Roger’s Comic Ramblings: Who Does This Roger Guy Think He Is?

Your host, Roger Ash

Your host, Roger Ash

by Roger Ash

You’ve been reading my posts on the Westfield blog since it started up (at least I hope you have). You’ve seen the numerous interviews I’ve done for Westfield over the years. You’ve seen videos I’ve recorded for the Westfield YouTube channel. You may have even noticed my name in the indicia of the Westfield catalog. After all this time, you might be wondering, “OK, who is this Roger guy?” (Or is that being too narcissistic on my part?) Well, this time out I thought I’d tell you a bit more about myself and my obsessions including, of course, comics.

Howard the Duck #25. The comic that started it all.

Howard the Duck #25. The comic that started it all.

My folks moved to Wisconsin when I was three, but they couldn’t get away from me that easily! I’ve been here ever since although I’ve moved around a bit. When going to grade school in Janesville, I would pass the Stop-N-Go, a local convenience store, every day. I would occasionally join my friends to buy some candy, but I soon became intrigued by the spinner rack filled with comics. I’d take a closer look now and then, but nothing grabbed my attention until the day I found a copy of Howard the Duck. This was closely followed by the discovery of a Laff-A-Lympics comic which was a favorite Saturday Morning cartoon of mine at the time. That’s all it took. I was hooked. Soon my comic buying expanded to many other Marvel titles; with Amazing Spider-Man, Battlestar Galactica, and X-Men being big favorites.

New Teen Titans #1

New Teen Titans #1

I didn’t get into DC Comics until a few years later. One day I went grocery shopping with my mom and discovered the first issue of New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. My habit expanded. Then, I learned there was a shop in Madison (roughly an hour away from home) called Capital City Comics that specialized in comics. My fanboy dreams had just come true! A shop filled with comics! I would beg my parents to take me to the shop whenever we were in Madison and they often gave in to my requests. Then one day the owner, Bruce, told me his then-wife Sherill was starting a mail order service and would I like information. You bet I would! And that lead to me becoming one of the original Westfield customers.

My love of comics lead to a love of reading and writing. In fact, my main major in college was English with a writing emphasis (in case you’re curious, my secondary major was Theatre) which I undertook with the desire to write comics. While that dream hasn’t quite come true, I am extremely happy to be writing about comics for Westfield and occasionally for TwoMorrows (Back Issue magazine and two volumes of the Modern Masters series). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After I graduated from college I was looking for work and decided to see if anything was available at Westfield. Unfortunately, nothing was. About a month later I got a call from Sherill saying that a job had opened up and was I still interested. I was and they haven’t been able to get rid of me yet. One of the main reasons I stick around is because I love comics and I want to share that with others.

Now, all of this didn’t happen in quite the linear order in which it’s presented. There was some overlap of parts, but that’s the general story of how I got to where I am today, but there’s more to me than that. I’ve grown up a fan of all things pop culture.

Me with animation legend, Bill Melendez who's best known for his work on the Peanuts specials.

Me with animation legend, Bill Melendez who's best known for his work on the Peanuts specials.

I was hooked into animation at an early age by classic Disney, Warner Brothers, MGM, and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. As I got older and learned more about animation, I became a huge fan of creators like directors Chuck Jones and Tex Avery and animators Preston Blair and Glen Keane. I also became fascinated by the works of Ralph Bakshi. My passion for animation is still alive and well. It’s a magical medium in which you really can do anything (a trait it shares with comics).

Me at one of my favorite places, Wrigley Field

Me at one of my favorite places, Wrigley Field

As a youngster, my dad taught me to be a Cubs fan, which I remain to this day (although there are times that it’s really @#$%&!! difficult). This has taught me two important life lessons: the power of hope and how to deal with disappointment. I’m also a Packers fan which hasn’t taught me near as much.

Star Wars came out when I was in 7th grade, and for anyone who was around then, you know what a cultural revolution that was. There really has been nothing else quite like it since then. It also awakened my love for science fiction and Fantasy which was helped along when my older sister gave me a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit. This even spilled over to my leisure time as I was quite the D&D player in Junior High and High School. I still enjoy a good dungeon crawl now and then.

The English Beat's Beat Girl in a commission by her designer, cartoonist Hunt Emerson. From the Ash collection.

The English Beat's Beat Girl in a commission by her designer, cartoonist Hunt Emerson. From the Ash collection.

Music has long been a part of my life as I’ve played trombone since 5th grade. Growing up in the 80s, I developed a love for punk and new wave music and when my friend Owen first played me some music by Madness and the English Beat, I discovered the wonders and joys of ska music.


Me with rising stand-up star, Kyle Kinane.

Me with rising stand-up star, Kyle Kinane.

And running through my life has been a love of comedy from classics like the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers to sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Cheers to British comedy like Monty Python and Benny Hill to stand-up comics like Jim Gaffigan and Bill Cosby. But growing up, no comedy lights shone brighter than Steve Martin and Bill Murray. Martin hosting Saturday Night Live was a reason to celebrate. The Jerk, Caddyshack, and Stripes became touchstone movies for me and my friends. There really is healing power in a good laugh and I’ve tried my best to bring a smile to people’s faces.

So that’s me in a nutshell. Too much information? Maybe, but now when you read something I’ve written you’ll know more of who I am and where I’m coming from and that could guide you to listen to what I have to say or dismiss me as a goon.

So, what about you? Got any stories about yourself and comics to share? Maybe one of your other pop culture obsessions? Share it in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.

Now, go read a comic!

Classic comics covers came from the Grand Comics Database.

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