Thursday, November 17, 2016

Our 10 Year Anniversary!


Dear Ones, apologies once again if it's been too long.  I continue to struggle with finding the time and the energy to continue posting.  I do intend to keep the blog going, haphazard as it may be.  But I wanted to be sure I posted today because... well, the blog turns 10 years old today!

Yup.  Hard to believe it's been 10 years.  Granted, it hasn't been 10 consistent years.  I took an 18 month hiatus at one point (I figured if Garry Trudeau could do it, so could I) to recharge my batteries.  And, of course, I've been not-even-close to consistent in my posts since 2016, a true throat punch of a year if there ever was one among a string of difficult years, began.

But still... ten years of existing isn't half bad.

So I thought I'd get super-duper personal today.  I don't know if anyone feels like they know much about me or not.  I wouldn't think so, but I would imagine that in ten years of posting I probably cut loose with a detail here and there.  But let me really dig deep into my fanboy roots and share them with you, okay?

First, my interest in comics began when I was a toddler, though I didn't really know it at the time.  When we'd visit my grandmother, she had a box of puppets in the bottom of her closet and that would keep my older sister and I occupied.

Among those puppets was this guy:


I was so young then that everything seemed new and awesome, but was always drawn back to that puppet.  I thought he was naked except for the blue parts of his costume and wondered how he managed to stick that yellow bat emblem on his chest.  In any event, that mask, the jagged edges on the cape and gloves... even though I wasn't even old enough for kindergarten yet, I knew cool when I saw it and this was the cool puppet in that box.

Then one day, my father and I were in a store shopping for my older sister's birthday party and I saw this on the toy shelf:


Well, it wasn't this one.  The box had been opened and the cowl was missing.  I had come across Superman somewhere, so I thought it was Superman in a Batman suit, which struck me as hilarious (again, I wasn't in kindergarten yet so humor was what it was).  

Now, before I go on, let me say this about my father: He had his faults like all of us do.  We did not have a good relationship for most of my life.  I'm about 20 years past reaching the first age I could clearly remember him being, which is a fascinating thing: I can look at how old he was when certain things happened and where my life went and he survived some things I just couldn't imagine.

For example, right before I hit kindergarten, we live in Muskogee, Oklahoma.  I don't remember much about it.  We lived in a mobile home park and my father's boss had a daughter named Fran and he had a son who was much older than I who did not like me at all.  Anyway, for whatever reason my father quit the job to start a similar business in Bartlesville... and two of the other employees decided to jump ship and follow him, although I'm not sure he'd actually asked or wanted them to do that.

Anyway, he had a lot on his shoulders and he couldn't have been more than 30 years of age.  He had a wife, two kids, two employees and their families, all of whose future was riding on him making this small business work.

As I may have mentioned, I have never nor have I ever felt the urge to work for myself.  I just don't have the confidence or courage that it takes.  So I completely respect what my father took on and the fact that he not only made his business viable, but it thrived.  He was under a hell of a lot of pressure and it made him what I will politely call "a little short-tempered" and "inaccessible," but the man got it done.

And when it came to stuff, I will be the first to say I didn't lack a thing.  He made sure we had what we needed and then some.  And this was the case long before he had any extra cash.  When it came to birthdays, Christmas, you name it: He made sure we had stuff.

So when I saw that cowl-less Batman figure, he was still working for the other guy in Muskogee.  But he saw that it made me happy so he plopped me on a coin-operated horse so he could sneak it in with the other party stuff he was buying.  When my sister's birthday came around and I was feeling left out, my mom said, "Daddy got something for Adam," and took that figure down from atop the fridge.

And I was sooooo happy!  I ran to him and squeezed his neck and thank you thank you thank you thank you and he beamed.  It's one of my fondest memories.  I wish there were more of them, but instead I got a series of life lessons (which have a value all their own, I suppose).

Now on the side of those Mego boxes, they had pictures of other characters you could get.  Like these guys:



with credit for the pic going to Action Figure Resource !

I had never heard of most of these guys.  The "A" on Captain America's head seemed kind of weird and those webs all over Spider-Man (especially under the arms) just gave me the willies.  But I learned there were a lot more characters than Batman.

Then one day, my mom was making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which was my daily request, although she offered to make something else) and pulled this out of the Wonder Bread bag and handed it to me:



Up to that point, my exposure to comics had been limited to the newspaper.  I don't remember much beyond Frank & Earnest and The Born Loser.  The Bartlesville Paper, the Examiner-Enterprise, only had a few comics in it.  I primarily focused on Peanuts.  I could relate to Charlie Brown because I was the fat kid who was scared of everything and ergo quite unpopular.  I also liked that the dog had human thoughts.  I'm one of those people that "speaks" for my dogs.  Don't judge me.

Anyway, I asked my father why they didn't have those comics in the funnies section of our newspaper.  My father didn't have much of an answer, but the next time we were at the grocery store he took me to the big wire comic book rack.

Man, that thing was loaded with comics.  I was really looking for a Batman, but my father (and I don't begrudge him this) tended to think that if I took a comic out of the rack to look at it, that's the one I wanted.  Now, all of us comic book nerds from back in the day know that you had to take the things out of the rack to eyeball that cover and see what you were in for.  But my father didn't know this, so I got the first comic I pulled off the rack:


The cover date is March, 1974 but I'm pretty sure it came out in late 1973 seeing as how it's talking about the new year and there's a Christmas story in it.  But it was after the holidays when I came upon it.  So, although I wasn't looking for it, it was meant to be that I would be introduced to Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family.

I've talked about this issue before, but let me say again:  It's freakin' classic.  Fawcett City gets overrun by cherry gelatin, a timid mailman deals with fears by becoming the inept Cape-Man, and Dr. Sivana and his horrible kids try to make Christmas all but disappear by accelerating time.  Awesome.  Frankly, it may be the greatest thing in 20th Century literature. 

And thanks to a house ad in that comic, I was able to get a subscription to Batman.  I loved Captain Marvel, but I was really into Batman and could not be denied.  This was the first comic book I ever owned with Batman in it:


And I got a better handle on who Robin was.  It was a little confusing because he was a grown man in the main story and I didn't understand the concept of "reprints" in the rest of the issue.  Man, those 100 page comics were incredible.

And from a house ad in that comic, I learned that Batman was actually part of a team:


Yeah, my little mind was just reeling at how incredible it all was.

Meanwhile, I was still watching The Electric Company.  I had grown bored with Sesame Street, although watching it in my toddler years had me reading before I was two (my mother will totally confirm this), but The Electric Company was a more energetic, faster-moving program I still enjoyed.  And as we all know, The Electric Company started a little feature called Spidey Super Stories with a live-action Spider-Man:


My initial misgivings about the character aside, my little mind was blown.  LIVE ACTION!  I had heard rumblings of a live action Batman show, but it was long gone by that time and I hadn't seen any of the comic book characters in so much as a cartoon that I can recall.  So, just like that, I became a Spider-Man fan.

This is the first comic book I bought that had Spider-Man in it:


I was still primarily a DC guy (yeah, it didn't take long to figure out that the two universes were separate and never the twain would meet... though they eventually did), but then one visit to the local U-Totem convenience store during a visit to my grandmother yielded this:


I had no idea who the Beast was, but this tickled my brain.  Just as there was a whole gaggle of heroes Batman hung out with, maybe there was the same for Spider-Man?

Well, turns out not so much at the time.  Spidey wasn't a "team" guy and that wouldn't change for a few decades.  But I read Marvel Team-Up religiously, totally falling for the bait that it would get me interested in other characters whose books I would then pick up.

And it snowballed from there.  Like video games, my father hated my interest in comics and was very hateful about it.  But, like comics, he actually provided my first "hit."  I mean, if you give me a sample of heroin and I'm immediately addicted, whose fault is that?

Logic was not a big thing with my parents.

In any event, that's where my love for comics began.  And wow... I have seen these characters come alive in movies, tv shows and video games that fat little Adam could have only dreamed about.  I consider myself lucky to have seen so many of these things come about and can't wait to see what my remaining years bring.

And I've even blogged for (sort of) ten years!  I don't know if I thought this would happen when I started, but there it is.

Again, I'm sure I'm not finished posting.  I'm just slowing down with age, I guess.  But as always, I thank YOU so much for sticking with me.  Methinks we've still got some laughs to come.

Again, my sincerest thanks.

-adam

7 comments:

Billy Hogan said...

I had not only the Batman puppet, but Robin as well.

Steve W. said...

Happy anniversary, Adam.

G Whizkid said...

Thanks for sharing! A very vivid account of your toddler-hood there.
The Batman TV show in 1966 is one of my earliest memories. I recently bought the Blu-Ray box set of it, which includes some three hours of bonus material. I'm waiting for the right time to start watching this, probably in the upcoming holidays.

I hope it doesn't scare me as much as it did when I was three-four years old!

Kid said...

Fascinating reading. Keep on trucking (and writing).

Tracer Bullet said...

I had the Superman, Batman and Shazam action figures. My brother threw one of Superman's boots out the car window and, if I'm being honest, I'm still a little mad about it 35 years later.

Aaron Carine said...

Speaking of action figures, I remember a set from the early 70s that I loved. They were extraterrestrial beings, one from each of the other eight planets. The boxes each had a cool picture of the alien in its natural habitat. The beings from Venus(who looked like winged angels)were depicted atop a tower, with a fog that I think was supposed to be the planet's well known cloud cover. Does anyone else remember these things?

Adam Barnett said...

Doesn't ring a bell, Aaron. Most of what I come up with came about in the 80s (like the Inhumanoids), which is funny because I was way past action figures by then. Billy, there was a Robin puppet????