Continuing the sad tale we had to call Confessions of a Comic Reader...
That was the comic that really
got me in trouble. I was in Dick's Supermarket in McFarland, Wisconsin, trying to figure out which glossy title would be my payment for being a relatively well-behaved shopping companion (particular for a typically troublesome ten-year-old). As noted previously
, I usually gravitated towards "funny animal" comics, which is a bit of a misnomer since I was usually reading about an obscenely wealthy, fair-haired boy
. This day, though, I wanted something different, something more exciting, something more grown-up
. I let my eyes linger to the superhero side of the comic rack and that cover grabbed me for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that the child in peril looked about my age, maybe it was vague memories of the cartoon series
making that foursome fearfully responding more approachable.
I got the comic, took it home and read it. I was immediately, horribly hooked. Soon, I was anxiously demanding return trips to get more titles
, including anything I could find with my immediate new favorites, the Fantastic Four
. The kiddie comics of my youth were now completely disregarded as I relentlessly went after anything with a "Marvel Comics Group
" banner across the top. I read and re-read those issues (anything I still have from that time is practically in tatters now).
While the comedic comics I previously read were basically interchangeable, these Marvel superhero comics were part of major ongoing storylines. Everything intersected to such a degree that explanatory captions were often required--
--to specifically indicate just where (or, more precisely, when
) in the chronology a particular titanic tale fit. If you missed issue number 23 of Richie Rich Zillionz
, issue number 24 was still going to be easily understandable. Not so with Marvel Two-in-One
or Moon Knight
. Clearly the haphazard method of acquiring them at local businesses more concerned with selling milk, gum or gasoline was not going to be sufficient. Why, I never even saw
the issue of Daredevil guest-starring Power Man and Iron Fist
! I convinced the benefactors of my addiction to get me subscriptions to my favored titles
. They arrived monthly, folded into the mailbox and wrapped in brown paper like pornography.
Eventually, the sorry condition of those individually mailed comics made me seek out subscription services from major comics retailers
that would spend a month collecting your chosen issues to bundle them up into a small brick the approximate size and shape of a car muffler
and ship them off to you. Embarrassingly enough, there may have been no happy moments during my teen years than those when I actually heard the package thump onto the doorstep.
I had picked an especially opportune time to wander into this caped crowd. It was something of a high-water mark, with Frank Miller's Daredevil run
, John Byrne's extended revitalization of Fantastic Four
and Walt Simonson's reinvention of Thor
. And then, just as I was getting mature enough to need something a little more challenging, along came Alan Moore
to blow my mind
Still, college was looking, another step forward towards adulthood. The time was right to leave this habit behind. I canceled the subscriptions service and gifted a chunk of my collection to my younger brother (being careful to stash the sizable number of issue I wanted to keep someplace where he wouldn't confuse them with the crummier ones I was willing to part with). I made the move to Stevens Point (go Pointers
!) fully intending to be done with comic books.
Of course, it wasn't that easy...