This past weekend I took my daughters to their first comic book store. They are almost 6 and almost 4. The young man behind the counter looked understandably puzzled–until they rushed to the first display and cried, “Mommy, look, it’s Green Lantern!” Then his eyes softened and he began to smile.
I loved comics. I still do. In fact it was my very own collection that recently inspired my daughters to become fanatics. They pore over the pages. Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, Justice League (Superfriends as they were called back then). No, they aren’t able to read yet but they know there is story and emotion and drama and excitement in those panels and they are riveted. Which is why I thought it would be great fun to take them to our local comic book store and let them see for themselves (steering them clear, of course, from the hard stuff, ie horror comics–I’m a cool mom, but I’m not THAT cool.)
Oh, it was exactly as I remembered it!
The boxes, the shelves, the displays! Only one thing was missing.
The store was empty. On a Saturday afternoon. A hot Saturday afternoon.
I’m not going to lie: it broke my heart. What does this mean? Well, sure, it could mean that it was a freak–that normally the place is packed and bustling–but what if it isn’t?What if comic book lovers today don’t go to comic book stores to buy their comics? (And don’t crush me completely by saying that they download them on their IPads because I already know they do and I can’t, CAN’T bear the thought.)
When I was young, comic book stores were the place to be. Downtown Portland had a great one, basement level (made it that much cooler, IMO) and there was nothing quite as exciting as stepping inside. You came on a Saturday afternoon to read, to browse, to flirt (eye-contact only–hey, it counted!), and yes, even to buy. You came to be around other comic lovers. You came to glean cool tidbits. And for those of us whose greatest wish was to become a comic book artist, you came to be inspired.
Not that you HAD to go to a comic book store. You could buy comic books EVERYWHERE. My dad used to pick me up one every time he stopped at Mac’s Variety for his cigars. They filled those spinning racks. The eye candy of all eye candy. Apparently, that’s isn’t true anymore. I only know this because a few months ago I innocently went into the drugstore to buy a comic book and couldn’t find a one.
So in honor of the very recent DC reboot, I just wanted to give a long-overdue shout-out to comic books, for shaping my imagination and giving it wings. May you stick around for a long, long time. My daughters are just getting started.
What about you all? Did/do comic books hold a special place in your heart/memory?