My kids continue to thwart my efforts to make them like the stuff that I like. Not to say I don’t like the stuff that they’ve come to enjoy, they just refuse to be little clones of me. For example, at their age I completely obsessed over Star Wars, and even though they have friends who geek on Star Wars they have chosen to place their compulsive affections with Harry Potter. Fair enough, I like Harry Potter, it’s fine.
Another area that I immersed myself at their age was superhero comics. For me it was definitely Marvel over DC and the Claremont/Byrne X-Men was a watershed that turned a passing fancy into a full-blown hobby. X-Men was followed by Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. For those of you who know you can see the trend from escapist fantasy to, well, Watchmen. Once I had turned it into a teenage occupation I had to dig into the archives to read reprints of old issues. As I got older and comics moved into the “Modern Age” when storytelling was briefly buried by celebrity artists I moved on as well. I still swing by the neighborhood comic shop to see what zombie/vampire trend is making the rounds and, occasionally, if there is something that seems compelling I dip my toes back in. So when the kids were old enough I naturally gave them the basic super hero orientation. At first this consisted of a series of lectures on various hero origins as we drove to school in the mornings. When “Daddy, can you tell us about super heroes?” became a recurring mantra I figured it was time to break out the old reprints and start them off with early issues of X-Men (original), Spiderman, Fantastic Four, and The Avengers. Their following in my footsteps seemed like a foregone conclusion. They loved the comics from the newspapers, they had discovered Calvin & Hobbes, superheroes were just a short hop from there. They dutifully read through some of those early issues although Merran wasn’t too pleased at the trend and I have to say that I cringed at lameness of childhood memories that don’t stand the test of time.
“That Marvel Girl is a real dish!”
Yikes! That is an actual quote from the first issue of X-Men.
1963 sounded ok to an 11 year old in 1977. Perhaps I should have jumped in a little later when the characters and writing were a little more evolved. Superheroes didn’t really catch fire – and as I’ve mentioned before, this was around the time that Merran was giving up hope of the kids ever reading Anne of Green Gables. I returned the superhero reprints to the library and made Anne happen.
And then Merran suprised us all.
She was on a trip to Portland with some friends and she returned with tales of a marvelously clean and well run comic shop. “No, really, it’s clean, and nice, and not creepy, and the guy was really helpful.”
A side note here. Comic shops in Seattle are generally not dirty, unpleasant, creepy, and unhelpful. It’s just that this place in Portland is set up a little more like the boutiques she favors.
Regardless, the clerk at this particular shop helped her to find something that would appeal to the kids and his first recommendation was Bone. Bone, if you’re not familiar with it, is Awesome! It’s kind of a funny animal Lord of the Rings. The characters are well developed and engaging and the writer/artist, Jeff Smith, has perfect comic timing and the patience to tell an elaborate and engrossing story.
The kids were hooked.