by Stacey Barlow Hills
Are you the loved one of a fanboy/girl? Do you share your home with any number of items representing the multi-verses of DC, Marvel, Image, etc? Are Stan Lee, Alan Moore and Bruce Timm part of everyday conversations? Are you concerned that you possess knowledge enough that the previous three sentences make sense to you?
If so, you’re not alone, and you’re in luck. After nearly 10 years of marriage to a man who is both fan and artist, I’m here to tell you that your relationship can survive AND thrive with comics. It just takes a few simple steps on your part…
• Everything in its place. Action figures, collectibles, lithographs, the library of graphic novels and the dozens of comics boxes all need a home if you are to survive in yours. Give them space, but not everything needs to be visible. In our house for example, graphic novels are on the bookshelves as long as they aren’t too graphic for our five-year-old to flip through. The rest go into the office where she’s not allowed. Living in an apartment? Be creative in your decorating. Frame the lithograph, or put a piece of wood or glass on those comics boxes and throw a big piece of fabric over the entire thing – coffee table. Too much stuff? That’s why self storage exists.
• Choose your battles. If your fan is excited about watching “Crisis on Two Earths” and you are ambivalent about your evening TV plans – defer. If you are convinced that the latest web viewer is not innovative and your loved one swears that it is – let it go (trust me on this one). Save your energy for things that matter, like whether or not to name your child after his/her favorite comic book character and whether the nursery will be decorated with DC or Marvel characters.
• The more you know. Most of us have been learning our entire lives. The square root of 25? How to ride the subway? Parts of speech, directions on a DVD player, we are constantly adding terms to our vocab in order to function in our world. Make this one of those things. It’s like learning a whole new language, and just like learning a language, your horizons expand with new knowledge. Did you know that Aquaman is more than someone who talks to fish? He’s awesome – check it out.
• Find a niche. To be honest, I never thought there was anything in comics that would interest me. Still, the diversity of storytelling, art and character is overwhelming. There is, quite literally, something for everyone. The key is to find just a couple of things that you like. I’m not a fan of fantasy, and I’d rather watch my superheroes or buy the trade paperback than read issue by issue. My husband doesn’t agree, and that’s ok. Comics are art, and art is subjective.
Above all, if you truly care for your fan, just love and respect him/her. If they love it, try to love it too. My husband’s passion for comics makes him who he is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hang in there everyone!
Stacey Barlow Hills is the wife of super talented Doug Hills, who's work you can find at PNH Comics where they have their manga webcomic CHIBI CHEERLEADERS FROM OUTER SPACE.