Comic books to me, growing up, were a great equalizer of sorts. What do I mean by that? Well, my family generally did not have the kind of money that allowed us to go to the movie theaters or to buy the latest and greatest action figures, but my uncle worked at a local drug store that sold comic books. Now, I couldn’t afford to purchase every issue because they came out every week and that got expensive, so my uncle would be sure to set aside any issues that got damaged in shipping and were unable to sell but still perfectly readable for a kid like me.
Getting a hold of these comic books allowed me to keep up with all of the other kids at school. I may not have had the accompanying action figure to play with but I was able to speak comics with them. And since I wasn’t able to have the action figure, you bet I knew more about the comic series than anyone else in my class did. Kids used to come up to me when they had questions about the series or if they wanted a prediction on what would happen in the next episode. In this way comic books helped to equalize me, in my low-income upbringing, with many of my peers who may not have had a similar financial situation as me and my family did growing up.
In this same vein, comic books really allowed me to explore my creative side and express myself in ways that might not have otherwise been possible. Since my love for comics developed early on, it helped me learn to read. Some of the earliest “books” that I was reading was the Spiderman and Ironman comic book series. After I started reading pretty proficiently, I then took to writing, because, after all, what 6 year old kid doesn’t want to write his own comic book? As I began writing my own series, that is about the time I started drawing and learning how to express myself through the characters that I was creating. At first they weren’t that complex. My characters would simply end up going on adventures that I wish me and my family could afford to go on. For example, one adventure was flying across the ocean, and another was going to the tallest place in the world. They were fantasies that I dreamed of doing someday, but they were all possible through comics.
Later my characters got surprisingly complex. As I look back at some of my work now, I wonder what my parents thought having their 8 year old son making a comic book series like this, ha! They were just happy that the hobby allowed me to interact with the kids at school and helped me develop some life long friendships that I still have today.
Clearly comics played a vital part in my early life and they really helped me develop into who I am today. How did comics influence you while you were younger? Share your thoughts below.