Oh sure, you might say, that’s easy. Wednesday is Hump Day, the middle of the week. Or Wednesday is the night my favorite TV show is on. Unfortunately you wouldn’t even be close. For me, I look forward to Wednesday because it’s the day new comics are out. Now why in the world does a 44-year-old banker still read comics? I’ll get to that but trust me I have the boxes (and boxes) of comics to prove it.
To understand where I am today, I think you need to understand where I was. As a kid, I was a voracious reader. I loved books, especially fantasy. My first exposure to comics though was at the drug store in the local mall when I was 7 or 8. Eventually, I’d ask my parents to drop me off there when I went shopping.They had one of those awesome spinner racks full of comics. I’d just pull up a piece of carpet and read to my heart’s content. But I didn’t really buy anything because I was 7 and who has money when they’re 7? I may have had a couple of comics lying around my room but it certainly wasn’t a lot.
Now, fast forward a few years. I’m probably 13 or 14 years old and I pick up Uncanny X-Men 155 at yet an other drugstore by my house. No real reason, cover looked kind of cool and I vaguely remember some guys at school talking about Wolverine, so why not? I was completely sucked in. The story was great, the art was great, what wasn’t to like. (Little did I know this was considered one of the greatest runs in X-Men history with Chris Claremont writing.) From there, I kept finding reasons to swing by that Eckerd’s looking for new copies of X-Men. I had no idea then, that comics ran on a monthly publishing schedule. Man, did I hate waiting.
What really hooked me in, was a cross-over between Marvel’s X-Men and DC’s New Teen Titans. Not only did it introduce me to a new comic team, but a whole new comic universe. Again, great writing and not a small crush on Kitty Pryde (don’t laugh, she’s even mentioned in a Weezer song.) hooked me and now I had two comics to buy each month. Even then my habit was managed, shall we say, discretely. I certainly didn’t want my Dad to know I read comics. He was a high school jock in his day, how would he even understand? And aside from a couple of guys at school I knew who appreciated comics, I didn’t discuss it much at all. So while I had one reason to go into that store, I provided any number of other ones to get my Dad to let me run in when we were on our way somewhere.
And so my collecting career began. But like any other addiction, it grew. Pretty soon, I branched out into more comics and more characters. All off that spinner rack in Eckerd’s drugstore Then, about 1 year later I found out that a whole comic book store existed up in Clearwater! But I couldn’t drive, so how in the heck was I going to get there? Well, one evening there was a College Fair up in Clearwater that my Dad wanted to take me to. Made sense, I had a future to think about after all. But that campus was awfully close to the Comic Book Store, Geppi’s Comic World. In truth I was far more excited about swinging by there than I was about the college fair. But, I covered my eagerness by casually mentioning to my Dad, “hey, can we swing by this store on the way home, I want to check it out.” Begrudgingly, he did but it was closed. It didn’t stop me though. Like a kid at a candy store I had my nose up against that window, just looking at all the comics in there! The ride home from there was a bit awkward as my Dad only wanted to talk colleges and I only wanted to talk about the wonders of that store!
Soon. two things happened that sealed my comic book fate. One, I got a driver’s license and two, I got a job. Transportation and disposable income! About once a week I managed to work my way up there to peruse the store. Here I discovered two more things about the world of comic books – pull lists and back issue bins. My two favorite comics were still X-Men and Teen Titans, but I was missing huge chunks of back story and continuity in my brain. And, usually, for a couple of bucks I could get these stories. I wasn’t making a ton of money working for my Dad, but I can tell you, most of it went to comic books.
I went on, collecting away, buying comic books boxes and storing them all up. In 1984 though I headed off to college. I kept my pull list intact back home. Every visit home I would drive over to Geppi’s and pick them up. (Given I paid for them with my student loan money I have no idea what that 60 cents an issue cost me in interest!) Eventually, I found a shop in my college town and took my business there. After graduation, I took a job in that same town (more disposable income – yay!). At the time I felt that job was stressful (ha! just wait for it dude.) and on my way home Fridays, I’d stop by the shop to pick up my pulls and the liquor store to pick up some beer. I’d get home, pop open a beer and a comic and the stress (such as it was) from that week would just melt away.
This really explains why I still enjoy comics today. In a world full of work stress, parenting stress (teenagers, ugh) and generalized adult stress (am I really 44?!?) I can get a few minutes of escape with characters I’ve come to know well over the years. And at this point in my life, all I really want is a bit of time away from the daily grind into a world that’s a bit more fantastic than the one in which I live. And it’s a lot less frustrating than fishing or golf!