Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. Iâ€™ll probably go over to Earthworld Comics in Albany and pick up SOMETHING. For me, going into a comic book store is often like going to see an old girlfriend. Will I remember why we fell in love? Will I be reminded why we broke up? Or will it be more like, â€œIâ€™m happy for you in your new life. Iâ€™ll see you in another decade or twoâ€?
I fell in love with comics fairly later in the game. In 1971, my new best friend in college, Mark Klonfas, was into comic books. I wondered why an adult would be into “funny books.” (I wonâ€™t say he was a grown-up; he used to perch on the end of his desk like Peanutsâ€™ Snoopy, feigning to be a vulture.)
But get into comics I did, first with Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1, then Sub-Mariner #50. Luke Cage (Nicholas Cage’s namesake, REALLY) appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #122. Then I noticed that Cage appeared in shadow at the end of #121, and I picked THAT up. That happened to be â€œThe Death of Gwen Stacy.â€ I got particularly hooked on the web-slinger, and much of the Marvel Universe. (Curse you, Klonfas!)
Eventually, I worked at FantaCo and for a brief time at Midnight Comics in Albany. This is where the romance soured. There were all of these #0s, and silver and gold “special” editions. Iâ€™d be asked, “Is ___ any good?” but it wasnâ€™t about the artwork or the story, it was about whether it would increase in value. Bollocks! When I left Midnight to take my current job in 1992, I quit comics cold turkey.
I always read in the entertainment press to see how comics are doing, seeing them get reviewed regularly in Entertainment Weekly and the like. And Iâ€™m very happy for the industry. But I canâ€™t afford to get into it like I used to, so I view the trip to the store warily, fearing the siren will suck me back inâ€¦