My History of Comics


My current crop of graphic novels on apartment bookshelf, but do read up on how it all began…

Back: My hobby of comics

And now the history thereof:

Back in the 1980s, I was a weird little kid. I had an unstable upbringing, and although I was encouraged to read I didn’t really discover my passions until a bit older. I didn’t get into comics until that decade was over with, although as a small child I did typically love Ninja Turtles and Transformers without even knowing the original comic book origins.

By the time the 90s arrived, I was a hyperactive nerd with bad social skills and hailing from an increasingly-broken home. My destiny as an escapist comic geek was inevitable, it must have been. I did enjoy watching the brilliant X-Men and Batman cartoons, though I hadn’t read much of the source material yet.

Finally, my parents divorced. I remember it as a great relief.

I was about ten or eleven years old and my dad lived in Indianapolis, Indiana while my mom moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. The great question was which insane parent me and my sister were to stay with (spoiler: wasn’t going to be my mom). The answer to that question was postponed, as we were sent to stay with our loving older, richer, Jewisher relatives to live with for a year as my parents got it together and proceeded to fight each other in court.

It was an interesting year, living in a big house in actual American suburbs. Like you see on TV and everything. A taste of the good life!

But what really made it a good life was that my old relatives had an adult soon who had moved away. Their son was a comics fan, and closets upon closets upon basements in the house were filled with classic 80s and 90s Marvel comics. Lots of Star Wars toys as well, by the way.

Some of my best memories are of exploring that ol’ house. All the things I discovered…

Putting comics in chronological order. Making sense of the crossovers, filling in the gaps of storylines bit by bit. The Avengers. Fantastic Four. The story of Tony Stark losing his armor to James Rhodes, Captain America quitting, Spider-Man’s black costume, and marriage. Tie-ins to Secret Wars, Inferno, Acts of Vengeance, and more.

I lived in the Marvel Universe, I truly did.

Here’s the thing about superhero comics as hobby. To truly understand the profound continuity, you need to read a lot. Not just casually pick up an issue or even a graphic novel every so often, you need to obsessively understand everything that has ever happened to these characters over the course of decades. Hundreds of characters with their own biographies and histories and villains and to follow it all you have to basically become an expert.

Then, in the midst of figuring all this out, I started buying the latest 90s Marvel comics. Spider-Man and X-Men, of course. Crossovers like Maximum Carnage and the Phalanx Covenant. The early 90s did not measure up to the heyday of the mid-80s by any means, although as a dumb kid I was very impressed by those Image-era artists. And there was nothing better than Wednesdays at that fondly-remembered little comic shop in downtown Broadripple. It was my first. It’s gone now.

The time came and my dad moved to Cincinnati and me and my sister moved with him. Life was more or less stable from middle school to high school. But by that point, the damage was done. I could not move anywhere without finding the local comic shop and I was wired so that it was one of the most important things in my life. Soon I would meet my lifelong best friend in the cafeteria of our middle school, because we both read comics and didn’t sit with the cool kids.

But before I moved, I was given the greatest gift one could ever be given, a hundred-odd issues of 1980s-era Chris Claremont genius.

Remember what I said about continuity, about being an obsessive expert to truly understand the story? That goes quadruple for the epicness that is classic X-MEN.

Next: My early affair with the X-Men (and not that current movie shit, the original awesome groundbreaking All-New All-Different series…)

17 thoughts on “My History of Comics

  1. This was quite a story Ray, but you turned out damn good if you ask me. You even turned out in China! And what I have read about the dating in China, that has to count for a lot and then you are a great writer…..wanto change life´s with me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never got so much focused on comics as you as I had my swimming sport day in and day out to keep me occupied. However once I lived alone my epic manga and anime obsession started as I mentioned before. I just needed my daily dosis till late night so I could actually sleep! Goodtimes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t discover the X-Men series until I got to college and found geek-minded friends who introduced me to the series. I just needed to see Psylocke (a female Asian superhero!) to be hooked. Us Asian girls don’t get many – in fact, the upcoming Silk is the only other one I can think of in American comics….thanks for sharing your story 🙂 It’s nice to get to know you better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Psylocke is interesting, because the character was originally a purple-haired sister to Captain Britain. Then later she got her mind transferred to a ninja’s body, but that’s kind of like yellowface.

      X-Men was always supposed to be diverse but lacked a bit in Asian characters. Sunfire, Jubilee, Xi’an from New Mutants. Isn’t there a new character Armor?

      I liked the 2000s Asian Batgirl, but that’s long over with.

      For the best Asian protagonist in American comics I recommend the brilliantly painted comic Kabuki. You must look it up.


  4. I was so hooked on Claremont’s X-Men that I stopped reading the book after he quit in 1991. I remember his last issue to be number 279 if I am correct and I wrote the first 3 of the new series: I never actually liked Jim Lee as an artist, too stiff and static as a storyteller… good memories, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny how Jim Lee set the tone for the cartoon which is most people’s first encounter with the X-Men (at least before those terrible films). I, of course, totally agree with you. The 90s era had absolutely nothing on Claremont’s incredible mythos.

      Much more on that in next week’s post!


  5. I have to confess I didn’t start reading comic books until I was like 18! I started nfluenced by my university boyfriend and another friend who lent me a lot of stuff. But I’ve never been much into superheroes or mutants!

    When I was a child I used to read an awful lot, but books. Without drawings. Haha!


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