The world of entertainment has changed vastly over the past several years. No longer does fame require an agent and television air time. If you have compelling video content and market yourself well, you can get plenty of viewers, whether as hobbyist, as a career, or even YouTube celebrity. But how do you stand out from the crowd?
The Gay Comic Geek found a niche that had been previously unexplored: as a gay comic book vlogger. I spoke with the Gay Comic Geek, also known as Paul Charles, to find out how he started his online presence.
“I had never been in front of a camera,” he admitted. “I had always been behind the camera my whole life.”
Paul originally had planned to do a YouTube show with a co-worker at his job at a substance abuse clinic.
“Neither of us set out to be counselors,” he explained. “He said we should start up a YouTube channel and film our adventures. I had bought a new camera and wanted to use it for more than filming family and friends. Originally I was just going to edit and film the vids and he was going to be the host of whatever it was that we were going to do.”
When Paul’s co-worker left the organization due to family issues, the idea almost fell through.
“It clicked in my head: why don’t I film myself?
“I decided I would talk about what I loved the most: comic books,” he stated. “I searched for other gay comic book vloggers out there to get inspiration and ideas, but to my dismay, there were none. Lots of gay geeky sites, but rarely did I see a gay geek on-screen talking about comics. So I figured I’d just have to be the first.”
Being seen specifically as a gay man was important to Paul.
“I made sure that the word ‘GAY’ was in my name so that others would know immediately that I was a gay comic book geek,” he indicated. “No straight man would ever put the word gay in their name. A straight man’s biggest fear is to be thought of as being a gay man. So from there I started posting, and over the course of a couple of years, my name spread and here I am.”
“I especially love Midnighter from the DC Universe, as he’s the first openly out, proud gay superhero that has held his own ongoing comic book series at a mainstream comic book company.”
He also mentioned He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Walking Dead, Batman Beyond, and Justice League as some of his favorite comic titles.
Paul is also quite the cosplayer, with a special place in his heart for dressing up as Robin.
“The first time I dressed up at a convention in costume was at San Diego Comic Con as One Year Later Robin, or the Robin that’s all red and black costumed as he’s better known,” he described. “I did it because I loved Tim Drake and that costume was easy to make. I didn’t mean for it to spawn me into dressing up in different costumes throughout the year. It was originally supposed to be a one-time thing, but it turns out I really enjoyed taking pictures and showing off my skills as a costume maker.”
“Robin was always my go-to character,” Paul noted, “as I loved the Tim Drake Robin the most. He was THE Robin when I started to read comics and I didn’t know any other Robin. He is also someone I identify with. He was a nerdy kid, could possibly be gay, and worked the hardest to be the greatest of all the Robins. So I have made many versions of the Robin costume, many of which have shown up in the comics or in cartoon form.”
His other costumes include Captain Marvel Jr. (CM3) and Bob, Agent of Hydra, a more obscure character.
“Bob is Deadpool’s sidekick that has no superpowers and is always beaten up,” he explained. “I’m doing it for fun and because no one ever dresses up as him.”
The Gay Comic Geek loves attending conventions in cosplay.
“I can talk about cons for hours,” he exclaimed. “I travel to some places here and there and do local cons as well. I have a couple that I call the big three – San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic Con, and Dragon Con. Those are the ones I prep for more than any other conventions. I almost always dress in costume with friends and do group cosplay events. I also go to interview and talk with artists and writers. I can go to a small con and spend the entire day in Artist Alley just talking about upcoming projects. I sometimes meet fans at cons and I ALWAYS welcome pictures. I get excited when a person recognizes me. I feel important and it makes my day.”
While he started by only talking about comics, Paul later expanded his range of content.
“I reviewed a new action figure that I got because I was so happy that I found it in stores,” he revealed. “It was quite rare. It got a lot of hits, and I started to add toys to my list of videos. Then for a joke, I reviewed a porn parody based on Superman. It was a straight porn, but I still felt it warranted a review. That review got the attention of other porn companies who sent me their porn to do reviews. I started to do reviews on porn as much as I did on comics. I made sure that comic books were still being done as that is my true love.”
Sometimes I will even get a message urging me to never post again because my looks are so bad. I am what I am. Luckily, though, the positive comments far outweigh the bad remarks.”
I wondered how he found his audience, that crossover between gay and geek cultures. He feels the two cultures have a lot in common.
“There are a lot of gay geeks out here in the world,” he stated. “Unfortunately we have not had a huge presence in media, so we are overlooked a lot. It’s tough being a gay in the world. Not as bad as it used to be, but still we have to “come out” to our friends and family. It shouldn’t be that way, but the world perceives everyone to be straight until proven otherwise. Being a geek used to be looked down on in shame as well from both the gay and straight community. The jokes about living in their mother’s basement or that they’ll never have a significant other have been there since as far back as I can remember. It’s okay to be a sports fanatic, but being a comic book fanatic is looked at as if the person is an awkward insult to society.”
“Being a gay geek is even tougher,” he added. “Many gay men are not any more accepting than heterosexual men are with respects to a geeky personality. I normalize my geeky interests to show that we’re not any different from others who may have an obsession with something else. Luckily geeks are somewhat considered cooler today and we get a lot more people who are accepting. It also helps that I talk about gay porn a lot and people are attracted to all the hot guys I mention in my videos.”
Paul faced some intense challenges as a vlogger, most notably the loss of his day job.
“I work in a right-to-work state,” he pointed out. “That means that I can be fired for any reason, including being gay. It can be fought, but at a cost.”
With the help of Patreon, he’s now a full-time vlogger.
“I originally thought that I would have to go back to school and start in a new career path,” he explained. “Many subscribers basically told me to move in the field that I love the most, make even more videos and posts. I listened and it grew. The ads on my site combined with YouTube revenue and my Patreon site keep me doing what I love to do.”
The Gay Comic Geek has had a lot of struggles with YouTube as well.
“YouTube deleted my original channel with no explanation,” he noted. “I had no strikes against me and I was in good standing. I have no idea what the problem was. It hurt me a lot. I was not expecting it and didn’t think I would recover. But many people out there saw this, encouraged me to continue on and to start over, which I did.”
“I have a lot of haters,” he continued. “What’s sad is that most of these haters are gay themselves. I don’t know if they are self-loathing or just bitches, but I get many remarks, comments, and messages on a nearly daily basis that inform me that I am ugly, big-eared, have bad hair, or that I just have an awful voice. I get hateful comments about my looks more than anything. Sometimes I will even get a message urging me to never post again because my looks are so bad. I am what I am. Luckily, though, the positive comments far outweigh the bad remarks.”
What’s next for the Gay Comic Geek?
“I am going to Wondercon in California, which is always great to visit,” he expressed. “Also I want to go to another con, close to the west coast, for something secret. I can’t reveal that at the moment as I was sworn to secrecy.”
He’s also re-exploring working on the other side of the camera.
“There’s also possibly a movie project that I’m working on with someone else,” he stated. “Not as a star, but helping with the filming. I love being behind a camera. Surprisingly, I’m not as much of an exhibitionist as you’d think. I want to film and shoot many male costumers out there and start to do that much more regularly. Male costumers are so neglected in the big scheme of the cosplay world. I really feel like I need to correct that as best I can.”