Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Secret Origin: Rebirth!

Late last week marked the end of my Twenties. It also marked my twentieth year as a comic collector, something that kind of blows my mind. So, to celebrate I embarked on a nostalgic journey across the history of my comic collecting, starting with my first run-ins with the medium and ultimately what forced me to stop for a time. Spoilers, it didn't last. Come join me now as we finish this crazy journey and explore what started my love for comics all over again.
Also, sorry for the dramatic pause between entries. Let's just say the celebrations for my annual day started a bit early and leave it at that.


I bought my last comic in the Fall of 1999 and was determined to stick with that decision. It actually worked out pretty well, because as a poor college student I didn't have the disposable income I had when I was in High School. Plus, I didn't have the room for anything in those tiny shared dorms. For a time there life was simple, unencumbered, and honestly kind of boring. As much as I didn't want to admit it, I kind of missed comics.

Occasionally during that time, I would find myself in various comic shops and found a renewed vigor in my decision. Say what you will about the early 90s, the late 90s were even worse for comics. Piles of books with crazy intertwining story lines, bored plots, and an increasingly outdated look. The world seemed to be moving forward while comics were just wallowing.

Full disclosure, I was still buying one book (in trades) during this period: Preacher. I would argue though that Preacher was as anti-superhero that you could go in the mainstream and still enjoy on a very visceral level. In recent years, I've given Preacher to people who aren't sure about comics and have instantly gotten them hooked. It's simple, consistent art style mixed with the no-nonsense, over-the-top storytelling made for an experience that proved comics aren't just for kids anymore.


It was the summer of 2001 when my geek habits started to rear their ugly heads again. Living off campus, and being the responsible 20 year-old I was, I needed a job to, you know, live. After a long search, I found the best job a guy like me could want: Sales Associate at KB Toys. For a few hours a week, I was paid to hang out in a toy store with cool older geeks and it was amazing. Plus, I got a 15% discount on everything in the store. Needless to say, my status as reformed geek was in danger.

To make matters "worse", I got a new place and a new, geek-enabling roommate. A dear friend of mine to this day, this guy would encourage me to relapse on my pledge and give into all those geeky urges I was feeling. Basically, I would never want this guy to be my AA sponsor, I'm just saying. It was with him that I made my triumphant return to the San Diego Comic Con.

When I was a kid, I used to go every year, buy a load of books, and just revel in the comic audacity of it all. Returning after a few years of not collecting made me view things in a different way. Instead of hunting for expensive back issues or buying random toys, I was there for the experience of it all. I ended up with a few sketches, a handful of pictures of costumed fans, and a select few trades that seemed interesting. Even though I was in the heart of comic fandom, I wasn't quite ready to give up my pledge. Not quite yet.

While I gobbled up books like Powers, it wasn't until I saw a preview for Daredevil: Yellow that I found myself swept up in the comic madness again.

There's something about that book that defines Marvel at the turn of the century. The focus on characters over action, maybe; the non-traditional (but totally awesome) Tim Sale art (for a superhero story), maybe; Maybe, it was just at the right place at the right time. Whatever the case, Daredevil: Yellow was a turning point for me.

I recently sat down to read it again to see if it actually holds up to my high praise and I gotta tell you, it doesn't disappoint. The story's simple enough: Matt Murdock, in an attempt to get over the death of the woman he loves writes her a letter about how he fell in love with her. Starting with the death of his father through the moment he truly captured Karen's heart, the book chronicles Daredevil's early Silver Age antics through a very modern and emotional lens. Done in mostly desaturated colors and sweeping visuals, the whole thing never fails to blow me away.

It did it's job, I was totally hooked. Suddenly, I found myself as excited as I was when I was a kid to read the latest issues. But instead of collecting in the hope that one day these books would make me money, I was collecting because I loved all the stories therein. I made a conscious effort to only buy the comics that I wanted to read and, more importantly, stop getting them if they were terrible. I was reborn as a collector and the future was bright.

In the years since, I've become the 'comic guy' in my group of friends. If anyone has a question on who Thor is, or how many Flashes there are, or where Spider-Man gets all his webbing from, I'm their guy. Additionally, I've become a gateway for people looking to get into my favorite hobby, offering book, character, or storyline suggestions for anyone who seems interested. Even more fun, I've become a repository for people looking to get rid of their comics from a run of Fantastic Four to a full on seven long box collection (the inspiration for the blog, honestly). Needless to say, my collection has kind of exploded fairly recently.

And that brings us to today, where as a thirty year-old I sit proudly atop my massive collection twenty years in the making. Sure, it might be cumbersome to move and a pain in the ass to sort sometimes, but it's mine and I love it. I don't know what the future of my comic collecting will bring, but I can't wait to find out.

I hope you stick around to find out with me.

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