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Very clearly a case for corn flakes and classics 
28th-May-2008 05:41 pm
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...
28th-May-2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
"Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky." --Alan Moore...a MIGHTY MIGHTY beautiful mind
29th-May-2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
Beautiful indeed! I was hoping to find a good link to illuminate Alan Moore and you can't do much better than a collection of quotes.

"If you are on a list targeted by the CIA, you really have nothing to worry about. If however, you have a name similar to somebody on a list targeted by the CIA, then you are dead."

29th-May-2008 05:17 am (UTC)
Man... you actually ordered stuff from Mile High? I remember looking at those ads and thinking, "Someday." Someday that would be the coolest thing in the world....You know when I was a grown up. When I wouldn't have to bribe my friends, or my brother, or my brother's friends to lend me some money and/or have them or their moms take me to the comic shop... When I would have my apartment in the big city, 6 or 7 girlfriends I could call anytime, Weird Al on the Hi-Fi, a big box of comics, a martini, and an... eyepatch...

Yeah that was gonna be the life....

29th-May-2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Wait a minute...That link isn't what your current Milwaukee nights are like? My world's just gone topsy turvy.
29th-May-2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
No no... that was what I imagined my adult life to be as a 12 year old.

It's not like that at all...
29th-May-2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
My goodness, I scarcely know where to start...it is both amazing and wonderful that I am learning all this obout a friend I've known for almost two decades...

- Yep, Richie Rich was an addiction for me, too, but when I bouth him, there were, I think, only three or four titles with the character. I remember when it was a big deal when Harvey added "Billions" as a conmpanion to "Millions." But then came "Diamonds" and "Cash" and "Bank Book" and "Gems" and....feh. I think my ten-year-old mind realized they were just milking me for a sucker. And, of course, "Little Lulu" and "Little Dot" were for girls (see, I've never really been THAT gay), and who wanted to read about cutes-poo ghosts and devils when Cain and Abel were giving us the real thing at DC? (I also read anything with Scrooge McDuck - I was obviously being primed at an early age to equate obscene wealth with happiness and success. Might be a good topic for my analyst...)

I kept all my Harveys until high school, when I understood, looking at the boxes and boxes of comics (and now getting all Marvels just like you did) that something had to give. I put an ad in the paper and wound up selling them to a lady named Norma Paul who wanted them for her seven-year-old son. She thought they would stimulate his mental growth, and he was a precocious little thing. She wound up becoming a good friend of the family until the two of them were horribly killed in a train-car accident at those tracks just to the south of Cedar Creek. Our family was crushed, and I always wonder what happened to the comics that I know he kept in meticulous condition...

- How did you wind up making the leap to DC? Did you stumble upon Moore, or had you heard about the buzz? I was buying Swampy when the change in creative team happened, and while I loved Marvel with a passion, "The Anatomy Lesson" was the best thing I read since Gerber, Moench and McGregor left The House of Ideas.

- I had always considered subscribing through the company, too, but no matter how many times they assured us that the comics came in a "Protective envelope," I was dubious. Sorry that you had to prove my suspicions correct...

- I'm glad the citations made "Moon Knight" compresensible for YOU...

Your last week has produced some of your finest writing, and considering what you've done in the past, my friend, that's saying a lot. I impatiently await the next installment.
29th-May-2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
Dear God, I just re-read this and the spelling errors make me sound like a stroke victim. Remember, SS - compose on Word, copy and paste....
29th-May-2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
How did you wind up making the leap to DC?

Well, I followed Jumpin' Johnny Byrne, of course. Thanks to his work on Fantastic Four and my retroactive discovery (well, rediscovery I guess given the onetime possession of issues 123 and 124) of the satisfactions of his collaboration with Chris Claremont (and inker Terry Austin) on X-Men, Byrne was my favorite creator. I even bought the big miniseries for which he handled the art chores shortly after switching companies. It had precisely the desired effect on me: I started picking up some of the DC titles that spun out of it. I was a good little sucker.

Moore was a different matter. Besides reading the comics, I consumed every word of several publications about comics, such as my much-loved Amazing Heroes. They were raving about Moore, so I gradually gathered some key issues and a Saga of the Swamp Thing trade paperback before ordering the entirety of Watchmen in back issues and reading it in one head-spinning shot.

no matter how many times they assured us that the comics came in a "Protective envelope," I was dubious

Oh, that brown paper wrapper prevented the comics from getting damaged by the address label. It was that other promise--all titles are mailed flat--that didn't prevent them from getting mercilessly folded one they reached the post office.

I'm glad the citations made "Moon Knight" compresensible for YOU...

I loved those early Moon Knight issues. caker_66 will tell you it's because Doug Moench wrote them...

Edited at 2008-05-29 08:31 pm (UTC)
29th-May-2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Yeh, I have to say I'm really enjoying this week's entries, too. And I usually skim the comic book stuff (sorry), but the story of your relationship with comics is producing a fun read.
29th-May-2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
reading the comments on this commentary was the best part of my day so far...

at age ten I believe I was blissfully ignorant of comics in the forms you describe. yes, rummage sale purchses did include Richie Rich, Thor (my god, not YOUR thor either), old Conan comics and my favorites...Tales from the Crypt - and now that i looked them up i realized that I should have been hoarding them in pristine plastic sleeves. not that anything I could afford for 10 cents was in any condition to collect.

a few years later, i was gleefully borowing from my friend Clay (letting him squander his allowance and then begging for him to let me read them for free) and his collection of Xmen. this would be early 80's era. but the series that hooked me was, sadly, yes, i'm a real girl.
29th-May-2008 08:58 pm (UTC) - Nice and EC
One of the best days of my life was St. Patrick's Day, 1988. Central Wisconsin was getting buried in about 13 inches of snow (I remember the date because St. Bron's canceled a teen dance that night that, for some furshlugginer reason, I was expected to attend), but I ventured out into what was then about 6 inches of the white stuff to get, treasure of treasures, the three hard-bound box set volumes of "Crypt," "Vault of Horror" and "Haunt of Fear" that I had ordered from Galaxy Hobby. I slid back home (Patti Drive!), brewed some tea, sprawled on the sofa, and read and read and read while the outside world was being erased...
29th-May-2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
I've been to Mile High Comics!
29th-May-2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
Is it like heaven?
29th-May-2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
It is EXACTLY like heaven!!!!
29th-May-2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
I've been to Mile High Comics!

What? You? Was it under duress? Were you kidnapped? Are you kidnapped now and this is your way of signaling us all? Should I contact the authorities? I'm contacting the authorities.

Edited at 2008-05-29 10:58 pm (UTC)
30th-May-2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Because the story is ridiculous, I will email you. But you can put the phone down; I'm ok.
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