Every week, we’re serializing Rob Kelly’s terrific book about how creators and well-known fans got into comics, written by themselves. Today is Part 2 of blogger Erika D. Peterman‘s poignant beginnings in the comics world.
Part 1 can be found here.
The summer before my junior year, my mom and I returned to the storage site to get the last of the usable stuff and junk the rest. Rummaging through that unit brought back a rush of memories, none of them good. I just wanted to find my comics and flee. After about 30 minutes of fruitless searching, I was nearly frantic with anxiety. All my other stuff was more or less in one spot, but not a single dusty issue had surfaced. I knew it was bad when my mom looked concerned, because she is not a particularly sentimental person.
She gently explained that my dad likely pawned them a long time ago, and that she was sorry I’d had to find out that way. My father had stolen from us before — jewelry, birthday money, my great-grandfather’s rifles — so I knew it was true. My comics represented some of the few happy, carefree moments of my childhood, and now they were gone forever. By the time we got back home, I was in an inconsolable rage. I couldn’t stop crying, and since I was estranged from my father, I couldn’t pick up the phone to demand … what, exactly? I don’t remember how long it took me to recover, only that I was devastated. Eventually, I moved on to the next adolescent crisis, as 16-year-olds do.
Sometime around my college years, comics found me again.
A used bookstore near campus sold comics, and on a whim, I went with a friend who was heavily into X-Men. A copy of Wonder Woman caught my eye, and it was as if we had never parted. George Perez was in the middle of his glorious writer/artist run on the book, and as I flipped through its pages, I felt what could only be described as child-like glee. Comics may have been more expensive, more serious and harder to find, but they were still there. And they still thrilled me.
They still do. My own children read comic books now, and whenever I see them captivated by Archie or Ultimate Spider-Man, I’m reminded of how much paper adventures can mean to a kid — how they open the door to a world of fantasy and possibility. Whatever losses transpired early on, comics gave me an invaluable love of reading and a life of the mind. They showed me that art is a refuge, and that it can save you in ways you can’t begin to imagine. They also proved that a creative existence was attainable, sparking my interest in writing and subsequent career as a journalist. I cannot imagine my life without them.
They say time travel isn’t yet possible, but when I collect my stash on Wednesday, I am 9 years old again. And damn if I’m not the happiest kid on the block.
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