Since becoming an adult (or at least voting age), I’ve become increasingly interested in things that I wish I had the opportunity to be involved in as a kid. Growing up, I loved science fiction films, video games, comic books, and so on but had no money to partake in these things to the degree that most of my school friends could. I’m not saying I was completely deprived but I definitely had limited options.
Half stories, big worlds
My only true unadulterated experience to comics as a kid were a handful of comics from the random corner store (I probably owned a total of about 12 comics throughout my entire childhood). Much more than actual comics, I got to partake in the world through a handful of comic-based 90’s cartoons like X-Men, Spiderman, and Iron Man. I LOVED those cartoons. I wanted so much to be a part of the world I knew existed in the pages of comics, but we just didn’t have the money. I never got to finish a comic story arch. I never saw the beginning or ending of a series.
As far as video games went, I inherited an old NES and a handful of games from a deceased relative (not really the optimum way to obtain a video game system, I think). I loved video games every bit as much as those comic-based Saturday morning cartoons. But I was always a bit jealous of being so far behind the curve of most of my friends. When I got my NES, most of my school friends had had SNES and Sega Genesis for years and many were getting Playstations. In fact, that often worked out of my advantage since many friends thought of the NES as “that cool old system” and would trade me their Sega Genesis for my NES for the odd weekend.
My exposure to Sci-Fi films, like video games, was usually out-dated and generally involved films that had been out for years or two star or less movies broadcast on television on the weekends. I didn’t care, I loved them anyway. I loved the stories and ideas so much that the bad acting and cheesy effects didn’t matter at all. The Last Starfighter was wish fulfillment, Star Trek was a refuge, Star Wars a fantastic adventure. It was a chance to think of something so much bigger than myself and be a part of a world that I could only see a glimpse of.
Come on an adventure with me
I think that’s what I loved most as a child about all these things – comics, video games, films – there were worlds both on the paper and on the screen that I could be a part of as well as a whole world of other people just like me that really existed on this planet that I could commiserate with while sitting there watching Saturday morning cartoons. The idea of being a part of a community, even if it was based around something possibly completely ridiculous, has always appealed to me. The concept of Trekkers is not surprising to me, even if I’ve never found myself dressed as a Klingon. The existence of rabid Star Wars fans is no shock. They all just love being a part of a world that instantly gives them connection to others and to something beyond the mundane of everyday life.
Too cool for school
It wasn’t until late high school or early college that I even learned about Comic Conventions or the idea of cosplay (where people will dress up at these conventions as their favorite geek world characters from films, games, etc.). I thought it was silly. At first, I probably scoffed. But inside I thought that was probably one of the coolest things I’d ever heard of. It wasn’t cool to be a nerd or geek when I grew up the way it seems to be now and I desperately wanted to fit in for most of my childhood so dressing up as a video game character definitely wasn’t on the agenda. It’s funny how things can flip around though. At this point in my life now, I simply don’t care to fit in. Fitting in is so boring. I haven’t had the chance to attend a Comic Convention yet but if I did I wouldn’t be opposed to dressing up. I just realistically wouldn’t dress up because I’m lazy, not because of fear of being “uncool”.
Life is too short
Much of my childhood was spent being jealous of what others had or what I didn’t but looking back I had a lot. I might not have had the latest gadgets or coolest toys, but I did get to see into these giant worlds of imagination. I was forced to fill in the details myself, to make the most of what I had and run with it. Didn’t get to see the ending? Oh well, make up your own. Can’t get that new game? Too bad. Go draw what you think the story might be. Some of my all time best friends were met because we struck up a conversation about video games we didn’t have or films we had never seen (but really wanted to).
Life is far too short to be concerned with what everyone else has or is doing. My love of art and drawing grew out of the need, the compelling, to be a part of these fanciful worlds that I only peripherally got to experience and for that I am eternally grateful. Go and partake, and if you can’t partake then make it yourself. There are never too many good stories in this world.