My First Comic by Shawn Spurlock
I was 6, or 2 years younger than my son Booker is now. I was sick, not an uncommon childhood occurrence for me as I was prone to regular bouts of tonsillitis. My father brought home 3 comics that night. I can recall the cover of 1 of them, the memory of the others is lost to time now. I know there were 3 but I remember only the one. I know the cover, I know the guy that starred in it, but I couldn’t tell you what issue number it was or what actually happened in it, not even to save Booker’s life. John Robinson has been asking for this missive since the early days of the newsletter, or a really long time. I avoided it because I can’t recall the specifics of this item that would change the course of my life and you kind of need to know about the thing that’s making you type, so I had to wait. I needed help, so I got some. I got science. I have the Motherbox now, so I just asked space what it was I wanted to remember, and it started glowing at my face.
The repository of human knowledge and kitty memes tells me that my first comic book takes place in 1970. I find this out by searching the Google-Industrial-Image-Complex for covers. Seeing the cover is an incredibly important starting point because I no longer have the particular pamphlet in question. It’s far more powerful as an idea than it is a trinket. It’s a life-changing artifact, a mental monolith that was most likely traded or given away. I always thought that the act of touching it, let alone perusing its contents, would diminish it somehow. This is only finally being written because a freezing metal construct, passing its time in geosynchronous orbit, is allowing me to examine it from afar. 1970 is the year that the Beatles break up and it’s the year that the Environmental Protection agency is born.
My first comic was 15 cents. The average cost of a comic in 2019 is $4.16. A brand new comic is apparently worth 27.73 copies of my first one. It’s nice to know that I have technology and numerals acting as a firewall between the bitter sweetness of nostalgia and a high definition today. Of course in 1970, the average house cost $23,600, a gallon of gas was 36 cents, the AMC Gremlin that you would put the gas in was $1879.00, and a postage stamp was 7 cents and they certainly weren’t “forever”.
“23 years. Do you still care about anything that you cared about 23 years ago?” is a quotation from the movie Fever Pitch. It’s an eminently memorable line from an instantly forgettable film. I’ve cared about comics for 49 years now. My memory is filled with the people that walked through a comic shop door, casting a long shadow in my mind, like Indiana walking into a lonesome bar in Nepal. There were a lot of different doors that I’ve had a key to. So many more people than that. I met most of my favorite people and some of my least because of that comic. Some have been washed away by the relentless paper tide, it’s weekly arrival as seemingly inevitable as the sun rising and setting.
That first comic was really no different from the rest. The first domino in the chain, it may have had a different number of dots in a different pattern, but it would always be the only one that makes me miss my father.
My first comic book was Iron Man #29 and I don’t need to know what happened in it, I’m just glad it happened at all.