The last time I was up north (Thanksgiving) I brought home the balance of boxes that were still being stored in my old bedroom closet. Among those was a plastic storage bin with all of my comic books and related paraphernalia.
In the grand scheme of things, my comic fanboy stage was relatively short– stretching from the summer of 1991 to an abrupt halt in the fall of 1993. I was around for a Marvel mutant renaissance of sorts, as well as the birth of Image comics. This was also an age of decadence in the history of comic collecting, as the publishers flooded the market with ‘special edtions,’ multiple covers, hologram cards, and Big Anniversary Issues.
It was hard for a kid of 13 or 14 to buy all this cool shit they were throwing at you when you probably didn’t have a job during the school year, and only worked part-time over the summer. Still, how could you get through the month without picking up the latest Uncanny X-Men with its 5 different covers that, when fit together, formed a picture that held a message you could read if you bought the sixth cover with the decoder ring, and if you sent that secret code phrase with your proof of purchase for all six issues along with $9.95 for shipping and handling, you could get a pack of FREE, limited-edition, holographic Cable pogs, which would be sure to fetch $20-$30 dollars EACH on the open market in… y’know, 30 or 40 years or something.
So my ‘collection’ may be modest at best, but last night as I cracked open that box and thumbed through my first 25 issues of X-Men, I realized how engrossed I became in all the stories and characters and their histories. There’s a LOT that I still remember about things as random as the events surrounding The Infinity Gauntlet series. Sadly, I remember very little about 8th grade math. I don’t even remember who my math teacher was in 8th grade. Nope–! Shit– yes I do! It was Mr. Wang– Wong? Anyone remember how to spell that? Phew…
But I digress.
My point is that in a very short stretch of time, I read a LOT of different stories and got in touch with some old characters that naturally had a lot of depth. There is good reading to be found in a lot of comics. There is also a lot of shit (and this dynamic can be found in any storytelling media that’s out there). But as I curl up to give another read to Superman #505, I have to admit that, for better or worse, a number of my sensibilities about writing (most notably, character development) have their deepest roots in comic books.
Maybe I should try writing for a soap opera. Y’know, a comic-booky one, like Days of Our Lives.