There is no superhero costume underneath my t-shirt or claws sheathed alongside my knuckles. My origin story doesn’t involve being the prince of a mythical land or a millionaire playboy genius. However, known to very few, Superman and I, Jeremy Flagg have something in common.
Like any comic book, we must start with an origin story. I, Jeremy Jeremy Flagg, was born to Phillip & Susan Flagg. Once my father retired from the military our family returned to my parents’ hometown. In an elementary school of a little more than one-hundred students, I should have been unique, one-of-a-kind, but no, I was not the only Jeremy inside the walls of Brownville Elementary. A female name-thief, Jeremie Smith, with a tenure track exceeding my own robbed my identity. Answering simultaneously as the name was spoken, a split second decision occurred, changing my life forever. Jeremy James died and J.J. was born.
It wasn’t much of a loss. My name isn’t pronounced Jur-mee or worse Germ-ee. Despite it’s spelling, it holds three syllables. Jair-ra-mee. Neither of my parents refer to me by name, my mother opting for “Boogie bear” and my dad, mocking those who pronounce my wrong, “Germ.”
By high school my nickname had become a slurred. J.J. required two syllables, and with the right slur it could be reduced to one. Birthed from laziness, Jage became the norm. In college it would later get shrunken to Jer. In a room mixed with friends from different periods of my life, I can be called upon half a dozen ways without my birth name being used. Each salutation gives away the age, association, and origin of our meeting.
The first half of my name took a beaten during my youth, but in college, the second half would be the name that carried me into adulthood. Via instant messenger, Virginia Castagno referenced my love the X-Men’s Gambit by referring to me as Lebeau. The realization the last half of my first name was Remy spurred an inside joke. For the sake of anonymity in social media, it hid me from the world. But as I acquired friends through Facebook, my real name faded away into the nothingness. Like Wolverine having his past wiped away in place for Weapon X’s Logan, my identity vanished.
I.Am.Maine was originally meant to be published under Remy Flagg. However, in a town about my youth and growing up in Maine, how could I rob myself from my most powerful marketing tool? When it came time to release the Suburban Zombie High series, I had to make a decision, use my real name and face the potential pressure from employers or remain safely hidden amongst the shadows?
I chose Jeremy Flagg.
By printing under my legal name, I simplified my financials and gave myself a legal advantage. I chose not to hide. I chose to be true to myself. I chose to remove my glasses, shed my button down and reveal the proverbial “S” on my chest. Despite the majority of my professional associates not knowing my real first name, I took a leap of faith. But while it lended itself to my image and brand, beneath the obvious ramifications, there was a philosophical and emotional plot unfolding.
Superman, unlike many characters in comic books is not an alter ego with stupendous abilities. Superman, a man with powers beyond any human is Kal-El. Clark Kent, the average daily reporter is the costume, a secret identity woven together to give him a stronger connection to the humans he’s sworn to protect. Remy Flagg is a construct, a persona utilized to connect with the outside world. He is my shroud of safety. And like in every comic book, there is an arc in which the hero is put on the shelf and they are forced to live the world as a mundane.
While my arc played out with Remy Flagg dominating the story, I continued publishing books under my real name. Tonight, while contemplating how we perceive our identities versus our outward facing selves, I had a moment of clarity. Remy, much like Clark Kent is a construct, a persona created to help me blend in with the world around me. However, Jeremy Flagg makes his appearances much like a superhero rescuing an elderly woman from a burning building. In my writing there is a piece of me known to a very small and select group of individuals. Each time I open the document and begin writing, a cape covers my shoulders and I dare to put my underwear outside my jeans. In my writing, you’re getting to see the real Jeremy Flagg.
J.J., Jage, Jer and Remy are convienent costumes. The indestructible, amazing, uncanny, fantastic, Jeremy Flagg, the man on the page, he’s the real super man.
Hi, I’m Jeremy Flagg.