… a few weeks after my eighth birthday, when I walked up to the counter of a convenience store (most likely a Tote-Sum or a Short Stop) in Jackson, MS, and plunked down twelve cents to purchase a comic book for the first time.
(As an aside, it may not have been the first comic book I owned. My dad worked as the Fire Control Director at the Mississippi Forestry Commission and there were a couple of comics I had about Smokey the Bear that I think he may have brought home from the office. One of those was the Dell Four Color #1214 pictured here, which the Grand Comics Database tells me was published August, 1961, when I was four. The main content of this issue consisted of several realistically illustrated conservation adventures that just happened to feature an anthropomorphic bear in a pair of dungarees and his two youthful sidekicks — another, younger bear, and a raccoon. Anyway, if that comic was bought in a store, it was bought for me, not by me.)
After that August day, I kept on buying comic books, at least a couple every month, and I never stopped. (Well, OK, except for maybe a couple of months in 1970.) And a half-century later, I have around, er, 16,000 comic books.
50 years is a significant span in any human lifetime. It seems like as good as an excuse as any to take some time and look back at (and yes, wallow nostalgically in) some of the memorable stories that hooked me on this medium of illustrated narrative in general, and the genre of superheroic adventure in particular. I’m hoping to entertain other fans of a certain age (i.e., geezers) with these recollections, but I hope younger fans may also appreciate this window into what it was like to read these classic and not-so-classic tales back when they were fresh and new. If I’m really lucky, I may achieve a greater understanding as to how and why this crazy comic book stuff became such an important part of my life. If not, I still think it’ll be a fun ride. I hope you’ll join me.
Oh, right… you’re wondering what that first comic I bought actually was? That’s for next time. Watch this space!