Comics and Beer Part 1: The Transferable Skills Of Being A Geek
Geeks are geeks are geeks, and I would suggest that a beer geek is unlikely to be a geek about beer alone, if you follow. Many beer geeks are also cooking geeks, as evidenced by Mark, Zak, Hardknott Dave, Rob and Leigh‘s food and beer matching. Beer, brewing and cooking have a lot in common for the geek, as naturally does the appreciation of beer and other drinks, most notably whisky/whiskey.
Similarly, many beer geeks are also football fans, which are both fairly social forms of shared geekery. Football is such an ingrained part of British life that it seems odd to describe it as geekery and lump it in with, say, an unusual appreciation of classic Doctor Who, but many of the same characteristics apply: particularly in dressing up; being obsessed with trivia in relation to the subject of your geekdom; and arguing passionately about your preferences with other geeks in whatever forum is open to do so. However, Sylvester McCoy fans are less likely to be engaged in street violence against Colin Baker fans than Old Firm supporters might be.
As well as being a beer geek, I’m a bit of recovering comics geek. In fact it’s fair to say that I’ve become less geeky about comics at the same time as my interest in beer has grown. There are a number of parallels and transferable neuroses that apply to beer and comics geekery, not least in a completist’s obsession with searching out and finding rare, renowned and unusual examples of each. Without such an attitude, no brewery would ever be able to sell a limited edition beer and nobody would ever pay several times the price of a supermarket beer for something imported.
However, I think that beer and comics are an unusually good fit, in that both are generally underrated, misunderstood and dismissed as being lowbrow, when in reality it’s simply that the majority of comics are shallow, spandex-clad teenage power fantasies from the established publishers, in the same way that the majority of beer is made for cold, unthinking guzzling by soulless multinationals.
In both fields there are fascinating and interesting things happening, largely away from the mainstream and especially from independent sources, where individuals or a small number of creative people work on new and interesting things. Moreover, it’s only when you go into specialist shops or read about these things on the internet that you generally find out about them. Discovering this underground of quality and auteurism that very few people know about is part of the thrill.
At the same time, however, neither comics nor beer needs to be highbrow, challenging, thought-provoking, genre-busting or world-changing. Just like many things in life, depending on what mood you’re in, both can be at their best when they’re simple, accessible, unpretentious, joyous, throwaway and fun.