I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I noticed Meltdown Comics tweeted a sweet picture of maple syrup bottles, butter, and waffle makers on Saturday. The image was accompanied with “#Waffle party prepping with @CuddliApp. Singles mingle, 11AM.” Naturally, I jumped from my mattress off the floor and got ready to eat some waffles in 20 minutes. Full disclosure: I’m single and new to Los Angeles. I came out here to work on an indie film, currently working with Respect Films to complete the upcoming Neil Gaiman documentary, and break into the comic book industry. Consequently, my love life has been nearly non-existent unless I return to my hometown, Tucson, to work for the Jazz Festival or do stand-up comedy.
— Meltdown Comics (@MeltdownComics) January 23, 2016
Meltdown Comics is in Hollywood for those of you that are unfamiliar with the hybrid comic book store, podcast center meets comedy venue. Los Angeles is full of promiscuous nerds. You’d be surprised to hear hard it is to find like-minded individuals looking for some romance and someone to relate to. The signs are (literally) everywhere. There are multiple Deadpool and freehiv.net billboards in your face up and down Melrose.
I walk in with wearing my best H&M navy blue polka-dot shirt buttoned to the top with my handcrafted Superman bow tie. The event took place in the back of the store conveniently near the restroom. It sounded like a cafeteria but everyone’s speaking your language. Initially, there were about 17 people awkwardly standing around trying to figure out the waffle arrangement, but more and more singles started t show up. I was greeted by Cuddli’s co-founder and creative director, Pinguino Kolb. You were encouraged to create a name tag and outfit it with stickers that featured comic book logos, beer bottles, and various talking points if you were single and ready to mingle. The shop was blasting a house mix of the Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song. I made the mistake of putting the X-Men logo on my name tag. Everyone thought I was really into porn or Agents of SHIELD. Both are true but I really wanted to discuss X-Men.
The waffle station was charming. Singles that downloaded the Cuddli got a gluten free Death Star shaped waffle; sadly, iPhone owners have to wait until Valentine’s Day to participate. Everyone was tense and nervous. You could cut the tension with a Kingdom Hearts key blade. Try to picture a bunch of self-proclaimed geeks trying to find love in a place where they normally try to avoid making eye contact with people. “I have a lot of single friends that were having a lot of problems meeting other people,” Kolb said. “I wanted to give them a platform that was very open and accepting of being yourself—a geek.” Kolb said that there are certain challenges that people have in this community, the biggest is social awkwardness.
There was a group of gals that accidentally stumbled into the waffle party after their weekly breakfast and comic book morning routine. Katie, 26, told me their mutual friend showed them there were more to comics than Spider-Man, so that eased going anxiety of being a woman going into a comic shop. “We used to be scared to go into comic book shops,” Katie said. Now they walk-in with confidence because of comics like Wicked-Divine.
A majority of the men and women that showed up to party were associated with the second largest Harry Potter fan group, LADA.
“You gotta be OK with a new game dropping and the person you’re dating might not want go out with you that night. Why would someone go dressed up as Spider-Man one weekend and drop $1,000 on it? That’s the kind of significant others that Cuddli users are going to look for,” Kolb said.
“We try to be as inclusive as we can,” Kolb said. The app doesn’t cater to a specific sexuality, unlike Tinder and Grinder. Cuddli is written to be used anywhere but the greatest concentration is in Los Angeles because that’s where the team is based.
I encourage comic book retailers to buy a skillet, hire a DJ, offer a discount for Waffle Party animals, and reach out to Cuddli to organize an event with the local Harry Potter fan group. Not only is a good way to score a date, but it also became a networking affair. The worst that can happen is your store is the place where someone met their future ex wife or husband.
Click here to check out the app for yourself.
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas and Google+.