I’ve always been an avid reader. One of my most prized possessions during my elementary school years was a leather-bound copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I recall sitting down in my basement, writing up summaries of each act of every play, carefully recording them in a dedicated spiral-bound notebook. As an early sci-fi fan, I never wanted for books growing up. My mother fed my reading habit with the likes of Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury and Ellison, encouraging my love for literature with the paperback treasures she would often pick up on her way home from work. While clearly dubious about the merits of comic books, another literary childhood obsession of mine, mom would nevertheless, occasionally, reward me with the odd issue as a special treat.
The Japanese have a word, “natsukashii”, that roughly translates to “Boy, that takes me back!”. Like the madeleine that transported Proust back to his childhood, there are certain comic book covers that will engender in me a wondrous and familiar excitement, a surprisingly precise sense of nostalgia that places me back in an exact instant of my youth.
I’m 8 and thoroughly ecstatic, having just bought this comic book from a second grade classmate for the staggering sum of 50 cents. I can’t imagine any heroes cooler than Sandman, Hourman, and Dr. Midnite.
I’m 11. I’m sitting in my room, trying to process the wonders of this delightfully atypical, twist-laden issue written by Tony Isabella and Scott Edelman, its payoff so perfect that I think “These are the types of stories Ray Bradbury would write if he were working for Marvel.”
I’m 11. It’s Christmas night at my cousins’ house and I’m downright giddy, having discovered this beauty beneath the tree. My mother had finally acquiesced and gifted me my first comic book.
I’m 12 and have just been emotionally bulldozed by Jim Starlin’s stunningly bittersweet tale. Oh, Pip.
I’m 13, it’s after school, and I’m with my best friend Cas Anvar (The Expanse’s Alex Kamal). We stand in awe before the Holy Grail of comic books, Giant-Size X-Men #1, hanging on the wall of my local book shop, available for purchase – at a premium. Which I gladly paid.
My interest in comics has waxed and waned (but mostly waxed) over the years, but my love and respect for the genre has remained strong, shaping my creative and, in turn, my career. I owe much of my success to all of the writers, artists, letterers, colorists, and editors who fueled – and continue to fuel – my imagination with their amazing work.
I’ve heard some describe this era, with its proliferate superhero-themed big budget features and television productions, as a Golden Age. And, while I won’t disagree, I can’t help but point out that beyond all of the onscreen explosions and Easter eggs, the amazing action and dazzling visual effects, the origin of it all, the source material, the comic book, continues to reign supreme.
So do yourself a favor and hit your local comic shop or, if you’d prefer to go the digital route, check out Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, IDW, Comixology, or countless other online shops. Discover new titles. Make some new memories. Prepare to be Astonished and Amazed by tales as Incredible and Uncanny as they are Sensationally Spectacular. Support the industry. Read.