On Colorado, comics, and communities

Horrified — just absolutely horrified — by the news coming from Aurora, Colorado, of a mass-shooting at a midnight theatrical showing of the new Batman film.

Typing, I feel almost reluctant to name the film — because the name of the film simply doesn’t matter in something like this, although people will seek to draw connections. They always do. When the Columbine High School shootings happened in 1999, I was the editor of Comics & Games Retailer magazine — and worked also unofficially as an advocate for the comics and gaming hobbies. After the shootings — when the mass media were in a mad rush to connect the killers to comics, games, or some external motivator, I called all the local stores to find out whether the shooters had been customers, and what their background was.

What I heard didn’t surprise me. I was told by their local hobby shop-owner that they used to visit often, but had dropped out of the scene. And I remember feeling at the time that that really meant something. Because comics, and games, and imaginative fiction of all kinds — they offer more than a simple escape. They offer a community. I’ve seen that community in comics shops and conventions, online and in real life. There’s a support system, there.

We often hear people say that getting into comics — or games, or quilting, or model-building, etc. — saved their sanity. I think that in some cases, that’s more than hyperbole. I think hobbies, and the communities that surround them, save lives.

It’s when people cut themselves off from their communities that bad things happen.

My heart goes out to those who were affected by this sick, mad act.