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comic relief
my pop culture blind spot
by mike julianelle
pop culture

Like everyone else I know, I've seen The Dark Knight. But it took me a while. For such a big release I'm typically there the first weekend, if not opening night. But, due to a number of circumstances (sell-outs, busted AC at my local theater, drunkenness, marriage, etc.), I waited until the second weekend to finally see what has become the movie phenomenon of the year. At least until Midnight Meat Train sweeps the nation!

To most people with lives and legitimate priorities, waiting a week to see a movie isn't a big deal. To others, going to the theater is a pain in the ass, really only worth it for once in a lifetime opportunities like seeing Jessica Alba's ass on the big screen in Into the Blue. But for me, waiting even a few days to see a movie like this is a recipe for disaster. Things get spoiled quite easily when you hang out with the type of person that goes to midnight showings. Hell, I had parts of the movie spoiled months before its release, due to my constant surfing of movie gossip sites. Even at nearly 32 years old, I'm a slave to this stuff.

Well, to most of it.

Just a few days ago I got a text message from a friend of mine that shined a light on both the perception of me as a pop culture geek and my own shortcomings as one. He asked "Were you a comic book geek?" and proceeded to petition for advice on comics that would be good for an eleven-year-old.

I get it. I fit the profile. I'm a pop culture nerd. I am frequently holding court about the latest movie releases or best tv shows. I tried out for a game show and did pretty well. I own a variety of superhero t-shirts and even have a totally awesome Cobra Commander shirt. I own multiple seasons of geek TV shows on DVD, from Buffy and Angel to the original The Office and Arrested Development on DVD. I am constantly reading websites and magazines to stay up to date on the latest goings-on around Hollywood and then writing about the same crap here. I'm proud to be the guy who dominates the Kevin Bacon game and the best player to "serve it up" in Movie Pong. Pop culture is a hobby of mine and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

But I don't read comics. Never have. It's a gap in my geekdom. I have a few, actually, including Dungeons and Dragons, anime bullshit (if you consider that a geek requirement) and a lot of hardcore sci-fi ("Star Trek", "Battlestar Galactica") but comics are probably the biggest. My problem with comics is mostly that I don't care about the artwork. I care about the story. And reading a story in a comic book takes about 17 seconds if you don't look at the pictures. Struck me as rather pointless.

That's not to say I can't talk about comics. I am like a sponge when it comes to useless pop culture info and I can confidently discuss comics with most any regular Joe. I've read a lot ABOUT comics, just never read the comics themselves. And I have a few friends I can turn to for any info I need it, which is what I did answer the aforementioned text message. Because I don't know the details. I can enjoy more of the easter eggs hidden in a movie like Iron Man or The Hulk than most people, but I'll still miss some of the more obscure references because I don't know the name of Captain America's doctor when it's used to tease an upcoming storyline. Oh well. That's what the internet, and my friend Tom, are for.

Everybody has gaps in the knowledge, no matter how great of an expert they are. The biggest sports nerd might not be able to talk intelligently about tennis. The smartest mathematician or chemist might not be able to spell worth a damn. The leader of the free world might not know what the definition of is is. It's impossible to know everything about everything. Unless you're Cha Cha! (Seriously, try it: 1-800-242-2242.)

I'll admit I've done a few things to fill in my gaps. I've read Frank Miller's graphic Batman novels. I finally got around to The Watchmen. But there's really no way in hell I could ever soak up 40 years of comic canon at this point in my life, especially since it keeps expanding and/or eating itself every day. Kind of like James Gandolfini.

But in 2008, my lack of comic knowledge becomes more of a handicap everyday. Especially in light of the way they have crossed over into everything, from tv shows like "Buffy" and "Lost" to Pulitzer Prize winning books ("The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao") and every other movie that hits the theaters.

Comic nerds used to be the ultimate outcasts (if you ignore the D&D crew). But over the past ten to fifteen years, comics have bubbled up into the mainstream and achieved a kind of cool, the same way video games and technology have become so mainstream that gamers and IT geeks have finally acquired a sheen of glamour. Or at least lost their air of desperation.

And now I'm left on the outside looking in. But that's okay. Word is, they're developing an Ant Man movie. It's all gonna come crashing down soon.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


we don't need some other hero
by mike julianelle
topic: pop culture
published: 4.6.11

unreasonable drought
film in the season of the rich
by mike julianelle
topic: pop culture
published: 12.19.01


daniel castro
8.6.08 @ 2:55a

I still hate you for having that Cobra Commander shirt.

And by hate, I mean envy.

adam kraemer
8.6.08 @ 1:20p

Saw the trailer for "Watchmen" last weekend. Wow. I mean, really, wow.

mike julianelle
8.6.08 @ 1:24p

Too much slo-mo for my tastes. I never saw 300, but if Snyder pulls the same hyper-stylized super slo-mo crap, I think the movie ends up being a pretentious music video. Granted, the slo-mo may just be a trailer move, but 300 didn't turn out that way, from what I understand.

brian anderson
8.6.08 @ 6:00p

I was never a comics guy as a youngster, but then, I didn't live near any comic shops. I've read more in the last few years, but mostly collections of the big series. There's certainly a lot of history, but it's easier than you might think. In the old days, when they were disposable entertainment, it was assumed that the core audience would outgrow them in a few years, so there wasn't much continuity. In the days since, they try to keep at least the average reader up to speed, although sometimes this manifests itself in way too many panels of a character being addressed by name and explaining, for no good reason dramatically, who they are. I can't speak to Marvel, but DC has rebooted its entire universe at least three times and done soft reboots any number of other times.

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