Geek Culture in Iowa

Jun 10, 2015

With comic books, science fiction, and superheroes, geek culture is having a moment. Phil Hester, a comic book illustrator and author from North English, Ia, says that is due to its traction in mainstream movies.

“Now all this stuff that you couldn’t dream of looking real, sounding real, and moving in a real way, now can be done on screen. That has opened it up to a sea of people that wouldn’t be caught dead walking in a comic book store.”

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe explores media fandom in Iowa with a few of the most knowledgeable geeks in the state, including Hester, Aaron Krull, a co-owner of OC Games and Comics in Orange City, Ia., and Kyle Moody, an assistant professor of communications at Fitchburg State University.

We're in a golden age of comics. - Aaron Krull

They discuss the big business of comic conventions, commonly called "comic cons," preview Wizard World in Des Moines with the event's CEO, and learn about the world of cosplay, short for "costume play," where fans dress up as their favorite characters.

Moody says that because fandom for things like comics or TV shows is a mostly solo activity, comic cons can be especially engaging. In addition to meeting creators and actors, fans get to hang out with other fans face-to-face.

“It’s a safe space. It’s a place where you can immediately recognize fans and fellow lovers of media."

"I don’t always get that from the Internet,” says Moody. “You have that shared, centrally located space, where you can go in and discuss things, and it’s almost always a very positive experience.”

They also talk about the not-so-positive experiences one can have entering a space that used to be a very exclusive.

IPR listener Sarah tweets, "I’m so happy to hear geek culture guests being inclusive of new/casual/movie superhero fans! It wasn't always that way. The concept of the 'fake geek girl' is particularly exclusionary, where female fans are often charged to 'prove it'."

As far as that “we were here first” mentality goes, Hester, Krull, and Moody say don’t sweat it.

“Just because you get pushback from a very small but vocal minority does not mean that there’s not a place for everybody in here,” Moody says. “I gravitate towards geek culture because it’s an inclusive space.”