Facebook Post Paints Moving Portrait Of Parkland Students’ Visit To DC Comic Book Shop

Composite illustration by STP Design (Paco Taylor) • Batman & related characters ™ DC Comics // Scott Pilgim & related characters ™ Bryan Lee O’Malley

On March 23, an excerpt from a letter was shared on the Facebook page of @JeffCoYoung Dems, a Millennial-centric political organization in Lakewood Colorado. According to the page’s moderator, the writer, whose name was withheld, currently works at a comic book shop in Washington, DC — a shop that a member of Jeffco Young Dems once managed.

In a photo posted to the group’s Facebook page, that former manager can be found in a black t-shirt with a gold Batman emblem on the chest. So it didn’t take more than a few keystrokes to track down where he was formerly employed. But, seeing as how neither his name nor the shop he used to manage is mentioned, I won’t be mentioning them either.

Truth told, the names are irrelevant, as is that of the letter’s author. The real point in all this is the intimate glimpse that this brief missive offers its readers into a special moment when a couple of teens from Parkland High School found refuge in a comic book shop on the eve of the March for Our Lives, a student-led protest held on March 24, 2018, in Washington, DC.

In a few short paragraphs, the letter paints a stirring portrait of the nervous jitters, the anxiety, the inner strength, the bravery and the resilience that these teens are displaying in the midst of a horrible tragedy; one that has inspired the historic youth-led movement that has now gripped the hearts of people around the world.

And perhaps it’s fitting that a comic book shop, of all things, should somehow have a tiny place in this tale. For the better part of 80 years, comics themselves have been a place of refuge for the imaginations of kids of all ages. They’ve been the medium upon which so many of us have come to rely for stories about men and women who use their brains, brawn, or both, to fight the bad guys.

For a little more than half the time that comic books have been a part of American pop culture, comic book retail shops have been something of a safe space where generations of mild-mannered nerds and geeks can let their freak flags fly.

In keeping with tradition, on March 23rd, a comic book shop in our capitol city was a safe space of sorts, for teens who are living examples of a platitude said often in the pages of comics: With great power comes great responsibility. And these kids, and many of the peers across America, are using theirs to save as many of us from the bad guys — and their guns — as they can.

(The letter excerpt posted to Facebook appears below unedited in its entirety.)

___________________________________________________________________

This was written by a current employee at a Washington DC comic book shop; the same shop that our own JYD Secretary used to manage. Please read:

“One of the Parkland students just came into the shop, and we talked for a bit. He was a ball of nervous energy, talking a mile a minute about comics, the insane schedule he’s had, the people he’s gotten to talk to since the shooting, and how he asked to have his schedule cleared until 1pm today just so that he could have a break.

I don’t think people really understand that while these teens are flying around giving interviews and being the face of a massive movement, they’re barely holding it together. The young man that I talked to was stressed out about having to give a speech at the march tomorrow, and I saw his hands shake as he held his portfolio. He said he saw the new Deadpool trailer, but can’t watch the movie because he was classified as having PTSD. It made him sad. He told me that he didn’t really have time to stay up to date with comics, but still found time to download some scans on George Clooney’s wifi, and that he was actually surprised at how much Obama says “f*ck.”

Two of his classmates came in later, and buzzed around the store, arguing about which couple was more “endgame”: Joker and Batman, or Harley and Ivy. The girl on Team Harley/Ivy was in specifically for the 6th hardcover of Scott Pilgrim, and loudly declared that she doesn’t care if it falls on Prom she is going to Free Comic Book Day.

*They’re kids.*

They’re hanging on by a thread, and they’re mourning their classmates, and they’re meeting with celebrities, and they’re being hammered by the NRA, and they’re on the cover of TIME, and they’re screaming for change, but they’re still just kids. They’re talking sh*t about comic book continuity when a day beforehand publishers are quietly donating millions to their cause. They’re taking on the weight of the world, and they’re trying to stay mindful of their impact on the discussion of gun violence and its direct effect on communities of color, but they’re also cracking Dad jokes.

These kids are stronger than they should ever have to be, and anyone that can look them in the eyes and still tell them that guns are more valuable than their lives is the lowest of the low. They’ve seen sh*t that many of us will hopefully never see, and they found it within themselves to try and do something about it so that no other student has to either.”