Comics Through The Eyes Of A Teenager

By | Sunday, April 24, 2011 1 comment
I arrived in LaGuardia on Friday afternoon and took a taxi over to my S.O.'s cousin's place. (She had said it was close to the World Trade Center, but I hadn't realized that she meant 1/2 a block from Ground Zero!) This cousin has two kids, 14 and 11.

The 14-year-old had heard (from my S.O.) that I was big into comic books, which he thought was pretty cool, so he offered to take me over to Forbidden Planet. (I'll do a proper shop review later.) Now, this was a bright and mature kid; he's read most of the works of Shakespeare in his free time. Anyway, while we were in the apartment, he was playing Call of Duty, chatting with his friends via headset, chatting with us in person and periodically checking his phone and laptop all at the same time. I understand that's the norm for kids today, but I'm not around young people very much, so it was kind of fascinating to watch in action. It was also interesting to note how quickly his mom, the S.O. and myself got accustomed to discerning when he was talking to us versus when he was talking to his friends, despite no real obvious outward signs of who his comments were directed towards. (No change in tone or volume, and his eyes remained directed towards the television.)

Naturally, he and I chatted about comics on our way to and at the comic shop. His interest is primarily in manga, and the two he cited as reading the most of were Naruto and Bleach. Kingdom Hearts came up as well, as did Deadpool. He was also relatively familiar with Justice League but primarily through the cartoons, I think. While he was looking over the latest volumes of Naruto, I noted that I hadn't seen any of the books around the apartment. He responded that he read the first couple dozen volumes from the library, and had read the rest of them online. As far as I can tell, only the first volume is online legally, so I'm presuming he's read pirated versions of the rest. He didn't say so expressly, but it struck me that the legal issues surrounding that barely registered, if at all. Although, interestingly, he did later make a comment about another manga artist who was clearly borrowing character designs from someone else; his thought here was more focused on the lack of originality than the potential copyright infringement.

Coming out from their manga section, I found and started flipping through a collection of Steve Ditko's work. The kid asked what it was, and I explained that it was a collection of stories by the guy who created Spider-Man. His response was something along the lines of, "Spider-Man's cool and all, but Deadpool kicks his butt!" One of the folks who worked at the store came up, wearing a Spider-Man shirt. Within moments, he was in a friendly argument with my young guide, noting the Deadpool is a pale imitation of Spider-Man and without Spidey, there would be no Deadpool. That got cleverly segued into the kid trying to haggle down the price of the book since Spider-Man wasn't all that anyway.

The Spider-Man/Deadpool debate continued off and on throughout the rest of the weekend.

At some point, while we were browsing, I came across and pulled out a Darkstar and the Winter Guard TPB. I opened it to the credits page and explained, "This guy, the guy who wrote this? He's the one whose wedding I'm going to tomorrow."

"You know him?"

"Yeah. And this other guy who drew this? He'll be there tomorrow too."

He was really impressed. I tapped on the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man on the wall. "This writer will be there too."

"Dude! You've got CONNECTIONS!" (Not that I'd ever met Dan Slott. I didn't get a chance to meet him at the event, either, for that matter.)

When we got back to the apartment, he played at being upset with my S.O. for downplaying my interest in comics. "You just told me he liked comics! That he was a Fantastic Four fan! You didn't say anything about him being all connected in with the business and everything!" Apparently, working in comics is still pretty impressive by a 14-year-old's standards. And I never even gave him the full run-down of all the comics folks who were at the wedding.
WeddingCon 2011.
(The S.O. and I are seen here chatting casually with DC's online technology manager, Dave McCullough. You can't see him, though, because he's sitting behind writer Frank Tieri. Greg Sanderson on the left there used to intern at Marvel with McCullough and Tieri. The photo itself is by artist Chris Cross.)

It was a fascinating weekend for me, in part for the awesome people I met at WeddingCon, but also in part for being able to get some insights from an intelligent and well-read teenager on how teenagers themselves look at the comics industry and media in general.
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Matt K said...

People who know people!! :-)