On Fandom: Does Indugling Nostalgia Equate to Understanding?

By | Friday, January 03, 2014 2 comments
I mentioned over the summer how I've been adopting a style of dress that wouldn't be out of place in an Indiana Jones adventure. Not quite to the extent of the artwork here, but still reminiscent of the style. And while I like that it's been a very practical wardrobe, I'd be lying to myself if I said there wasn't a nostalgia factor involved.

Indy never quite rose to the level of hero status for me in the way that some of my favorite comic book characters did, but I definitely gained an appreciation for the adventure genre he embodied. When Tales of the Gold Monkey and Bring 'Em Back Alive tried to ride Indy's coattails, I was right there. My interest lessened a bit over the years, but that appreciation still remained. Later, despite having some issues with the way Lara Croft is frequently portrayed, I did break down and pick up a couple Tomb Raider games. And heaven help me, I even forced myself to sit through several episodes of Relic Hunter.

Now, with my wardrobe perhaps not complete but well enough along that it's an ongoing look for me, I find myself eyeballing comics touching back on that genre. The Indy comics, naturally, but things like Relic Wrangler and Temple Run (which I know is based on the game which, yes, I have downloaded and play frequently) as well. I haven't actually purchased any of these recently because... well, why would I? I mean, the genre as a whole is only of a mild interest to me and there aren't many of these types of stories in the comic format that have any particular significance for the medium; I'd be better off spending my money on a set of Jack Kirby reprints or a manga like Attack on Titan which I've been hearing so many good things about.

There's some part of my brain, I think, that exects that reading more about those Indy-style adventures helps me to embody the lifestyle that represents. After all, part of what led me to adopt the clothing style was the notion that I was digging around in obscure places looking for rare treasures like Indy. And that while it was ostensibly for academic purposes, a lot of it was driven by personal satisfaction, also like Indy. Of course, I'm not exactly fighting Nazis for the Ark of the Covenant, but I still liked the idea of getting my hands metaphorically dirty teasing out comics history using a smattering of half-documented clues.

So, at some level, I think that taking in more of those types of stories would bring me closer to being that type of character. Of being an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. That bringing more of those superficial elements of style into my own life would bring me closer to living the kind of lives they live.

Which is nonsense, of course. Those stories are fiction, generated by writers and artists sitting in comfortable studios, extrapolating whole adventures out of the merest nuggets from the biographies of Roy Chapman Andrews or Giovanni Belzoni. What matters in those stories is what looks or sounds entertaining, not what's useful or accurate. Particularly when the stories range into the mythological or spiritual. Logically, I know this and yet I still find I'm having these pangs of interest...

Knowing more of these stories almost certainly won't help me to understand anything about comics research, or even adopting a style for comics research. Knowing more of these stories will simply be an exercise in seeing variations on a theme.

But that nostalgia continues to tug.

The challenge is continuing to recognize that nostalgia does nothing but replay what you already feel. It's really just a memory of a feeling. And that is a far cry from gaining insight, wisdom or knowledge. Nostalgia isn't just looking back; it's feeling back at the expense of seeing what's coming. What I want to do is look back in order to understand what's in front of me, and perhaps even predict what's further out than that.
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Matt K said...

That drawing is awesome.

I'm trying to decide what would follow the swap. A landslide of bagged comics? (I imagine the plastic could make a large enough pile fairly fluid on a sloped surface… someone needs to test this.) A giant foil ball, made from unsold gimmick covers of the 1990s?


Sean Von Gorman was taking requests for commissions over the summer for super cheap. The image was an idea I had rolling around in my head for a little while, and it seemed to fit well with his general style, so I took him up on it. He executed on it really well, I think. (The US Agent detail was all him.) I still need to get the original framed, but it will be hanging in my Library shortly.

Before the giant foil ball, though, I'm sure there'd be rusty staples being shot from small holes in the wall, and a deep chasm between stacked (and unsteady) long boxes I'd have to jump over. And of course, once I made it out of the cave, I'd be confronted with a tribe of Walking Dead fanboys in zombie make-up. Then Tom Spurgeon walks up and says, "Mr. Kleefeld -- again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away."