After leaving college and starting working my "real" job, I became something of a shut-in. Talking to people has never been one of my strong suits. Without the almost mandatory relationships that come from attending school, I talked to basically no one but my family. I didn't go out unless it was to eat or celebrate one of my nieces' birthdays.
And to buy my comics, which I would wait to read at home. I wasn't as open with my comic geekness back then, and people only found out about my fondness if I slipped and read one out in the open. I didn't like the questions that came from being "outed" as a comic reader. People treated you as if you were mentally challenged and that offended me to no end, mainly because, you know, I'm brilliant.
I used to buy my books at a place called Geseppi's(or Geppi's or something), but it closed, so I had to find a new spot. Back when Big Monkey Comics was called Beyond Comics 2, I decided to make that my new comics place. It was a two story place and appealed to me for the fact that it seemed that only black guys worked there. Being a black comic book fan means running into a lot of white guys, so it was kind of wild to be in BC2.
Anyway, besides the occasional questions about when stuff comes out, I didn't talk to anyone in the store, employee or customer. But there was a clerk named Kevin who was friendly and struck up conversations with just about everyone who came into the store. When BC2 moved into a smaller place, they gained a window alcove where you could sit and hang out a while. Which I did to talk about comics with Kevin, then Tarq, Devon, Jerome, Sherin, Drew, Kat, Martin, Damani, Tim, Seel(well, you don't really talk to Seel), Scip, Big Mike, Ulie, Rambo, Ben, the credited Andrew Carl, Brian & everyone else it would take many lines to name. I found a group of people I could talk to about comics who weren't family.
Soon enough, it became a regular Wednesday(Thursday if there was a holiday) thing, where we would talk about comics, politics, movies, music, anything that came to mind. These people I saw once a week became my friends. I would go to Kevin's house for parties, go to movies with people from the shop, tape a public access show on Saturdays and play HeroClix for time to time. I started reading Devon's and Scip's blogs, and then decided to make one of my own.(That's right. I started a blog while trying to stop being a shut-in.) When Big Monkey moved to it's current spot near U St., most of us went with it because we just liked hanging out there.
I feel as though my real life didn't start until I let everyone from Big Monkey in. I have friends I can be more open with then I ever could before. I have a release for my thoughts. A super cool Canadian gave me this awesome sketch. The trip home from the comic store is even better than the rest of my week.
If it wasn't for comic books and Big Monkey, I'd be where I am right now as I write this, but I wouldn't be happy and I'd probably just be watching TV. Being around other people who shared my passion for comics made it easier for me to be me, pretty much. Because of comics: