Comic book memories are funny things. After decades of reading, some memories tend to get blended with other appearances (such as movies, television, and books) to produce incorrect versions of events. For example, I could have a memory of a Batman storyline, I could think that it was directly out of the comics, but having watched the Batman animated series, any Batman movie, and read one of the various Batman novels, it is very easy to see how I could mix elements from several sources to arrive at my memory. This isn’t to say that all my memories are wrong, just that it is easy to understand how I could come to be wrong. Well, wrong or not, these are some memories that have stuck with me through my comic collecting life. I can’t explain why many of these stand out for me, but I suspect they will be with me for the rest of my life. If any of the information is wrong, it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think my memory will care.
One of my earliest memories of comic books is having a box of old ones at my grandparent’s house. I feel like they were old and potentially ratty, certainly not kept like any of my comics today, but I was fascinated by the stories and art. Not knowing anything about comics (or potential value), I was okay when we put them in a garage sale. It seems to me that one person purchased the entire box, and probably got a pretty good deal out of it. My biggest memory of that entire box is a cover to a comic that featured the Golden Age Sandman on the cover, being hunted by assorted Justice League/Society type heroes. To this day I have not been able to find the book again, so I have to conclude that my memory is wrong, but it has left me with an enduring love of the Golden Age Sandman characters look.
I have always been a fan of Archie comics, as I suspect many people are. I have never truly collected them and, as a rule, prefer them in digest format, but I find my biggest memory of Archie is from a random issue I found when I was young. In this issue, Archie was having problems with his jalopy again (surprise, surprise) and it eventually broke down beyond hope of repair. Now I am vague on the next part, but I seem to remember Archie winning a contest and getting a brand new hot rod/roadster as a result. This of course made it far easier to take out Betty/Veronica on dates. In my naïve youth, I expected that this would become part of continuity (what little I knew of continuity back then) and was very surprised when I picked up a digest and never saw the car again. I’m not sure if the car appeared in the comics again after that point, but I enjoyed seeing Archie get something nice, and kind of hope it lasted (for a little while at least).
When I was in Junior High School, a friend of mine took me to my first comic book store. Now, really it was a used book store that happened to sell a lot of comics, but to me it was all about the comics. It was the first time I had ever seen a store that hung the more valuable books on the wall, and that concept was really striking to me as a youth (I even went so far as to copy it in my bedroom with my nicer comics). Once I took my aunt and uncle there, they always used to buy me a gift when they came into town, and this time I was going to take full advantage. I think I had a budget of about thirty dollars, and I just remember staring at the wall of comics trying to figure out which special issue I would add to my collection. Finally I had it narrowed down to two choices, GI Joe #2, and Alpha Flight #1, GI Joe had long been a favorite of mine for a long time, but I really figured that because Alpha Flight #1 was just that, a first issue, it would have more long-term value (boy was I wrong). I did eventually get a copy of GI Joe #2, but that was my first lesson in comic economics, that just because it says #1 doesn’t mean it will have any value.
There are lots of little stories that are kicking around my head from various points in my comic collecting life, and, as time goes on I will continue to share them. Like I say, I’m not sure how correct some of these memories are, but that isn’t the point. I am always happy to recall these times, and I feel that they help define me and my small role within the comic book market.
Brett co-hosts We Talk Comics and is on Twitter as @Brett_WeTalk