Like so many, my first comic was Archie. Readily available on the shelves of supermarket aisles next to the gum and tabloid magazines, waiting for me to browse through it as I waited for the long line to tick down to our turn at the register. I don’t remember specific stories, but I have vague,
Like so many, my first comic was Archie. Readily available on the shelves of supermarket aisles next to the gum and tabloid magazines, waiting for me to browse through it as I waited for the long line to tick down to our turn at the register. I don’t remember specific stories, but I have vague, positive memories of Archie’s general adventures with his friends and whether he should end up with Betty or Veronica. But I actually consider my first comic to be Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is the first comic I actively sought out. I spent a lot of time in used bookstores as a kid. One of them—Book Nook—carried everything from books to records to action figures to used comics. The comics were usually half-off the cover price, perfect for a kid with a desire to read more about the cartoon characters she had fallen in love with, but without a lot of money to spend on this new hobby.
Since I bought most of my comics from a used bookstore, I couldn’t always count on getting them in order. Comics from the ’80s intermingled with comics from the ’90s. I grabbed copies of Spider-Man, The Sensational Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2099. Todd McFarlane’s art became inspiration for my own budding artistic talent. I read a lot of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the Amazing Spider-Man, some of which I ventured out to buy new copies of. I read about Peter Parker fighting a variety of enemies while trying to balance work and having a life. I read about his wedding to Mary Jane Watson while still mourning the death of Gwen Stacy in the back of my mind. I found myself embroiled in the Clone Saga, memorable for its convoluted story and the effort it took me to track down all the issues necessary for following it.
I have a lot of nice memories of rifling through dusty long boxes for sometimes faded issues. Though I don’t read Spider-Man as much as I used to, he still remains one of my favorite superheroes. I was drawn to Peter because outside of his side superhero job, he was so normal. We had the same problems with school, friends, and money. Things didn’t always work out for him. In fact, they frequently didn’t. Yet he persevered.
Spider-Man started me reading comics. It made me appreciate this visual medium of storytelling and showed me that the stories could be deep, exhilarating, and relatable. This made me want to branch out into other comics. One of the comics I started reading was Tim Drake’s run as Robin on Batman. I saw a lot of similarities between Peter and Tim. They were both incredibly smart teenagers who realized and accepted the responsibility of being a superhero, though it sometimes cost them greatly. Batman introduced me to the larger world of DC Comics and then to Vertigo Comics, where I found a home. I fell into the new worlds of Hellblazer, Animal Man, 100 Bullets, Sandman, Transmetropolitan, DMZ, Fables, The Losers, and Preacher. Though I’ve branched out to several different comic books since, it all started with Spider-Man.