When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have a comic book subscription.
I don’t know how or when it started, but each month for several years, the mailman delivered the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man to my mailbox. It was easily the best mail I received each month and I always looked forward to it. (Full disclosure, it was also the only mail received most months.)
That subscription helped shape my love for reading and mail, and turned me into a lifelong fan of Spider-Man and comic books.
Looking back on it now, I can safely say that the comic books I received in the mail were way better than nearly any mail I receive today.
I read the stories faithfully and enjoyed the adventure of the underdog superhero, and I would buy other comics at the grocery store whenever possible. Each comic was read numerous times, placed into the correct order with other stories and then treasured for its art, adventure, humor and ads for amazing products.
I desperately wanted to buy the X-Ray glasses and Sea Monkeys advertised in the comics, but never was lucky enough to purchase those items. I should add that I have a good friend who once drank his Sea Monkeys by accident (that’s absolutely true), so maybe it’s best that I never received any.
While I loved comic books growing up, though, it wasn’t a hobby that was generally discussed with other kids I knew. In those days, the Marvel and DC heroes had a few cartoons on television, but most of the superhero movies were terrible (especially the Marvel movies) and the only clothing with superhero decals on them were underwear or pajamas.
I was geeky enough already and couldn’t risk asking people if they read comic books or not. It’s like if today I suddenly asked my coworkers if they watch professional wrestling. Believe me, I won’t bring that up in another job interview.
Back then, I only knew of a few of my friends who read comics, and I would not dream of asking others if they had seen Spider-Man’s latest battle against the Kingpin, Rocket Racer (he rode a skateboard!) or Frog-Man (some surprisingly good stories).
Fast-forward to today, and the world is completely different. Comic book movies are huge, there are a ton of Marvel and DC shows on television, and superhero characters are everywhere in popular culture. It’s hard to believe how different it is, and I love the attention that comic book characters receive today.
I am constantly seeing articles about Avengers: Infinity War and other upcoming superhero events, as writers and bloggers everywhere try to cash in on the hype surrounding the movies in order to get more readers. (I would never dream of doing that…)
Also, I often talk with people about superheroes now and don’t worry about it at all. My friend Chetra, who is way smarter and cooler than me, always wants to talk about Iron Man and Marvel movies when he is not working on his Ph.D. or getting involved in international media projects.
My stepdaughter, Sophia, will also happily talk about Marvel movies when she is avoiding doing her homework (which is always). A Captain America fan who is also smarter and cooler than me, she fortunately never had to watch any of the Captain America movies from when I was growing up.
For many years I bought comic books with my son, Ben, and he is still on board the Spider-Man fan train with me, even if we rarely get to a comic book shop together anymore.
My friend Troy, who I never asked about comic books in school because he was so much cooler than me, definitely watches Marvel movies now and is also super excited about the new movie.
I love the fact that so many family members and friends enjoy comic book characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther and the Avengers, and that I can now talk about this whenever I want. I may still appear geeky, but I know it has nothing to do with the comic books now.
So when Avengers: Infinity War finally comes out this week and everyone is talking about if the movie is good or bad, and writing about what it means for the future of superhero movies and cinema in general, I will be sitting back just enjoying the whole thing. I should add that I predict DC fans will hate the film, “serious” movie fans will decry the whole idea of superhero movies and everyone else will like it.
For me, I will still be amazed at this whole phenomenon as I remember a time when comic book movies were awful, the most popular depictions of live action superheroes were on the Electric Company and no one talked about Spider-Man or other heroes in public.
And when I go to see Avengers: Infinity War, I’ll be enthralled with seeing Spider-Man and his amazing friends on the screen and hoping they can come out victorious once again. I am excited for the film and can’t wait for the fun of this epic movie event. I hope it will be almost as much fun as getting a new Amazing Spider-Man comic in the mail way back when, jumping onto the sofa and diving into a new superhero adventure that I would lose myself in and read over and over and over.