Growing Up with Imagination: A Girl in Fandom
I started working at my first comic shop job in the late 90s. I was still living in Indiana and attending college. I only worked three days a week – spanning a couple of locations. The store had several locations in the Indianapolis area.
I’d been a customer there for less than a year, and the store was very different than my previous one. It was in a higher income area and focused on the comic and collectibles end, whereas my previous shop was very much a game store.
I got the job after one interview, despite my limited knowledge of anything outside of Marvel. I grew up in the 90s as a Marvel fan and had never truly branched out. This job conveniently changed all of that.
Since it was a comic shop with little focus on games (other than a few assorted Magic and Pokemon packs behind the counters) there were some pretty big afternoon lulls in business. I picked up a few of the old ‘staff picks’ in the graphic novels section, and was introduced to many of the non-superhero books right there.
But it was a “superhero book” that ended up really catching my eye. At the time, I was eager to indulge myself in worlds with powerful female heroes. I loved the X-Men’s ensemble cast for that reason, but there wasn’t much in available in the non-ensemble world. Wonder Woman was the most obvious option. However, I’ve always been a fan of witty repartee and the book at the time just wasn’t doing it for me. So I gave another DC book a whirl – one with not one but two female leads.
And I fell in love with Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey.
I wasn’t completely oblivious to either character’s existence before that series. I knew Babs as Batgirl and Dinah from a range of dated back issues. From that Birds issue (not the first, but the previous few were all still on the stands) I became so thoroughly engrossed in the characters that I eventually ended up reading more DC books than Marvel.
Before I knew what was happening, I was reading every book on the shelf. In the 90s. Every book. And that’s where my real comic education began. That’s when I passed the point of no return, and became a lifelong comic book fan.
In a few of these blogs I’ll talk about my time in that first comic shop and the world of not just a female comic fan, but a well-rounded fan of the imagination. I’ve observed many changes over the last decade – for the better – with a greater acceptance of females in an increasingly diverse array of fandoms. I’m going to share a few of my stories. Some are bad. Most are good. But it is all life as I experienced it.