VERY FINE/NEAR MINT
MY FIRST COMIC by MATT STREETS
So, I’ll admit it, I never really read comics as a kid. I was a total
bookworm, devouring Bradbury, Asimov, Lovecraft, Stephen King, anything
that was dark, violent and strange, but comics had barely registered on
my radar. As I made my way into my later teens, I slowly discovered the
joys of indie comics, making regular after-school trips to the Graham
Crackers in Downers Grove (the old-old Main Street store) to pick up
those awesome early issues of Hate, Eightball, Milk and Cheese, and Dork.
Still, comics were just a passing fancy to me until my college roommate
dropped a tattered stack of random Vertigo issues in my lap. After going
through a few issues of Sandman and the Invisibles, I came across
Hellblazer #63 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.
This is a one-shot story that takes place the night of John
Constantine’s 40th birthday party. As befitting a roguish
con-man/necromancer, the party is a wild affair. John urinates on the
Phantom Stranger’s shoes. Swamp Thing drops by to lend some, uh,
hydroponic assistance. A bitter bunny rabbit talks trash, while Zatanna
talks backwards. It’s hilarious, weird, profane and wise. It is
tender and raunchy. It made you wonder what happened to this character
before and anticipate where he might go next. It was the one comic that
finally broke through to me, that showed me how truly great this medium
could be. Of course, Ennis and Dillon went on to launch Preacher a year
later or so and change the game completely, but before that, they told
the story of a lonely magician and his birthday party.
And I was hooked.