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10 Things to Say When Someone Is Surprised You Read Comics

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Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

This post was originally published at Panels.

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You know it when it happens. That moment when you start talking animatedly about your favourite comics title and someone at the party turns to you and, looking shocked, says, “YOU read comics?” Maybe it’s a hardcore Comic Book Shop Guy who doesn’t think you fit the profile of his people; maybe it’s someone who doesn’t know much about comics but has a preconceived notion of what comics people are all about. Either way, here’s a handy list of ways to respond to people gorpin’ on you about your favourite hobby.

If you want to be serious, you can tell the Comic Book Shop Guy that it’s in his best interest to see comics as a much more inclusive space where people of diverse backgrounds can join together to celebrate innovative storytelling and keep comics publishing alive. And you can tell the person living in stereotypes that comics are a super vibrant art form, and at least since the moment Maus won the Pulitzer Prize it has been socially acceptable for smart people to take comics seriously.

… but sometimes, the moment demands an especially snarky comeback. I have a few:

  1. Hey, I like big panels and I cannot lie.
  2. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: yes. I read comics. They are great.
  3. No. What’s a comic? [Person starts to describe.] OH! I was confused because I call those picture-box-word-magazine-stories.
  4. Yeah. I guess I started with the Bayeux Tapestry and then I was hooked for life.
  5. Is this one of those things where we whip out our pull lists? Because I am packin’.
  6. Oh, are comics like the amusement park? Must I be [holding hand an inch above your head] this tall to ride?
  7. Nope. [Stare blankly until everyone is uncomfortable.]
  8. Well, I tried flossing with them and I tried using them as skis but honestly they seem to work best when I read them.
  9. Yes, and I can name exactly one Robin, and it’s Robin, and that doesn’t make me any less of a comics fan than you.
  10. Oh my god, I used to be a total snob about what people read, too. Isn’t it the worst? Aren’t you horribly embarrassed by yourself right now?

Because remember: only jerks make people feel like they don’t belong in the world of comics, for any reason at all.