Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My experience with comics diversity

I didn't grew up the big Marvel or DC fan like other kids my generation did. Of course, we all had the huge cartoons, like TMNT and Ghostbusters, and then there was Voltes V and Bioman, but me, I got into a whole lot more. I wanted to see as many different kinds of cartoons as I could, so I scoured TV channels to see what they had on offer. I was fortunate to have appreciated and enjoyed the Ub Iwerks and Merrie Melodies and Betty Boops.

When I was older, this line of thinking extended to the comics I read. I believe the first of these that I read were definitely Archies, and by extension I saw the Tintins and Asterixes in bookstores. It was at school that I got to see my first Batmans and X-Mens among classmates, but then my batchmates were pretty discreet about showing & sharing them back then, so it would be much later before I even got to read them.

But then, in the back of my mind I would remember even more comics I wanted to experience. There were the Hong Kong comics hiding under the huge pile of Mandarin language magazines, back when Robinson's Galleria was first new. There were the gorgeous Heavy Metal covers, hiding under the Playboys and Hustlers. There were the Mad and Cracked magazines, which may as well have been comics format. And then there were the komiks.

I think our neighborhood had a pretty good deal when it came to komiks compared to others. No, we didn't get Kick Fighter or Bata Batuta circulated here, but we had Pilipino Funny Komiks For Kids, and our distributor was also the local newspaper man. He made the deal to bring Funny Komiks to our houses every Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, and it would be paid for along with out newspaper subscription.

Needless to say, it was a pretty sweet deal.

Around my high school years, the comics scene went through an explosion. Everyone was talking X-Men and Image, but at around the same time, Evangelion was poised to make anime a worldwide phenomenon.

So here I am, surrounded by classmates talking all Wolverine this and Gundam that, and frankly I was getting bored. In our tiny classroom conversations, they would make grudging acknowledgements that, yes, an Archie is good for a rainy afternoon, and Tintin is really old and artsy, and somebody's parents wouldn't let him but a Heavy Metal, but mostly encountered closed minds who could not fathom why I had as much enthusiasm for these comics as I did for the latest Samurai X. I was the special, outsider kid, who was just really into comics.

Such bollocks.

So, unsatisfied with following the pack, I set out to look for comics on my own. Any kind of comics, comics that wouldn't neatly fit any categories. I did it with a wistful naivete and lack of money too, so it wasn't like I was reading Maus early on. I never even heard about Watchmen until college, that was how out of the loop I really was.

But even with the limitations afforded me, among bargain bins and shady characters, I found different comics. The Valiants and AD 2000s, who no one else I knew cared about. Elfquest. Manga Vizion. Ms. Tree. newsstrip reprints of Dick Tracy and Garth.

A lot of them were segments of longer stories too, but even just reading parts of them were fruitful. I liked anthologies like Negative Burn and Critters. I found pieces of Xenozoic Tales and A Distant Soil. And of course, there was an even bigger list of books I wanted but couldn't even get my hands on.

Through the years, I accumulated and lost comics. I constantly had a problem with not having enough space for them. Some were lost, some were never returned, and some were disposed of by either me or my family. I often lamented, but grew to accept that my parents didn't have the culture of taking care of books that I wanted to nurture.

But of course, as I got older, I got more of my way, and like to think I currently have an interesting, if unimpressive collection. Like many people, though, I stopped collecting when the internet became a viable resource to find comics. As of today, I still don't have the shelf space I'd want for serious collecting.

So, how did you guys discover comics?

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