Monday, July 26, 2004

A brief bio

Now that the site's being updated on the Comics Weblog Update page, I might actually start getting outside traffic. For those of you who may be curious, here's a little about me.

I was born November 1, 1969, and started reading comics at a fairly early age. I read mostly DC, including Justice League of America, Flash, the Batman books, and the Superman books. Memorable stories from that period include the Justice League/Justice Society team-ups, the Avengers squaring off against Count Nefaria (with art by John Byrne, although I didn't realize the significance of Byrne at the time), the last issues of the old Teen Titans series (featuring Titans West), Marshall Rogers drawing Batman in Detective, and the first few issues of New Teen Titans. In fact, probably the last comics I read for a while were Teen Titans.

In those days I was exposed to older comics through hardback collections -- the volumes focusing on Batman and Superman, and the Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes volumes featuring Batman and Wonder Woman. I read paperback-sized reprints of the first Amazing Spider-Mans and Fantastic Fours, and tabloid-sized Famous 1st Editions reprinting key DC issues. One of the creepiest stories I remember from childhood was a tabloid-sized reprint of the "Spidey gets 4 extra arms" tale which began in Amazing Spider-Man #100.

Of course, TV was a big part of my early exposure to science-fiction and superheroes. There were Star Trek reruns on Sunday mornings and Batman reruns weekday afternoons. Super Friends debuted around the time I started watching cartoons, and it was soon followed by a Batman-only cartoon. I watched The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. The biggest wave probably hit in 1977, when I saw Star Wars for the first time. My mom said it would change my life, and sure enough....

Still, I was getting older, and once I got out of 6th grade, started drifting away from comics. 7th graders were more mature than that, after all. I did something much cooler with my time -- I started playing Dungeons & Dragons with my new friends from junior high. I got very into role-playing games at this point, and when the Star Trek RPG came out, it renewed my interest in Trek. Star Trek II came out the summer after 7th grade; Return of the Jedi got me from 8th grade to 9th grade; and Star Trek III closed out my junior-high career.

Those movies got me back into comics. Starting in 10th grade, I joined a new D&D group, and it became my habit to stop by a convenience store on the way. Along with the Tahitian Treat and York Peppermint Patties, one weekend in the fall of 1984 I picked up DC's Star Trek #9. The third Trek movie had left its heroes unsettled, facing courts-martial, and without the starship that had been their home. At the awkward age of 14, I had gotten emotionally invested in the former crew of the Enterprise, and Star Trek #9 picked up where the movie left off. I devoured this comic and sought out the ones which preceded it. It led me to a little hole-in-the-wall shop on the edge of the UK campus, where I soon learned that new comics arrived every Friday. By the summer of 1985 I too was there every week, getting new books and accumulating back issues. I borrowed New Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron, and Firestorm from a friend.

I took comics on vacation and to band camp. When school started in 1986, I finally had a girlfriend, and I stopped going to D&D on Saturday nights. I kept getting comics. As 1987 dawned, the girlfriend had gone, but I kept getting comics. Comics helped get me through four years of college and three years of law school. In the nine years I've been practicing law, I've continued to buy, read, and collect them.

As you can see from the earlier posts, I read mostly superhero comics. Superheroes dominate comic books like sports dominate television, and like TV, comics have a lot more than superheroes. I wish I read more of the non-superhero books, but old habits die hard.

Actually, the way I think about it, I started reading comics because they could portray fantastic events. Prose can do that too, of course, manipulating a little thing we like to call "imagination," but comics require a certain amount of imagination too -- for example, when the mind fills in the gaps between panels. As a kid, comics, prose, and moving pictures all stimulated my developing mind. On that level I just wanted escapism, and it turns out I always have.

So I probably read comics because they tell me about superheroes, not because that's all I think comics should be. I suppose that's why there are so many words devoted to the four Robins. I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated by these characters, but you see the results. I'm trying to be a little less verbose on this site too -- I'll probably start a "Since You Asked" feature for the newer folks.

By the way, here's some rundown on the non-comics areas: I play the trombone; I read a lot of nonfiction; I start the day with Don Imus and finish it with Jon Stewart. For the past 5 years, I represented poor people as an attorney for a nonprofit agency. I did a lot of domestic-relations work, including child custody and divorce. (If you've ever come home and wanted something that totally didn't remind you of your job, comics are pretty good for taking your mind off hellish divorces.) Now I'm getting back into private practice. I watch college basketball and pro football, and listen to a lot of music. I'm married to the best wife a guy could have, who supports my love of superheroes, sci-fi, and all the other things I thought I'd have to tone down.

Anyway, if you've slogged through all of this, congratulations, because I know it can get pretty thick. Bear with me, and please come back. Thanks for reading!

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