by Beau Smith
Is it truly possible in these modern times to have utter passion for reading comic books?
I ask this because I realized that my passion for reading comic books is not what it used to be. I don’t mean that I’ve lost my love of reading comic books, I mean that love has changed; not for the better, yet not for the worse.
Let me back up a little. Recently I had ordered THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOLUME 2 from right here at Westfield Comics. Gradually I’ve been buying the Marvel Comics Omnibus editions that collect the comic books that hooked me as a hardcore comic book reader. Most of those were Marvel Comics that were being published in the mid-1960s. It was DAREDEVIL #15 that officially was THE comic book that made Marvel Comics my favorite.
At that point, whenever I would go to the supermarket, drug store, or local newsstand, I would flip through the corners of the comics looking for that Marvel corner icon/logo. Generally, if I had the money, I would buy whatever Marvel Comic they had. If personal funds were limited at that time, I would go down the list of my favorites and pray that next time I had an extra 12 cents, that other issue of say, Journey Into Mystery, would still be there.
Don’t get me wrong, I still bought DC Comics and others; Gold Key, Archie, and Charlton, but my Marvel purchases came first. It was as if Stan Lee knew what was in my grade school mind and wrote those stories just for me.
Getting back to my recent AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOLUME 2 purchase, I started reading it as soon as I got it. I thought I had bought a time machine. As I read page after page I found myself able to say the dialogue almost panel per panel. Please remember, back in the 60s comics were harder to get. We didn’t have comic shops, mail order, and online services. While waiting for the latest issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN to come out, we would read and re-read the last month’s issue a multitude of times. By the time the new issue came out I was well schooled in what was going on in the storyline and the sub-plots. It made the new issue that much more enjoyable. I more than got the cover price out of my comics.
As I looked through THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOLUME 2 cover gallery, I could remember where I bought almost every original issue. I remembered what poses and panels I used to trace or draw in my school binder. I even remembered some of the letters in the letters column. This all may sound a bit strange to you, but I think if you were to poll other readers my age, you’d find that a lot of them did the same thing.
This makes me wonder, do readers today feel that same sorta passion when they read comics? I can say I honestly don’t, but you have to remember, not only am I older, but I’ve been in the business of comic books as a writer and marketing VP for 25 years. I know the ins and outs of almost every detail of comics, it will change your perspective a bit. Not in a bad way, just in the view of an experienced eye and mind.
I hope and pray readers today have the same passion for reading comic books that I did during that special time. With all the changes in comic books and technology I don’t know if it’s possible. I’m not talking about “the good old days”, I’m talking the reality of change. I love comic books, but not the same way I once did. That’s not any less, but I’m also not sure if it’s more either. It’s just different.
I wonder if readers even re-read new comics now. I’d love to know if they do and if so, how many times? I’m not passing judgment if they don’t, I’m just interested. I want today’s readers to enjoy today’s comics as much as I did when my passion burned red hot, when it was pure. I truly hope that somewhere, somebody is re-reading their latest issue of Wonder Woman or Captain America and can remember dialogue or a climatic scene as I did when Spider-Man found out for the first time that Norman Osborne was The Green Goblin or when Mary Jane Watson first said “Face it, Tiger…you just hit the jackpot.”
Please think about this, ask your buddies if they have the passion. I really believe it’s well worth asking yourself and others. Again, please don’t think I’ve lost my passion for comics, I have not, it has changed like I have with age. I’m now experience rich, but can no longer jump a fence in a single bound.
My last request for you is to take the time to re-read a new comic and ask yourself was it worth it? I hope it was.
Your well-read amigo,
The Flying Fist Ranch