BREAKING INTO COMICS

Okay—so I’m a Boomer.

Some good from that—“sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”—and some not so good: aging, friends and relatives passing away, the assassination of the president and his brother, and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Vietnam War.

But on the plus side, I got to see wonderful comics as a kid.

It was the 1950s. There was much Cold War paranoia. A new phenomenon, given the horrific name of “juvenile delinquency,” was scaring parents across the country. Frederic Wertham was testifying about the evils of comics (including Wonder Woman’s breasts and a homosexual relationship between Batman and Robin) before congressional committees. Parents were aghast.

In 1953, Marlon Brando starred as an outlaw biker in the classic, seminal film, “The Wild One.” One of the townsfolk asks him: “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” And Brando gives him a stone cold, bored look and says, “Waddaya got?”

Parents were really worried.

So I was not allowed to any read EC Comics, or any of Lev Gleason’s gritty detective titles, etc. I could read Disney comics, and DC Comics—Superman, Batman, and Lois Lane.

And so I found Carl Barks—the great “good duck” painter—in the Disney duck comics. And I was allowed to read Fawcett’s Captain Marvel group. And I loved them all. But by the time I finished high school, I was done with reading comic books. I had discovered girls. It was time to move on.

I thought nothing of the 50 or so comics I had on my bedroom shelf at home, when I moved out at age 19 into the shared Bronx garden apartment of three of my colleagues on the Hunter College weekly newspaper, one of whom was my girlfriend. Another of whom was my editor in chief. It turned out that she was a fan of the then-new Marvel Comics titles.

One night I had trouble sleeping, and went into the kitchen for a midnight snack. I opened a floor-level cabinet looking for a plate or dish . . . and found a stack of comics.

They were all Marvels, from 1962 to 1965. The Fantastic Four. The Hulk. Spider-Man. Strange Tales, Featuring Dr. Strange. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil. I had never even heard of Marvel Comics before that night. But in the next few hours, in many important ways, my life was changed forever. My enthusiasm for comics was reborn.

I graduated college in 1968, stretching it as long as I could to avoid the Draft and a one-way trip to War. Within the next decade, I would write about comics for rock ‘n’ roll magazines, and get a job as editor of Starlog Magazine, which would lead to becoming the first editor of the first nationally distributed magazine about comics. Which would eventually lead to becoming a comics professional.

(To be continued . . .)

This entry was posted in Comic Books. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.