Okay, deep breath, confession time. I've always known I was different to other girls, but I did my best to fit in. I'd talk about boys and shoes and hope no-one noticed that my heart wasn't in it. But now, finally, I feel like I can embrace the real me, the person I've always been under all the social conventions.
I'm a comic book geek.
There, I said it. Wow. I've talked a lot on this blog about film and TV, but that's more acceptible in some way. They are to comic books what marijuana is to heroin. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my gateway drug. Now I'm hooked on all things geeky (except gaming - I'm still a joypad-mashing hopeless case when it comes to games).
But comics have actually been an important part of my life since I was a child. My Dad was a comic collector before he had to sell all his comics to pay for nappies and baby food and other frivolities. So my destiny as a geek was sealed from birth (my brother has taken a different but similar path - he's into Manga and World of Warcraft). All of Dad's comics were gone by the time I was born, so he'd tell me the stories from memory instead. My bedtime tales were "once upon a time there was a Caped Crusader, and his name was Batman..." Dad was a DC buff, so I was too. We would stand in the kitchen for hours on end as he smoked out the back door, telling me the stories of Watchmen, of the Talia Al Ghul/Silver St Cloud/Batman love triangle, of Starfire arriving on Earth and snogging Robin to learn English.
Then there were the cartoons. Every day on one of my summer holidays I got up at 7am to watch X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series. Then, when I was old enough to know better, I was hooked on X-Men: Evolution, Batman of the Future, Teen Titans and Justice League (which, for my money, is the best of the bunch). Then there were Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Smallville, although, ever my father's daughter, I was never a Supes fan.
The first graphic novel I ever read was The Dark Knight Returns, the one comic Dad had managed to hold onto. Not a bad introduction to comics, but maybe a little heavy for a newbie. But it all really kicked off when I spotted a Watchmen graphic novel, long before the film made it cool again. I remembered Dad's stories, and decided to buy it for his birthday. I think I read it even before he did. It became a tradition. Every birthday and Christmas I buy Dad a graphic novel. Initially, I just got him ones that he reminisced fondly about. Then I nicked it and read it. V for Vendetta, Frank Miller's Daredevil run... Then I started developing my own tastes, and soon I'd even overtaken my father. The day I bought him a comic and handed it to him with the words "I read this the other day, I thought you'd like it" was probably the most proud of me he's ever been. That moment kicked my graduation day into the dirt.
Why is now the time for me to come clean about all of this? Because I've just booked tickets to my first ever Comic Con. In April, I'm off to Kapow!, the brand new British answer to the San Diego Comic Con (thanks Mark Millar!). I'm already excited and most of the line-up hasn't even been announced yet. For the first time I'll be in the company of my nerdy peers, and I'll probably realise how little I actually know about comics, compared to most other people who call themselves fanboys (and girls).
No-one is just one person. I'm about six or seven. The other mes get regular excursions: Professional Me goes to work four days a week, Writer Me never shuts up, Party Girl Me gets glammed up and dances crazily every weekend (ish), Intellectual Me loves the theatre and carries a book everywhere she goes, Lazy Me has her very own sofa arse-print, Friends and Family Me reminds me what's really important. But Geek Me has to sit quietly at the back of the class. It'll never be the loudest or most prominant aspect of me, not unless I achieve my secret secondary dream of being a comic book writer (I really want to write TV), but it's about time I stopped hiding it.
Besides, it makes me quirky and interesting, right?