Reflections of a Comic Book Fanboy
by Josh Sullivan
Comics were such a thrill to me when I was younger. This may seem funny coming from a 21-year-old who still looks like a child, but I don’t get the magic and amazement that comics offered when I first started reading them. Comics are pretty much your escape from reality and this is much in the same sense as reading anything else that draws you in and makes you feel like you are in a different world.
I was first into ‘Archie’ comics and all the ridiculous spin-off books Archie had to offer such as ‘The New Archies’, ‘Archie’s Pals and Gals’, and ‘Betty and Veronica’. My first comic was ‘Betty and Veronica’ #13, which I took from my sister. I don’t know why I liked these so much. Maybe it was because of Archie being a complete clod and still earning the affection of two girls, or because the characters were all different and appealing. I would read them in bed because I would never go to sleep when I had to. They were great, and I always wanted Archie to be with Betty, Jughead to stop eating, and Reggie to get run over. They were my life and I would always go and buy them. Then, Superman died.
This was when I wised-up, ditched Archie and went nuts for superheroes. ‘The Death of Superman’ was so highly publicized that you couldn’t escape it. The story is still one of my favorites of all time. Superman did, in fact, die and then came back, had long hair, married Lois Lane and continued saving Metropolis. I realized there was so much more out there, and I wanted to read it all. I looked at everything I could get my hands on. ‘X-Men’ ruled my reading as well as ‘Spider-Man’. I got into ‘Batman’ and went back and forth reading anything that had to deal with someone or something that had some crazy powers.
As the books got worse and worse, I got into more independent stuff that seemed like only 10 people were fans of, or stuff that was definitely better than the whole “Good vs. Evil” scenario that is constantly played out in comics. I was growing up.
I started reading books where the characters had real emotion or where the whole point of the book was just to have fun. Some of the best books dealt with things that had no point. ‘Milk & Cheese’ was just about a couple of drunk dairy products gone bad, who created havoc, ‘Johnny the Homicidal Maniac’ was about a homicidal maniac, ‘Land of Nod’ was curiously adult and childlike at the same time, ‘Acme Novelty Library’ was so marvelously drawn that you didn’t even have to read the book to enjoy it, and when you did, it blew you out of the water. ‘Lethargic Lad’ poked fun at all the superhero books and took me back to when I read them full-time. ‘Cynicalman’ was laid out so perfectly and he was only a stick person. ‘Optic Nerve’ made you think about what was going on in the story so much that you had to go back and read it again just to see if you would come to the same conclusion twice, which you probably wouldn’t, and so on.
I enjoyed reading these books because I felt I got more for my money, and I felt I got more out of it while becoming more mature. I felt closer to these books because I felt closer to the creator. The people who made the books put more of themselves into their creation than any of the other comics I had read before. It motivated me to want to do the same exact thing.
If you are a fan of comics, check out a local comic shop or even a grocery store and see what’s going on in the crazy make-believe world you might have long ago abandoned. If you have kids, pick up a comic for them and see how they react. Take them to a comic convention, and get them in the heart of the action. You can meet artists and writers and get great deals on tons of comic-related junk.
I sadly miss those days of running to the store to get a comic and waiting a month for the next issue. I miss the joy of finding something I needed for my collection and treasuring it as if I would never let it go. A lot of it, I did let go. I don’t care who’s in the X-Men or if Spider-Man was made into a movie. I got older and left my true childhood behind.
Come on out to the Orlando Mega-Con Feb. 28th-March 2nd and say hello. I’ll be sitting around there somewhere peddling my goods. Check out www.megaconvention.com for more info.