Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mick Reborn #1: Confessions of a Dizzy Bastard

Not all who wander are lost.

But some dizzy bastards are.

I loved writing about comics online. I began by reviewing floppies for Comic Book Galaxy. Eventually I started my own blog, The Daily Burn. Eventually, for reasons I honestly don't even remember (I think I just liked the name better), The Daily Burn made way for Superheroes, etc. I had fun. I wrote all the time. Other bloggers, even a few pros, visited my blog and commented on it. Then I just stopped and didn't come back.

Why? Time, pain, and addiction to a dream world. Or, more correctly, addiction to the wrong dream world.

When my blogging initially slowed, it was due mostly to school and work. I just didn't have the time. However, eventually the problems school caused had less to do with time and more to do with subject matter. I wrote an undergraduate English honors thesis about how 9/11 impacted the storytelling of Marvel Comics. I began the project excited and sure I'd burn through it with a passion and intellectual agility that would put the other honors students to shame. By the end of it, I didn't want to look at a comic book unless I was looking at a big, oil-soaked pile of them and was holding a belching flamethrower.

If you've ever seen the episode of The Office when Steve Carell orchestrates an ill-advised "Run for Rabies" and uses the even more ill-advised strategy of filling up on pasta alfredo before the race, Carell's slow, painful stagger across the finish line will give you an idea of how I felt when I finally finished that goddamned thesis and earned my degree.

Oh. And if you've seen that episode, you may also remember Carell puking up the pasta moments after the race's conclusion. Well, something happened to me that makes the analogy complete. Weeks after my graduation, my girlfriend of 5 years left a note on my desk letting me know we could still be friends, our cats would soon forget who I was, and that I'd be returning to the apartment soon like a timid burglar to figure out which DVDs were mine.

My life unraveled in an instant, and there was no one to talk to. Since returning to school I had been working at night. Working the same schedule as Batman teaches you quickly why he's such a moody fuck. Your social life dies like a sad, unpopular sidekick. When the 5-Year-Bitch told me to hit the road, I was still working a crimefighter's schedule, so there was no one to help me through one of the most emotionally turbulent times in my life.

So I turned to the only friends I had available to me.

I immersed myself in a fantasy world of passion, war, magic and nobility.

A land of philosophy and reason.

A world of intrigue.

A World of Warcraft.

When you work nights, you're out of step with the world. When I was going through the aftermath of a wrecked relationship, I couldn't just call a friend during my usual waking hours and cry over the phone at them. My friends all have children and jobs and mortgages. But in WoW? Logging onto WoW at 3 am is never lonely. Evil on Azeroth never sleeps, after all, and neither do its warriors.

Along with substituting for my social life, WoW helped me feel better about the situation. There was no insistence that I move out of the apartment, but one of us had to and her family was on the other side of the country. So I moved back in with my parents. When I finally found a new apartment 4 months later, the only place I could afford was an attic apartment in a neighborhood many of my friends were afraid to visit. But while in my real life I suffered rejection, humiliation, and poverty, in World of Warcraft, I was a powerful dwarf hunter decked out in epic armor captured from godlike foes with a fictional bank account brimming with gold. I was the first in my guild with the epic flying mount, one of the first of my guild to the broken world of Draenor. In World of Warcraft, I was healthy. I had concrete accomplishments I could point to. I could fly.

I hesitate to say it was a mistake. It was what I needed at the time and I still have a handful of friends from the experience. But it couldn't last. Well, that's not true. It could've lasted, but it's a good thing it didn't.

Perhaps the most important person I met in WoW was a guy, whose username I can't even remember, who never heard of Spoiler Warnings. During a casual conversation in my guild's chat channel about comics, he gave away the ending of Planet Hulk. I was almost completely severed from the comic book blogging world by then, reading only GNs and TPBs and was very proud of myself for being so patient with Planet Hulk and its angry child World War Hulk. Spoiler Man was not my best friend, and the exchange reminded me that I had given up writing about a wonderful art form for the sake of an endless video game filled with faceless strangers whose friendships with me would always rank, at best, second to the game itself.

Even after I gave up the game, I couldn't come back to blogging. It wasn't even something in the forefront of my mind really. It was just a little nagging thorn rubbing against my side; not enough to break the skin, just barely enough to piss me off so mildly that I wasn't even aware I was pissed off about something.

When I was able to force myself to think about it, my prospects didn't seem good. Who would take me seriously if I came back after such a long absence? I had been out of the loop so long, I wouldn't be able to find my ass with both hands stitched to it. I wouldn't know who was still blogging, who had gone away, what comics were around, which ones had died. I wouldn't know any of the trendy blogger jokes. Do people still joke about the Internet cracking in half? Is Peter David still writing angry, public letters to Quesada every few weeks? Is everyone still reviewing Eightball #28? Hell, at least 4 or 5 Marvel crossovers have lived and died in the span of my absence from blogging. People who hate comics but watch The Colbert Report know more about the state of the Marvel Universe than me. It'd be like steering Mr. Magoo into a mine field.

Things changed for me. I made positive steps. I said goodbye to World of Warcraft. I found a lovely woman, moved in with her, and our cats know who I am. I quit smoking. I started exercising more. I stopped working nights. I got better.

When ADD sent out an e-mail to CBG alumni proposing nothing more than simply getting something going, all the doubts about coming back to blogging melted away. I felt like Christopher Guest running on stage at the end of This is Spinal Tap (not that ADD and I had ever had an angry spat over anything, or that I had news about Comic Book Galaxy hitting it big in Japan). It just felt right. I felt as if in more ways than I'm willing to mention here, I left my path. Immersing myself in comics again, writing about them for public consumption, and forcing my way into a broader discussion about them - this feels right. This feels like part of returning to the right path.

While it's questionable whether or not I can afford it, I have a fistful of bucks from the ATM, and tonight I'm going to buy some of those funny cartoon books down the street. Earthworld Comics, right near the corner of Central and Manning. I've been going there since junior high. I know the way.

1 comment:

jinx protocol said...

Yeah, things have a way of knocking you off course. But it's good that you're back in the loop. I liked this post and hope you keep it up. Mixing comics and the personal aspects make for a good read. Keep it up.