Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comic book phony

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

I admit it... I am a comic book phony. Or at least I was. Let me take you back to my teenage years and how I got into comic books.

The year was 19XX (I don't know when, I've just always wanted to do that XX thing). I was a teen and the only comic books I had ever really read were Archie comics. I had gotten then from my Aunt who liked them and had a bunch long ago (60s and 70s). The late 80's rolled around and gotten into comic books. I was more interested in the artwork than the stories. This was the first part of my phony-ness. I had always been a drawer (look here and you will see) and comic books were awesome. A couple of years went buy and I had become an avid collector (as far as being broke and only being able to buy one here or there is a collector). The problem was that I wasn't reading them I was only collecting them. It was the great comic glut of the 90's.

The comic book industry needed a boost in the arm and they figured out a way to do it. They came up with the idea of relaunching like every freaking title they owned so there was a mass of #1s to collect. It was a plan designed to get more kids into comic books and I guess it worked because I fell for it. Soon I was snagging every number one I could get my hands on. Bayou Billy... really?! Bayou Billy? Oh the shame.

Even in all this I was still only ever reading Archie comics. Of course Archie (owned by Marvel) was putting out #1s as well and I enjoyed new stuff like Archie 3000 (set in a Utopian Riverdale) which was alot like Hill Valley in Back to the Future. When the buzz of number ones was getting a little low comic books upped the ante by releasing gimmick covers. Foil covers, Lenticular covers, Embossed covers, Alternate covers, you name it, they released it.

It was at this time that Image comics was coming into their own. Image was like that Presbyterian church that formed when members of the larger Presbyterian church splintered off because they didn't like the sermons. Image was made up of Marvel artists like Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen (who was the best in my opinion), and Jim Lee who got tired of the BS at Marvel and went on to make it for themselves. They really took comic books to a whole new level in terms of quality. Comics went from what you were used to seeing in Sunday papers (the quality of the ink and paper) to high-end glossy and vibrant inks for their comics. Marvel and DC (and everyone else) had to change everything to catch up to the quality of the product Image was putting out. As a side note Todd McFarlane did the same thing to the toy industry as well. When his company put out action figures based on his comics they took it to a whole new level of detail that hadn't been there before. All the other companies had to catch up and bring up the quality of their toys too.

So I went on and continued to collect special covers and number ones, professing to be a comic book geek when I didn't hardly read any of it. Such a phony...

Fast forward to 20XX (te he he) and here I am, still a comic book geek but slowly making good on it. Over the last several years I had become more interested in what was going on inside the comics now. This was good because I didn't spend all that money buying all those issues when I can now by collected anthologies at a 10th of the price. I love graphic novels (especially of older comics) and get a certain joy out of reading and enjoying some of the dated stories.

In the end (after all these years) I ended up with one long and one short box of comics. Most of them are those number ones from the 90's. They aren't worth crap because when they did all these special editions they printed a bazillion of each.

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