I have mentioned before that when I was 12, I was the recipient of the fabled “box-of-comics-that-big-brother-leaves-behind-when-he-goes-to-college”. My feeble brain sometimes has a difficult time conjuring up what happened yesterday afternoon (I think it may have involved a cup of tea and a nap), but I remember opening that box as vividly as any memory I possess.
It was in my upstairs bedroom, the one overlooking the glowing lamppost in the center of the cul-de-sac, and it was late at night. I am not quite sure how the box came into my possession (Did my mom drop it there for me to go through? Did my brother wish to demonstrate his move to adulthood by foregoing the comics he loved in his youth?). No matter, I suppose. This is how hobbies (and obsessions) many times begin. Simply and without warning, the results often far outstripping the original intent.
It may have been a simple cardboard to most onlookers, but to me it was nothing short of a treasure chest straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights. Treasures greater than jewels or pearls.
I honestly do not remember every single comic I pulled out of the box that night but (on my way to becoming a complete Silver and Bronze Age Marvel zombie) I clearly recall that the box contained Captain America 107, Hulk 107, Captain Marvel 8, and Shield 6. I have every single one of them to this day and will most likely be clutching them in my withered claw when I throw this mortal coil. They are more than comics to me; they are totems. Powerful and magical and infused with all that I love about storytelling. Those four titles helped fuel a life-long love of superheroes (particularly those whom act, you know, heroic).
But there was more in that glorious old treasure chest disguised as an old box. Items that would help propel another life-long obsession: That being monsters! Ghouls. Vampires, Frankenstein’s Creature, Ghosts, Goblins. Just about anything that went bump in the night. For underneath that stack of superhero goodness, there were also reams and reams of old Creepy and Eerie magazines from Warren Publishing.
And, oh, the glories held within. Tales of grave robbers and werewolves, demons and darkness, unfolding in gorgeous black and white. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to draw a straight line from those Warren mags to Kaleidoscope’s current roster of “A Dark And Stormy Night” and “Pandemonium”. One would not exist without the other.
Which all goes toward the idea that one needs to be open to the wonderful accidents in life, the ones that change your path in a positive direction. No question that discarded box of comics changed my life. One wonders what would have become of me had it been instead filled with Harlequin Romances?