Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Comic Books & Me
My Journey with comics goes way back. I remember as a little kid seeing them at the hospital Playroom or My Uncle Bob’s stash. My Uncle Bob is eight years my senior and he loved horror comics. My Aunt and her first husband had a decent collection of Legion of Superheroes. These two influences got me interested in comics. In the Seventies Mr. Rogers agreed with a study that said Kids watching or reading Superheroes exploits reinforce violent solutions to conflict. My Mom agreed so at the age of 8, I was forbidden from Superhero comics. I was allowed Hanna-Barbera,
Archie and the like. I was 8 and these
were for babies to me. I wanted the
Superheroes I saw on TV, Batman, Superman, Hulk, Flash, Shazam, Hawkman,
Spider-man and etc. I would browse them
every chance I could when I would find a spinner rack.
I was still stuck with the funny books, until I was 10. We had moved to
. My Dad was part of the base’s Public Works
department and was assigned to refuse control.
In the military when you move you are only allowed a certain weight
allowance. So when folks would move they
would leave large amounts of good stuff.
One day my dad came back with a Large Green Plastic Trash bag full of
Comics. Not just Funny books, there
were horror, SciFi, and Superheroes books in there. They were mostly DC, Marvel and Gold
Key. It was then that I discovered I
preferred the DC characters to their Marvel Counterparts. Thanks to copies of Adventure comics and the
Death of Earth-2 Batman story starring the Justice Society of Adak, Alaska America,
I loved the alternate worlds DC did. They
had their multiple earths. As a 10 year
old, I was able to keep up with everything and knew the differences between the
various earths. Those comics plus the Mirror,
Mirror episode of Star Trek started me on my love of Alternate World/ History
Literature. When we moved they stayed.
It was not until 1982, when I was 14 that I came back to comics. This time it went big. It started with two books, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and Who’s Who in the DC Universe. They were Encyclopedias of Superheroes. Much of my geeky comic book knowledge can be blamed on those two books. I had various jobs I did, so I had spending money. If I had money I wanted comics. After those I got into Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans. A friend of a friend lent a friend mine a run of X-men starting with Giant-Size Uncanny X-Men #1. I then found Ralph’s Comics Corner in
and bought my run of New Teen Titans. These two series were great and I loved them. Ralph’s was my first comic shop. Originally he was located in a corner of a
Thrift Shop. In 1984, Ralph had his own
location. Then the first two Big Event
series came out Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. All bets were off. I discovered Artists and writers: John Byrne,
Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway, Paul
Smith, Bernie Wrightson, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Mark Bright, Roger Stern,
the Romitas and more. Ventura,
in Pacific University ,
my closest comic shop was Pegasus Fantasy in Forest Grove, Oregon Beaverton. That is the Predecessor to Things from
Another World. I watched the Richardson
Brothers launch Dark Horse Comics. I
still was stuck in Superhero comics during this time. However this is when things got interesting
with Marvelman/ Miracleman, Watchmen, and the Dark Knight Returns. This also was the DC post-Crisis relaunch. During this time the Mutants books started to
multiply from just one title to many. I
started noticing other comics companies although I was still not buying them.
That all Changed in 1988. I moved to
to study at Eugene, Oregon . There is one of the best comic shops, at
least back then, in back stock I had ever found, Emerald City Comics. There I started helping out and was allowed
to read some of the back stock I would never have read before. I broadened my horizons, with stuff that was
not the big two: First Comics, Heavy Metal, Eclipse Comics, Fantigraphic Books,
Kitchen Sink Press, Comico, WaRP Graphics, Caliber Comics, Slave Labor
Graphics/ Amaze Ink and more I cannot think of.
During this time new creators that blew my mind were Neil Gaiman, Grant
Morrison, Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Mike Mignola, Mike Grell, Howard
Chaykin and Chuck Dixon. With titles like Sandman, Mage, and Baker Street, I
began to see beyond the Superhero genre and the possibilities. In 1991, I left University of Oregon Eugene
and moved back to . I started buying more from non Big two publishers
at this time with Valiant Comics, Image Comics and Malibu Comics. Marvel and DC tried to expand their
readership with imprints like Vertigo and Epic.
Both of those imprints were trying to step away from superheroes. Marvel started reprinting work from Moebius
and the Magna Series Akira. After the
Age of Apocalypse and Zero Hour Events I had enough of comics. I got out in 1995. I then got rid all but a few treasured
titles. I made a colossal mistake in
1997; I sent those few titles to an online friend in Dundee, Oregon Florida. Yes, folks I know, I was very stupid.
In 1999 I started to get back into comics, mostly thanks to one creator: Warren Ellis. His Run on StormWatch and Planetary made me think I could get back into comics. I dabbled before 1999, but I started regularly reading again that year. I also found DC Comics Elseworlds Imprint. It is an imprint of DC Comics that does Alternate Reality tales of its classic superhero characters. It started back in the mid Nineties; I came back after Elseworlds Finest. I became a member of the WEF (Warren Ellis Forum). Everything changed, I still read some Superhero book, but I wanted the more interesting stuff. Image Comics, CrossGen, Avatar Press, IDW, Oni Press, Top Shelf Productions, and Humanoids Publishing were among publishers recommended on WEF. I discovered great creators during this period: Garth Ennis, Larry Young, Greg Rucka, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Ian Edginton, Matt Fraction, Alejandro Jodorowsky and so many more. I was sad when WEF went offline in 2002. The experience gave me a whole new way at looking at comics. Superheroes were no longer the end all be all. Even though I was getting there on my own, The WEF gave me ideas where else to look.
I had been in a long term relationship during this period. In 2009, I was having trouble with keeping up with my reading versus my buying. Barbara, my partner at the time, allowed my to buy my comics, but never gave me the chance to read them. In December of 2011 I left that relationship. I still had over 10 Diamond Distributing (the comics distributing company) boxes full I had not read. I was overwhelmed. I had already at this point begun buying comics digitally on Comixology. I decided to get rid of all my Floppies (individual single comic issues) and kept my Graphic Novels, Trade Paperbacks, Book Shelf Comics, Hardcover and Collections. I have streamlined my life and the way I buy my comics. I am still trying to get caught up with books I own that I have yet to read. The number is not as overwhelming as it once was. That is My Not So Humble Opinion.