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The Nerd Boner Alert: How to Learn About Comics Without Really Trying

Outhouse Contributor Katie Hutchison discusses an unlikely source of comic book information: Prime time television.


A few days ago a colleague of mine, Linda, told me she'd heard a news story about a college professor who had revealed he was illiterate. No one had known. Which to Linda and me is crazy (I mean, how did no one notice?!) But it got me thinking, how could one learn about and become a comic book fan without actually reading them?

Simple. Turn on the television.

If you aren't being inundated with commercials for Warner Brothers' Green Lantern, then you at least have a plethora of shows whose writers clearly grew up reading and loving comic books. Let's start easy with The Simpsons.

I know you all know the overwhelming amount of comic book related jokes on The Simpsons. Hello? Comic Book Guy! Spider-Pig! (I love me some Spider-Pig. I'd make that song my ringtone in a heartbeat). Plus Bart is always sneaking a comic book in when he should be doing his homework. And there are actual Simpsons comic books. I've never read any, but they look entertaining. But I digress. The Simpsons is too easy to discuss- let's move onto shows you might not have immediately jumped to, such as Family Guy.

family_guy_aquamanAquaman has made several guest appearances on FOX's hit television show. In one episode, "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz" the show starts with Griffins watch Aquaman's TV show. In it, Aquaman is attempting to use his powers to convince a fish to get him a beer, who resists and claims that he is abusing his powers. They begin to argue about it until Aquaman says that this time could've been used to get him a beer.

Aquaman also plays poker with Peter, Wonder Woman Superman, and the other Super Friends during a game of strip poker in a season one episode called "A Hero Sits Next Door." My favorite part is where Wonder Woman has to remove her bra and all of the Super Friends are staring at her except Robin. Poor Robin, always a stereotype.

family_guy_supermanAnd there are so many more instances! Consuela (the maid) cleans Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Peter has pretended to be both Batman and Spiderman to impress Lois. (Albeit, a really overweight Spiderman). Lois fake seduces Neil Goldman by dressing up as Mystique and creating a fake comic book convention. Iceman shows up in one episode and leaves a very obvious ice trail to a gay bar. And how about the fact that Adam West, the original Batman, is the town's crazy and incredibly amusing mayor.

So what can we learn from this? One: Seth McFarland and his team of writers read/watched a lot more in the DC universe than Marvel. And two: they know their stuff. But I'd say if someone was watching this show and knew nothing about comics beforehand, they'd certainly have a basic knowledge base of who some of the famous superheroes are and what their powers are. How cool is that?

Superheroines_TBBTOK, my next big comic book television show promoter? The Big Bang Theory. I LOVE this show. If you've never seen it, the CBS show centers around four Caltech employees, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj (and Sheldon and Leonard's neighbor Penny) as they live their lives, attempt to find girlfriends, and so on. One of the first things viewers will learn is that Sheldon, played expertly by Jim Parsons, has very regimented and planned out days, and Thursday is always new comic book day, where they head down to their local comic book store. In one very humorous episode "The Wheaton Recurrence" the boys lose a bet to actor Will Wheaton and have to visit that same comic book store dressed up as some very famous superheroines.

TBBT_flashThe Flash seems to be a favorite on the show as well. In a Halloween episode called "The Middle Earth Paradigm", all four dress up as the Flash to attend a costume party thrown by Penny. In the end they decide that it would be too lame to all walk behind one another for the whole night (as if they were indeed The Flash walking really quickly) and instead no one gets to wear the costume. But hey, Raj changed into Thor so we had yet another comic book superhero reference in the show.  

green_lantern_TBBTThe clothes on The Big Bang Theory also seem to be a big promoter of comics. Sheldon is often seen wearing Superman and Green Lantern T-shirts. Howard has a large collection of Batman belt buckles.   In addition to clothing, the boys also own quite a few action figures (Sheldon keeps his extra cash in a statue of the Green Lantern), models (Leonard, keeps a Bottle City of Kandor in his closet), replicas (Raj gives his autographed Hulk hands and his Green Lantern lantern to Sheldon as a bribe to be his wingman), and comics themselves (Sheldon's room is decorated with framed vintage DC comics, all other comics and filed precisely in cubbies).

In the end, I'll still read the comics. But if you have a friend who is on the fence about them, why not suggest The Big Bang Theory or Family Guy or any other number of shows. After so many episodes your friend might wonder who is actually winning when Howard and Sheldon argue about if Wolverine was born with bone claws or not and read Paul Jenkins, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas and Andy Kubert's Wolverine: Origin. You just never know.

Written or Contributed by: Katie Hutchison, Outhouse Contributor
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer


Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


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