by Beau Smith
If you watch the news or, like me, are addicted to The Weather Channel (and Maria LaRosa), you’ll know that the great state of West Virginia was pounded by violent storms last week that knocked the power out of 55 of the state’s 58 counties, my county was one of them. All this happened as we are going through an extreme heat wave with it being 97-101 degrees every day with ultra high humidity. As I have mentioned many times before, without my central air conditioning, I am a very ugly person, both physically and mentally. Forget all the “Real Man” stuff, when the air is out and it’s hot, I am curled up in the fetal position whimpering for my mommy.
I freely admit I can’t take it. A lot of my readers always comment that they bet I wished I lived in the days of the old west. My truthful answer is “Nope, not for a minute.” I love the history of the old west, but I wouldn’t last five minutes in those times. I’m an armchair cowboy.
During the outage and suffering, I entertained myself with my fully charged iPad. Lucky for me, a few days before the storm came in, I had downloaded the first 10 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko issues. Granted, I have most of those issues in my childhood collection of comics, but they are buried in long boxes that I had no desire to rummage through in the non-air conditioned atmosphere called my home. I also have various collected and reprinted volumes of the issues, but again, with no electricity, the lamps refused to work. I decided to put my iPad to work.
Even in the sweltering heat, I was able to escape and enjoy the issue by issue adventures of the best known angst-ridden superhero, Spider-Man. With no TV, phones or internet to distract me, I was able to immerse myself into a time of my life that, like most of my hair, has disappeared.
I took my time and really paid attention to the nine grid panels, the dialog and the scenes that would be destined to become pop culture icons of comic books. It was wonderful to be re-introduced to villains like The Sandman, The Vulture, Kraven The Hunter, The Enforcers and The Lizard. I was able to blow up panels and really take them in discovering parts of Steve Ditko’s art that the printed page had never allowed me to see that clearly. The only thing missing was the smell of old newsprint.
I’ve been a comic book reader since 1958. Who would’ve ever thought that I could discover new things about comics I’ve read and re-read hundreds of times? Not I. It was great! It truly goes to show you that you can never lose your love for something that’s well-crafted and timeless. It gives me hope that writers and artists today might be able to produce characters and stories that will live forever in the ever-changing landscape of comic books. I pray that one day 100 years from now, there’ll be somebody else my age that will re-discover a comic book from their childhood that will bring them joy and entertainment. It goes to show that you never know something or somebody completely. There’s always gonna be something to learn.
The power is back on and things are slowly getting back to normal (if you can call the life I lead normal.) I hope that the evening storms stop coming and that by Saturday we will have seen the last of our 100 plus degree days. In the meantime, my advice to you is to take the time to sit down with some old comics that you think you know and re-read them. Haul out your original issues, slide those collections off the shelf, or download them to your device, just make sure you take the time to really mind meld into what those comics have to say, look deep into their four color eyes and discover them all over again.
But you can keep those stinkin’ power outage makin’ storms!
Your storm-shocked amigo,
The Flying Fist Ranch