"Why you no post, Ptor?"
Well, I've been meaning to, but the lack of available time (or, at least enough "consecutive, pre-midnight non-bleary-eyed time", as I tend to call it) kept me from being able to be lucid enough, long enough to get this in the can.
There were a few opportunities to present some odds and ends, but I opted not to because this is a my 125th post, and I didn't want to "waste" it on something trivial.
And so... I waited until I had the time to do (right) something that was (hopefully) worthy of the "big number" (especially since I MISSED my 100th post).
Thus, I say...
Welcome back, dear friends and readers, to this, my
SPECIAL 125th POST!!!
Welcome back, dear friends and readers, to this, my
SPECIAL 125th POST!!!
As a change of pace around here, I thought I'd toss up a slightly "interactive" activity, of sorts on ye olde blog. Something to help get everyone a little closer and inspire some activity in the comments section.
Now, even on this blog's slowest days, I easily get well over 100 "unique" hits per day (much more than that on occasion), so I expect to get at least a few replies to this, OK?
We're going to walk back down the primrose path of our halcyon "golden" years... when we first discovered comics... and offer up some memories thereof.
In this way, we can share our origins in this hobby / interest / obsession we call "comics"...if you don't mind sharing memories of your "formative years".
I will, of course, proffer my personal anecdotes as well.
It's only fair.
When did you, my friends and readers:
1) - Start reading (or discover) comics?
- a) Do you recall any of the circumstances around that "fateful day / event / time of life"?
- b) Why and/or how you got the issue(s) in question?
- c) What your first comics WAS? (If you can recall the specific issue(s).)
- a) Was the title &/or character on it's own or as a team-up / cross-over / continued story from another title?
- b) Did you like the title &/or character at first or did it grow on you later?
That's all for this go-round.
I think that should be enough to spark some discussion, don't you?
Now, for proper etiquette (netiquette?) I'll share my formative story with you all...
I'll go into some crazy in-depth detail for the benefit of the blog... (but don't feel you have to make your answers as long as mine. Just whatever you feel like sharing).
*************To answer the
# 1) a), b), c)
portion of my questions;
I first started reading comics in the late 1970's - at around 10 years of age. As near as I can recall, I started tentatively in 1977. Maybe there were a few scattered issues as far back as 1975, but by 1978 I was in full-swing.
I'm sure my first few comics were random, individual issues. Nothing specific. These arbitrary issues were most likely brought home for me by my father, who worked in the Postal system.
Maybe they were subscription issues that lost their mailing sleeve, or perhaps they were brought in by a co-worker. I can't say. With the exception of X-Men # 71 (which must have been a co-worker offering, since it's from 1971) , Marvel Super Action # 1 and Marvel Triple Action # 16 (which I absolutely love(d) and had definitely fueled my interest in the Avengers), I don't recall many of those random issues. At least, not consciously.
(supposedly very early issues of War-era Captain America and other War Comics - all of which were tossed out by his mother when he joined the Army), so some comics probably seemed as innocent reading fodder.
My own foray into buying comics came via the odd's-n-ends from the multi-packs that were sold in 5-and-dime stores at the time.
They were a great value, 3 (to 5 - depending on the type of multi-pack) fairly recent comics (anywhere from 4 months to a year old) in a sealed baggie, for a bit less than cover price of the originals added up.
There were a few instances, I recall, sneaking out to the Roosevelt Field Mall - which was verboten as a solo trek - and buying the multi-packs at the Woolworth's 5-and-dime.
Some of the first issues I obtained were:
Defenders # 63 (part 2 of the 3-issue "Defenders for a Day" story)
A glorious clusterfuck of an issue! It intrigued me, to be sure, but by itself, it was unfathomable since I had no idea who many of these masses of costumed lunatics were!
Problem was, with no comic stores anywhere around, and this issue already a few months old, I would have to wait - easily a decade or so - until I would be able to read the entire arc.
(To think this was my first Defenders issue and NO DOCTOR STRANGE to be found in it! I was so close... but wouldn't meet the Doctor named Strange for a little while yet.)
Iron Man # 115
This was my first introduction to Iron Man (with the possible exception of the Marvel 1960's "animated" cartoons - and the "cool exec with the heart of steel"), and while I seem to remember wondering what would happen next issue, it didn't really "click" with me, and I promptly forgot about it. Madame Masque and the Ani-Men seemed interesting though.
Marvel Two-in-One # 44 (Thing & Hercules)
Good lord, I loved this issue. I just re-read it a few moments ago (ah, nostalgia) and it's a fun romp! Basically, Ben Grimm retelling a "tall tale" of sorts to a bunch of delinquent kids at "Camp Run-A-Muck". It got it's hooks in me as a lad (especially that cover), and provided a few good grins for the adult me, as well.
(Sadly, I missed the Man-Thing appearance of the issue before.)
Marvel Team-Up # 58 (Spider-Man & Ghost Rider.)
The cover is memorable enough. The story? Don't remember anything about it. But I'm pretty sure it got me interested in Ghost Rider! Just not enough to spend the money on G.R. back-issues, when I eventually did wade into the collector's mindset.
These...among many others were my first recollected memories of my earliest comics.
Every so often I'll be rummaging through the longboxes (or searching online for something) and come across an issue that I had as a kid and the cover would burst forth straight through my cerebellum, demolishing it's way through 30 years of temporal distance, grabbing hold of my brain-box to bring me right back to the late 1970's.
I'm sure there are other great issues that I should be including in this brief run-down, but sadly, I can't place them off-hand.
While there WERE some DC's in there, (issues of WEIRD WAR TALES and HAUNTED TANK,) the only DC comic that I remember was
SUPERMAN FAMILY # 193.
While I honestly have no idea where that issue came from, I'll share my half-remembered thoughts on the issue here.
If you wish to skip that, just jump to the next set of "---" dash-bars
The lead-in Superboy story could not have left me more disinterested if it tried, with some half-assed villain with the traditional DC-trope of "oversized-props-used-as-weapons" shtick, but the Supergirl story, with appearances by "The Human Cannonball" (and his goofy-looking afro-like cannonball helmet) was a bit more to my tastes.
A mad villain, strange anti-gravity craziness in a foreign locale (London), a bit of a "mystery" (something simple but trivia that has stuck with me to this very day; ie; the villain claims that the answer is found in Big Ben, but no one can gain access to the famous clock tower. Until Supergirl (iirc) recalls that the moniker of "Big Ben" is the name of the BELL not the clock or the tower - heh. It's strange, the stupid stuff that one remembers, hmm?)... all good stuff.
There was also a last panel appearance by the DOOM PATROL and I found myself very eager to learn more about that group. They seemed so much the opposite of the simple, straightforward Super-family. Sadly, with no comic stores anywhere nearby, and no idea how to get more of these weird comic-things, I never got another issue of Superman Family. As soon as I read the issue to literal pieces, I gave up on that title and my love of the Doom Patrol would have to wait for about a decade until the Grant Morrison incarnation would earn my monthly funds.
The only other part of the issue that I found interesting was a middle-segment of a story arc dealing with those heroes of the bottled city of Kandor; Nightwing and Flamebird.
While still fairly whitebread, their tale had an edge, with the two characters locked in mortal combat with each other over some act of imagined betrayal.
The only way to stop the fight was for the one who still regained his senses to feign death, hoping that the shock would free the mind of the maddened teammate.
I recall my interest being piqued by their segment.
Sadly, I've never seen or read another Nightwing and Flamebird story since then.
Usually, after my trek to the land of bulk bagged comics, I'd walk over to a row of shoppes and warehouses (on the nearby "Voice Road") and while waiting for my sister to get off work, I'd sit on the loading bay of the Paper & Plastics store where she worked at that time, and read the day's haul. This would definitely be by 1978... still about a year before I'd find my local stationery store would start carrying new issues. Closer to home and with a selection I could actively peruse.
All of those multi-bagged comics got me pretty hooked, but the one that really pulled me in was
Uncanny X-Men # 116.
That one got me to actually start hunting down and collecting the back-issues.
And even more importantly, it's the comic that started me CREATING my own comics and characters.
I recall being drawn to Cyclops and Nightcrawler the most, and in my first created comic-team (which I called "X-FACTOR" , obviously many loooooong years before Marvel did so) I had analogues to those two X-men, plus a few of my own totally original characters.
What's truly odd, is that issue was brought home to me by my mother (and younger brother), who while out shopping, received this comic from a new store (probably Heroes World) that was giving away free issues as a promotional gimmick.
Strange, thinking back at it now, since my folks (especially my mother) soon would hate my growing love of the medium, to the point where I would have to sneak my comics hauls into the house under ridiculous effort and wily means.
However, it was really THEY who first introduced me to them.
Irony at it's finest.
The only saving grace, as far as my parents were concerned, was that I had little or no resources to acquire many more of these vile things, apart from the small selection of pre-bagged multi-packs.
That was manageable enough.
And even I wouldn't buy a multi-pack if the contents were nothing that interested me.
Of course, the trick was to somehow try to see what the middle comic was, that was sandwiched between the outer, visible two.
Usually, these were lame comics, but luckily for me, I loved the lame ones even more!
But, even under the best of conditions, it was damned near impossible to discern what that comic was, and so, if at least one of the visible comics wasn't of interest, I'd usually walk home empty handed.
Occasionally, I'd stumble upon a hidden cache of comics and treasury editions in some forgotten back-section of a 5-and-dime or corner mini-convenience stand.
That's how I found Marvel Triple Action # 33, and
Marvel Special Edition: Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie adaptation!
Every month or so, one of their mother's would take us in a car-load to one of the growing number of comic specialty shoppes that were cropping up in the neighboring towns. Shoppes, the likes of which named as; "The Bat-Cave", "Mike's Comic Hut" and "Creation" were my stepping stones to a much larger world of accessibility.
Another resource opened up when we found that the local permanent flea-market had several vendors who specialized entirely in comics!
Ye Gods! This was a twice-a-week venue within walking distance!
So, we'd frequently hop the 10 foot tall chain-link fence (because to pay the dollar or two entrance fee would mean less money for comics!) and serpentine, dashing our way through the cars and vendors spaces to avoid the security patrols and make our way to the glorious longboxes within.
(On some occasions, some or all of us would be nabbed - either going in or out of the market, and be forced to cough up the entrance fee, but most times, we'd make it unmolested.)
Sadly, I never really had a lot of extra cash to buy expensive back issues- although, they weren't too high priced, looking back now. A mint copy of Spider-Man # 1 was less than $300 at the time. Giant Size X-Men # 1 was about $60.
But still, that was seen as a lot of money for a single comic book.
My friends all had allowances or some other resource for money to spend on their comics, while I only had what I could scrounge up - or earn from a pennysaver paper delivery route.
So, my friends were buying near-mint copies of their faves;
(John D's fix was Spider-Man, Mike G's flame was stoked by Ghost Rider, Rosario V's attentions were always toward what was the most popular and/or strongest; so Uncanny X-Men & Thor were his choices), while I ended up dredging the 25cent bins.
This turned out to be a good thing, as I was a fan of the off-beat, the strange, the mystical and monstrous (and... most crucially, the INEXPENSIVE), so I would soon fall for the original run of the Macabre MAN-THING!
Those early Mike Ploog illustrated issues still bring me mentally right back to the dank and dusty quarter bins of old.
Truthfully, while I would have loved to have been able to buy shiny bagged comics from the wall behind the register, the discount bins were home to many overlooked and underestimated titles.
Man-Thing was just the one that I would grow to love the most.
My only true regret at the time was that there were only back-issues of Man-Thing to collect. He was no longer being published.
Although, that was soon to change.
Now, to address the
# 2) a), b)
section of the show;
As I stated in the first part of this post; I discovered comics in the mid to late 1970's, started really COLLECTING them by 1978 and 1979.
By 1980, I would soon be a regular buyer and reader of MAN-THING & ROM (among others).
After re-reading my 25cent bin collection of original Man-Thing issues a multitude of times, I walked into the local stationery store (where I had discovered a few months earlier had started to carry new comics), I was looking through the spinner rack, with it's ubiquitous "Hey, Kids! COMICS!" header, and saw something that would set my eyes alight!
MAN-THING volume 2 # 2!
I was soon able to score the first issue from my friend John D., whom I seem to recall thinking that it was a bit heavy handed in the writing. Truthfully, he was right, but it's such a sappy tale that it always gets me to choke up a little.
Among the many new titles that were hitting the stands was something that would grip my shit pretty hard; ROM; SPACEKNIGHT!
My first issue of ROM (as I related in my previous post on the ROM "doll" - [HERE]) was issue # 3,
but I quickly scored issue # 1.
(# 2 was nearly impossible to find and took me more than several months to locate.)
Here's where DOCTOR STRANGE comes into the scheme of things;
As you know, ROM # 5 had that Doctor Strange cameo appearance (which I touched upon in an old post [HERE]).
That MIGHT have been my first real introduction to DOC.
I thought that was very cool, and was interested in finding out more about this mysterious, mystical character.
Then, one month later, in issue # 4 of MAN-THING, Doc had a cross-over from his mag, so that I had to buy the issue before (# 40) and issue after (#41) to follow the story.
The intensity of the issues and the epic battle between these mystical forces was all I could hope for in a comic.
Needless to say...that's all it took.
I was hooked on Strange!
So, I began to buy then-recent back-issues as well as the new ones as they came out, which was perfect timing on my part, because the cover artist for the next few issues was
who completely altered how I would perceive comic art!
Soon enough, I was hunting down back-issues, and built up a good collection.
My friend John D. presented me with Doctor Strange # 169, explaining to me that it was actually a # 1 for Doctor Strange (which at the time I had a hard time understanding - not that I cared much, because never before or since had I seen such a perfectly awesome comic book cover!) and things just kept escalating from there.
Shortly thereafter I got the 1980 calendar ("used" - since by then, it was closer to 1981) - which I used as a "map" of sorts to help find appearances - as I related in the post in which I featured the 1980 calendar in toto [HERE].
I had, on one occasion in the mid-1980s (1983, 1984, perhaps), given up on comics "cold turkey", and sold off nearly all of my collection.
However, as with all things done "cold turkey", the cravings would come back and eventually, I would succumb to them - even more determined to amass a complete and all-encompassing collection, to the point where NOW I have almost certainly nearly every single appearance of Dr. Strange ever put to print.
(Not to mention my growing love and fascination with the medium as a whole, and the many titles, by numerous publishers, large and small, that would spark my interest... and eventually, however, fall by the wayside, either by their own demise, or my ever focused view on the worlds of Doctor Strange and the so-called "6-Dimensions" characters.)
By the mid 1980's I started getting into the swag and collectibles.
However, It wasn't until the late 80's - mid 90's that I started REALLY losing my mind.
But, that is a subject for a future post.
So, that's my origin tale.
Most comic cover images from Grand Comic Book Database.
Most comic cover images from Grand Comic Book Database.