Browsing in The Secret Origin of Adam

For more than eleven years I’ve lived in San Francisco I have been frustrating locals with my loyalty to San Diego sports teams. But what can I do? I lived there first? I moved to San Diego the summer before I turned four and was instilled with San Diego loyalty by my father who had grown up there.

Three years later we moved to Northern California which put us in the media market for Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. That meant we could see games of the SF Giants and 49ers and Oakland’s A’s and Raiders. We could still see some of our San Diego games when when they played their division rivals: the Padres vs. the Giants and the Chargers vs. the Raiders. This means to me the Giants and Raiders have always been opponents. I’ll keep track of what they’re doing but only to see how it relates to America’s Finest City’s teams.

Thankfully the 49ers and the A’s only play the San Diego teams once every few years (less before the MLB started interleague play). So I could wear my Red & Gold with pride and without any sense of betrayal. I want to see all four of those teams do well each and every year. The best Super Bowl match up I ever got was XXIX and at the start of every season I hope for another one. But maybe this time The Unconventional City could win their first national professional sports championship.


The other day a coworker was comparing her son and her niece who are both my age. She was thinking about the promise these cousins had shown as children and how different parenting styles had encouraged or prodded them into their current situations. She reflected on how much resistance the kids had offered along the way and any resentment lingered in their minds.

To round out her analysis she then asked how much prodding I got from my parents. Had they made me play sports or join clubs I didn’t want to or keep me from ones I wanted? Had they insisted I go to college? Had they said which school I should go to or what I should study?

I was happy to answer “No” to all her questions.

The only team sport I played in a league for was children’s soccer. I liked the game and my friends played so I asked to join. I enjoyed it for a while and then decided not to renew for third season. My mom was fine with that and asked why so I explained I was tired of my friend’s mother who screamed throughout the game.

My parents met at college but neither of them graduated from there (though my mother went back later to complete her degree and later still to get an MBA) and I made up my own mind to go to college. A few colleges sent me offers but I applied to only one school which accepted me and then gave me a full ride scholarship. I went in with a plan of what I wanted to study, found I didn’t care for that and switched. If at any point my parents didn’t agree with my plans they never vocalized them in front of me.

The one thing my mom told me I couldn’t do when I grow up was join the military. This came up when I came in from playing with my GI Joes in the backyard and said I wanted to join the army. She flatly told me that would not be happening. And she was right. I didn’t want to join the real army, I wanted to join GI Joe.

I haven’t joined GI Joe but my life has gone pretty well to date and I’m thankful my parents never pushed me into or kept me from any interest.

Buying comics for 21 years has taken me to lots of stores in lots of cities but I got my start back home in Quincy, California.


continue reading "21 Years of Buying Comics: Where I’ve gone"

No one remembers what made me pick up my first comic from the rack and ask someone to buy it for me. But my collection might have a clue: the first comics I got had everything I already loved as a seven year old.

Someone had given me a copy of “Batman & Other DC Classics” after the previous summer’s movie and I read it between repeat viewings of the film and VHS. I liked the sampler but the first comic I picked up on my own was Robocop #2 from Marvel in February of 1990.

Two months later I came back and got #4, but in May I changed up and got other things I liked such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Ghostbusters and somewhere I picked up a free Spider-Man about reading (probably the county fair or the library). In June I got another Turtles and Transformers, but July was only a Turtles, I was hooked at this point. August came and I got both Turtles and Transformers. I missed September and then October 1990 when I turned eight then in November got comics again and haven’t stopped.


continue reading "21 Years of Buying Comics: My First Year"

October 1990 was the last month I didn’t buy a comic book.

I turned eight years old that month and celebrated by having a picnic in Pioneer Park with my parents and the friends in our small town of Quincy, CA.

This weekend I turned 29 and celebrated with my wife, friends and hundreds of thousands of strangers during a free music festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

And today I bought comics for my 252nd consecutive month. In these 21 years my life, the world, and comics have changed in innumerable ways but I keep coming back. This milestone seems like a good opportunity to look back at what comics I bought in my first and twenty-first years, why I bought them, and how and were I get them.

Next week I’ll look at the comics that came home with me between November 1990 and October 1991. The week after I’ll run through as many comic shops as I can remember going to. To wrap up the month I’ll look at what came out this year that I had to own. Then before it’s all over, I’ll see what sense I can make of my relationship with comics.

Joes…

  1. Snake Eyes
  2. Sgt. Slaughter
  3. Stalker
  4. Jinx
  5. Beach Head

Cobra…

  1. Cobra Commander
  2. Storm Shadow
  3. Firefly
  4. Destro
  5. Nemesis Enforcer

As soon as I discovered the website Not Blog X it became a favorite destination.  G. Kendall has taken on the unenviable task of reading through the X-men comics of the 1990s to see how they match up with our memories of them.  It took just under two years, but he just wrapped up.  Of course, I’m still working my way through.  I’ve made it to the fall of 1994, just after the Phalanx Covenant, so I still have a lot to read.

Part of the enjoyment comes from remembering some comics I only read once or twice as a kid and many times didn’t think about after that.  I particularly enjoy learning who made these comics of my youth, before I was thinking even thinking about the fact that people made them.

It also plays into my recent thoughts about how I bought comics in the past and how I do now.  I started getting into the X-men in June 1991 (or at least cover dated then) with just a few comics, but that started expanding in 1992 as I grabbed whatever I could from the gas station and Safeway spinner racks.  In 1993 my habit became more selective and consistent as I bought fewer titles but more continuous issues.  By 1994 I was hitting my stride and 1995′s Age of Apocalypse owned me.  But that was the peak, 1996 slipped in a big way and by 1998 the X-Men were out of my system, except for the lone title “Mutant X” which was completely divorced from the rest of the comics, but it faded and I was done.

2001 brought it all back and I was hooked on Milligan & Allred’s X-Force and saw that all the way through to the bitter end.  I tested Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men and of course had to read Origin.  And for whatever reason I dropped Grant Morrison’s New X-Men after the first 7 issues and returned for the final 10.  I can’t recall what made me do that, but I did.  And since then I’ve only picked up an odd issue of Wolverine for the creators.

And now while it looks like Matt Fraction is putting together some quality stories of the X-Men, I just don’t have the time, money or emotion to invest in the X-Men.  I hope they continue to do great things while I continue to try and catch up with G. Kendall’s opus.  In the meantime, he’s about to go forward with a new direction.  One I will definitely follow from day one.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the first issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But it doesn’t feel like it could have been that long ago, because for me, it wasn’t. While the first issue of the original comic came out in May 1984 (a few months before I turned two years old!) I wasn’t exposed to the Turtles until their cartoon show in 1987 (at the ancient age of five). But once I saw that, I was hooked.

I had the toys, played the video games, ate the cereal, watched the movies, read the guidebooks and eventually discovered the comics. In fact it was one of the first comics I read and started me down the path that led us here. But the comic I was reading wasn’t the original series. I was reading what the spinner racks in town carried, Archie’s TMNT Adventures.

The first few issues of this comic was a reproduction of the cartoon, but by the time I started following it (#12) it was telling new stories with new characters in a new focus. While it resembled the cartoon series I could tell right away that it had a greater depth and more danger similar to what I saw in the movie.

This is where I learned about continuity for the first time, though I wouldn’t learn that term for a long while, and accepted it and moved on. I loved the Turtles and it really didn’t matter how I followed their adventures (reading, watching, or creating my own epics with my toys) I knew what to expect. These were clearly defined characters with distinct personalities who had a good time despite their dangerous adventures. That translated across the mediums and continuity. That’s what mattered.

It wasn’t important to me whether Splinter used to be a regular rat (original comics & movie) or used to be a man (original cartoon & Adventures comic). He was Splinter now and I needed him to help rescue April O’Neil from Baxter Stockman’s base under the table since the Turtles were busy fighting Rat King and Leatherhead on the couch!

It was fun then and they’re fun now. The Turtles still have a special place in my heart though we aren’t as close as we used to be. I still like to check in on them and see what they are up to. I am thrilled to see the original movies on basic cable on the rare re-airings, and I will always consult the tv schedule if I’m puttering around the house on Saturday mornings. In a toy store I’ll cruise by and examine the action figures on the shelves. And if I see a comic on the stands I’ll flip through it. And it doesn’t matter what is going on if they’re in space or travelling through time or fighting an ancient spirit, I know the characters and can easily dive right in. I’ve done it several times over the last 22 years I’ve been lucky enough to follow along!