Saturday, July 18, 2015


As I barrel towards age 64 - Will you still love me? - I take note of changes in my life and my sense of self. One of those changes is that I’ve begun wearing t-shirts in public.

If that seems like an odd topic for even one of these mini-bloggy things of mine, blame it on my buddy Bob Ingersoll. On his Facebook page, the fit-and-trim former attorney told a poster than he only wears t-shirts when riding his stationary bike or using his treadmill.

For more years than I can remember, I only wore t-shirts in my home or at my garage sales. Even if I was running errands, I would put on a shirt with a collar, usually a short-sleeved polo shirt. Even at conventions, surrounded by people wearing t-shirts, I felt that I should strike a more professional note. Or maybe it was residual memory from the too many years when comics fans like me were looked down upon by too many people.

These days, of course, we live in a world which accepts, sometimes ruefully, that we the fans have won. Hollywood comes to comics for its subject matter. The world watches news of our conventions and wishes they could be part of them. Libraries stock comic books and graphic novels. Schools teach comics. We’ve won.

I’ve spent virtually all of my adult life working in the industry I love. So I’m no longer the least self-conscious about wearing my Avengers or Captain America or Spider-Man t-shirts in public. Among my prized articles of attire are a San Diego Comic-Con t-shirt from the year I was a special guest and the Yoda shirt - “Judge Me by My Size, You Do?” - I bought from a smiling little person at the Star Trader emporium in Disneyland. At conventions, I alternate between polo shirts and t-shirts depending on my mood or the presentations I’ll be making. I wear my love of comics and fantasy for the world to see. I do so proudly.

There are two notable exceptions to my devil-may-care attitude re: the wearing of t-shirts. I own the “In Godzilla We Trust” t-shirt shown above. In fact, I own two of them because I love it a whole bunch. But, after a religious neighbor of mine commented he found it blasphemous, and only partly in jest, I only wear these shirts around my house or at my garage sales. One of the few tenets of the First Church of Godzilla, of which I am the founder and pastor, is that we don’t stick our “faith” in other people’s faces. We don’t need to do that. We are confident in our beliefs. We believe in the separation of church and state and, occasionally, the separation of entire city blocks from the ground.
The other exception? I won’t wear DC Comics t-shirts or any other DC Comics articles of clothing. Though DC has different management today from that which cheated and mistreated me for four decades or so, I would feel unclean wearing anything that shows DC characters, logos or symbols. It would literally pain me to do so.

If you ever see me wearing a DC Comics shirt, you can take it as a sign that DC has finally made things right with me. Heck, if that happens, I might start selling DC shirts. I can think of a number of Black Lightning designs that would be the epitome of sartorial style, perfectly suitable for the home, the office and the exciting night life of a super-hero.

Wear your comics and monster t-shirts with pride, my brothers and sisters. I do.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella


  1. We may have won, but it was a pyrrhic victory. I was a fan before and after the Great Acceptance, and from my standpoint it was a lot more fun back in the days when liking comics was almost like joining a secret club. Remember that feeling when you'd spot someone else with a copy of Amazing Spider-Man, or a Heinlein book? We were almost like Druids, with our own strange rituals and arcane language, and we were overjoyed to find a fellow traveler. It was like finding another Slan ally. I think we lost something when the Geek Explosion happened, and suddenly everyone embraced geekdom. Once we became part of the mainstream, we got to fully embrace all the mainstream's problems, like intolerance and misogyny (the whole godawful "fake geek girl" and "gamergate" nonsense come to mind), sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, and all the other ills. I mean, can you imagine how you would have felt back in 1975 if you met a woman who enjoyed The Fantastic Four, or anime, or Star Trek? My guess is that your first reaction wouldn't have been to call her a whore who was just masquerading as a fan.

    The mainstreaming of geek culture showed me that we aren't any more intelligent or enlightened than soccer hooligans, or rabid football fans. It held a mirror up to sci-fi and comics fandom and showed us that we are just as douchebaggy as the rest of the world.

    Man, I'm old. I'm soon going to need a stepladder to climb down off this soapbox.

  2. I disagree with you, Ron. I love the influx of new fans into comics fandom, even when their interest isn't with the comic books themselves. I love talking to these new fans, many of whom have never heard of me before, and sharing our thoughts on comics and related matters. I've never understood the mindset of readers who can focus only on their particular "good old days" and not enjoy the crazy variety now available to us.

    The mainstream problems you mention exist. They have to be dealt with. But I'm glad to be rid of the straight white male boys club that used to be comics fandom. The growing diversity of comics fandom will, eventually, overcome the problems. I might not be around to see that happy day, but I have no doubt it will come.

  3. "Fake geek girl?" this is a concept I'm having a difficult time wrapping my mind around. Taking it apart, I understand "geek girl." I can even grasp "fake girl," though I don't think that has anything to do with the overall concept. But "fake geek?" Boy or girl, does such a thing exist? If so, why?