I grew up reading comic books.
The New Teen Titans was probably my favorite (I got positively giddy when I was recently watching TT with my sons and saw a Wolfman-scripted episode), with X-Men a close second. (My bat mitzvah present? X-Men #94 – 100 in mint condition. Best. Present. Ever!) But I loved pretty much all superhero comics: the Avengers (remember the West Coast title?) and the Incredible Hulk (when he was green — no, gray. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!) and Batman and Wonder Woman… The list goes on. When I got older, I branched out into Vertigo titles, with some Image and Dark Horse thrown in there. (Best villain ever? Hunter Rose.) But in my heart of hearts, for me, superheroes are about sitting down with my dad every Saturday and swapping the latest comic book titles.
Yep, I grew up reading comic books. So it was probably inevitable that I’d write about superheroes one day. With BLACK AND WHITE (written by me and Caitlin Kittredge) now on the shelves, I thought I’d visit my local comic book shop and reminisce, and possibly buy something for my own children. They’re sort of young to get started on the family tradition–the Precious Little Tax Deductions are seven and five–but hey, it couldn’t hurt to do some reconnaissance. And maybe buy some things.
Imagine my shock and horror when I stood in the comic book store and felt totally lost.
Granted, it’s my own darn fault for taking time off from comic books — other than completing the Sandman series (Joss Whedon may be my master, but Neil Gaiman is my god) and a few other titles here and there over the years, I’ve stayed away from comics. Partially that’s because they got expensive, and when Dad wasn’t buying them, the money really added up. But partially it’s because I got fed up with the various gimmicks I’d seen in the 1990s–the unwarranted crossovers, the numerous covers for the same issue, that sort of thing. Hated that. So I’d stepped away. But there I was, just the other week, deciding it’s time to return to my roots and get into comics again, with my kids right there with me.
There I was, staring at the racks and racks and racks of comic books, not to mention the shelves of bound volumes and graphic novels, and there were tons upon tons of titles that I didn’t recognize. And the ones that I did? OMG. Seriously–how many freaking titles ARE there, and why are there about a million subtitles for each title? (Fine, I had both Spectacular Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man growing up, so this isn’t totally a “Hey you kids, get outta my comic book shop” moment. Well, not completely. Shh, don’t mess up my rant!)
Want to hear sad? The dude behind the counter took pity on me and gave me an index so I could get up to date all on the Marvel titles/main story arcs.
An index. Really? Wow. That comic book guy must have thought I was full of you-know-what when I told him I used to read comics every week. And then he showed me the “child-safe” titles for my Precious Little Tax Deductions.
Child-safe. Man, when I watched Teen Titans with the boys and we got to the Terra arc, I raced downstairs and dug out “The Judas Contract,” totally eager to show my offspring the original story for the TT arc…and then I skimmed it. Oh, right: Terra was sleeping with Slade, and she was totally bats*** insane. Huh. Maybe that’s not the best thing to show my wee Tax Deductions just yet.
Sigh. I am SO out of the loop.
So hey out there: take pity on someone who read comics in the 1980s and 1990s: what titles should I get for my boys? For that matter, what titles are out there now that are must reads for a one-time fangirl returning to the fold?