The Journey, Man 07 – My tribe
Columnist Wayne Rée shares his discovery of comic books, from his start as a super-hero fan to his evolution into a believer of the power of the art form of comics.
I was born and raised in Singapore. The thing about living in an Asian country, I’ve found, is that I never got picked on for my geekiness. It just never occurred to me that that was how it was “supposed” to work.
That’s not to say that I still don’t get the “You like comics? Oh, my god! How old are you?” rubbish from my more close-minded acquaintances. I do, but I have enough friends who could out-geek me any day of the week, so it doesn’t bug me as much. In fact, it’s because of those friends that I almost feel sorry for people who so arrogantly dismiss comic readers.
I’ve been talking about my journey through comics for a good six editions now, but I’m surprised that I’ve barely even scratched the surface of one of the most important parts of that journey: My fellow comic fans.
Get by with a little help from my… well, y’know…
I said earlier that I never got picked on for my geekiness, and that’s because geek culture’s always had its place in Singapore. We grew up on the kampong comic strips of Malaysia’s Lat. We had our own local comic series called Mr. Kiasu. Geek culture wasn’t geek culture for us. It was just… well, culture.
So, when I was six or seven and I met a couple of friends who dug Wolverine and The Punisher, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that there were more people like me out there. I was surprised that there was a whole world outside of Spidey and the Ninja Turtles, sure, but that was about it.
Singapore’s a small country – we’re quite literally an island nation – so, over the years, it’s not been terribly difficult to stay in touch with those nerdy friends. Or to make new ones. By the time I was 14, I had myself an entire group who each dug different nerdy things. Gaming, fantasy novels, role-playing games, sci-fi movies and, yes, even comics.
A group like that, if you were picked on for your passions, could’ve been a sort of emotional support and safe haven. For me, they were just the best kind of enablers.
Lion City geekery
The Internet, of course, helped introduce me to more of my fellow nerds (including the esteemed head honcho of The Comics Observer – young master Corey Blake). A couple of said fellow nerds were actually based in Singapore too.
But up until a few years ago, that geekery was still reasonably confined for me to specific communities – certain groups of friends and certain message boards. The scope of it didn’t really hit me till I was actually surrounded by hundreds of my fellow fans.
The Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention was my first comic con. It grew every year since its inception to the point where, at one particular con, we had around 10 to 15 creators from Marvel and DC. Now, compared to even the smaller cons in America, yeah, that doesn’t seem like much. But we’re a tiny island off the southern tip of Malaysia. I’d say that, all things considered, the organizers of STGCC did pretty well.
But that’s not the point. The point was that, for the first time ever, I understood the scope of this larger comic book fandom tapestry. I know it doesn’t make sense since I was already aware of how massive the comic fan community was beyond our shores, but it didn’t really hit home till then, you know?
And that, of course, was nothing compared to my first time at the San Diego Comic Con. But that’s an entire edition of this column all on its own, so we’ll save that for a later date.
I only bring up SDCC, really, because of something that Joss Whedon said about this, the biggest of comic cons. I’m paraphrasing here, but it went along the lines of, “Coming to Comic Con is like finally meeting and joining your tribe.” Choice words from Mr. Whedon – if slightly inaccurate, for my story at least.
I’ve always had my tribe, you see. I just keep getting shocked at how much bigger it gets every year.
Wayne Rée’s been writing professionally for about ten years. He’s worked in everything from advertising to publishing, and was even part of the team that created Singapore’s very first tattoo magazine. He dabbles in screenwriting and photography, travels way too much, and is currently putting together his very first short story collection.
Posted on October 9, 2012, in Columns, The Journey, Man and tagged Johnny Lau, Kampung Boy, Lat, Mr. Kiasu, Singapore, Singapore Toy Game & Comic Convention, Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention, STGCC. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.