Being a geek used to be something to be ashamed of; we were outcasts, social pariahs. But that’s been changing over the last decade or so, and geekdom is becoming popular. The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on TV, geek celebrities like Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day have millions of followers on Twitter, and it’s not unusual to see coverage of geeky events like Comic Con or video game tournaments on mainstream news.
Never one to miss out on an opportunity to capitalise on something popular, Matt Groening Productions have jumped onto the popularity of geekdom with Lisa Simpson’s Guide to Geek Chic, part of the Vault of Simpsonology line published by Insight Editions.
Exactly like the title suggests, Lisa Simpson’s Guide to Geek Chic is, well… a guide to geekdom, from the perspective of Lisa Simpson. It follows the same format as the rest of the Vault of Simpsonology range, and numerous other Simpsons-branded books before that: a pseudo-factual reference book covering a broad range of topics, told in a humorous, light-hearted fashion filled with Simpsons in-jokes.
This is a book that’s very much aimed at Simpsons fans, and if you’re not at least vaguely familiar with the cartoon, a lot of jokes will fall flat – but really, who isn’t familiar with the Simpsons? Lisa’s the star, of course, but plenty of other characters make cameos – like Smithers showing off his Malibu Stacy collection, and the series’ other well-known geeks, like Milhouse and Martin.
The good is that, even as one of those snobs who “likes the old Simpsons but finds the new seasons unfunny”, nothing really went amiss for me. There are even a few throwbacks to older episodes, like an appearance by Lisa Kudrow’s character Alex Whitney from one episode in Season 10.
There are plenty of jokes aimed at geeks of all kinds, too. A timeline tracing the history of geekdom includes noteworthy events like the first appearances of Superman and Wonder Woman in 1938 and 1941, respectively, or Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin’s character in the TV show Firefly) sporting a cunning hat in 2003. The aforementioned Malibu Stacy collection includes the likes of “Mapple Stacy”, who geeks out over “Mapple” products, and a periodic table of “Geeky Delights” makes mention of everyone from Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl, of DC Comics fame) to scientists like Marie Curie and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Whether or not you find Lisa’s Guide to Geek Chic worth your time and money is going to come down to two things: how much of a Simpsons geek you are, and how much of a geek you are in general. If you tick both those boxes, this is a book that’ll likely get a fair few laughs out of you; if you only tick one (or neither!) then you’re unlikely to find much for you here.