Powerblog: On Discovering Fandom

It was painfully obvious I was a fan of Power Pack from the get-go, but at the time, I was also pretty much alone in that. I had a few other friends who liked comics, but they all preferred the grown-ups, or at least the teenagers. Folks with X in their names, or who used a lot of guns. Such is often the nature of young boys, I suppose.1 I definitely didn’t know anyone else at the comics shop who seemed to get the book. It was me, over in my little corner, reading the book that wasn’t hot or collectible, where Wolverine might visit for Thanksgiving, but the only thing he cut with his claws were the tie lines of parade balloons.

That was probably why I always made sure to read the letters pages. See? I wasn’t alone. Here were people who liked the same things I liked. Or sometimes they didn’t like it, but they were all reading this same book. I wrote in a couple of times, myself, though I can’t recall if I had any letters printed there. If I wasn’t directly interacting with them, well, it still felt like a bit of a group discussion.

It was there, in those “Pick of the Pack” letters, that I ran across Dan Cuba’s request for folks to help him put together a fanzine. I think I hesitated at first, but after a month or two, I couldn’t resist the call to gather, and so I joined.

I was and still am pretty painfully shy. Crowds make me nervous. I’d not been to a comics convention ever, and it was unlikely I’d have worked up the courage to do so at the time. There probably were folks already gathering in the ether at this point, but I’ve always been more than a bit of Luddite. The early adopters are always rolling their eyes at me. So, it would still be several years before I had an email address. Probably a bit longer than that before I discovered usenet. So Power Pages, as we eventually named it, was my very first genuine experience with a fandom.

Here they were, boys and girls2 who all loved this little book, who talked about its details, wrote our own stories, drew our own pictures. Power Pack meant something to someone more than me. And I knew some of those people, albeit only on paper. No one thought it weird to sit down and, for example, talk about the differences between how June Brigman drew those wacky kids’ boots and how Jon Bogdanove or Brent Anderson modified the designs. We got to geek out with one another, and all our weird ideas were welcome, and goodness, but that was lovely.

I’d probably credit Power Pages for my eventually falling in and following some stuff on usenet, and later following comics bloggers and trying my hand at some, myself. The interwebs weren’t nearly the love fest the fanzine had been, but having had that group of people who understood the thing I loved enough to call ourselves fans of it, I was far more bolstered to deal with and recognize the trolls and seek out the folks who were really interested in talking about things.

I’ve completely lost track of pretty much everyone from the fanzine, as things eventually fell apart without a book to follow any more (though we did try). Still, I think I have just as much of a soft spot for that little fanzine as I do for the book which inspired it.

1. I didn’t know any girls who read comics at the time. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t be long, though. [back]

2. I believe none of us were out of high school when we started? If I’ve got that wrong, then there were men and women mixed in, and that was just fine, too. But in my head, we were all around the same age, even if we weren’t. [back]

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