Where Have All The Normies Gone?


Hey F.O.G Lamps, sorry to disappoint you, but this isn’t my ramblings about folk music (though I do love folk music, and may one day look at how comics and pop culture influenced folk music in the ’60s, but not today). I was sitting by a bonfire with my Uncle Paul of Geek, and we were laughing about the fact that he may have known the least about the MCU of any person in his office, including a 65-year-old Grandmother. Uncle Paul was the first adult that I saw reading comics and watching cartoons.


Back In 1998, he was one of the few adults who knew that Blade was a Marvel movie. Today, he may still be the only one who could pick Pirates of Dark Water out of a line-up, but there is now an army of people who can tell you who the second Ant-Man is. Comic, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy seem to have become universal. Anyone who has been following Family of Geek for any length of time should know that this is not so new. I maintain that comics, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy have always been popular and I’m here to give you some reasons why I believe this. 


If you take a look back at this Family of Geek article from May, I explain that there was a time when comics were selling nearly 3 million copies an issue. Even into the ’90s, there were books with million-issue sales runs. Given the fact that many of these 90’s comics where spurred on by speculation, there were still tons of people buying them. Science-fiction TV shows always had huge followings and made the studios enough money to keep cranking them out. Fantasy and sci-fi books have been some of the cornerstones of bookstores, and they thrived until the age of digital. The numbers have always pointed out the fact that more than just a small group of nerds love genre material. However, the prevailing narrative in the conventional wisdom is that only basement-dwelling weirdos spend time or money on these products.


Why is that?

Elvis Presley reading Betty and Veronica on a bus ride

There seem to have been a building narrative since the mid-70’s that fans of comics and science fiction are all from these small, weird groups. Superfans have always been limited, but that is in every aspect of life. Look at any pastime or hobby that has fans. Most fans are casual. Your average sports fan watches a handful of full games a season, some highlights and calls themselves a fan. Most football fans can’t discuss with you the intricacies of the 3-4 vs the 4-3 defense, and even less think they can actually know what they are talking about. (I realize that sentence sounds like Bilbo’s speech in ‘Fellowship’).
At some point there became this belief that to be a genre fan you had to be able to quote all of Star Wars or know every retcon in the Magneto family tree. When that become the definition of fan, then fans became a small group who made this stuff their life. Suddenly the guy who bought 12 issues of Spider-Man a year wasn’t considered a fan, he just happened to read Spider-Man. 
1983 and not a ‘Normie’ in sight


As society has continuously pushed fandoms into smaller and smaller markets that are harder for people to get to, only the die-hards are going to be able to keep up. The related industries are seeing this, as comics are experiencing their all-time lowest sales, while their movie counterparts are the becoming biggest blockbusters in history. People aren’t just now becoming fans of genre stories. They’ve always been fans. They were just told they weren’t fans for a long time. So where have all those “normies” gone? The Normie hasn’t disappeared over the last 20 years, there never was a ‘Normie’, just terrible marketing. 

Joe Pulford

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