We’re serializing Rob Kelly’s awesome book about how creators and big-time fans got into comics, written by said pros and fanatics themselves. As of this installment, this will be a weekly venture at the ol’ 13th D. Today, Part 1 of blogger Erika D. Peterman‘s poignant beginnings in the comics world.
I was 9 when we lost our nice little house in the suburbs, the fallout from my father’s drinking problem and the inevitable loss of his respectable school principal job.
For years afterward, the thing I missed most was the cozy bedroom where I’d spent countless hours with my precious comic book collection. I was a loner by nature and an avid reader, and my mother, to her everlasting credit, indulged my habit by taking me regularly to the Minute Market convenience store after school. I’d spend a whole dollar or two, a small fortune for a kid in the 1970s, on comics like Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals, Betty & Veronica, Richie Rich and my favorite, Wonder Woman.
From the age of 6, I’d collected dozens upon dozens of them. I was an only child at the time, and reclusive. Diana Prince, Jughead Jones, Isis, Li’l Jinx and Betty Cooper were my constant companions, and they fueled my introvert’s imagination. They also saved my ass. I had learned to draw reasonably well from studying comic book illustrations, and my ability to re-create Superman on demand for bullies came in handy. It is not an exaggeration to say that comic books became my religion.
Kids who hide in closets because the adults are fighting need something to transport them. Some find escape in music, sports, church or drugs. I found it in the mind-blowing, four-color panels of Wonder Woman fighting the Nazis or going toe-to-toe with the Cheetah. If she could be strong and fearless, maybe I could, too. Since I didn’t have the best social skills, it was a joy to spend time with characters who were — and I mean this in the best possible way — predictable and transparent.
After my parents finally, mercifully divorced, most of our belongings, including the majority of my comics, were packed into a storage unit. The “temporary” move to my late great-grandfather’s house lasted until I was in high school, and space was scarce. When my sister and brother were born, so was money. I still bought and read comic books, but much more sporadically than before. I simply didn’t have the cash. But I never stopped thinking about my collection, which I’d always planned to reclaim one day. It probably amounted to fewer than 100 books, but the number of comics seemed huge in my imagination because they had been so precious to me.
Surely there were hundreds just waiting to be re-discovered and possibly (though not probably) shared with my siblings.
To Be Continued!
Erika D. Peterman is a writer, editor and unapologetic geek who lives in Florida with her husband, John, and their two children. Erika is co-founder of the comics blog Girls Gone Geek, and Wonder Woman is still her heroic icon of choice.
“Lost and Found” © 2013 Erika D. Peterman