The cashier at the video store gave me a funny look. She stared at me vacantly, snapping her gum and sizing me up. She cocked an eyebrow, looked down at the DVD I'd just slapped down on the counter and asked, "Underdog?"
I nodded, smiling like a crazy old prospector who'd just hit the mother load. "Yep, it's a cartoon series."
She stared at me, blinking slowly, like cows often do when the things that are happening outside their own limited head spaces are overriding their thought processes. "Uh huh," she responded, cocking her head at an angle and sizing me up again skeptically.
I smiled tightly at her, trying not to think about how the Guernseys out in the field next to our apartment complex stare with rapt attention at the nearby roadway. "Yes," I said quietly. "It was one of my favorites when I was a kid."
A sudden light of understanding crossed her face and she chewed her gum a few times while processing this new bit of information. "Oh, I get it. It's a nostalgia thing."
"Right," I replied. "It's a nostalgia thing." I gathered my receipt and bag, and quickly left.
I gripe about the current nostalgia boom all the time. I hate that the toy market is currently flooded with crappy mass-produced toys, poorly rendered from long-lost images of my favorite cartoon characters. It drives me absolutely insane that comics companies are throwing together poorly written, badly drawn, half-assed attempts to separate me from my money, in the lame hope that I'll fork it over for this junk. I hate all of this, but the sad, simple fact is that I understand it.
I understand why utter garbage that I'm actually embarrassed to call comics, like G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Battle Of The Planets, and Masters Of The Universe, sells and sells well. We all miss certain pieces of our youth and sometimes the driving need to recapture a part of it, any of it, is overpowering.
I even understand the retailers' reactions to all this. The comics market has been soft for several years and comics companies will try anything to get people reading again. If it means selling off their souls and every last shred of integrity to the gigantic nostalgia demon, so be it. It's messed up that it should be this way, and it's depressing. But, just when you think all hope is lost and that everybody grabbing for a slice of the big nostalgia pie is banking on P.T. Barnum's famous mantra, "A fool and his money are soon parted" being accurate, somebody gets it right.