Gig Time
July 18, 2008

How ’bout are you willin’ to make the commitment, wakin’ up, goin’ okay, it’s gig time, what t-shirt am I gonna wear? Can’t decide, can’t decide . . . brain aneurysm!

-"Rock Your Socks Off" by Tenacious D


For our particular breed of geek a tee shirt collection is almost as prized as our action figure collections. The tee shirts that populate our dresser drawers are carefully chosen. They are laundered with care. They are worn until they literally fall apart. The appropriate tee shirt is carefully selected for each particular engagement. Its like pairing wine to a meal. Well, when that meal happens to be the San Diego Comic Con one must choose carefully which tee shirts to pack!


At the first Comic Con I ever attended I bought the Aquaman tee shirt above. I got it from one of those booths that are set up like a fun house. They are like these giant cubes that are lined inside and out with shirts. The inside is always crowded and busy which makes choosing a tee shirt stressful for someone like me who needs to take his time, consider his options. I like the Aquaman shirt but only after I got it home did I realize the graphic on the front is noticeably off center. Dang, now only good for wearing to the skatepark.

Sometimes I can be too choosey. I remember one year at Con circling the Dumbrella booth a hundred times scoping out their offerings. I really liked the "Chewie is my Co-Pilot" shirt but didn’t bite. I regretted it all year and was happy to find they were still selling it the next year. Now its one of my favorites. Just the right mix of humor, irreverance, connection to my interests. Definite maybe for making the suitcase this year. A similar thing happened last year. Saw this great shirt, didn’t buy it, regretted it. If I see it next week I won’t make the same mistake.

Whereas Comic Con is a great place to find tee shirts its not the only place. There are a few great online sources some of which have been advertising pretty heavily on certain action figure collecting web sites. Personally, I have had good luck finding shirts at Hot Topic. A year of two ago I found two gems on the same day. The first is a black tee with the original G.I. Joe "Kung Fu Grip" logo on the front and a small G.I. Joe logo on the back near the collar. I thought this shirt was perfect. Its a great meeting of action figure history and pop culture. Its not excessively geeky to the unaware but sends a clear message to those in-the-know. Definitely makes the cut for this year’s Con.

The second shirt I found that day had a weathered reproduction of the iconic cover of Secret Wars #1. I felt this was a perfect fit. I came of age in geek culture right around this time. I loved the Secret Wars series (Secret Wars II not so much. Although that panel of Silver Surfer holding the dead body of baby Beyonder is etched in my mind.) It was my golden age of comic collecting. Plus, I loved the Secret Wars series of action figures. Still do. All of this plus the fact that the cover to Secret Wars #1 is a beautiful and classic piece of comic art make this tee shirt a must for Con.

I have to say that Target has become a good place to find decent geek culture tee shirts. A few months ago my wife and I were shopping and I took a quick peek at the men’s tee shirt section.

What I saw surprised me. A white tee with 16 Marvel comics character heads lined up in a grid. Some were popular like Spiderman and Wolverine but others were rather obscure like the group of Inhumans. Cool. Better still they are Jack Kirby art. Whoa. Someone designing tee shirts for Target is one of us. I showed it to my wife but just got the rolling eyes. I put it back mournfully. Not long after I get a package in the mail from, ahem, my mom. I opened it to find this very tee shirt. She said as soon as she saw it she knew I needed to have it. A week later I get another package from my friend, Robb. Yup, he saw it and thought of me. So now I’ve got a spare! Couldn’t have happened with a better shirt. Since this was sold at a huge retail chain I’m a bit nervous that lots of other fans will have it. It’ll have to stay home.

I tend to prefer simple designs for my tees. That’s why this Harry Potter shirt is still one of my favorites. I try and wear it every Halloween. It tends to initiate fun coversations.

I wouldn’t be staying true to me roots if I didn’t include a Star Wars tee shirt in this post. Back in the spring of 2005 a subtle lobbying effort was initiated at my place of employment. Wouldn’t it be cool if the company took an opening day field trip to see Star Wars Episode III? My awesome boss (who reads this blog on occasion) thought it was a good idea and gave the green light.

Being somewhat responsible for instigating the idea I certainly felt it necessary to celebrate that day by wearing a Star Wars tee shirt. Low and behold I didn’t have one! (Except a black shirt with yellow type that read "A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… Yes, I’m a Geek" that my, ahem, mom got me but I had trouble wearing.) I scrambled and found this appropriate shirt in time for the movie. I like it because its says I’m a Star Wars fan, but more old school. It won’t be making Con, but it knows its loved.

Well, hopefully I’ve packed my suitcase wisely. If you’re at Con and see a Kung Fu Grip fist coming at ya say hi!

I’d love for you to tell us about your favorite tees! Feel free to post below.



Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.





  • blubeetle3 says:

    Right now, I’m wearing one of my favorite tees: a black shirt with a reproduction of the cover from “Formerly Known as the Justice League” #1. I had to order the shirt directly from Graphitti because I never saw it in my area.

    Some of my other favorites are “Jayne t-shirts”: reproduction of shirts worn by the character Jayne from “Firefly” and “Serenity”.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    If someone made old school Underoos for grown-ups, I’d wear my Green Lantern top to SDCC, since the bottom half would likely get me arrested…

    BTW: That panel with the Surfer holding dead Baby Beyonder freaked me out, too. Jim Shooter was smokin’ something fierce in 1985!

  • amp... says:

    Voltron. And he sits on the bottom left of the shirt all proud and triumphant and 1000-feet-tall. For some reason tons of people ask who it is. Morons. But the mystery adds to the coolness. You can’t be cool if you don’t know who Voltron is. I mean – come on… It is totally bad-a**.

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