I love comics. I love the medium. Comics, when you tap into even a fraction of their potential, can tell a story that neither the written word, a series of images, or an animation could ever achieve, but I am getting a head of myself. This love came about through a long road of discovering comics. Let me take you there.
I sought these two out because of their respective cartoons that aired in the eighties while I was a child. I loved Heathcliff’s cartoon but his actual comic did not inspired me much. Garfield, on the other hand, was very much a comic inspiration for me. Something about the lazy fat cat who hated Mondays, loved Lasagna, and had two goofy friends named John and Odie just clicked with me both as a kid and as an adult. As a kid I read a lot, after I got over my hatred of reading, which often meant that I begged my parents for trips to the bookstore and/or library so I could blow my not so hard-earned allowance on a new book of some kind. That is when I found the Garfield trade collections.
Looking at my shelf full of graphic novels and manga, I can easily see how Garfield made it so easy for me to get into comics. Either dollars for a year’s worth of Garfield comics which kept me reading for an hour or two a day (I re-read them constantly) and wanting a new one each week (which really was each month as I could definitely not afford eight bucks a week) was a gateway to other, if not better, comics.
I no longer have most of those trades. I donated them so that someone else could enjoy them as much as I did as a child.
Along came the X-Men.
Unlike Faith I had access to Television and I did not have an aversion to violence. This meant that in the early nineties when Fox distributed the X-men the Animated Series and because of it, I very much had a need to read more stories about Wolverine, like almost all little boys at that age, and Archangel, followed very quickly byNightcrawler, as soon as I discovered he existed.
This was my first introduction into how confusing and annoying comics were. Even though Marvel happened to re-launch one of the X-Men titles (this one only named X-men rather than the longer running titles The Uncanny X-men), there was still plenty of back story I just didn’t understand, even though the cartoon had rehashed most of the major plots. The X-men line also taught me how much I hated cross overs, since they required me to purchase multiple comics of different titles I didn’t collect, and as a child, could not afford since my allowance generally only allowed me two or three comics a month as it was. I followed many X-men related titles off and on throughout those years.
That being said I loved the stories. It was one of the first comics that taught me comics did not have to be three panels long and tell a joke. The initial story lines were in no way funny and dealt with the characters as deep, emotionally flawed people, who happen to have super powers, the last part being what I most cared about as a child. However as I grew, I became to appreciate the first two aspects more. As a teenager, however, graphic aesthetics were a large part of how I picked a comic and when Marvel started having trouble with their artists, and the style of the x-men changed drastically, I started to lose patience. When Colossus decided to defect from the X-Men over his sister dying from the Legacy virus, that was the final straw.
And in between all this X-Men was Elfquest.
But that more on that tomorrow! If you’re interested in this series of articles, you can follow the tag Nojh’s Comics History.