Otaku is a term that's been genericized into 'fan' (generally of a niche subject) but really can be offensive once you take a step back. Geeky folks in Britain are characterized as Anoraks, hence the title.
I may have painted myself as a little more articulate than my original comments at the conference, but the discussions and presentations really brought it home: comics (particularly Western comics) have changed dramatically from the involuted, esoteric world they used to be when I was a young reader.
In Japan and France it's no big deal to read comics in public.
In the Anglophone world, the alternative to the predominance of the fantasy world of superheroes has often been the polar opposite, autobiographical 'realism'. (Often diverging to the rather surreal!)
Eddie Campbell's catalyzing quote for Curhat Tita reads: "Tita's charming and always engaging cartoons live in a region of the world of the comic strip that has not yet been taken over by the neurotics." It's a cute jab if you are familiar with the trends in alternative comics.
One of the first contemporary autobio comics I read was Julie Doucet's 'Heavy Flow' in a small press anthology. There's no doubt that the late Harvey Pekar would be one of the first to categorize himself as 'neurotic', but then, *everyone* has their hangups. He was just one of the first creators brave enough to air them out in public. Just a few short years ago his work was on the fringe of both the comics world and popular culture. It's gratifying to see that the audience and industry diversified enough before his passing to give him a modicum of acknowledgment.
It's really fascinating to see the change in both the rotating roster of comics creators and the growing global comics readership. Now it's possible to walk down to the bookstore and find offerings relevant to someone who may not be a regular reader of comics.
Otaku, fanboy, anorak, geek, artiste, reader? What do you think you are?