Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Your First Comic?

Post your comments below - let me know about the first comic you read. Did it inspire you to want to read more? How long ago did you read your first comic? Do you still read that comic title today?

I've written a bit before about how my first comic book was Marvel's original Star Wars comic back in 1977.  Up until that point, my memory is a little hazy (I was only about 6 1/2 years old at the time), so I don't really recall if I had any understanding of what a comic book was. But one day after school, here was my mom with a few "three-packs" of Star Wars comics that she'd picked up at the drug store. There were two packs each of Issues #1-3 (one for my sister and one for me, because I guess my mom knew that we'd want our own copies) and then two more packs of Issues #4-6. I remember how excited I was to read those comics over and over again - they contained quite a few scenes that were based on the original script of Star Wars but that didn't make it into the actual movie, particularly those involving Luke's friends on Tatooine, and some involving Jabba the Hutt which was really fun because in the original movie version of Star Wars he was never shown so we fans had no idea what he might look like.

Eventually I got issues #7-15 of Marvel's Star Wars run, in which the creative teams took the characters and plots in new directions completely separate from the film. But, for some reason, my comic book reading stopped with those first 15 issues of Star Wars. I read and re-read them over and over again and then stacked them away on my bookshelf, eventually to be covered up with a variety of fiction and non-fiction books.

Around 1985 or so, however, I dug my Star Wars comics back out and started reading them again, and rediscovered all of those old goofy stories featuring characters like Jaxxon the large green humanoid rabbit creature with a space jumpsuit and blaster at his side. However, in addition to enjoying those stories again, I also began looking at the ads in the comics that advertised other Marvel titles like the Avengers, the Defenders, and the Invaders. As I mentioned before (in a post about Batman but which mainly discusses comics in general), I wanted to get the new Marvel Superheroes Role-Playing Game by TSR and I felt that I was sorely lacking on my Marvel knowledge at the time. I knew of Spider-Man from the classic 1960s cartoon as well as the more current "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" animated series featuring Ice Man and Firestar. I knew of the Hulk from the 1970s TV show (even though I never really watched it). And I knew who Captain America was, kind of. A guy in a blue suit with a shield. Past that, most of my "comics knowledge" came from watching Superfriends cartoons, and those were all DC characters. So, I studied those ads very intently in my old Star Wars comics, and as I noted in that other post, eventually went to a bookstore with my mom and picked up X-Men #197 and from there, I was hooked on comics for quite a while, around 6-7 years or so.

I particularly liked the X-Men at that time (this was around 1985 or so). So, in a way, X-Men #197 became my "first comic" of a new age for me, after a long drought of having read nothing. I eventually started reading a ton of Marvel stuff, mainly Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, X-Factor, Daredevil, New Mutants, West Coast Avengers, and occasionally the Defenders, Fantastic Four, Captain America, Alpha Flight, and Spider-Man. I also got a bit into DC at this time, mainly with Batman, Flash, Justice League, and Green Lantern. However, this whole "new period" of comics for me ended pretty much cold-turkey when X-Force was released in 1991. My young(ish), still in college, no-income self for some reason just decided "Enough is enough!" with yet another X-related title, this one with multiple covers designed to get fans to buy more than one copy of the same issue. It really bugged me for some reason, and I pretty much stopped buying comics at that point.

Flash forward to around 1994 or so. I was working at an ad agency here in the Los Angeles area and since ad agencies traditionally didn't pay very well for junior level employees, I still lived at home with my parents. But this meant that as a consequence, I actually had a lot more disposable income than a lot of other people my age who were scraping by with apartment rent and car leases. I don't remember exactly why or how I heard of this place, but one day during my lunch break at work, I drove over to the famous Golden Apple comics on Melrose Avenue (the old location that was closer to Fairfax) and was amazed by the thousands of different titles, back-issues, shirts, posters, and toys. And among the racks I saw some Star Wars comics by a company called Dark Horse. I had read Timothy Zahn's "Admiral Thrawn" trilogy of Star Wars novels that took place after the events of Return of the Jedi, and here at the comic shop I found a comic book series called Dark Empire that basically picked up right after the end of those novels and continued the story. I bought the first issue and began to return to the shop regularly to pick up more Star Wars comics. There were a lot of different titles back then, and I experienced a sort of "Star Wars Renaissance" for myself, picking up lots of new (and sadly, not very good) Star Wars novels and comics over the next few years. So, in a way, Star Wars was responsible for my third "get into comics" period. 

Then in 1996, while at the shop picking up more Star Wars comics, I came across the painted cover to Mark Waid's and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come and this was truly a case of buying a book due to its cover (plus I looked at the interior art as well). That four-issue series got me really interested in learning more about DC's history of its characters so I started picking up a lot of trade paperbacks of classic DC stories and then decided to try to "get current" with both DC and Marvel and asked the shop owner what to pick up in trade so that I would know "what's going on." This is a pattern I repeated on and off for the next few years until I became a regular weekly visitor to my local shop which is something I started doing with my daughter starting around three years ago or so.

As a funny end to this story, Marvel recently regained the license to Star Wars given the relationship between Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars that exists now. After around 20 years having the license, Dark Horse published its last Star Wars comics late in 2014. Last week, a new era of Star Wars comics began with a new Star Wars #1 at Marvel, which once again is telling brand new stories of Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest, immediately following the destruction of the Death Star at the end of Star Wars: Episode IV. The old "Expanded Universe" of video games, RPGs, comics, and novels has been swept away by Disney. The new comic all takes place pre-Empire Strikes Back, so many of the character relationships are unknown at this point (to the characters themselves, at least). It's a fun era in which to tell Star Wars stories, and the comic is really well-done. You can actually read my full review of the title over at ComicAttack.net here. The comic itself is rated "T" for Teen, but this is Star Wars... if you let you kids watch the movie then you
should feel comfortable letting them read the comic. 

That's an abbreviated version of my history with comics, from the space-fantasy of Star Wars to the age of mutant heroes and back again. I'd really love to hear your stories.

Hanging: Home office (loaner laptop - a Mac! My old one... might have gotten beer accidentally spilled on the keyboard)
Drinking: Water (far away from the keyboard)
Listening: "Soul Station" by Hank Mobley


10 comments:

  1. I don't recall exactly what my first comic book was, as I was probably 6 years old at the time I received it.

    I believe it was either an issue of Superboy and The Legion of Superheroes, or an issue of the original Teen Titans.

    My Dad has a female cousin who would've been about 17-18 in 1975, who collected the LSH, Archie, Hot Stuff, and a few other comics.

    My dentist has a copy of a Teen Titans comic among the magazines in his waiting room.

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    1. Those are both great ones to start with! Do you still read comics? Both of those teams have been through a lot of changes. The current arc of Justice League United features a time-travel story and the LSH is very prominent.

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    2. I do still read comics, but mostly Marvel.

      After the second or third year of DC's nu52 I gave up on DC comics. I just can't get into the current incarnation of their universe.

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  2. i can't be sure of my first comic as my family had a huge stack of them from the 40's to the then pres net day at my grandparents home and even before I could read my parents would by me the occasional comic.

    I do recall the first comic I bought for myself, a boy a year older then me let me take a peak it was a horror comic he had just bought with at least two stories one about werewolves and the other about a strange store selling monsters. I only got to look at it for a minute and I was hooked, i knew the butcher a couple blocks away had a couple copies on his comic rack so I fetched a quarter and went to the butchers to pick up the comic.The buthcer sold me a comic and a bottle of coke for 25 cents (he was alwasy giving my brother and I sodas an yoohoos so I think he sold it to me fo. Only a nickle). i rushed home and sat there sipping the coke with my comic pouring over the lurid and horrible ilustrations and realized something amazing, I was reading it. The very first thing I ever read by myself was that horror comic.

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    1. What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm jealous of the comics from the 1940s that you had around growing up.

      Do you still read comics today?

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    2. I still do, not as many as I once did and my collection is mostly just books I like to read and not any real attemppt at a hoard.

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  3. I am not sure what issue it was, but the first one I ever bought on my own was a Spider-man one. He was battling some guy called the Molten Man. Not really a villain, just some guy that could not control his fire powers. At least that is how I remembered it.

    I am sure the first one I ever read was before that. Batman or Superman most likely.

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    1. Very cool - thanks, Tim. You still read comics currently, right? What are you currently reading?

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  4. Probably some Golden Key like Casper or Hot Stuff, but the earliest memory of a specific comics I remember was Avengers 171, Daredevil 175, or Hulk Annual #7 (with Angel and Iceman).

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    1. Very cool - Gold Key! I'd forgotten about them, although I don't think I read those growing up.

      _Avengers #171_ came out right around the time I was really getting into my _Star Wars_ comics in the late 1970's.

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