6/22/11

Origin Stories - Matt Bergin of "Comics Cure"

Part comic-book like origin story, part "Tales of Interest" from Futurama...enjoy the first in a series I'm calling "ORIGIN STORIES". For several months I've been thinking about inviting others to contribute their writing somehow here at BFG. I've met and worked with so many amazing geeks over the years and behind-the-scenes, the stories we share about our lives can sometimes be...well...inspirational. After a recent conversation with Ashley Eckstein about the revolutionary idea of (gasp!) supporting our fellow geeks, I feel more compelled than ever to not just spew pop culture references here, but to throw the spotlight on fellow writers and artists who are adding something good to the world without having to sacrifice or downplay their true selves.

In an effort to give some hope and encouragement to the young, the struggling or the hopelessly pop-culture obsessed, I invite you to read the true stories of how being yourself can pay off in the long run. How doing something and getting motivated by your inner geek can yield positive results. You can expect each Origin Story to take on a different tone, as each writer who submits will likely do something unique with the assignment to write their very own origin story.

To inaugurate the series, read how Matt Bergin uses his inner geek to spotlight others for a good (nay, great) cause...



Don't even bother messing with Matt Bergin. Can't you see
you'd be useless against his shield? (Captain America lent
him a miniature prototype.)
My earliest memory is of waking up with a start from blaster fire and the roar of an angry wampa. I had been dozing off in the balcony of a movie theater during the opening moments of The Empire Strikes Back. My mother claims to have taken me to see the original Star Wars, too, on opening weekend no less. I would have been only a few months old, so I don't remember this introduction to the Force. But either way, I got my geek early. 


It was a great time to be new to the world--a time when the world was first embracing the big-screen pop adventure that would shape my life.  I got to see all the geek classics on those weekend trips to the cineplex. I believed a man could fly. I knew the number to phone home. I road the Delorian back to the future. Be it with wookie or whip at his side, Harrison Ford was the model of a man and the ultimate action hero. When I wasn't the first in line for opening night of every blockbuster of the 80s or orchestrating home versions of each celluloid adventure with the associated toy lines, I was rifling through the dozen or so cardboard boxes that my older brother had filled with comic books through the years. Another early memory that haunts me is of the purple blur of crayon scribbling back and forth in my hand across the interior pages of Giant-Sized X-Men #1. (Poor Thunderbird! Where's that Delorian when you need it?!)


It is impossible for "life" to live up to the rich menagerie of awesome that I and my peers grew up surrounded (bombarded) by. Secret Wars, Superfriends, Rock n' Wrestling, He-Man and GI-Joe--all of these things filled my young, impressionable head with the richest insanity, the curse of the pop culture junkie! The best we can do is try to recreate the magic with our own contributions to the pop matrix. Some of us will succeed, offering to the world the next cool, the latest awesome for a new generation. Most of us will simply spend our days chasing the dragon (or the Dragonball). Chronic nostalgia is our affliction, and it may very well be our legacy.
Geek was, geek is, and geek forever will be.


Resistance was futile. I grew up, but I didn't grow out. Not all the way, at least. Never all the way. If I felt a little too old and awkward playing with action figures, I shifted to video games. When I felt I'd outgrown Saturday cartoons, I switched to pro wrestling mornings and movie matinees. When capes a cowls started to feel too young for my maturing sensibilities, I moved on to the merry mutants and their more adult 'real world' issues. And then it all evolved again, so toys and capes were cool again and I could go back to having it all. Geek is eternal.


When my girlfriend wanted to surprise me by appealing to the geek, she took her very first solo trip to a comic shop and bought me a Madman t-shirt. Now she is my wife. Coincidence? 


When my older brother (he of the box-loads of hand-me-down comics) had kids, my first instinct was to start shopping for superhero toys. My second instinct was to begin transporting all of my box-loads of comics from my closets to their basement.


When I had a child of my own, I knew the best way to express myself as a new dad was through my pop culture filter. I spent the first year of my daughter's life chronicling our adventure on ForcesofGeek.com, in a parenting column called Pop on Pop. I took her to comic conventions. I read her comic books and showed her sci-fi and superhero movies. I brought it full circle to my own first year when I sat the kid down in her high chair with a stack of Mum-Mums and the original Star Wars trilogy in the dvd queue. This was all "for the column" according to Matt in the moment. But Matt in reality knows it was to feed the geek. It was to serve the legacy of nostalgia.


And those were the good times. But even in bad--like that time I got cancer--the first thing I thought of when looking for an outlet to express myself was that geek filter. I started a blog called No Cure For Comics during a long year of doctor's appointments, scans, bloodwork, and, ultimately, radiation. It was a rough time--the kind of experience escapism was made for.


When I got better, I didn't need the escape so much myself, but I had a new perspective about others who still did. No Cure became Comics Cure, where instead of writing about geeky things as a means of my own escape, I write about ways geeks like me can help other people in need of a little getaway.


I take my geek with me everywhere. It was everything to me as a kid. It is in everything I do now. And it will be what you remember me by.

MATT BERGIN is a writer and editor of things both geeky and not. His Comic Blog Elite toplist brings the best of the geek blogging community together under one hyperlink-heavy virtual roof, while Comics Cure calls on the comic community of fans, creators, and retailers to geek out on doing good.

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