Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Comics: The Gateway Drug! (Junkin' Memories)

Scratch most resellers deeply enough and you'll find a collector/lover of something, be it antiques, pottery, books or music.  Many of us started buying secondhand because of our collections and selling secondhand because the collections were about to get out of hand.  For me, it was comic books.

Actually, comics were the first serious collection I had.  If I had stuck there, I might or might not have gone on to sell.  Collectors rarely stick to one area, though.  Catholic religious items came along.  My library grew wildly out of hand.  I had a flirtation with anime fandom.  I fell in love with penguins.  As my music interests grew, so did my CD collection.  From time to time, I would pick up the oddball tchotchke, just because it was cool looking.   I kept telling myself that if I had time, space and money, then I would collect older toys and children's books.  Then, one day, I realized that it was out of hand.  One person just does not need this much stuff.  And Eddie's Attic was born!

But it all began with comic books.

I can't pin down the exact moment I became I comic book collector.  I can remember reading them as far back as seven years old. A friend of my parents had made a massive toy chest for my brother and I.  It was basically a huge wooden box with no lid, but several large shelves above it.  We could keep practically everything we owned in it.  I used to arrange stuffed animals on the top and lay down in it to read comics.  There was a Superboy comic that was my favorite.

Around this time, Dad was transferred to Germany by the Army.  He went several months before we joined him, so I could finish the school year.  When we got off the plane, he had a stack of comics for me.  I remember the one on top was a Spider-Man.  It seems like my reputation for comics was already cemented, at least in my family.

When my dad was stationed in Germany, all of the kids read comics.  We traded back and forth all the time.  Whenever someone got transferred back to the States, they would make their kids give all their comics away.  I amassed a nice collection this way.  I kept them in a wooden toy chest.  The one I was talking about above was too large to ship over, so we had a much smaller, more conventional one with a lid.  I filled it with comics and would lay on top of them and read.

One would think that gathering a collection of comics from departing kids would start to make me aware that my collection might one day be given away, but I was completely oblivious.  So I was blindsided when my parents made me do the same to mine.  It was probably the first traumatic event of my childhood.

Not nearly as traumatic as the one that immediately followed.  Mom decided that my brother and I were getting too old for stuffed animals, so we had to throw them all away.  Yes, throw them all away!  What was she thinking?   That included my much-beloved Beartrack, the Teddy Bear I had owned as long as I could remember.  I had loved all the fuzz off him at one point, so my grandmother had sewn washcloths on him as a new covering.  I had to carry him and all the others to an unmarked grave in a dumpster at our Army housing in Germany.  I think I still have scars from that.  Even Mom told me much, much later that tossing him was a mistake.

When we got back to the US, Dad was stationed in Texas.  I started buying comics at the Circle K. Things just kind of grew from there.  By the time I was in high school, I was getting off the bus early on Wednesdays, because that was the day they put the new comics on the rack at the convenience store.  I'd walk the rest of the way home.

I did an oral report about comics in my ninth grade English class that scandalized my teacher, who happened to be my very gossipy preacher's wife.  Guess what they talked about in my mother's Sunday School class that Sunday?  My mother's response was classic:  "Who is the best reader in your class?"  Gossipy Pastor's Wife:  "Eddie."  Mom:  "Who reads the most in your class."  GPW:  "Eddie."  Mom:  "Who has the best vocabulary?"  GPW:  "Eddie."  Mom:  "Who is your best writer?"  GPW: "Eddie."  Mom: "And your problem is what, exactly?"

My best friend and I would spend Wednesdays in the summer at the local flea market looking at back issues.  After my parents divorced, my dad would take us to other flea markets and buy me other comics.  I went to my first comics shop when I was a senior in high school.  The idea that there was a whole store with nothing but comics blew my teen-aged mind.

From there it was on to the big flea market in Louisville, which is where my hunt finally expanded to include other items.  A junker was born!  I spent my college years hitting this flea a couple of times a year.  After graduation, I moved to Louisville,  home of the both the flea and the comic shop, and I would say that my destiny was kind of sealed.

Of course, I wouldn't become a seller for several years yet, but when I did, one thing I was determined to sell was comic books.  Might as well put a lifetime of knowledge and experience to use somehow.

I don't buy very many new comics these days, except for resale purposes.  I've lost interest in a lot of the contemporary comics market.  There's probably something out there that would appeal to me, but I just don't have the time any more.  Instead, I concentrate on filling holes among my older issues and enjoying the classic issues I still have.  It's still a great past-time.

And it led me into a wonderful world.

No comments: