Did you read comics as a kid?

Yes, I did. From my earliest moments, I remember being interested in drawn images to the near-exclusion of photographic ones. [Hey cub reporters! Cute anecdote alert!] When I was a little kid, my best friend Kristin’s family had a sailboat that they kept at a marina in Michigan. I used to go up there with them occasionally to spend the weekend. The four-hour car ride was nearly interminable to my seven-year-old self, and, to keep us happy, Kristin’s mom would buy us each a three-pack of comics at a gas station near the beginning of the trip. They used to sell comics this way at gas stations: sealed-in-a-plastic-bag three-packs of kids’ comics, like Richie Rich and Casper. Anyway, the only problem with this cushy arrangement is that I read them all in an hour or so, and then had to spend the rest of the trip wishing we had more and whining “are we there yet?!” [end anecdote]

Also, I had a collection of Wonder Woman comics from the 1940s that my stepmother (I think) had given me. The collection was a Ms. Magazine publication from the early 70s, with several essays, sort of revisionist-history approaches to women in comics. It also had (has) an introduction by Gloria Steinem. But, at the time, I didn’t care. I just devoured the comics. The funny thing is, this is a book I kept going back to and rereading throughout my youth, and knew I had it on a certain spot on my bookshelf. One day, when I was well into my 20s, as I was trying to remember where I put it last, I pictured to myself two places where it might be. On a hunch, I checked both places, and sure enough, I had two copies! How this happened, I have no idea. I found a third (hardcover!) copy when I was about 30, and bought that one too.

When I was eight, I acquired step-siblings (whom I later un-acquired), including a step-brother with a big trunk full of comics, including a lot of Daredevil and Electra. He was a typical brother in one sense, in that he would rarely let me read his comics, but every once in a while I got lucky. As it turned out, my stepbrother’s collecting years hapened to coincide with when Frank Miller was doing Daredevil. But I didn’t find this out until later.

I was also really into cartoons. You have to remember that, when I grew up, cartoons weren’t on TV 24 hours a day like there are now. No, there were a limited number of Saturday morning cartoons, and I lived for them. My depression at the end of the cartoons and the beginning of live-action children’s programming (around 11 am) was palpable. And you can forget Sundays. No cartoons. It was a wasteland. By the time I was a teen, there were a lot more cartoons on TV, and I used to come home from school and sit around watching Thundercats and similar garbage for hours, just because they were animated. I don’t know why.

After a couple of years of having very little involvement in comic books, I started getting interested in them again when I was around 15. I was working at a local hardware store, and would go for lunch to the White Hen convenience store, where they had a large rack of comics. I started picking up a lot of what they had, notably X-titles and Elfquest. Yes, it is embarrassing. Anyway, at the time, I thought it was pretty rebellious and “punk” to be a girl and yet reading comics. My interest grew and a gift from my dad of some Ms. Tree comics (a black-and-white mystery comic from First Comics) scripted by one of his clients helped me start to seek out more black-and-white titles and whatever seemed interesting. However, I was still pretty lost in a comics store at that point; I didn’t have much of a clue what I liked. I also didn’t know anyone else who read comics, so didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. Fortunately for me, this s around 1986, when Maus came out, and Watchmen, and Dark Knight. There was a huge buzz in the mainstream media about “comics aren’t just for kids anymore” (yes, it started that long ago). Of course I got those books, and they kept me going deeper into comics

Soon after I arrived at college in 1987, I stumbled across Love and Rockets #21 in a local record/comic store, and it made a huge impression on me. For the first time, I could picture having something to say in comics myself.