Friday, August 12, 2011

Comic Reader Résumé: January, 1982

I don't believe I'll ever know for sure exactly when I became a comic book fan, most likely because I had a comic collecting uncle in the house in the early years of my life. I had plenty of stuff that stayed in print throughout the '70s, like Power Records and several Whitman coloring books (Captain America, Superman: "World without Water!" I saw Superman: The Motion Picture in the theater, and I can't recall there ever being a time when comic books weren't around. They were certainly always on my short list for purchases at garage sales and flea markets, as well. However, while working on a project, I visited the justifiably named Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics to take advantage of his "Time Machine." Mike took it upon himself to begin offering a chronological listing of every DC book by actual and cover dated availability. What's more, he's recently expanded his Amazing Worlds to include Marvel, Gold Key, and Charlton comics, with all of their assorted monthly titles available on a virtual "newsstand." This has allowed me to determine ground zero for the beginning of my collecting new comics by schlepping down to the 7-11 with my own pocket change: January, 1982.

I can't say for certain that I bought the given issues upon their release, and I'm not sure Mike's dates are ironclad, either. That said, there's a very good chance my first brand new purchase was The Amazing Spider-Man #227 by Roger Stern, John Romita, Jr. and Jim Mooney. It was a fun Black Cat story, and while Mooney's inks weren't choice, it was still a good looking book. I still have my original copy stewing in a polybag, the brown pages surely acidic as all hell and unrestrained by a cover or the first/last pages.

According to Mike, my second comic would be The Flash #308. It was kind of a neat story by the usually swell and highly underrated Cary Bates where the Scarlet Speedster's battle with a mummy was paralleled by some children at play. It may be heretical, but if there's one classic artist I never developed an appreciation for, it's Carmine Infantino. I hate his stuff to this day, as well as many of the people he influenced. However, the reason I bought the book was the embellishment of Dennis Jensen, who did a magnificent job of making Infantino look pretty. Yet, I suspect that despite the solid plot and inks, this would also be the beginning of a lifelong dislike of super speed characters. I could never get into Runs-Fast-Man, in any costume or at any company. The Dr. Fate back-up strip by Martin Pasko, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt makes a liar out of me, because I could have sworn my introduction to the character was through the Super Powers Collection. I have no recollection of this story, except perhaps the vaguest impression of a half splash to start it off.

Since the Flash was undated, I can't be positive The Brave and the Bold #185 was my third comic. I parted company with the first book quickly, but that Batman, Robin and Green Arrow team-up was in my comic pile next to my grandmother's couch for years. I'd already been turned on to the O'Neill/Adams stuff, and after that Rich Buckler cover, I found the interiors by Adrian Gonzales and Mike DeCarlo quite disappointing. Gonzales mostly stuck to Arak and war comics, which helps explain why your first question was probably "who the hell is Adrian Gonzales?" Writer Don Karr had an even less impressive record, and his story probably helped drive me toward Marvel Comics for most of the '80s. It was just one of the overwhelming majority of Penguin stories that are underwhelming, involving giant bird cages and Ollie not getting his eyes clawed out, damn it.

I suspect that I had a copy of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #2, but my memory is too hazy to comment, if that was in fact the case. Not too bad of a month for my first as a certified collector, but not enough to make my bona fides, since I didn't stick with any of them going into February. That's a tale for another time, though.

How about yourself, dear reader? Any memories from your first month of collecting comics, or January, 1982 specifically?

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