There’s one event almost solely responsible for my entry into the world of comics: the death of Superman. I knew of comics before that and had a stack that a neighbor had given me, but probably knew superheroes more from their cartoon versions than anything. Then in 1993 I heard that Superman had been killed in the comics. I was shocked. You can’t kill Superman. How can you kill Superman? I had to find out.
If you were reading comics at this time, though, you’ll remember that Superman #75 was a notoriously difficult comic to get ahold of and seemed to jump way up in price as soon as it was out. But I just had to know what happened. Enter my super-supportive parents who helped me call around to every comic and used book store in the greater Toledo area until we finally found one at a random used book store that I don’t remember ever seeing before or after that fateful day. I don’t recall how much we (my parents) paid for that issue, but I hope it wasn’t too much because after getting more into comics and flipping through my collection I realized it was actually a second printing and not the unbagged newstand copy. Quick aside, after years of staring at the black-bagged version at my local comic shop and seeing the price drop to a far-more-reasonable $25 or so, I finally bought it and immediately opened it.
I don’t actually remember reading the comic itself, but it captured my imagination to the point where, over the ensuing summer, I was able to piece together most of the Doomsday story, Funeral for a Friend and the Reign of the Supermen stuff that followed. This was pre-internet, so I basically just kept a running tally of issues in my head and did my best to remember what I already had. Soon enough my mom and dad were driving me to my long-time comic book store JC’s Comic Shop just about every Wednesday so I could feed my habit. At the time I had an allowance, most of which wound up going towards my comic addiction. What started with Superman comics soon spread to Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and a host of other characters I’m still reading about to this day, though far less voraciously.
Today marks the 75 anniversary of the very first Superman comic book: Action Comics #1. While Tweeting my happy birthday wishes to the character I realized something very important: I owe much of my life to this character. By getting into comics, I not only found a hobby that I loved, but also one that helped me focus my creative ideas. I’ve wanted to write comics since I can remember and it’s something I still strive to do to this day. That focus helped me realize I wanted to be a writer which lead me to look for colleges with creative writing focuses. I wound up going to Ohio Wesleyan University where I met my wife and the mother of my child.
As if that wasn’t enough (and it is), a desire to get a job in comics lead me to apply for an internship at Wizard (along with Marvel and DC who I never heard back from). The Wizard internship turned into a job that not only moved me out to New York, but also introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known, people that, even though none of us work for Wizard anymore, continue to be friends, editors and employers. I’m able to help support my family because of the friends I made there and the skills I developed.
I tried thinking about what my life would have been like without comics and I honestly can’t tell you. I’m sure my creative streak would have found other avenues of expression and I might have even found my way to comics without Superman, but it’s undeniable how important comic books and specifically Superman were in my life. So, with that in mind, happy birthday Supes!