FEATURE: What Was Your Seminal Geek Year?

Here at GS, we love nothing more than to scratch below the surface of of all things geek, and to that end we posed the following searching question: “What was your seminal / favourite year for geek genre?” Specifically, what was that moment in movies, TV, games, cosplay or even technology that spurred your inner geek to rise above the surface and define the character you’ve become? Now, far be if for us to shine the light of scrutiny on you, without doing so to ourselves first, so here are some responses from a cross-section of the GS team:

SilverFox (1982): For me it’s 1982 – across film: Blade Runner (still the finest sci-fi film made!), ET, Wrath of Kahn (best Trek film ever!), The Thing, Tron, Poltergeist; TV was Knight Rider & Tales of the Gold Monkey; my Sinclair ZX81 had an incredulous 16KB memory expansion pack (I was actually proper coding back then), and the amazing rate that I was eating up James Herbert & Guy N. Smith books and 2000 AD comics, makes that year the most influential on the impressionable teenager that I was…

Vichus (1999): The Matrix – blew people’s minds and inspired action films that followed; The Blair Witch Project – inspired the found footage horror sub-genre; Star Wars Episode 1 – the first new Star Wars film in decades; The Sixth Sense – What a twist! Princess Mononoke- Probably the first time a lot of us became aware of Miyazaki; The Iron Giant – Vin Diesel made you cry! Dogma- Kevin Smith’s still got it! Deep Blue Sea- I learned that my hat is like a shark fin…

Sara-Jane (1997): Fave tv show-Buffy, and fave film Fifth Element, came out. Plus Men in Black, Starship Troopers, Alien Resurrection, Con-Air, Mimic, Event Horizon, Gattaca, Spawn, Mortal Kombat, I know what you did last summer, Brass-eye, Stargate SG-1… SUCH A GREAT YEAR FOR GENRE FILMZ/TV. Plus I was young and full of enthusiasm!

Vix (1984-85): Hands down, and here’s a few examples of why: 1984 – Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Terminator, Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984, Dune. 1986 – Terminator, Aliens, Labyrinth, The Fly, Highlander, Little Shop of Horrors, Howard The Duck, Flight of The Navigator. And 1986 was also the year of the greatest film ever made: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home!

Stacey (2005): the year I met my then-boyfriend-now-husband, and he opened up a load of nerdy doors for me. Prior to that, I knew I was a nerd but was too scared to go to my LCS (partly because of fear of judgement, and partly because I had literally no idea where to start). When I met Rich, I told him I’d been obsessed with the 70’s Captain America TV movie as a kid, so he bought me a copy of Captain America #15. This was mid-Brubaker’s run, and I was astounded by how great it was. Being new to comics, I wasn’t jaded by event fatigue or crossover money-grabbings but was instead like a kid in a sweet shop, excited by the prospect of trying new titles and exploring and learning my tastes. I was also living at home still, so I could spend all my dosh on comics! Over the course of the year, I started getting more and more comics myself (and reading Rich’s!), started listening to comics podcasts (namely Comic Geek Speak and Geek Syndicate), watching nerdy movies (Batman Begins at the cinema was an amazing experience) and basically coming right out of my shell. I think I have 2005 and meeting Rich to thank for my podcast “career” and my current circle of amazing real life and cyber friends. 

Nuge (1981): 1982 would seem like an obvious pick, given the films and TV that came out in that year, if it weren’t for a certain film about a globe trotting archaeologist that came out the year before. Put simply I would not be typing this response had it not been for Raiders of the Lost Ark (and no I will not use the new title…NEVER!).  I also remember Dave and I going to see Clash of the Titans in 1981 (yes Ray Harryhausen is my joker card in this game). We in fact loved it so much we us both wrote a very poor piece of fan fiction with us in the starring roles (shout out to Barrinus and Davinus). So for me 1981 is a no brainer for my pick. It was also the year Danger Mouse kicked off on TV and I loved that one eyed mouse. Also the Dick Turpin TV show was still running…am I the only one who remembers that show? And before I sign off I have one more thing to say…1981 Condorman was released… *drops mic*

Capt Jack Wabbit (1983): I can second 1999, for the camping out I did (yes, I did camp out for The Phantom Menace) and The Matrix. I can very heartily endorse 1982 for all of the reasons mentioned earlier and the fact that, to my knowledge, E.T. was the first movie I saw that I truly role played. I saw that movie and came home and fell asleep dreaming of being Eliot. It was a special thing. And other years make sense, too, but for the most part, my experiences are not centered around a single year. I didn’t see Raiders until a long time after its release, for example, and I wouldn’t swear I saw Goonies when it was new. I didn’t have any type of barometer for what came out when as a kid, and as an adult, I simply don’t pay attention to the years much – though I suppose one could argue for 2008 (after I googled that), because Iron Man launched the MCU, and even 2015 for bringing Star Wars back to us. Anyway, when I was young, I saw movies and read books when I could, not when they came out. (We didn’t see many movies, and we weren’t allowed to buy books – we read a lot, but only from the library. And everything was censored by my conservative mother. *shudder*) So, time frame is a bit skewed for me. That said, I distinctly remember seeing certain films in the cinema. And though I seeing remember Empire at the drive-in theater, I was still a bit young to truly appreciate it. Now, E.T. hit me hard, and I somehow managed to acquire a yellow E.T. sweatshirt that I think might have fallen off my body one day years later, but there is one movie I remember more than anything, so I’m going with an outlier here. Because Return of the Jedi came out that year, and I saw it in the theater with my dad and I was blown away by it. It remains my favorite (not best – there’s a difference) Star Wars film, because it’s kind of the whole point of the trilogy. The redemption of Anakin Skywalker through his son is the crux of the issue. But mostly, it was that green lightsaber. Seeing that as a seven-year-old child kind of went like this: “OMG! Where did he get that? He lost his lightsaber! Did he build it? Did he steal it? Did he find it? Did someone give it to him? Is there another Jedi out there who helped him? What’s the story there? And it’s GREEN! I didn’t know they could come in GREEN! I thought they were only blue and red! Blue for good guys and red for bad guys! WHOA! And it was hidden inside R2-D2! Did you see that? That was wicked smart! WOW!” I was smitten. I’d never seen anything so cool in all my young life. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker more than anything. It probably didn’t help that I loved pirates, too, and turning a walking the plank scene back around on the baddies made my day. And I’ve said many times that without that scene, in that movie, at that time in my life, I would not be what I am today. Maybe something else would have come along and made me into the geek I am, but who knows? Maybe not (the horror!). But I’ll never know, because I played Star Wars every day for years after that, and I never looked back. So, for me, it’s 1983. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to sewing my ROTJ Luke costume, because of course it is. 🙂

Brett (1988): For me the answer is simple, the seminal year for our genre is 1988, as this was the year all of my geek loves exploded. In 1988 I was sixteen, and had been working at the local supermarket for about 6 months. This meant I had money to spend, and luckily for me there was plenty to spend money on!  The VCR craze had hit in full force, so as well as seeing great movies like Beetlejuice and Willow at the cinema, I was able to watch new and old favourites over and over again on video. I spent many hours watching and rewatching Die Hard, Labyrinth, Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, cementing my love for genre cinema. Oh, and I was even able to record Blake’s 7 when it was repeated on TV and finally see how Tarrant and Soo-Lin joined the team and why Callie had left! A games shop specialising in RPGs and wargames opened in Newcastle (NSW, Australia), so some of my money went on picking up new modules for AD&D and systems with completely new genres, like R Talsorian’s Cyberpunk RPG. My godparents saw my love for RPGs and knew my (almost obsession) with Lord of the Rings, and bought me the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game for my birthday, along with a few modules. In an instant my two loves had fused into one, and I was hooked on RPGs for life! Most importantly, I was able for the first time to buy NEW  superhero comics ! You see, in Australia in the 1980s  most newsagents only sold British comics (Beano, Buster, Whizzer and Chips and 2000AD) and black and white reprints of US comics. Of course I devoured the British comics (and still read 2000AD) and the reprints, enjoying them despite the lack of continuity and weird jumps in story (the US reprints were cropped to fit the page, and so panels were often missing. They also collected random stories, so were never in any real order). In 1988, that changed – newsagents all around Newcastle had new copies of the most recent issues – in colour and in order ! In an instant I was able to buy colour copies of Thor, Captain America, Batman and Spider-Man – and buy the next one in the series the next month ! Also released were three packs of comics (for a mere $2), three random issues of slightly older comics which were basically being dumped by the publishers. Buying these meant I could try new series for next to nothing, or fill in gaps in my burgeoning collection. Even better, these recent issues started cropping up in second hand book stores, so I could buy even more comics at even cheaper prices! As a result, my comics reading sky-rocketed and my collection leapt from a few dozen to a few hundred. Soon I was travelling to Sydney to buy the latest releases from the comic speciality stores there,  and before long most of my time and money were spent looking for, reading and talking about comics. I was completely addicted, and remained so for….well, until now and probably for another 30 years!

So – our “gauntlet across the cheek” to you is – what was your year… we’d love to hear from you – Message Ends!


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