Wonder Woman design.

I don't know how to respond to this type of thing any more. It's presented as a new find and, for a lot of people, I don't doubt that it is. And I don't want to discourage anyone from discovering that type of thing for themselves. But at the same time, it's decidedly old news for me. But on the other hand I'm also the type of person who really studies this type of thing, so I'm at a complete loss for how widespread some of this knowledge/trivia is. Is it something that I'm only one of a handful of people who actually know? Or is it something that everyone except the most recent comic converts has known for years?

It's one of those times that I wish I did have a better understanding of the mass of fandom, and had a more acute sense of what's popular within comics. I suppose I'll just have to crawl back into my cave and continue grumbling about "these kids today!"

3 comments:

Matt K said...

I would just like to state, for the record, that I have not secretly hijacked Sean's blog the past few days.

Although I am not 100% certain that no one else has. :-)

Sean Kleefeld said...

Don't mind me. I'm just nursing a case "there's not a single politician worth voting for and I hate having to vote for the guy who is least likely to make things phenomenally worse" -itis.

Matt K said...

Heh. I definitely sympathize. Filling out my own Ohio ballot was a deeply uninspiring chore this year (and I doubt it's much better in many other parts of the country).

Bleccch.