by Jordan Danger
CONFESSIONS OF A COMIC BOOK DESTROYER: WHY THE SORRY STATE OF MY COMICS IS A REFLECTION OF MY GENUINE GEEKHOOD
|My poor comic books.
Let me talk to you about my comic book collection.
It started when I was about ten years old. Dad began bringing them home one by one, starting with X-Men, meandering into Batman and Spiderman, and then at my request, back to X-Men. Any title under the X-Men banner was welcome. Later when my brother and I became more possessive of the comics, he brought home Wolverines for me, and something else for Mike. I had the Rogue miniseries. I had every book from the Age of Apocalypse storyline. I loved them.
You wouldn’t know it from looking at them now, stashed haphazardly in an old tomato box, covers torn and pages water damaged. You’d think they were something that was never taken seriously, never truly appreciated.
I tell you, that isn’t so.
Why are my comic books in terrible shape? Because I never thought of them as collector’s items. When I say I read those comics, I mean I read them through and through.
I examined every detail of every drawing, noting the difference between each artist. I studied the poses, the costumes, the backgrounds, the artistic renderings of what super powers like telekinesis look like. I read each line in my head like it was actually being said. If I had trouble following the order of the panels on a particular page, I would reread it, again and again, until I got it perfectly right…down to the pauses, the tone, the inflections.
I dragged my comics to the cottage and back more times than I can possibly recount. I read them in the musty damp bunk beds in our trailer, and I stuffed them into backpacks for sleepovers. My comic books were loved to death the way our first teddy bears meet the same fate: dragged through the mud, our constant companion, we are never without them.
COMICS BECAME AN ACTIVITY
Not long after we started collecting, there was a power outage at my grandparents’ house in the woods and we were stuck there, in the dark—something I didn’t do well with as a child. Desperate for a distraction, I grabbed a candle and some paper, and began drawing. What did I draw? Super heroes, of course.
So naturally, then comic books became something to study and trace over, as well. I knew which artists I liked and which ones I hated. I designed my own characters based off all my favourite attributes and personality quirks of the pre-existing characters. I created new super powers. I stuffed those comics into the pages of my sketchbooks, and I dragged those around with me to every family outing, every trip, and every place with a corner where I could curl up and draw.
I cried when Wolverine lost his Adamantium. I cheered when Sabretooth turned out not to be lobotomized by Logan’s claw, and I gasped when he eviscerated Psylocke. I read with fearful eyes when the Phalanx began assimilating the young mutants, and I then added Generation X to my reading roster.
Always, there were comic books in my bag, in my locker, under my pillow, by the bathtub.
MY COMICS BECAME ME
So when I hear the occasional geek gasp in dismay when they see my tomato box of the favourites that have stayed with me for over twenty years, I just smile. They think that the state of my comics suggests a lack of love for these volumes. I know that in reality, I loved these comic books to their very deaths. Yes, some of them could have been worth some money; but they were worth far more to me, read by candlelight in the middle of the woods in a rain-soaked sleeping bag with my pencil and sketchbook by my side. I savaged these books, devoured them whole, and left behind nothing but staples and spines. They are a part of me in a way that few other things ever have been.
My comic books are in terrible shape because they helped shape me.
Jordan Danger is a veteran blogger, writer, and marketing consultant based in Ottawa, Ontario. She is also President and Editor of CapitalGeekGirls.com. Jordan blogs at GirlCrafted.com, a lifestyle blog about crafting life both literally and figuratively. She loves DIY projects, her dog, and Oxford commas.