- I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org). As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton. I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times. I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me? My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored. Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
I have loved comic books for over fifty years. The earliest comic book I remember reading was an 80-Page Giant starring Lois Lane, published in 1965. I really got hooked the following year, when the Batman TV series debuted. I was six years old, and I've matured since then. I'm at least seven now.
I quit the hobby for a few years in college, but not because I thought I'd outgrown this silly nonsense of costumed superheroes. No, I quit because writer Steve Englehart and artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin had completed their stint on Detective Comics (starring The Batman), and every comic book I read after that was a dismal disappointment. I returned to comics after college, in the early '80s, drawn in by Frank Miller's Daredevil and The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, among other titles. I have never stopped buying and reading comics since that time.
Within just the past couple of years, I began to feel that mainstream comics publishers weren't interested in middle-aged superhero fans, because there were fewer and fewer titles that I could stomach reading. I even reached an unthinkable point: I dropped the Batman books, because they were simply no fun anymore.
But something changed, and something clicked. Suddenly, I'm buying and enjoying as many or more comics titles as I ever have. These are the titles I'm currently reading:
Which one's my favorite now? Er...I dunno. Archie? Future Quest, which teams the Hanna-Barbera action heroes (Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Birdman, Frankenstein Jr., The Impossibles, The Herculoids, Mightor, and The Galaxy Trio) in one rip-roarin' adventure that never fails to thrill my inner seven-year-old? Batman, which went from being awful to being really, really good? Wonder Woman, which just may be the best it's ever been? I like 'em all. I try not to get caught up in a collector's mentality; if I'm not enjoying a book, I drop it. I add and drop books from my pull list at Comix Zone in North Syracuse nearly every week.
Superheroes are still my thing. Comics are an art form, not a genre; there's no real limit to the subject matter that can be addressed nor the style that can be used to tell a story in a comic book. But I like superheroes, and I'm not going to pretend I don't. I like good versus evil; I want nuance, I want engaging characters and verisimilitude along with the biff and the bang, but I want to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and I want to see the bad guys get their asses kicked. The Archie titles are the only things I buy that couldn't be called action books; neither Mother Panic nor Shade The Changing Girl is traditional superhero fare, and Vampirella, Jessica Jones, and Captain Kid also stray from the familiar matrix a bit, but otherwise? Yeah, superheroes are still my thing. I fail to see the appeal of outgrowing that.
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