Well, nerds, in case you’ve been under the mistaken assumption that you have actual knowledge, VINTAGE GEEK is here to prove you wrong!
I kid, I kid. Although that’s what it felt like when I — erroneously — began to read Marshall Julius’s new quiz book in perfect order from the very first chapter.
That first chapter is about James Bond. Specifically, Roger Moore James Bond. Which, okay. I can’t get into James Bond in any incarnation. It’s just not my thing. So I didn’t feel guilty for not knowing the answers.
Then, as each subsequent section hopped along at a brisk pace, I found myself questioning my very existence as a self-identified geek. It was discouraging. Even the sections I thought I’d do well in, like the George Romero LIVING DEAD trilogy, stumped me 90% of the time. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is one of my favorite movies on the planet, and I couldn’t answer this stuff. Had I been fooling myself all these years, thinking I knew things?
I trudged along until I got to the chapter on early Marvel Comics… and friends, my fears were absolved. I could nail these with the best of them. “Galactus! The Marvel Method! Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!” I felt like a high school kid at a state-level quiz bowl tournament winning first place for the whole team. I could even come up with alternate answers to a few of the “pick which one does not belong” questions. A warm and fuzzy sensation came over me. My throat relaxed. Perhaps I was still worthy, after all.
That’s when I realized my mistake: VINTAGE GEEK is not meant to be read in order from beginning to end (much to the chagrin of my obsessive bibliophile brain). It’s the kind of book you whip out at parties to flex on your geek friends. It’s something you pick up to drum up excitement just before a Saturday night George Romero marathon. It’s a deep dive into everything Forry Ackerman and Famous Monsters ever loved: schlocky 50s Sci-Fi, Ray Harryhausen, Universal monsters, John Carpenter, Stephen King, even 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. It’s uncanny how well-aligned the chapter list is with Famous Monsters history, and I can’t help but think it’s not a coincidence.
Once I accepted that I had definitive specialties and certain gaps in my knowledge (LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!), I began to enjoy myself a great deal more. I got downright giddy going through the section on THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It’s the best television show ever made, and I love to learn everything I can about it. By the end of that 50-question saga I was ready to marathon my Twilight Zone box set.
And the STAR WARS questions. Oh, Star Wars. The trivia (though he hates that word) that Julius has prepared hit me with a tsunami of nostalgia. It brought me back to watching taped-off-TV VHS recordings of the three original movies with certain scenes cut out and the soundtrack wavering with every wonky tracking mistake; it made me remember my eighth grade school trip to the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., after which I returned with Star Wars Micro-Machines instead of astronaut ice cream; it gave me flashes of my loyal subscription to Star Wars Insider that had me telling “Use the fork, Luke” jokes at family dinner. That’s what these questions are supposed to do, and when you reach the right chapter for you, they absolutely succeed.
Best of all, it’s not just the questions and answers here that are a source of entertainment. Julius has peppered in introductory blurbs for each section that are insightful and amusing, and well worth your time. For example, from the Walt Disney chapter: “Consider, if you will, Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp. By all accounts, a trusty, selfless sort. Harmless, really. But the moment Jim Dear and Darling’s backs are turned, Sarah’s cats trash the house, she cruelly muzzles Lady, leaves the baby in the clutches of a demonic rat and insists the dogcatcher immediately come and destroy Tramp. Now, that’s the sort of darkness that prepares you for the real world.”
There is also an impressive array of celebrity “Guest Stars” scattered throughout the proceedings, whose questions range from super-niche set moments from films they actually starred in to proof that bestselling authors can be just as geeky as you.
Bottom line: if you’re a vintage generation geek, at least one of these chapters will take you back, arguably more quickly than a Tardis, to the dawning of your nerd life — though it’s a little bit depressing that BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is considered “vintage”, given its debut in 1992, but that’s just part of getting old, I guess.
I mean, what other book could possibly have me spouting the words of Mjölnir’s inscription at the top of my lungs to no one except my dog, who stared at me like I’d gone off my rocker? That is a special ability that only books like VINTAGE GEEK hold, and it is not one to be taken for granted.
VINTAGE GEEK is currently available wherever fine books are sold.