1982… The Year That Changed Comics For Me by Mike Wall

July 6, 2022 Articles

On June 1st 1982 on a second floor on the corner of First and Addison in a town called Elmhurst, a little comic store was opening for the first time. Somehow a 13 year old kid found out and rode his bike there. That kid’s mind was blown. He had always bought comics from the grocery stores, convenient stores, or the smoke shop in town that sold magazines. Now there was a plethora of comic choices. That store was called Graham Crackers Comics and that kid was me. I was one of those kids that kept coming in so the owner Jamie Graham decide to make me useful and put me to work doing odds and ends at the store. That was the beginning of a 40 year career of being in the company in some form or another.

Yet the opening of a comic store was not the only thing that happened for comics. There were quite a few events and happenings that year for comics. I will go into some of these events and how they blew the mind of a young comic reader.

I’ll go into some of the things that happened from January to May of the year that I had to find out later. Remember kids there was no interwebs back then. You know the Dark Ages. Look it up on your Google.

There were a bunch of cancellations and companies ceasing printing. DC cancelled their entire line of horror comics. Warren Publications (Creepy & Eerie magazines) suspended publication. Marvel cancelled Savage She-Hulk and Marvel Super-Heroes which was reprinting Incredible Hulk stories at the time.

Also there were great things happening as well. Alan Moore debuted Marvelman and V for Vendetta which will get in America at a later date. Both integral to the comic industry today. On the other end of the spectrum, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was featured in New Teen Titans #16. Bullseye “kills” Elektra in Daredevil #181. Lastly the Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck came out. That was only the first 5 months. Sadly I did not have a comic shop to either inform me of these happenings or better yet get me that product. I was still buying my comics at the smoke shop in downtown Elmhurst.

Now June 1st comes and Graham Crackers Comics opens and Jamie Graham has the product I never knew I needed. I will group the happenings of the year by company because there was a lot that happened. I never realized how much happened until I started writing this.

Marvel had a lot that year. To start they published Marvel Super-Heroes Contest of Champions. That book was chock full of heroes. A series like that won’t be seen again until Secret Wars. Spider-Man fought the Juggernaut in a 2 issue story. The Silver Surfer one-shot by Stan Lee and John Bryne (who was one of my favorite artists at the time). The Wolverine 4 issue mini came out which made him even cooler than before. The Epic imprint was started with Dreadstar. The Vision and Scarlet Witch mini came out which actually ties into the Disney+ show today. The Bob Layton Hercules mini came out which to this day I still love. Marvel also started their line of graphic novels where we got greats like The Death of Captain Marvel, New Mutants (their first appearance) and X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. Lastly, Marvel started publishing GI Joe A Real American Hero. I bought all of those when they came out but later traded them for early issues of New Teen Titans. I do love my George Perez.

DC was no slouch that year either. Legion of Super-Heroes started the Great Darkness Saga which to me is the greatest Legion story. Justice League of America and All-Star Squadron started the Crisis on Earth-Prime story line. They also started to publish the very first maxi-series, Camelot 3000. It is a futuristic King Arthur story with awesome Brian Bolland art. It was made specifically for the direct market which meant comic stores. I would have never seen it unless I went to a comic store. Marvel had GI Joe but DC published their first 3 issue mini of Masters of the Universe. Lastly there was an inter-company crossover between the two companies best-selling books. That book the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans. I was never able to get the treasury crossovers of the past so this was my chance.

There were other companies that published comics as well. It was not as prevalent as now but it was the beginning of the rise of the independents. With respect to Rick Berg, I will start off by mentioning that Grendel first appeared in Primer #2 by Comico. Yet Fantagraphics started Love & Rockets as well. Also Akira started in Japan. Pacific Comics made a strong push with books from Starslayer to Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds. These independent books were nowhere to be found on spinner racks of the stores I used to go to. So Jamie’s shop opened a whole new world of comics to me.

I could go on forever about the comics from 40 years ago, I could also go on forever about my adventures in the comic industry because Jamie Graham put a nerdy kid to work. I has been a wild ride. Maybe I’ll be around another 40 years but I doubt it. Darkness is my old firend. Maybe my next entry will be about all the first appearances from 1982 that shaped my comic reading. As always I thank you for reading my ramblings.