One of the webcomics I follow had the lead character get hit with a divorce right around the same time I did. As I read the comic, it was very helpful in getting my own life back together and moving on. The artist and I have since become friends, after he reached out to me to compliment on my work. Having recently posted my collection of original art online, it occurred to me that it would be kind of cool to have one of the original pages from that very webcomic that helped me. Kind of a reminder of where I was and what I needed to kick myself back into the world. Plus, I like helping out comic artists when/where I can, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind a few extra bucks.
The particular strip I wanted isn't online any more (he changed platforms and didn't want to re-upload all ten years of his strip; can't say as I blame him!) so I just dropped him a note to ask about it. He did indeed still have the page, and quoted me a price less than half of what he sells his originals for on his site. I'm not sure if that was because he likes me, or it's just an older work, but it was a great gesture on his part. I sent him the money, plus an extra 60-70% because the strip really did help me out at the time, and he's a good guy. When the art arrived yesterday, it included a second page of original art, just to surprise me again!
I've got another couple of friends who went to San Diego for Comic-Con. They boarded one of their cats with a vet because he hadn't been doing too well. They came home, only to find his condition worsened. So much so that the vet recommended they put him to sleep. Obviously, this upset them. I naturally offered my condolences, for whatever they're worth.
And, then, only a day or two after they said goodbye to their cat, some nut job in Colorado opened fire at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie. While much of comicdom is just trying to process what the hell happened, they're trying to process that amid the grief of losing their cat. Still with the stank of excess commercialization lingering from Comic-Con.
She seemed to be taking it harder that he is, so I left her a note about a Star Wars documentary I saw recently called A Galaxy Far, Far Away. It was filmed around the time Episode I came out, and showed much of the excesses of commercialization that accompanied that movie. But even as the people came out of the theaters, having waiting in line for weeks to see a movie they ultimately thought was crap, they didn't regret anything because they made some good friends in the process.
And that's really what fandom's about: making friends. You can latch onto Batman or Twilight or My Little Ponies or whatever, and share your enjoyment with others who enjoy that same thing. You can set aside political or philosophical differences and revel in Captain Kirk kicking Klingon ass.
And that shared bond then carries over into the rest of your life. You can take life lessons from comics. Truth, justice and the American way. Or whatever's appropriate for your tastes. But comics can educate and inspire in a way unlike any other medium. And most importantly, they can connect. They can reach out and say, "Damn; divorce sucks, but I'm there with you." They can say, "Damn; I'm sorry to hear about your cat."
It doesn't need to take someone spraying bullets into a theater to get you to reach out to others. You can just use comics as a bridge for making some good friends. Ones that can help you when you're down, and ones that you can hopefully help when they're down. That's what fandom is all about.
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