This year, there were many geeks who made good, and some who did extraordinary things, big and small, for nerd-kind.
So we present, in no particular order, our geek heroes for 2011.
The first year for the “Chuck” star’s “Nerd HQ” - connected with his “Nerd Machine,” a “hub for all things nerd” - was a smashing success.
Located in downtown San Diego during Comic-Con this year, it was a top destination for fans, especially those who weren’t able to get an increasingly difficult-to-obtain Comic-Con badge. Levi put on panels and events, all for an affordable price, all for the “Operation: Smile” charity.
In 2011, we lost an alpha-geek. Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and the man who guided the company from pioneering personal computers into the vanguard of mobile computing, is gone. But the legacy he leaves will live on for a very long time.
It’s easy to dismiss Jobs as the pitch man – the public face of Apple, while tech geeks like Steve Wozniak worked on the guts of the products. But Jobs held more than 300 patents and was listed as the primary inventor on over 10% of them. By all accounts, he was heavily involved in the development of each new gadget, often sending developers back to the drawing board when he wasn’t 100% pleased.
Regardless of where you stand in the Mac vs. PC or iPhone vs. Android wars, it’s impossible not to give Jobs his due as a true force in the field. He’ll be missed.
Brabner currently manages the estate of her husband and collaborator, comics writer Harvey Pekar. Some may be familiar with Brabner from Hope Davis’ portrayal of her in the film “American Splendor.”
This year, she raised over $35,000 to have a statue built as a monument to Pekar and the comics he made. The statue will be installed at the Cleveland Heights public library, facing their comic book section. The back of the statue will feature slate panels and chalk, encouraging visitors to create their own comics just like Pekar did.
Superfriends of Metropolis and Mike Meyer
When news broke back in September that a “Superman” fan in Granite City, Illinois, had his large collection stolen, the comic book geek community came together to help.
Coordinated by the fan group, Superfriends of Metropolis, collectors donated Superman memorabilia to the victim, Mike Meyer.
When the thief was caught and his collection returned, Meyer donated what he received to the St. Louis Childrens’ Hospital, complete with an appearance by Supes himself.
It was a feat worthy of the Man of Steel.
Renae de Liz
On August 7, Renae de Liz raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter for “Womanthology,” a comics anthology produced entirely by female creators. The soon-to-be-released book will not only feature female produced comics, but also has interviews with female professionals, as well as a section dedicated to preparing young comics creators for building a career in the industry.
Not only did de Liz work hard in 2011 at getting this anthology published, but she’s also a professional comics artist herself and the mother of two boys.
George R.R. Martin
We knew it. While the doubters doubted and the Internet trolls hurled insults, we knew that George R.R. Martin was going to eventually return us to Westeros, home base for his epic “Song of Ice and Fire” series.
And in 2011, after six long years, he did. If epics like “The Lord of the Rings” frame the classic battle between good and evil, Martin’s “Ice and Fire” masterfully weaves together a cast of imperfect and all-too-human characters in a fantasy setting. It’s Martin’s deft handling of those complex characters that makes it all work, and a rushed, dumbing-down of the series would, for diehard fans, have been heartbreaking.
He could have given in to the deadline pressure. He, as so many authors have, could have sacrificed the intricate story-telling of his first few books and slapped together a plausible-enough conclusion. Instead, he unraveled the Gordian knot and gave us a book worthy of its predecessors.
Micah Baldwin is the CEO and founder of Graphicly, a digital comics distribution platform. You may also know him as the guy who started the #followfriday hash tag on Twitter.
Baldwin is a hero to geeks because of Graphicly’s focus on supporting independent comics creators. With the economic recession making it more difficult for independent creators to get their comics published in print, Graphicly enables them to share their stories with the world digitally.
Moreover, Baldwin himself is focused on the vibrant Graphicly community where he sees his role as the “Chief Community Caretaker.” This isn’t surprising since Baldwin also donates his time to mentoring young entrepreneurs, helping them learn how to run their own companies.
After a San Diego Comic-Con panel on female geeks in 2010, a group of the panelists thought there ought to be an entire convention just for geek girls.
So, with the hard work of Jennifer Stuller and countless others, GeekGirlCon was born in October, in Seattle, Washington.
By all accounts, it was a huge success, and plans are underway for the next convention.
George Takei is a one-man show that broadcasts equality for all, and he deserves tremendous respect for his efforts. He is known for fighting on behalf of Asian-American and LGBT groups, but this year, when a social media war broke out between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” via Carrie Fisher and William Shatner, both communities knew that only one man could broker “Star peace,” and that eloquent gentleman was the incomparable Takei.
By emphasizing the greatness of both franchises and managing to combine “May the force be with you” and “Live long and prosper,” Takei soothed tensions on both sides and brought them together against another, greater threat to science fiction: “Twilight.” The video is both hilarious and thought-provoking, reminding us of why we fell in love with our Star series’ in the first place – and at least we aren’t Twi-hards! Takei always uses humor, grace and tenacity to encourage equality, and for brokering “Star peace,” he is definitely one of our geek heroes of 2011.
The Nerdist podcast existed before 2011, but the “Nerdist” empire exploded in 2011.
It wasn’t enough for the “Nerdist” himself, Chris Hardwick to be all over G4. He also went over to do a series of specials, and to host the “Ministry of Laughs” on BBC America. Oh, and he hosted the post-“Walking Dead” talk show, “The Talking Dead” for AMC. (And did we mention he wrote a book?)
With his wit, and ability to explain all things nerdy to the masses, Hardwick was a nerd’s nerd, spreading the “Nerdist” gospel in every medium possible. 2011 was Hardwick’s year, and we were all just along for the ride.