Holidays Without Your Comics Cohort

It’s holiday time. This week is Thanksgiving for Americans (really jumped the gun there, Canada) and soon, ok, already, it will be time to start prepping for winter solstice celebrations. For many, this means time, perhaps too much of it, spent with family. And if you’re like me, your family ain’t about the comics. So how can we survive outside our nerd-havens? I have some ideas based on years of experience.

Contrary to popular belief, cornucopias are not actually dense enough for you to bludgeon yourself unconscious with.

If you’re travelling, you will be leaving your in-person comics friends behind. Additionally, odds are things will be quieter than usual around the internet, so you won’t necessarily be able to just fall back on the digital world for companionship. And as annoying as family can be, you don’t want to be the person ignoring others by hiding in another room or staring at your phone/tablet/laptop the entire time you’re together. I actually think it’s important for me to go out into the world and remind myself that other people are into other things. The internet makes it very easy to only interact with those who share your interests, hanging out with people in real life where the most you may have in common is some DNA is a whole new ball game.

The hardest thing for me when I’m around family is finding a balance. I don’t want to be the one-note person at the family gathering who’s “the cousin who reads comics.” At the same time, I’m not ashamed of reading comics so I’m not going to try and hide it. I don’t come from a family of nerds, especially nerds of pop-culture, so I really on my own when I’m with them. I have enough shared interests with my immediate family that we usually have something to talk about, but for my extended family it can be a bit trickier. Mostly because of sports.

One of my biggest issues during the holidays is football. I know there are plenty of comics fans that also like football. You can go ahead and skip this section, I got nothing for you. But for me, watching football can be excruciatingly boring. If it’s a good enough game, I’ll get engaged for the length of the game, but the announcers aggravate me and the commercials make me hate humanity.


Here are some things I’ve tried to avoid getting stuck on the couch. 1) Go hang out in the kitchen, that’s probably where everyone else is. I’m a food nerd so this one works for me, your results may vary. 2) Ask if the TV can be put on mute. I’ve already mentioned my distaste for announcers, and if it’s on mute it’s easier to have conversations about other things. 3) See if anyone wants to go on a walk. This is tradition in my family, but it gets you some distance from people who may be starting to grate on you, and you’ll feel slightly less guilty about that upcoming slice of pie. And 4) See if anyone wants to go outside and actually throw around a football. This may be my favorite because even though I’ve said I don’t really like watching sports I really playing sports. Plus, throwing a ball back and forth is a way of positively interacting with someone without actually having to speak.

If you wanted to you could always read comics on the couch where the others are watching football. I think that’s a good middle ground where you’re not avoiding anybody but you’re not making yourself miserable. I just have a hard time reading in a group, especially if the TV isn’t on mute, so that one doesn’t really work for me. Plus I don’t travel with that many comics, which I’ve covered in a column before, and unless you’re really comfortable with your hobby reading certain comics might cause family members to cast an askew glance your way.

I realize I’m writing this column from the perspective of the younger generation at any gathering. I get to roll into Thanksgiving dinner with basically no responsibility. I offer to help out with the meal however I can, but no one is expecting too much from me, and I am years away from the potential horror of hosting in my own home. So I certainly don’t mean to imply that people with things to do are worried about comics, but for those in my position as mere guest not being bored to tears is a problem worth considering.

The best case scenario is that you have a family who shares your interests, this being the real world; I just hope for people that thought the Avengers was a reasonably enjoyable movie. We may get a pick of the week here, but we can’t pick our family, so good luck out there to everyone just looking to eat some turkey, get some time away from the grindstone, and maybe crack open a comic or two.


Ryan Haupt ironically spends more time with his comic friends when travelling for the holidays. Zone out during your family gathering by listening to the podcast Science… sort of.


  1. Yeah, I would never even try and open a comic in front of relatives. They would be insulted for one thing. Plus they enjoy making fun of me since I read comics so I usually never even bring up the fact. It’s like a ‘Secret hobby’ for me that only my wife knows about. Some people might know I read comics but they don’t think it is a serious hobby. They just roll their eyes. And I can’t read comics while the TV is on. I need it to be quiet so I can focus and really enjoy the comic.

    I do like football though and I played football in high school. But I never watch commercials. The games I watch I record them on my DVR and watch them at least 1 hour after kickoff so I can fast forward through all the commercials. But… a family gathering they usually just have it on so the commercials are very annoying. But I can tolerate them for one day though. Most of my In-laws are hunters however, and I’m not, so usually that dominates the conversation. So for me, retreating to a tv with football on is actually an escape from that.

    • Oh, and if my relatives knew I spent on average $100.00 on comics per month they would really think I was insane.

    • Make fun of you?? I’m so sorry man, I can’t even imagine that. You should stand up for yourself, reading comics (and reading in general) is a stupid thing to be made fun of over. Your hobby is just as valid as watching Football, watching Movies, or any other more “mainstream” activity. I say, stand up to ignorance.

    • It’s cool, they only make fun of me if I bring it up, so I just don’t bring it up. They just don’t understand and I don’t feel like trying to convert them into believers, because it’s not happening. They just say, “Comic Books? What are you 12?” They also are against any movie like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. They just think they are stupid. I feel bad for their kids because they don’t encourage the use of imagination at all.

  2. I know how you feel my fellow nerd. I find it difficult to interact with out family members because i read comics and they treat me as if I had the plague. But i still press on, trying to interact with the muggles of this world. Good luck to all nerds this holiday who have a difficult time talking to other people.

  3. It becomes a little easier with digital comics. I will pre-load a bunch of digital comics onto my iPod Touch’s Comixology app before going home for Christmas. That way I’ll have something to read, but it looks like I’m just surfing the web or playing a game.

    Also, if you aren’t listening to Ryan’s podcast, “Science…sort of”, you should! It’s so good!

  4. I bring my iPad to family stuff, but i always get a guilt trip that i must hate them for spending all my time glued to a screen reading stuff instead of doing things with them, so its a losing proposition. Plus its impossible to concentrate…takes like 45 mins to read one issue cause there is so much going on.

    Plus i really like Football and plan to watch all the games. =) GO PATS!

  5. I’m still working on my Sept-Oct stack – Hey Bru’s done on Cap! – and soon my Nov stack will be arriving. So I have no time for family. That’s 2.5 months of comics that needs reading. And I’ll ask for BPRD and Scalped trades for Christmas – there’s not holiday from comics.

  6. I am not really into Football, but on Thanksgiving I find it really easy to get myself into it for the sake of socializing with my extended family who I have nothing in common with. None of them read comics, but I would never feel ashamed of my interest in them and will gladly and proudly talk about them with anyone who might ask.

  7. Articles like this make me think that we are really overthinking this comic book thing…

    • Don’t judge dude. Are Trekkies too into Star Trek if they wear the uniforms all the time? I’d say yea, but there’s worse things in life. Sides I run into the same issues with my family so I appreciate the article.

    • There are times to read and there are times when it is rude to read.

      If you don’t understand that concept I fear for your social life.

      Unlike watching TV (which I still thinks kills a gathering), reading is a private thing.

      You are really telling me that during holidays that you can’t save your comics for right before bed or in the morning when not everyone is up and about?

      It is really such a problem that people need to write articles on iFanboy about it?

      Now, I’m judging.

    • If you’d opened with that instead of “You people think about comics too much.”. Yes I grasp the concept of reading and being rude, I was actualy aware of that years ago. And if people weren’t akward around others, the comics industry would look very different. Yes I could save my comics for the brief periods in my thanksgiving schedule when I’m alone to read, and then I could sit around for hours watching football while everyone ignores me bored out of my mind. I love my family, but being around them gets grating sometimes. If I want to read while everyone else watches football I don’t see how that harms anyone. Maybe it’s not an issue for most fanboys, but judging from this and other articles there is a group that has these or similar concerns. These articles must not be for you, congrats on being well-adjusted and well-liked by everyone. Now stop judging.

  8. I run into these same issues at most family gatherings; so I usually carry around a book everywhere, habit I picked up in high school. I can’t stand sitting around watching football all day, so I’m usually reading a book while it’s going on. I would enjoy throwing around a football or playing cornhole or something. Sometimes at Christmas someone actually pops in a movie that I miss half off cause people are still talking but it’s a good gesture. I don’t care if people get upset, I hate being bored at these things. Unless someone feels like having a conversation with me I’d rather read. I’m still not into digital comics so I just carry around the paper versions. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in these problems.

  9. @Ryan Haupt, congrats on making it in the Indestructible Hulk issue #1 AR app.