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.