Sunday, October 21, 2007
In the Beginning
Cliff's reminiscences of how he got into reading comics has made me think about my own history with the medium. The picture to the left is the first comic book I ever bought with my own money. I've mentioned before that my mom collected Tarzan comic books so those were the first I ever looked at. I have some vague memories of relatives occasionally giving me comics but they were usually of the Disney variety. Somehow the concept of comics had never really clicked with me.
Then in the summer of 1970, when I was eight years old, I was with my family on vacation on Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia. I remember that trip well for two reasons. One, there was a tree entirely too close to the balcony of our hotel room and my brother and I kept leaping from the balcony to the tree and back until we got caught. Two, I bought my first comic book.
It was the cover that did it. Just look at it. Batman facing down a bull in Mexico. Swinging on a windmill in Holland. Planting the American flag in Tibet! Go Batman!
My prior experience with the caped Crusader up to that point was watching the mid sixties TV series with Adam West and the Saturday morning Filmation Batman cartoon. But once I read this annual I was really taken with Batman. See, these were mostly reprints from the 1940s and 1950s, but I didn't know that. I was just impressed as heck with Batman's skill as a detective and his willingness to travel all over the world to fight crime. And there was the art. Dick Sprang. Jerry Robinson. Beautiful stuff. I read and re-read that comic until it fell apart. Sadly I don't have that original issue, but over the years I acquired two more copies of it. One reading copy and one really nice copy for keeps. It's one of the comics I held onto when I got rid of my collection because it has sentimental value.
Now it may seem that this was the comic that put me on to a lifelong love of the medium, but that's not quite the case. The obsession didn't come for another year, and when it did, it would once again involve Batman. But that's a story for another time.