I loved comics as a kid. There are lots of reasons why I would have sought the escape and magic of the Bronze Age Marvel Universe and the macabre world of Creepy and Eerie. If it was obsessive, then it was at least healthy in that I was fully engaged in anything. My parents did not see it this way, and misread the situation. Now, granted we all disagree with our parents in hindsight, but in this case it changed my views on parenting and how I responded to my kids. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
My parents decided that comics were the cause of my poor grades and odd social position. My odd social position was a result of being cast with the smelly kids, and my poor grades were caused by homework. If homework had never been taken into account in my grades, I would have most likely been a straight A’s student. Also, at no point in my life was I ever one to embrace authoritarian ways, even when I am myself the boss. When I questioned of the nuns of St. Cecelia’s I was smacked. Or they told my father, and I was smacked. I wanted to be judged on my mastery of the information, not the number of times I repeated it. I didn’t realize that my mastery, especially in the area of religion, represented an assault on their methodology and processes. I can’t tell you the damage their methodology did to me…but I digress.
What was true about me was that I was different, and that difference was wrong. In truth the difference would be revealed to be ADD, and the effects of childhood neglect. My only friends were my partners in comic books…and my friends inside the comic books. The day came when I was told I was going to sell 1/2 my comic books just to prove I could give them up.
My brown paper grocery bag of comics was taken to the Woodbridge Flea Market, and I sold the comics for 10 cents each if they had a 25 cent cover price, and 25 cents for 50.00 cover price. I think I kept my magazines out of the mix. The other comics were taking from me and hidden. I had three copies of Giant Size X-men Number One. Three copies. I had to sell them for 25 cents apiece. We can assume that the current street value of my copies would be currently between $1000.00 and 4500.00 each. I also sold all my 12 cent copies and 10 cent comics. I recently saw one of the Iron Man Comics I owned for $895.00. But, that is not even the point of the story.
The point is that my parents had a weird kid where only one thing was going right for that kid. That should have been the thing they encouraged in me, it wasn’t. It was the thing they tried to blame for my oddness. They didn’t take into account that I was still a relative outcast in my school and neighborhood. They didn’t take into account that I couldn’t have a social life where I could say “Come to my house and play.” They didn’t take into account that this stuff made me happy, exposed me to a greater world and was supplemented with a lot of reading of novels (genre and classics), non-fiction, and creative mindwork inspired by wanting to be like my heroes who wrote comics: Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and Stan Lee.
The sad part about my relationship with my father is that when I adopted his interests, I was acceptable. Gardening, fishing, baseball, and hour long detective serials. When I tried to share mine with him, there was no reciprocation. As a father I once told my daughter that I was glad she outgrew Pokemon because it was annoying to me. She was shocked that I was watching just because of her, for Pokemon were cool, though not as cool as Digimon. Yes, I only watched it because she did and apart from classic animation, the works of Bruce Timm, and Adult Swim, I was not going to watch cartoons when they grew up.
So in this ramble there are three lessons:
- Find out what is really going on and causing your loved ones problems. It might be the homework itself and not the comics.
- We learn to emulate our parents and other times we learn to AVOID emulating our parents. I know for a fact that my kids do some things to avoid repeating my mistakes…heck, I have TOLD them to avoid my mistakes.
- Never throw out comics, just put them some place dry and safe.