Being a British geek has its advantages. I live near the inspiration for The Shire and Watership down, in spitting distance of the places that have inspired so many fantasy and science fiction authors over the years. Britain is home to a great tradition of thoughtful and involving SF and fantasy with an intellectual bent that draws you in and allows you to take yourself a little more seriously. HG Wells, for example, was not ‘merely’ a science fiction author but a committed and important socialist and intellectual and a member – for a while – of the Fabian movement. A tradition continued today by writers such as China Mieville, though he’d probably smack me round the back of the head for the comparison.
It’s also good to be a geek in the UK because even though kids at school might be mean and nasty the society as a whole is pretty tolerant of people’s ‘eccentricity’. You’re not so much a ‘freak’ as a ‘character’, though really you need to be rich to get away with that with any consistency.
There’s one thing that, I think, overrides the geek experience in the United Kingdom across so many boundaries from the mid 70s until the modern day and that’s the science fiction anthology comic, 2000AD.
There’s been many attempts at comics for boys and ‘grown ups’ in the UK but the only one really still going, the only one that’s weathered all storms is 2000AD.
I’m not a comic book fan, I’m a fan of a particular comic book. Oh sure, I will read a lot of other comics but the only one I’m really an absolute fan for is 2000AD. Nemesis the Warlock, Judge Dredd, Nikolai Dante, Zenith, Slaine, Rogue Trooper, I grew up with these and they’re still there and still quality. Many of the greats of modern comics passed through 2000AD and I’d never have found Luther Arkwright if not for Bryan Talbot’s work on Nemesis which presaged the whole ‘steampunk’ thing by years.
2000AD is uniquely and perfectly British and is still creating new classics. It’s irreverent, thoughtful, sarcastic, cynical, brutal, imaginative and perfect. If you’re a nerd over here you’ve at least heard of it and it forms a sort of social, common experience, a cement for the nerd community of common reference points.
I still have almost every issue I ever had in storage boxes and every through years I go back and read everything. It’s like revisiting old friends, even the series that get forgotten like Sooner or Later or Hap Hazzard.
If you haven’t read it, start reading it now. It’s still good, still great, especially Savage which I consider to be one of the best things being done in comics – full stop – today.