Introduction II: White Event

My freshman year in college, I believe, I was introduced to the work of Art Spiegelman. I was stunned by this literary retelling of a Survivor’s tale. The New York Times reviewer said it was a “remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness.” The word, ‘novelistic,’ suggests they may have had some of the same prejudices I did. But the Washington Post reviewer said it was “impossible to achieve in any medium but comics.” I believe they are right. Comics are used best to elicit the raw emotions. Most often we associate it with laughter. But fans of political cartoon history know how easily it can generate tears as well. The day after the Challenger exploded Doug Marlette drew a simple cartoon. An American Bald Eagle with a tear dropping from its eye. The Charlotte Observer was flooded for requests for copies.

I can’t say my search for other graphic novels was very intense. After reading Maus I and II, I also picked up Joe Sacco’s Palestine: A Nation Occupied. No one should ever accuse me of not having an open mind. At some point I bought Kazuo Koike’s Journey to Freedom, but I don’t recall reading it. I think I now will. I remember reading Dean Koontz’s novel, Trapped. It was great. Horror is another one of those raw emotions. Due to my interest in Star Trek, I picked up Walter Koenig’s Raver books. I bought the Topps’ version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but for some unknown reason I never read them. The bags they came sealed in were never opened. I bought the #1 of 12 for Anne Rice’s Tale of a Body Thief, but that’s it. I no longer denigrated the comic book industry in my mind, but my entire comic book collection could be listed in one relatively short paragraph.

Then something happened.

The first stories I ever wrote were in third grade. I remember writing them, but I have been unable to find them in my boxes of saved materials from grade school on. I still have the poems I wrote in first grade, but not those short stories. It’s frustrating. I know they’re no good, but still, they’re lost. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time. I started writing a series of sci-fi/fantasy novels a couple years ago. The first novel in this series is centered around a group of sixteen year old kids; one of them develops mutant powers. They are all comic book readers. I knew I had to refererence the comic books they were reading. I convinced a friend of mine to lend me his collection of Marvel comics (10 long boxes). Several weeks of wonderful research ensued.

I became hooked on Marvel’s New Universe of the late 1980s.

It’s a group of titles that are favorites of fans to spit upon, I have learned. There are a handful of sites on the web by others, like me, who enjoyed the books. But very few. Though some of those who denigrate the universe admit Displaced Paranormals 7 had its good parts, and Justice was ok once Peter David took it over halfway. And if you press them on it, maybe they’d admit one or two of the other titles might have had its moments. Once I returned the boxes to my friend, I spent months on Ebay searching for the comics. I now have every title, complete, except for Starbrand, The Pitt, The Draft, and The War.

Recently, another friend, who heard about my growing interest in comics, and was a member of my writer’s group so had heard portions of my novel, discovered he had to move. He looked at his comic book collection, and realized how huge it was. Everything looks larger when you’re about to move.

He offered me a deal. In exchange for agreeing to build him a website, I got 12 long boxes. (He kept more than half of his collection) The twelfth box was empty, but my New Universe collection helped to fill it. Since I am told 300 comics can fit into a long box, this means I now have over 3000 comics.

Since most of these are at least 10 years old, I have begun purchasing new comics – to see what’s being written today. Fallen Angel, Robin, Mystique, Witches, Excalibur, and Firestorm are among the titles I have bought. Curiously, I haven’t bought any Spiderman comics. There’s a good amount of them in the long boxes I received from my friend though — I have some catching up to do.