Sunday, May 24, 2015

31 Days of Comics: Day 23 – The First Comic You Ever Bought

ROB'S NOTE: May has become the go-to month of the Comic’s Industry (even though National Superhero Day is late April, but whatever… Congress… pshaw).  It is when Marvel drops their big movie of the year.  May also sees the annual Free Comic Book Day celebration take place on the first Saturday of the Month, so I hope you all got to check that out.  May also has 31 days of the month so what better way to celebrate the wonderful world of sequential art with the 31 Days of Comics?

Seth Hahne, who runs the blog GoodOkBad, has put together the 31 Days of Comics challenge.  A daily challenge in which you are given a category and you have to fill it with a comic that you think fits it the best.  You’re all on the internet, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.  For the rest of the month I will be taking this challenge.  It is my hope it encourages others to make and share their own lists either in the comments here or on their own websites.  The sharing not only might turn comic fans on to works they have yet to sample but maybe catch the eye of a few non-comic fans and highlight the diversity of the form. 

Our prompt for Day 23 is “The first comic you ever bought.”

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #49 “Enter the Smuggler”

Written by Roger Stern
Pencils by Jim Mooney
Inks by Bruce Patterson
Colors by Ken Feduniewicz
Letters by Rick Parker

I had just turned 5 years old.  My mom had taken me to the drug store, which if I remember was called Newbury’s.  This being a simpler, or more naïve, time it wasn’t of any consequence to let your kindergartener son run up and down the aisle without any supervision.  So I checked the woefully inadequate toy section, which featured absolutely no Star Wars action figures, and was looking around for something else to hold my interest.  I turned down an aisle and next to the magazines in racks on the wall I saw my very first spinner rack of comic books.


 (You see kids, a spinner rack is what stores used to display comics back in the days that stores other than comic book stores actually sold comics.  It was near that spinner rack where I met your mother, but I’ll get to that on Day 1,033,879).

I had seen comic books before as both my parents had brought a couple home for me to read before and the son of my Godparents had an extensive collection, but I had never seen them in the wild.  I was a kid, and I didn’t think about where things came from before I saw them in my house.  As far as I knew my mom found that roast on the side of the road.  I walked up to the rack and quickly looked through a few of them.  Most had characters I was already familiar with to some extent, although I had no idea who this Rom guy was (hint: he was pretty awesome).  I turned the rack to look at more and then I saw this cover in front of my eyes

I had no idea who the Smuggler was, nor did I have any idea what smuggling was.  All I knew is the guy was bad ass enough to kick Spider-Man.  I pulled it off the rack and started to open it when my mom showed up. 

“Rob, come on, we have to go”

“Wait, I just want to read this real quick.”

“We’re already late.  Just put it away.”

“Can we get this at least?”

“How much is it?”

“50 cents.”

“50 cents?!? No.  Unless you’re going to use your own money.”

Not only was this the first time I bought a comic, it was the first time the option of using my own money to buy things I wanted was presented to me.  At age 5, it was cool and liberating.  I can buy my own stuff?  Awesome.  Pretty soon I’ll be moving out and working in the big city. 

Today, I like it when people buy me things.  It’s easier.

So I said yes, and my addiction began.

As a comic itself, it’s ultimately forgettable.  Sadly the Smuggler didn’t have super-smuggling powers.  He’s actually the guy who eventually becomes Atlas in Thunderbolts.  But there are two highlights I will always remember.

There was an example of the type of Spider-Man dialogue that made him my favorite character for years.

SMUGGLER: What kinda idiot do you think I am?

SPIDER-MAN: I don’t know. What kinda idiot are you?

And there was the ending.  Because it’s Peter Parker, and because his number one super power is the worst luck/timing of anybody ever he can’t just defeat the Smuggler and go home.  He ends up running out of web fluid and literally having to hold the Smuggler over his head while figuring out what to do with him

In the long run, this was an inconsequential comic even for the age of comics that didn’t rely on “everything changes” or “this is a new status quo” gimmicks.  Yet, it played an important role in my development as a comic book reader.  As I stated on an earlier day (go back and read it, this list has its own continuity now) I ended up collecting Spectacular up to issue 111, and discovered comic book shops and was able to go back all the way to issue 1.  I realized that comics, at least in the early 80s, were out there for me to go find rather than waiting to see if Mom or Dad had picked one up for me.  And given that comic books sold for the ridiculously high price of 50 cents each I had to learn how to budget myself and only buy things I really wanted.  

And I learned what “smuggling” was, so you know… educational too.

No comments:

Post a Comment