It’s been 2 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days since I bought my last comic book. I’m just taking it day by day.
Back in Massachusettes, where I grew up, there weren’t a lot of comic book shops. In fact, I can’t think of one back in the early 70’s. So I relied on local convenience stores with the comic book rack to support my fix. But I loved the comics I could get. I have a childhood friend of mine that tells me a story of how I used to carry around my comics in a backpack and pull them out and read them on the spot.
I remember going down to visit my family in New Jersey and finding out about Heroes World at the Livingston Mall. It was only minutes away from my Aunt and Uncle, and I world beg my parents to take me there every visit. Which they did. Heroes World had just about everything Marvel and DC, especially comics. But I still a casual collector.
One of those trips to New Jersey, I was about 12 or 13, my parents decided to take a detour to New York City on the way back to Massachusettes. I had no clue to why they wanted to go NYC. All those years of going to Jersey, my parents really never had an interest in New York.
We park the car and then walk up to this building. My mom talks to the doorman and then we take an elevator up. We get out when the elevator stop and right in front of me is the door leading to the offices of DC Comics. My jaw hit the ground. I couldn’t believe where we were. We walk through the door and I’m just in this state of shock. There was one other person in the waiting room, but he looked so familiar to me. I take a closer look and see it’s actually a statue of Clark Kent sitting and reading a copy of the Daily Planet. Wow! Just wow!
My mom works her “magic” with the receptionist and pretty soon someone comes out to take us on a tour of the DC Comic offices. I think it was Bob Rozakis, but I can’t really remember. Back then there was still somewhat of a bullpen. The entire tour is still kind of a blur to me now. It was just so overwhelming. I remember people working in these cubicles and this piece of Kryptonite on display.
When the tour was over, I was given a huge stack of comics. Not just DC Comics, but also some Marvel and indie title. I nearly exploded. It was an awesome experience.
Like a lot of people my age, there were two titles that got me into serious comic buying. It was 1980 and this amazing new title came out from DC Comics. It had some familiar characters with new and different characters as well. Both the art and writing were just amazing. Yes, I’m talking about the New Teen Titans. Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Changeling (formerly known as Beast Boy), joined by new characters Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven. As I stated before, my first comic book had the Teen Titans in it, so this was just so awesome for me.
The other title that I discovered was already out for a while. It was the Uncanny X-Men. I got hooked with issue # 162 and stuck with it up until Chris Claremont left.
Then back in early 80’s, Framingham, MA, got it’s very own comic store, Bop City Comics. The place was amazing. I’ve never seen so many comics in one place. And I’m not just talking about the 2 big names, but indie and underground titles as well. One of these underground titles stuck with me for the longest time. It series that was reprinting Will Eisner’s The Spirit. It was published by Kitchen Sink Press at the time, which is why it was considered an underground comic. The Spirit would stick with me for a long time. Especially Will Eisner’s storytelling.
I also found out they offered a subscription, where they would pull your comics for you. Put them in bags and boards. And then hold on to them until you were ready to pick them up. This was incredible service for a young teenager without a license. It meant I’d never miss out on an issue again. But this also lead to some problems as well.
1985, DC’s magnum opus at for it’s time, Crisis On Infinite Earths came out. This was one of the first mini-series that crossed over into other books. So you follow the main story and then follow along with your favorite characters in their own titles. I remember getting punished for bad grades or something stupid like that, and my parents wouldn’t allow me to buy any comics. But I knew that Bop City had my back and when the punishment was over, I could get all my books. Boy did that bite me in the ass.
I finally make it back to Bop City after 3 weeks of punishment, expecting to pick up the 10 books on my list. Imagine my shock when the owner hands me a stack of 40 books! They decided to “help” me out by adding to my pull list every crossover issue for Crisis. Now, I’m not blaming them, as this entire crossover thing was new to everyone. I had no clue how I was going to pay for all these books. Well, live and learn when it comes to crossovers. But stupid me, I still wasn’t what many call a collector.
Yes, I had a huge passion for the comics. Especially with some of the characters and stories. But I felt bags and boards were useless to me. So I’d throw them away, and then place the “naked” comic into a long box. Yeah, I’m still kind of kicking myself for that one.
I kept collecting comics and eventually went off to college. My first college was Franklin Pierce College in the mountains of New Hampshire. Truly in the middle of nowhere. I kid you not, but we actually had to plan a day trip to drive an hour and a half to the closest McDonald’s. Knowing this, I stopped my subscriptions at the comic shop. I’d just catch up when I go home from breaks. That system worked for 2 years when I eventually dropped out of college and moved back home.
So in 1990, I got a job, went to school at night to finish my Associates degree, and went back to weekly comic collecting. This is when I also learned that new comics came out on Wednesdays and what a madhouse the comic shop was on Wednesdays. I started my subscriptions again and this time only collected the main issues of an event storyline, not all the crossovers.
My taste in stories started to grow. While I still loved the superhero stories, I wanted something else. I friend of mine came back during his winter break and was raving about this book his history professor made them read. It was Maus by Art Spiegelman. So I decided to check it out myself. The book spoke to me. Maybe because I’m Jewish or maybe it was the first thing about the Holocaust that I could relate to. Either way it seriously changed the way I looked at comics.
It was at this time, I started to look at all these great comics I had that were in such horrible condition. From then on, I started using the bags and boards. Unfornatually it was the 90’s and let’s face it, most 90’s comics are worth as much as toilet paper. But then I never had an interest in collecting for an investment, but just the pure enjoyment of comics.
And it looks like we’re out of time for today.
We’ll pick it up tomorrow….
Check out Part 2