One-year ends, another begins. It’s in these final moments of our revolution around the sun that we, as a people, begin to take stock of the way our lives have unfolded over the course of three hundred and sixty odd days. I was no different, and it wasn’t until the moment that I sat down to write this that I realized something.
All I’d done in 2019 was look backward.
Yes, I’d made dramatic advances in my life. Welcoming a daughter, being fired from a job I’d grown to hate and depend on, but all told I’d been so focused on what was behind me that I forgot to look ahead.
In August of 2017 I launched this show with nothing but an idea and boatload of passion. At the time it just made sense. I love comics, they mean a great deal to me. I took solace from a world of abuse and indifference between the rough newsprint pages and glossy covers. I survived the holofoil, die cut, belt and pouch littered 90’s with only a mild case of Rob Liefeld induced nerd rage. Surely, I could do a simple podcast about something that is one of my greatest passions, hell I even got a close friend to join the cause.
Boy was I wrong. Sure, it started out okay. We were banging out episodes at a fairly steady pace, and I was learning the ways of editing, producing and the overall nuts and bolts of podcast life. Somewhere along the way, it changed. Suddenly I was consumed with what everyone else was doing. I was following every trend, skimming through endless articles trying to glean that one magic detail that would start me on the road to success.
I turned a blind eye to the mounting issues. I had compromised my standards, my goals, in the pursuit of doing the same show that every other microphone equipped Comicbook nerd was doing. I let the disappointment and anger fester until the relationship that that launched HOJ turned sour. My passion project had begun to test the very limits of my passions.
Did I enjoy podcasting anymore? Did I even enjoy Comics anymore?
The simple fact that these questions gave me pause was startling in and of itself, let alone the answer: No. I’d let the fear and disappointment win, and now everything I touched turned my stomach sour. I took the constant push/pull of overly politicized and volatile fandoms personally. Outrage and Ire from the masses weighed me down. The need to be an ‘all or nothing’ fan in order to gain traction felt a weight strapped around my ankles. I was flailing, bouncing back and forth on an emotional spectrum that ranged from Andy Dwyer’s naive enthusiasm, to Ben Wyatt’s passionate rallying and finally, the grim isolationist cynicism of Ron Swanson.
I’ve spent the last two years approaching this situation upside down and backwards. Making meaningless re-edits and design changes in a vain attempt to feel as though I was still doing something rather than face the truth: I wasn’t doing a damned thing of value.
For someone who has always defined themselves by their work ethic and productivity, the fact that I had been willfully spinning my tires because I feared failure was almost as hard a blow as realizing that I had in fact failed. I was the host of a show no one listened to, the chief mugwump of a site that boasted itself as a haven of nerdom and had instead become a shell of what had been originally intended.
I wasn’t “me”. The Above Average Joe had become depressingly average. In trying to be approachable, I’d become unauthentic. Worse yet, I wasn’t even good at being unauthentic. I’d become the nerd equivalent of the vanilla pudding served at every buffet known to man. Bland, and so thoroughly mediocre that the likelihood of registering a reaction outside of “meh” was, at best, astronomical.
I tell you now, dear audience in potentia, that I do not want to be this going forward. I want to rant and rave about comics again. I want to celebrate the stories I love and have loved for years with the same reckless abandon that I scrutinize and malign tales that I find lacking. I want to share these insights with you. I want to spend hours behind the microphone talking about how I learned how to be strong because of Uncle Ben’s words to his nephew, or how I longed for the kind of all-consuming purpose that drove Bruce Wayne out onto the rooftops of Gotham night after night. I want to plant myself like a tree next to the river of truth and speak with the passion that drove me here in the first place.
I want to earn your attention and your patronage, but most importantly, I want to be myself. For all my faults, the one thing I have never been short on is passion, and it is well passed time for that to start ringing through once again. There will be episodes about stories I love, there will be episodes about books I would rather purge from my mind and there will be episodes where I will more than likely express my opinions in little more than onomatopoeia and sarcasm.
I hope you’ll join me.