So this weekend is the 3rd Annual New York Comic Con. I’ll be attending on Saturday to spend money on discounted book, take pictures of people dressed like comic book characters in ill-fitting suits and listen to crazy comic book writers and artists talk about what will draining my bank account in the upcoming months. Anyway, on the subway this morning, I started to reflect on how this all began.
I’ve been reading comic books for as long as I could read. My brother was a reader of comic books and would leave them all over the house. They had words and pictures so that was good enough for me. I wasn’t reading them in order or following any storylines, I was just reading.
When I got a little older, my father would take me to the A&P supermarket with him every Saturday morning. I would go to the cigar shop and read comics and wrestling magazines. When I started getting an allowance, the first comic book I remember buying with my own money was G.I. Joe vs. Transformers #1. It was a no-brainer. I watched G.I. Joe everyday. I watched Transformers everyday. Now there was a comic…with both of them. It was more than my little brain could handle.
There was this friend of my father who lived 15 minutes away and my father would always stop over there for a beer anytime he had to pick me up for Little League or something. The guy had a son who had this huge dresser drawer full of comics. He was away at college so every time I was forced to go over to this guy’s house, I would make a beeline for his room and read the comics in his room. One particular day, I went into his room and he was home. He let me sit in there and read his comics until he finally just said, “Hey, do you want these?” I ran downstairs and grabbed a trash bag (couldn’t find a box) and carted home at least 200 comics.* I read every single one of those comics at least 20 times each.
In grade school, it seemed like everyone read comics but the only place to get them was 7-Eleven. Then, I think in 7th grade they opened a comic shop 15 minutes away from school. An actual comic shop. At this point in my life I had never seen a store that only sold comic book stuff. It was at this point that I started to ask for a raise in my allowance.
That store eventually closed down** but Andrew found a new store in Hicksville. It was quite a trek. We would walk at least 40 minutes to get to the store and walk all the way home. The guy who ran the shop was named Steve and, I shit you not, he was the spitting image of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. To this day, I am convinced Matt Groening met Steve and was impressed/terrified by Steve’s geekiness.
I read comic books all throughout high school but when I got to NYU, I had a dliemna. I was dating a girl who lived in Queens and you had to take the LIRR out there which was expensive. Plus, I started to feel embarrassed to be reading comic books in college. So I stopped buying them altogether. There was no way I could afford to see her on the weekends and continue my little habit. We broke up in my sophomore year and I didn’t even think about comics again. Then someone (either Derreck or Andrew) sent me an e-mail that Wolverine got his adamantium pulled out of body by Magneto. I was like “What?!” I had to go to three comic shops to find the issue in question (X-Men #25). I forgot how much I loved reading comics. But I didn’t necessarily start back up again. I periodically bought X-Men comics when I thought about it but not to the level I did when I was a kid.
Then in Junior year, I moved in with Kerwin who was a friend of my sophomore year roommate, Pierre. I don’t think I knew this right away but Kerwin was into comics too. He was still regularly buying them. He got me into reading JLA (the Grant Morrison run) and Batman (again). Once we knew we both loved comics, I was back on the horse again. Now that I had a job and no girlfriend to buy presents, go out to dinner with and visit, I bought comics like a madman. I would buy every #1 issue just to try it out. Kerwin and I would read each other’s purchases and there would just be piles of comics on the floor. Kerwin essentially ruined my life.
These days, I spend an obscene amount of money on comics weekly. I think Keriwn is the only friend I have who still reads comics regularly. My brother, in an interesting role reversal, now reads the comic books that I’m done with (much like I did when I was a little kid). Last year, I convinced Derreck and Eric (who used to read comics but abandoned them for better things like life) to go with me to Comic Con. My comic book reading expanded from just superhero books to indie and alternative books.*** I am a contributor to the PrepTimePosse blog****.
I love comic books and until I have a child who makes it financially impossible to maintain my love affair, I’ll never stop.
* Man, some of the stuff in there would have been worth thousands if he took care of his books.
** I had been banned from the store anyway because I owed the owner $9 for a Punisher poster he gave me on credit. Sucker!
*** This started when I went to Barnes & Noble during my lunch break and discovered Neil Gaiman’s Sandman which is probably my favorite comic of all-time now
**** A bunch of comic book fans from Okayplayer got together and started a blog
***** This is probably the longest non-list post I’ve ever written and it’s about comic books. Line forms to the left, ladies.