Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Comic Book Origins

Antonio: Age 2 or 3 as Batman

Why do I read comic books? That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t really know. Well, I do, but where the passion came from and why it’s still there abusing my wallet is a bit of a mystery.

I have loved Batman since before I can remember. Honestly. I’ve asked my mother many times where the Batman love came from and she says she doesn’t know. There are pictures of me when I was still living in Chile. My third birthday party I had a Batman cake and I was wearing a Batman mask. The first memory that I have actually involves that Batman cake. It wasn’t the party but I assume a few days later. I asked my mother if I could have some cake and she said no, so when she left the house to do something, my grandmother gave me some. (Gotta love my Grandma.) I think the Batman love was innate, I still have it and it doesn’t look like it’s going away, I thank Chris Nolan and his Batman flicks.

When my family and I moved to the U.S. we lived in this small apartment but to me it was huge. I remember my mom telling me that I was going to have to start going to school and all that stuff, I was excited, but I had to wait because I wasn’t old enough for school yet. So I watched TV and discovered the Adam West Batman show, but I also discovered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I fell in love with those guys. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember waking up on my first day of school to see a Michelangelo action figure on my bed next to me. I’ll never forget that. My mom was working on my first day of school but she worked her ass off and bought that toy for me so that I knew she was thinking about me on my first day.

As the years went on I got into superheroes in a big way. Batman got an animated series, which was amazing. Spider-Man and the X-Men animated series hit big and I loved those too. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was next; I watched that for a long time. I remember going to see Batman Forever when that movie came out. Now I’m smarter and know that the movie wasn’t good but at the time I loved it. I was obsessed with Jim Carrey at the time, so when I heard he was playing The Riddler, who was my favorite Batman villain, was the greatest thing ever.

In high school I’d pick up the random issue of Wizard and read about what was going on in the comic book world. I always loved reading Wizard in the early days and I always wanted to know where the hell I could go to buy comics. But I dismissed the idea because I didn’t have money, so what would be the point?

Then in 11th grade I got a job, so I was making money, but I guess I forgot about comic books. By that time in my life I was getting really into film, so all my money was going to buying DVDs, mostly Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. I was actually really obsessed with Kevin Smith movies. And this is the start of when I got into comics. I blame Kevin Smith but I blame other people for making me stay.

One night I couldn’t sleep (This is something that becomes a regular thing in my life) so I was watching TV but there was nothing on, until I came across Jay Leno (I know.) They said that Kevin Smith was going to be on the show so I decided to stick around to watch this dude talk about his movies or whatever. They talked for a bit and then Leno said that Kevin Smith had a comic book coming out from Marvel. It was called Spider-Man/Black Cat – The Evil That Men Do. I was surprised. I didn’t know anything about that, so after the Smith segment was over I went on the computer to the Marvel website and looked it up. I read up about it and I was “I need to buy this.” So I ordered it from Midtown Comics along with a few other things. A new Ninja Turtles series was starting so I ordered those issues as well. They only reason I ordered those Turtle comics was because that’s the only other thing I could think of that had anything to do with comics but also since it had just started I figured, why not?

I spent some time looking online and found out that Kevin Smith had also written Daredevil for Marvel and Green Arrow for DC. At work, the library, I looked up the books and requested them from other libraries because I wanted to read them. I also spent a lot of time looking at the Marvel website and I came across these online comics. They were Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, recently launched comics taking a look at the origins of these characters in modern times. So I spent the next few nights reading them. Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagely, I read those first. They had like 22 issues of that comic on the website. Then I read Ultimate X-Men by Mark Millar and a few different artists, I think they had maybe 15 or so issues online. After I was all caught up and saw that Marvel wasn’t going to put anymore issues up I decided that I needed to continue reading these comics so I decided to buy them, and I did. I found a comic book store near me and had my dad take me to buy them. I loved both comics a lot, I thought it was a really cool concept and decided to buy other comics written by these guys. I bought Ultimates by Millar and Bryan Hitch and saw that Bendis was writing Daredevil and drawn by Alex Maleev. I didn’t know much about Daredevil but I liked what I read from Kevin Smith so I gave it a chance.

So those were my first 3 ongoing books, Ultimates, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate X-Men. As any comic book fan know the Kevin Smith book suffered a huge lateness and the comic ended up finishing some time in 2005. Since I didn’t know much about what was going on in comics I decided to buy an issue of Wizard. The issue I ended up picking up had a spotlight on these new comic books that weren’t superhero comics. They were published by an imprint of DC, Vertigo comics, and those comics were Fables and Y-The Last Man. I read about the concepts and they blew my mind. Like when I saw Pulp Fiction for the first time and saw that I didn’t know movies could be done that way I didn’t know that comics couldn’t be about superheroes. I bought the first trade collection of Fables and Y-The Last Man and I fell in love with both comics, Y-The Last Man especially. Those comics got added to the pull list.

Ever since then I’ve been reading comics. Thanks to Kevin Smith for reminding me about them, thanks for Marvel for having those comics online, to Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar for getting me to stay, but also thanks to all the comic book creators for making awesome comics. Ever since those days I’ve read a shitload of comics from all different kinds of genres. I missed out on all the stuff from the 90’s that I hear people complain about but right now, at this moment I think comics are at their best and I’m not afraid to try new things because as much as I love the superhero stuff there are a whole bunch of comics out there that are as good if not better. I have loyalties to writers because that’s what I enjoy the most, the writing, and that’s because I started reading comics by amazing writers, Bendis, Millar, and Vaughan.

The best thing to come out of all this comic book reading is the friends and all the people I’ve met from just being a comic book fan. I joined The Bendis Board because none of my friends read comics and I wanted to talk about what I read with other people. Joining that message board changed my life. I have made friends for life, friends that I hang out with every once and a while, and friends that I get together with at comic cons. I want to thank that board for being a place that rewards being a fan. Having interactions with creators on the board and then getting to meet them in person and telling them who you are because of an interaction you’ve had is so fucking cool. Getting remembered by people you admire is something that you can never get over.

I fucking love comics.

Some of the best people ever.

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