Thursday, August 28, 2003

Thoughts on comics...

No, I don't mean stand-up joke-tellers. No! I'm talking about comic books, those 32 or so odd pressed pieces of wood pulp inked, written, colored, and stapled... that kids never read any more. The new comic book demographic is, more and more, the 30-something male. Why is that?

Many years ago, I used to read comics. Read comics? Hell, I was a comic addict!

It started so easily.

I was about nine or ten years old. At the time, I had a "Big Brother" - a child-less man who was getting older and full of regret who decided he could take care of a young man without a father for a few hours every weekend - his name was Don. Don was probably one of the few decent men I knew as a youngster, looking back on it. He was overweight, worked as a janitor, and lived in a detached garage separate from his folk's home, which he helped keep up. Yep, he was a real dork. Well, one winter, the Big Brother's Organization arranged a winter trip for the Brothers and their boys up to the mountains. (I can't begin to remember where!) A cabin was rented and... well... it was all rather boring, actually. A bunch of guys sitting around in a cabin, the floor covered with sleeping bags, one small, black and white, television showing nothing but sports... Don and I went to the local store and I asked Don to buy me a comic book - my first. It was a Special Edition Superman comic book with three stories: one about Superman, one about Jimmy Olsen, and one about Supergirl. The Superman story had Mr. Myxleplixi.. um, Mr. Myxpletisce... um... the guy whose name you can't say! The Jimmy Olsen story involved him time traveling back to World War II. While this might have started a life-long fascination with history, it WASN'T because it was historically accurate! The last story, the Supergirl story, had a witch in it and Supergirl's skirt was really short and her top was... well, I was approaching puberty, after all...

I lost that comic that weekend. It wasn't until many years later that I encountered them again.

It was after I was married. Gosh, I must have been 25 or 26 (OH, TO BE YOUNG AGAIN!). Roberson, a friend of mine from high school who was my best man at my wedding and who I never talk to any more, had started to buy comics - who knows why? And then, Murphy started, too! But I told Rosa, "Don't worry. I can read their comics. I don't need to buy any." Oh, didn't I?

I started with Spiderman. I'd always like Spiderman. He was a nerd like me, mannerly, goofy - sure, we'd get along. But there were four Spiderman titles. That was one comic each week. Rosa figured we could afford it. Then, I had to get the Hulk. The Hulk, a comic about a man with uncontrollable rage - yep, like me. And that would be it.

But then there was Wonder Man.


Iron Man.


Avengers West-Coast.

Captain America.

Silver Surfer.

Fantastic Four.

X-Men (and there were about 57 X-Men titles!!!!!).

And so on... and so on...

Oh... it was ugly. Eventually, I'd pick up something like 20 comic books each week. Rosa wouldn't mind, though, because she spent the rest of our money. (In the unlikely event that she's reading this, I'm just kidding.) I remember when we'd run errands after picking up my comic books (we only had one car - what with the comic book bills!) and I'd sit in the car, reading.

I've since stopped reading comic books. Oh, I'd love to read them again but they're far too expensive. We're talking a few bucks for a single book here! Meanwhile, I have stacks upon stacks of boxes and boxes and boxes filled with books, occupying my bedroom. I can't throw them away. They're worth too much money... sadly, though, nobody wants to buy them...

This last paragraph was going to be about how much I miss those days, sitting with Rosa, reading my comics, but I guess you probably know that. Some things are only meant to last for a time and then we look back on them and then we miss them.

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