Breaking Nerd

 Kenneth Lamug is an award-winning indie author and illustrator currently working on an all-ages adventure comic book packed with hidden-object (think Where's Waldo) scenes, mazes and puzzles. The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca, now on Kickstarter, is about robots, evil scientists and temporal travelling heroes on a mission to save the world – and it's waiting for your support! The campaign runs until June 10th, 2014.

The dictionary defines nerd as "an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with hobby or pursuit, who lacks social skills."

Growing up in the Philippines, I always considered myself a nerd. I spent way too much time at the library and at bookstores, or at home hacking my 486DX2 computer (that's geek-speak for prehistoric). I may not have had thick glasses or a pocket protector, but I proudly wore my nerd badge while I carried my notebook of ancient Greek and Incan glyph translations.


I was proud of the fact that I had a special world of my own. Being called a nerd meant I had special powers. It felt great to be unique in a world of normalcy.

I drew comics from remnant photocopy paper, complete with toner smudges. My time was spent solving trivia and mind puzzles, obsessing through the Britannica Encyclopedia set and old issues of National Geographic, all with the ultimate goal of filling my brain with random information that I would later forget. Information is power, even the useless stuff.

Back then, comic books were a luxury; the cheap ones were locally syndicated printed on cheap paper. The copies were so badly printed that they actually looked better if you wore 3D glasses.


After my family moved to the U.S., I would not draw for another 15 years. Over time, my geekiness evolved to other things. I got into car drifting, filmmaking and photography, then ultimately, I found my way back to cartooning. I learned a lot and made very many great friends along the way–fellow nerds of their own right.

Since that time, my perceived definition of the term "nerd" has pretty much changed. Most everyone who is greatly passionate about a certain pursuit could be considered a nerd. And once the term was accepted into pop culture, it almost feels like the word lost its power once it gained social acceptance. We have actors and supermodels trying to get "nerd" attached to their persona…just to be cool. Weren't they the ones who used to make fun of nerds back in school?

Working on my new graphic book, The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca, I wanted to bring back some of the nerdy elements from my childhood…even the imagined ones.


Sure, everything takes place in a school setting, but don't fret. The story is packed with kids unleashing monsters from secret labs, evil time-travelling scientists and a robotic-invasion force bent on world domination.

But the best part is that the characters use their smarts to solve problems, and the reader gets to be a part of the story. The audience interacts with the book by taking challenges and going on adventures alongside the characters.

The nerd in me was always fascinated with adventure games. I would have given anything to see them integrated into a book format. I hope the new nerds (real and wannabes) of today will enjoy my ultimate integration along with me.


For Bleeding Cool readers, at the end of a successful campaign we'll be giving out a limited edition 5-inch resin model of the character in a random drawing. To enter, all you need to do is tweet with the hashtag #talbottoluca and a link our kickstarter campaign . Other prizes include posters, books and prints.


Talbot Toluca Official Site:

Ken's Official Site:

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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