Team Us

By | Monday, March 23, 2020 1 comment
Several years ago, Greg Cravens included in his webcomic Hubris! an outdoor sports festival. The basic plot before was that the title character owned a sports shop, and the story mostly revolved around him selling sporting equipment to an unusual array of customers. Or occasionally, one of his unusual friends selling sporting equipment to regular customers. Then he had the idea to host an outdoor festival to promote the shop, and the festival story lasted over a year and Cravens seemed to have fun with it, throwing in all sorts of zany (and often comicly dangerous!) sporting events. He had a number of teams competing: one of just all doctors, one of all cryptids, one from the nearby big box sports store...

And then he had a team where he drew in some of his readers: Team Us.

It was a fun bit. As a reader, you could find yourself in a crowd of people listening to an event's "rules" (more often "guidelines" or "suggestions") or maybe actual participating in one of the events. I got written in a couple of times, most notably winning a pile of useless crap in a raffle. But the Team Us bit was, I thought, a clever title. I seem to recall him mentioning at some point that the idea was that we, the readers, were part of tribe of sorts. That we were all in this together and were generally good people who tried to support each other. But that we were this hodgepodge of runners and hacky-sackers and kayakers and cyclists and general sports enthusiasts and people with no coordination to save their lives but dang it they like the comic anyway and... Even though we all came to the table with our differences, we were all in this together. There was no "them" in the equation, just "us." Hence, Team Us.

Hubris filler comic
Interestingly, when Cravens was putting the strips together for a book, he found some pages required a little extra art as filler because some of the strip layouts didn't translate super-easily to the page format. So he'd throw in some new one-off gags or humorous illustrations, and in one of those he featured both my wife and I.

Now, my wife isn't a big comics reader, so when the book arrived, she kind of ignored that I got it. (Honestly, it might not have even registered at all.) But I later paid Cravens to send me the original art for that piece, and she did happen to notice when that arrived. And that's when she first saw the "Team Us" name, on the t-shirt my cartoon avatar is wearing. She had no context for it -- knew nothing of the comic or the festival storyline or how "Team Us" represented Craven's readers -- but she immediately understood, appreciated, and adopted the idea. My wife and I use it in casual conversation all the time now. Any time we're able to tag team on some home project or whenever one of us gets a 'win' in life that benefits us a couple or anything along those lines, we will literally high-five and shout "Team Us!" It's a kind of ongoing confirmation that, as husband and wife, we're in this together, and that we're both trying to make life better for us on the whole. We're a team and have each others' backs.

While there's a bit of levity and maybe a smidge of sarcasm in the name "Team Us" I think it's a great concept. Despite being introduced in a comic -- or maybe even because it was introduced in a comic -- it seems like an idea that more people should embrace. There is no "them" to worry about, it's just always "us." Regardless of who's actually on "Team Us."
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Matt K said...

This is really cool.