Friday, August 20, 2004

I used to be cool ... right?

Last night I pulled Hard Times, the first American Flagg! collection, off the shelf and started reading. I wanted to refresh my memories because I'd been thinking about a Flagg! essay.

Instead I found myself remembering, as invariably I will, the circumstances of finding and reading the original issues lo, those many years ago. Discovering Flagg! was like watching Stripes or Caddyshack for the first time -- not necessarily a portal into the "adult, mature" world, but just something unquestionably cool. I'd never read anything like Flagg! before, and probably never since. I devoured every issue I could find, showed them to friends, took them to band camp (don't snicker, you'd have done it too), and read them over and over. I read more independent comics then -- Nexus, Cerebus, The Maze Agency, the occasional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (in glorious black & white, before they sold out), and every so often a Love & Rockets collection -- but thinking about those halcyon high-school days made me realize the steady diet of superheroes I'm on now.

What brought me to such a state? It would be easy to place blame with my current comics shop, because the one I went to in high school (long since gone) was more indie-friendly. The comics magazine I used to read, Amazing Heroes, is also gone, replaced in large part by the more superhero-friendly Wizard. Still, with the Internet (and especially the blogosphere), I can get plugged into the indie scene pretty easily.

No, at heart I've always read superheroes and I probably always will. Last night I realized it was Howard Chaykin's Shadow, done for DC, which led me to Flagg!; and likewise most of the other books I mentioned have some superhero connection. (Cerebus and TMNT both featured superhero parodies; Nexus was pretty much a superhero book; and Maze Agency was written by longtime Bat-writer Mike W. Barr. Love & Rockets I read out of curiosity.)

So have I ever been cool? Who knows? (Who cares?) All I can say is that American Flagg! makes me feel very cool indeed.

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