At Long Last – My Comic Origin!

I’ve been wanting to write lately, but really haven’t had much to write about. I’ve been to a LOT of comic cons and stores lately, and it made me realize that I’ve never really explained *how* I got into comics. This isn’t just a blog thing, as many of my “in real life” friends don’t really know this tale either. So, it got me to thinking, and those memories have brought us here. Let’s go for a little ride, shall we?

People never believe this, but I started rudimentary reading at 18 months old. This, combined with the fact that my parents were older, meant that I skipped a lot of “typical” children’s literature. I never had any fairy tales, and I missed out on Dr. Seuss. I probably sound like I snob, but I realize that I truly missed out on some classics. Later, I went back and tried to read The Cat in the Hat, but it was too late – the damage had already been done. So, what did I read? Mainly, I read the Style section of the Washington Post. Yeah, there were pictures, but I also learned a LOT about the television industry.

My mom and aunts loved to encourage my reading, so they were always willing to buy books for me. They, however, had to approve of the books, so the covers couldn’t show anything demonic, and they couldn’t be something that was a “waste of time”, like “funnybooks”. Anyway, they used to make me go to Alabama for the summer with my grandmother. The thing about those trips was that I HATED going, but ending up loving it once I was there. In any case, I would throw a FIT prior to leaving, so they’d always bribe me with books and toys so that I would “be a good boy for Muddear”. Also, Muddear was given money to keep me pacified while down there.

The first time I was sent to Old Dixie was 1989, and my cousin Cephus (we are from the South!) drove us down in his Winnebago. There wasn’t much to do, but I had a scooter, and our front yard had a ditch. If you do the math, you’ll realize that I had my own Fat Kid X-Games event going on. I’m still amazed that I never fell in and died – this was a DEEP ditch. I remember, though, during one of my ditch-jump lulls, buying my first comic at the local bait shop. Rather, I didn’t pay money for it, but it was bought for me by a cousin during an ice run for a cookout. I can’t remember the issue number, but it was a Star Trek comic published by DC. This was during the Original Cast Movie Era, so those were the uniforms they were wearing.

Now, I’m gonna be real honest here: I don’t think I ever even read that thing. I mainly asked for it just to see if I could get it. Yeah, I was that kid. Since I hadn’t really been allowed to go near “funnybooks”, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Plus, I was as much of a Trekkie as you could be at the age of 8 (I’d been watching TNG since its premiere, and had seen all TOS episodes). Seeing it on the stands, it was familiar to me and that’s what I went for. I think it had Klingons in it, but didn’t they all back then? I know that comic made the trip back to Maryland from Alabama, but I really don’t remember what became of it. I guess it got thrown away during one of Muddear’s cleaning jags. The main point is that, while I remember owning it, comics had yet to make any real impact on me. I think I had it more for its connection to Star Trek than for the fact that it was a “forbidden comic book!”

Over the course of the next year, I had another one of those “I wonder if I can get x to buy this comic for me” moments. One Sunday afternoon, my aunt’s boyfriend took me to 7/11. It’s a long story, but here’s the gist of it: Muddear lived on a street in DC that wasn’t exactly the nicest. The ice cream truck came through, and I really wanted ice cream, but Muddear was always of the opinion that the ice cream truck was really just selling crack. So, she wouldn’t let me near it. I think I cried, and Mr. Jackson (my aunt’s bf), who had been doing some work on the house, volunteered to take me to 7/11 for some non-crack ice cream. So, in addition to my Push-Up, I ended up with a Heathcliff comic. Now, I’m not sure if y’all remember, but Heathcliff was the Flavor Aid to Garfield‘s Kool-Aid. He was not the A-list cartoon cat, but I remembered that his cartoon had a really cool theme song (one that I still find myself singing at times). Plus, the kicker was that he was dressed as Batman on the cover. Now, my whole love of Batman extends back to the Super Powers toy line, as well as syndicated reruns of the ’66 show. Surprisingly enough, I had never thought about seeking out Batman comics. This changed all that, as it was the first time I really thought “Wait, Batman started as a comic character, right?” Anyway, I remember that this comic was just a loose parody of the first Michael Keaton movie. Still, it was the first time a comic actually kinda stuck with me, and I still have that book in my collection today. This was not, however, when the collecting bug bit. No, my friends – that happened on the next installment of Will & Muddear’s Alabama Adventures, which I’ll talk about next time.

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five