Phoenix Geeks on the Local Scene, Nerd Popularity, and Their Awkward Yearbook Photos

It's a good time to be a nerd.

Tricorders, laser cannons, and commercial space flight are all becoming closer to reality. Marvel and DC are pulling out all the stops with this summer's offerings. And our own Valley is crawling with venues to get your geek on.

Nerdgasms abound. But maybe this is a problem.

Over the past few years, nerds have been elevated from a socially maligned subculture into the realm of highly desirable. 

No longer is "geek chic" about ironically wearing horn rims and a bow tie. It's an enviable cultural identity, and with the abundance of information on the Internet about any dweeb-tastic pursuit, all anyone needs to do is drop a few buzzwords to gain instant access to the dork domains.

Yes, hipster in the vintage NPR shirt, strategically dropping "Kobayashi Maru" as it relates to plotting your drink order at the bar, I'm talking about you.

Not that any of us are complaining, necessarily. It's good to be loved. And honestly, the more content that's produced to appeal to nerd-kind just gives us more topics to geekily obsess over. (Plus, the growth in our ranks means strength in numbers - and it's hard to give us a swirly when we're travelling in packs.)

But in a world brimming with neo-nerds, how can the true geek lay claim their authenticity? Like a set of Hofmann lenses in They Live, there is a piece of technology that unquestioningly separates the poseurs from the Poindexters.

The school portrait.

Below are 3 local nerd leaders brave enough to demonstrate their geek-cred through sharing their awkward yearbook photos

Name: Jillian Squires 

Position: Director of Marketing- Phoenix ComiCon

Notable Nerdery: In addition to her work at Phoenix ComiCon, Jillian is an avid reader, gamer and cosplayer. 

She sews her own costumes and is a member of the Rebel Legion Star Wars Costuming group, using her costumes to support charities in the Phoenix area.

Name: Jonathan Simon

Position: Chief Cephalopod at Lightning Octopus

Notable Nerdery:. As the one-man show behind Lightning Octopus, Jonathan aggregates all that is good and geeky in Arizona. 

He's the official blogger of the Phoenix ComiCon - and perhaps most impressive - can summon references from the most obscure corners of pop-culture. Try going toe to toe with him in a recitation of lines from MTV's The State - if you dare.

Name: Jeff Moriarty

Notable Nerdery: As the creator of the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown, Moriarty's been known to debate Enterprise Captains with Trekkies, Pre-Crisis continuities with comic readers, revisionist movie versions with Star Wars and Blade Runner fans, MMORPG nerfing issues with gamers, genre author influence of Asimov and Tolkien with book lovers, and nearly every other category conceivable. 

He also (for better or worse) still owns the Colin Baker-era coat pictured above.

Note: Nerdery part of a greater discussion in Bob Beard's graduate thesis (and life). If you'd like to weigh in and/or participate in his field research later this year, please follow him on Twitter.

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