Some of my most enduring memories are of having certain comics books in my early life at certain times. It's one of those things that is somehow simultaneously pleasant and sad--in other words, that insidious condition we call...NOSTALGIA. This recent book, HEY KIDS, COMICS! compiled by veteran blogger and webcomics cartoonist Rob Kelly (ACE KILROY), is brimming with it.
The idea behind the book is to have various folks connected in some way with comics to write about their own early experiences with them. As with any book like this by multiple writers, the results are going to be mixed.
In this case, however, there's not any sections that drag the book down. Everyone's personal stories are interesting and well-told. And by everyone, that means current and former comic book pros like Steve Skeates, J.M. DeMatteis, my pal Stephen DeStefano, Paul Kupperberg, Paul Castiglia, Steve Englehart and (for my money one of THE best comics writers ever although technically I wouldn't even call him a comic book writer) Alan Brennert. No less than 8 of the book's contributors are Facebook friends of mine which lends an extra level of interest to me as a reader.
But that's just it. As a comics fan, it's ALL interesting. I like reading about the shared experiences but also the sometimes very different experiences had by some as they discovered comics in a wholly different era.
If one essay stands out more than any other, it might be writer/historian Marc Tyler Nobleman's brief piece about discovering comic books at the tail end of the 1970s. Marc succinctly sums up the overwhelming attraction and almost immediate obsession that one could still get in those days to the lowly comic book.
But they really are ALL like that. Like an AA meeting in a way, with each author standing up and telling how he got addicted...but in a GOOD way!
HEY KIDS, COMICS! is accompanied by some marvelous photographs of kids reading comic books. They don't seem to necessarily be the kids who are WRITING about the comic books--at least not ALL the time-- but I'm sure their photos would look much the same. Mine do. This, in fact, is a project I find myself wishing I had been asked to participate in myself. By the time you finish it, you are overwhelmed with, as the young folks say, "the FEELS!" If you were ever a comic book fan that is. If not, this book would undoubtedly seem utterly foreign to you.
If you want to indulge your nostalgia, though, and you have the background, Booksteve definitely recommends!
Thanks to Paul and Rob for getting me a copy of HEY KIDS, COMICS! You can get YOURS at the link below.