So I was eating lunch today with some (all male) coworkers who like superheroes also. They don’t read comics, they just like the movies and are nostalgic about old Marvel TV shows like X-Men and Spider-man (not that there is anything wrong with that, I love talking about Marvel with any and all fans). The conversation turned to the rapidly upcoming Avengers 2 Age of Ultron film. Then this happened.
“Yeah so, I’m glad that they’re being true to the comics since Tony Stark makes Ultron and all.”
I probably should have just kept my big geek mouth shut, but I couldn’t stop myself. Like word vomit in the Mean Girls movie, sometimes I don’t shut up.
“No, Hank Pym makes Ultron.” Then I added, since they don’t read comics, “You know, Ant-man. But Tony Stark does make more sense in the movies. I’m excited to see it happen in the film.”
“No, I’m pretty sure Tony Stark did. He’s like the genius engineer in Marvel. I just read wikipedia on it a few days ago.”
“I’ve read both the old silver age Avengers comics with Ultron and the Age of Ultron series that the movie is named after, I am 100% sure Hank Pym made Ultron. The whole "mad tinkerer” thing is kind of his shtick.“
A different coworker chimed in.
"I… don’t think you’re right. I mean, Ant-man doesn’t do robots, right. Guy talks to ants."
"Trust me, the fact that Hank Pym made Ultron was a major plot point in the Age of Ultron comic book. The heroes argue over whether or not it is appropriate to go back and time and assassinate him to stop Ultron from ever happening. I know this.” I wasn’t budging.
Then the subject got changed back to work stuff.
But you know, I was fuming. They know that I read comic books, and they’ve admitted they never had. I wear my geekiness on my sleeve. I have a Marvel lanyard I wear to work. She-Hulk is my phone’s background. Rogue is on my keychain. Someday I want a vanity plate that says “Hawkguy”. Pretty much my whole wardrobe that isn’t “professional” work crap is Marvel t-shirts.
Maybe I’m just putting words in my coworkers’ mouths, but I feel like I was immediately discredited simply because I’m a woman. These co-workers have never second-guessed me in a professional dispute, they absolutely respect and value my input when it comes to our patients. But the moment I’m talking about geek culture, their culture, I am treated like an outsider.
I could have definitively proven him wrong by bringing up wikipedia on my phone, where it is like the second sentence on Ultron’s wikipedia page (you know, been that person). I could have tried to prove my greek cred to them. Told them I have surrendered my walk-in closet to my long-box collection. (Because when confronted with having less clothes and having less comics, I decided to give clothes to Goodwill.) Showed them a picture of my fireplace mantle, covered in collectibles that I probably was irresponsible in splurging on. Showed them my Near Mint copy of Savage She-Hulk #1 that was pretty much the most romantic anniversary present anyone has ever gotten me. Hell, showed them this very blog where I spend hours of my leisure time enthusing about comic books with other fans.
But I didn’t want to. I shouldn’t have to prove that I’m a fan to anyone.
Sorry for the long-ass rant, followers. I just felt like I needed to vent to someone who understands.
This advice is based on a year’s worth of pro work in comics, twenty years of trial and error trying to break in, and about 5 years working as a freelance illustrator. (I’m 25). So these aren’t rules, just suggestions based on my own experience.