"Calm down... I gotta play this cool..."
October 5, 2015 12:25 AM   Subscribe

For 24 hour comics day 2015, Sara Goetter did an absolutely adorable comic about that first time you recognise a fellow geek in middle school.
posted by MartinWisse (30 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Excellent post thank you.

Excelllant mini comic too.
posted by Faintdreams at 1:13 AM on October 5, 2015

This made me uncomfortable, which I took to be a sign that it perfectly matched my own experience.

Except in my case it was an issue of PC Gamer.
posted by teponaztli at 1:32 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

...all that is to say it was adorable and sweet, and thanks for posting it.
posted by teponaztli at 1:36 AM on October 5, 2015

This was terrific!

"And then get this the angels are the bad guys"
posted by JHarris at 1:58 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

I loved this. My heart melts
posted by dmt at 2:02 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wonderful! And I liked the rather sad implication that "The Princess of Demons" is so embarrassingly bad that grown-up Penny feels she must destroy it.
posted by rongorongo at 2:12 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Love. GeekGirlCon is this weekend and it is basically exactly this except that everybody is Joanna and Penny and nobody is that guy.
posted by thetortoise at 2:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

"Also I got in trouble for not fighting"

posted by chavenet at 2:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is fantastically endearing and I mistakenly thought at first that it was autobiographical : U
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:03 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh god, it's me and my Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfiction all over again.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:12 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

AWWWWWWWWWWW!!! That was great!
posted by xingcat at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2015

For me it was DUNE
posted by Megafly at 6:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ahh I teared up. Back in sixth grade a girl next to me muttered under her breath "You will be assimilated" during an unpleasant forced event in gym class and I automatically replied "Resistance is futile."

Brief pause.


Anyways then we were fast friends and we went to see Star Trek: Insurrection for my 13th birthday and it was the best. We eventually grew apart in high school but I am forever grateful she made that first move, quoting the Borg during gym.
posted by castlebravo at 6:44 AM on October 5, 2015 [19 favorites]

I may have met one of my closest friends in a nearly identical way during high school, sans fist fights. And it may have been Sandman graphic novels, instead of anime. I can neither confirm or deny this.
posted by Hactar at 7:06 AM on October 5, 2015

It's so much easier for kids today. You can buy Doctor Who t-shirts at the mall, for K-9's sake. No more carefully sussing out someone's level of geekery based on their whispered quotations or notebook doodles or library books.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:24 AM on October 5, 2015

Yes but then they have to work out who is more ironic.
posted by nom de poop at 7:27 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

On my first day in high school, in band, I was reading an X-Man graphic novel ('God Loves, Man Kills'), when a terrifying senior came up to me and asked about it. As I mentally prepared to be made fun of, he asked if he could borrow it when I was done because it looked cool. We were best friends inside of a week.
posted by Lokheed at 7:32 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I just went to the wedding of two of my best friends from high school - I met Steve in band/orchestra in 3rd grade, and Meredith on the AOL Lord of the Rings chat room where a bunch of nerdy 13-year-olds pretended to be elves. We realized we were going to be at the same high school, we all sat at the same lunch table where the punky kids would throw leftover food at us while we talked about human genome calculators and Legolas's dreamy eyes, and the rest is history! Hooray for geeky friends!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:09 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I feel kind of jealous of today's geek kids for being able to explore communities of interest online. I hung around with other 70s highschool nerds but none of us really seemed to share each other's enthusiasms. I was an art geek where others were math, chess or model-building geeks, so I don't think we ever really shared much of a sense of community. I do dimly remember one area of overlap being the highschool gun club. We had a rifle range in the basement and an old doddery teacher who would give us bullets and then just kind of wander off. In Canada, no less. I still have no idea why gun club membership would to be limited to nerds.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:46 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you enjoy Sara's work (and sense of humor) I cannot recommend her other comics highly enough!

Boozle -- ongoing all-ages adventure webcomic about a wizard and an excitable cyclops
Wicked Queens -- Monster girl gang wants battling for their right to go to prom. (Link goes to where you can buy the $3 PDF)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:00 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I still have no idea why gun club membership would to be limited to nerds.

Everything is nerdery to some degree. Sci-fi nerds, fantasy nerds, Tolkien nerds, AV Club nerds, chess club nerds, poly-sci nerds, home ec nerds, shop nerds, and that highly favored type of nerd who is on the sportsball team. There's just differing levels of historical social approval, probably for patriarchal reasons when you examine it closely. Gun club nerds can definitely be a thing.

I'm not entirely happy with all aspects of modern geekery (there's Gamergate of course, and also could we please have a break in the endless deluge of Star Wars and superhero movie hype?) but how geeks are able to geek out, and not be shunned but actually socially accepted for it, both boys and girls? That's pretty great.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Read the first chapter of Boozle there Narrative Priorities, you're right!
posted by JHarris at 12:14 PM on October 5, 2015

Made me cry a little bit at work.

For me it was 6th grade. I was new and most kids had been together since pre-school. I was also the smallest and youngest one by far, and was subject to a constant low-intensity bullying that was making me miserable.

The only way I knew to fit in was to pretend to like sports on TV, and listening to top-40 radio and taking notes so that I could have something to talk about. How I fucking HATED pretending to like basketball and the Chicago Bulls just to be invited to watch games and the occasional sleepover. I got literally kicked out of someone's living room for cheering at the wrong time during an NBA game.

I was into fantasy, science, computers, and progressive rock and electronic music from the 60's and 70's. At the time in Mexico, one had to special order Asimov and Tolkien books at the bookshop. The Spanish translations took a few weeks to arrive, the originals in English took over 6 months. All I knew about comics, computers and programming was from reading magazines at the Anglo-Mexican Institute's free library and browsing at the bookshop for American ex-pats. The music and 'mature' comics I got from my older uncles who had traveled to the USA and Europe. It was a lonely pursuit, everyone else was 20 years older than me, and somehow I knew it was shameful to admit what I liked to other kids at school.

Then I saw a kid, one of the big ones that had punched me in the shoulder every time I walked by, one of the ones I wanted to be like, writing in Elvish runes on his notebook. I stalked him for days, learned who his friends were, started plotting my introduction, and waited for weeks for the right opportunity.

It was so fucking hard to keep my cool when I finally approached them and delivered the line I had been rehearsing all weekend: "I heard you say the other day that your runes are Quenya Sindarin, but those are two very different languages. They have a common ancestor, but Sindarin is what the elves who stayed in Middle Earth spoke, Quenya was brought back by the elves that went to Valinor. I figured out how to tell them apart by the average number of words ending in vowels or consonants". They still punched me in the arm and kicked me in the shins for disrespecting my elders, but later they welcomed me and the bullying stopped for the most part.

Spotting those runes was the best thing that could have happened to 11 years old me. At 13 I had my first episode of depression. All I knew about myself was that I was a weak fat short uncoordinated crying effeminate nerd fag with bad grades who no one liked, a waste of potential that would never be realized unless I manned up and made a real effort, always living in a world of fantasy and unable to handle reality. You know, the usual things that teachers, parents and other kids are always so happy to tell you for your own good.

The thought that kept me from seriously trying to kill myself was that these people were so much like me, and I knew they were great, and they must have seen some good in me because they said they liked me, so maybe, just maybe, I had some worth. When I ditched class to go cry in the library, some of them went to look for me, and just sat around my table reading Asterix and making jokes, completely ignoring my snot and tears. I don't think they know how grateful I am for that.

We were too young to articulate it, but we had found each other, and we had reached a critical mass in the school's social order such that we could start feeling a little pride in who we where.

That was about 30 years ago, and we are all still close friends.

I hope it will be a lot easier for my kid when she grows up.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:35 PM on October 5, 2015 [16 favorites]

Forgot to say: The way 'geek culture' is now, I think it is more likely for a kid to be ostracized by the geeks for liking football than she is to be ostracized by the jocks for liking comics. I guess you have to be one of the very lucky ones to have a really good time between 11 and 14.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:39 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Doroteo Arango II: ""I heard you say the other day that your runes are Quenya Sindarin, but those are two very different languages. They have a common ancestor, but Sindarin is what the elves who stayed in Middle Earth spoke, Quenya was brought back by the elves that went to Valinor. I figured out how to tell them apart by the average number of words ending in vowels or consonants""

That is a goddamn fantastic story, Doroteo Arango II (and an equally fantastic user name, I gotta say) but the best part was the way your little proto-nerdlinger self first came out of your shell to nitpick about Middle Earth runes. So great.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

That was one of the most satisfying punches I've ever seen anyone throw in a comic.
posted by webmutant at 3:54 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Rock Steady, since you like my username, you may enjoy the fact that from the age of 6 my parents and relatives would call me Doña Josefita, from Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez1.

At the time I believed that serious grown up conversations were all about orderly exchanging the latest facts available in an effort to drive common knowledge closer to the truth. It follows from that that people should be grateful when a more knowledgeable person offers an update. I got better.

I still see a friend from that group often. If in the middle of conversation I say "Athelas in Lothlórien" he will automatically say "No, Elanor and Niphredil in Lothlórien, Athelas does NOT grow in Lothlórien". That argument went on for weeks, trying to find relevant passages in the book and going through them with a fine comb.

What will nerds nerd about now that we have Wikipedia? It just took me 5 minutes to google 'Where did Aragron get the Athelas' to find out he most likely got it from Cardolan, which is Southwest of Bree. But I still maintain that Lothlórien is ALSO Southwest of Bree, and it is unlikely that the elves would have ignored such a powerful plant, and if they did not ignore it, it is likely that they cultivated some in Lothlórien. And since it the book says that "this plant does not grow in the bare hills; but in the thickets", the Elves would not have had to cut down any trees to grow it.

1- For those not up to date on their 18th and 19th century Mexican history, Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez is a national hero best known as La Corregidora, which means The Mayor(ess), but which my relatives intended as The Corrector. Used in phrases like "Doña Josefita, how many fucking times have I told you to stop fucking correcting the grown ups when they are having a fucking conversation, go outside to play in traffic".
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 4:03 PM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

Just wanted to say, great story, and also:

What will nerds nerd about now that we have Wikipedia?

There will always be more esoteric knowledge to geek out over, the mine has no bottom. Someone had to write all those Wikipedia articles. And Wikipedia might be the largest but it's far from the only wiki, and those others thrive off of th adding of ever-geekier minutia. There's Wookiepedia and Memory Alpha, just off the top of a very deep well.
posted by JHarris at 4:18 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The shudder of recognition!

I have a couple of online-art-nerd memories that I still feel embarrassed about! One time, over the summer, a person and I commented on each other's anime art on deviantART (I know...) and we realized that we went to the same high school. When the year started we realized we were in the same French class.

Us: (aware of each other's presence but ignoring each other)
Her: YES
Us: (awkwardly look away, class starts)
posted by glass origami robot at 1:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was a weird, lonely kid for a long time, until I had a similar experience that totally changed my life.

In 5th grade, I sat next to a kid on the bus who was reading Nintendo Power. He had an SNES and I had a Genesis. After that, every day we would sit together; he would tell me his progress in Link to the Past, and I would talk about Sonic 3. The next year, he would introduce me to another kid, who was also into video games and shared my passion for Alanis Morissette and my newly depressive nature. By the following year, we were hanging out all the time, mostly playing GoldenEye, along with my brother. The year after that, the second kid brought in his skateboarder punk friend to play drums in our band, and we all tried to learn to skateboard together. Friend #2 introduced me to friend #4 who was also super into Star Fox 64 and would later buy me a Warhammer 40k starter set for my birthday. Later, friend #4 introduced me to yet one more kid who didn't have many other friends but wanted to get into D&D with us. One day, a random kid sat next to me and friend #4 at lunch, timidly produced an M:tG starter deck, and asked if he could have the next match. After friend #4 accidentally broke up the band, friend #2 introduced us all to a fellow guitar nerd who would join us for D&D (poor friend #4 was running for a group of 8!) until he moved away and friend #3 brought in his anime-obsessed goth friend to be our new singer. Around the same time, I sat next to a new kid who just moved from Colombia, and we instantly started talking about philosophy and music; I don't even know how we got started, but to this day, whenever we get together, we hit it off and talk for hours. He was living with his cousin, who I was more casual friends with, but eventually I would join all of them for a few late night D&D sessions, too.

Which is all to say, in middle school being a nerd sucked, but around the turn of the millennium, it became pretty awesome! A lot of these people (basically the ones that never moved away) I'm still friends with, though it's a bit tough for us to gather face-to-face in recent years.

Anyway, great comic! It brought back a lot of memories!
posted by WCWedin at 5:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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