I realize I’m still 12 years old. I get it. As an adult, I’m supposed to avoid doing certain things because they’re childish. I’m not supposed to play video games, watch cartoons, buy toys or read comics. For all of the “adult” things I do in my life, the Maturity Police would probably arrest me for being too childish. Of all the things I am not supposed to do, I think I derive the most joy from reading comics.
I’d dabbled in comics as a kid. I can’t ever remember buying comics in a store or spending much time perusing the spinner racks for the latest issues. The stash I remember reading was given to me by neighbors on the millitary base I’d lived on in Puerto Rico. They were getting rid of things their dad didn’t want to ship to their new duty station. The box of goodies contained a few random comics, most of which weren’t memorable. The jewel of the box? The Frank Miller Wolverine origin story. Looking back, I wish I had held onto those issues. I had no idea what was in my hands then.
My brief fling with comic books ended when I lost track of that box of books. They most likely disappeared when my family moved away in a similar set of circumstances. I’m sure the kids next door enjoyed their free box of comics. I didn’t read comics again for 20+ years. I bought into the mantra of the Maturity Police. Comics were for kids and I desperately didn’t want to be a kid anymore.
I missed the Watchmen. I missed the rise of the collector craze in the 90s. I missed out on the Daredevil wearing armor. I missed the death of Superman. I missed the Dark Knight Returns. I missed it all, because I knew comics were for kids.
A few years back, i truly grew up. Life events threw me a curveball and I realized that I’d been coasting through life pretending to be an adult. I braved the trade paperback section at the local mega-bookstore and picked up the first trade of Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. I loved every page of them. Read from left to right, top to bottom..got it. I was fine. Until the story spanned facing pages and then i’d occasionally get lost in the flow. I reread quite a bit that week trying to make sense of the story from time to time.
From that point, I decided that I’d rather support a local comic shop instead of the mega-bookstore and happened to find a really great local shop. It was well organized, well stocked and the owners were helpful and friendly. I picked up the rest of the Ultimate Spider-Man trades and branched out a bit until I had some of the other Ultimate lines. I picked up a number of different Batman books as I went along and enjoyed them as well. I also picked up Watchmen. Reading through it the first time, as a novice reader, I was lost. It was amazing but I was lost. I’ve reread it once or twice since then and I’ve found it to be more enjoyable each time.
Once I was caught up on Ultimate Spider-Man in trade, it didn’t take long to move to the single issues. I love the serialized nature of the stories and I love the anticipation of getting the next issue. In issues, I’d find myself dabbling more. Trying out an issue or three of things I couldn’t be sure I’d like.
My journey back into comics was an enjoyable one. I fell in love with the story telling style. I fell in love with the diversity in the art. I fell in love discovering new comics. One of my favorite things about the comic world is the diversity of the local comic book shops. In my current job, I get the opportunity to see many different comic shops and I can enjoy the oddities and cultures of each.
In future posts, I’ll talk about the various series that I’ve found and enjoyed. I’ll talk about the various comic shops I find. I’ll expand upon my love of comics. After two years of absorbing comic culture and getting acclimated to the world of comics, I want to put my thoughts in order.
I’ve learned that being a grown up doesn’t mean eschewing things I find fun. I can live the life of an adult while still enjoying myself. I own my own home. I have put my personal life back in order. I have a great job that I have no intention of changing, which is a blog post on its own.
All that being said? When I head out every Wednesday evening to find the local comic shop, I never say I’m going to get my comics. I say simply that I’m going to get my ‘books’. I just feels more grown up.