Reflections on my first comic book

My mom is getting ready to put her house up for sale. A couple of weekends ago, I was there for a visit and to also help clean out my closet (much of it had already been done, but there were still a few boxes to go through). Some of this cleaning involved going through my comics.

In all honesty, I never had that big of a comic book collection. I never bought too many individual issues as it was and I often gathered up comics I was done with and passed them along (or turned them into craft projects — yes, I am a terrible person). There were maybe about 300 comics in my closet and I got rid of about half (as these things go, they didn’t actually sell at our yard sale — my mom ended up giving them away. There were some good comics in there so I hope they at least ended up with someone who appreciates them).

I’d been thinking about this anyway, and while I am unclear on the actual date, but 2011 marks 20 years of my comic-book-reading life. I distinctly remember what my first comic was — X-Factor #62.

In retrospect, it wasn’t the best nor the most reader-friendly choice — it was the end of a crossover — but I didn’t know any better.

Let’s back up a bit. My brother, after seeing some friends at school with them, bought a couple of packs of the first series of Marvel Universe Cards. I did, too. This wasn’t too much of a leap for us since we were both baseball card collectors.

I found myself attracted to a lot of the X-Men characters and I wanted to know more about them. So, one day at 7-Eleven before some outing with our mom, we picked up comics (this was the days where comics were sold at 7-Eleven. And they also only cost $1. And you could get a Slurpee at the same time. Yes, these were the days). At least, this is my memory of the experience — I am willing to allow this was no true.

I don’t remember what my brother bought, but I clearly remember I bought X-Factor #62. (It was dated January 1991, which meant it came out earlier than that. I feel like it was spring when I bought it, but I honestly don’t know.)

I definitely remember being confused, since, as I mentioned, this was the end of a fairly large crossover series (although it was just nine issues. That’s kind of cute now) but it was interesting enough to me that I wanted to read more comics. In fact, I think starting on the X-Men titles after “Xtinction Agenda” was pretty good timing.

And that comic? It was written by Louise Simonson. That’s right: My first comic was written by a woman. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think that’s amazing and appropriate.

(OK: In all honesty, I had read some Archie comics before this, but I guess I mean this in a way where this was the first comic I recognized as a comic book.)

I realize I came into comics at possibly the worst time in retrospect — the mid-’90s boom and bust was just around the corner — but it was fun at the time. And despite it all, I never fully gave up comics. Yes, many issues of various X-titles followed and I bought into the whole Image thing, but I also found The Tick and Elfquest and The Sandman. Those comics taught me that there was more out there than just the usual suspects and I’ve been filling my bookshelves up with them ever since.

I didn’t know what X-Factor #62 was going to mean at the time — it was just a fun, if confusing, diversion. But I remain grateful for that comic, 20 years later. Even if it wasn’t the best introduction, it opened the door to so many great things.

4 thoughts on “Reflections on my first comic book”

  1. My habit introduction mirrors yours in a way. I had comics when I was a wee laddie, but moved past it to take on card collecting, beer can collecting, and stamp collecting. All those habits eventually fell to the wayside with college (and lack of funds/personal space), but I got interested in comics again with the 90s X-Men animated series — I am told I am in good company on that front. After reading a bunch of series borrowed from a vendor at work who knew an office-mate and I were interested in the topic (Age of Apocalypse, DC vs. Marvel, Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet), my (female!) intern who collected and knew I was into them brought in a stack of things her father had picked up at a garage sale that she didn’t want. Sadly, I knew this was the beginning of the end as the compulsion to put these quality issues like the Devil Dinosaur 1-shot and random issues of Generation X into bags and boards was overwhelming. Once in the comic store, I decided to pick up the newly relaunched Heroes Return issues of Avengers #1, the just-launched Marvel Knights Inhumans and Daredevil, and just shy of the whole run of the original Moon Knight series out of the $.25 bin. Short boxes followed shortly thereafter. And then long boxes. Many, many long boxes…

  2. I’m in the minority in not really liking the ’90s X-Men cartoon. I always found it disappointing when compared to the comics.
    But I know for plenty of people, that was what made them become interested in comics so I can see how it would’ve possibly been my introduction, had the timing been slightly different.

    I was somewhat a victim of the speculative “this will be worth something someday!” comics boom of the ’90s, but ultimately, I just liked reading them. I did the bags-and-boards thing for a while but eventually became too cheap and lazy to bother with it too much. I don’t buy a lot of individual issues anymore but when I do, they usually just end up in piles.

    So people in the future: You’ll have me to thank when your comics from now are worth something.

  3. I suspect I might have had the same opinion about the X-Men animated series if I had read the stories in the comics first. Instead, I went to the comics looking to read the stories that I’d seen on the cartoon, and was pleasantly surprised (especially comparing the AoA episode with the actual story — that’s one that really stuck out in my mind).

  4. This was about the time I started collecting, and yes, it was a bad place to start with the 90’s wasteland waiting to strike. But in all honesty, this is what my first experience with comics was, too. It was all Jim Lee covers and antiheroes with too many pouches on too many belts. I remember my mom letting me buy this pack of comics at Sam’s Club that had several X-Men books in it including the 4 cover fold-out X-Men vol 2 #1. That would be the book that follows this X-factor, story-wise. Unfortunately, the mid 90’s arrived and comics started losing my interest to video games and anime. What a horrible time. I’m glad to have come back to comics after over a decade and building up my collection.
    It happened when I was moving about 3 years ago. I found a box with those first X-Men comics in it and they were in really bad shape. I thought of how much I loved comics and how many I had lost over the years. They were just gone. No clue what happened to them. I found about 25 comics from that X-Men series, and decided to start collecting again. There was alot of catching up to do, but about 220 back-issues later, I’m all caught up with no gaps. Not to mention a whole closet fully of books I’d missed out on.
    Comics, I love you.
    That comment sorta jumped the shark.

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