The Golden Age
A couple weeks ago I saw Thor.
I reacted with geek glee, geek rage, and geek envy.
Chris Hemsworth defied my expectations and was terrific in the lead role — handsome, charismatic, and heroic. Asgard and the Asgardians came off OK, the Destroyer got to blow things up, Loki was sympathetically malevolent, and Anthony Hopkins‘ Odin chewed the scenery. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but I couldn’t really hope for a better Thor origin movie.
(Geek glee! They got it right!)
I read my first Thor comic book a decade before Chris Hemsworth was born. I stuck with the book through some lean creative years, and developed that irrational sense of ownership geeks get over their closely-held secret obsessions.
(Geek rage! How dare someone else cash in on my discovery!)
When I was twelve, I found my dad’s sculpting hammer and leaped around the overgrown hillside below my house, throwing it at trash heaps and rusty water heaters. I was still enough of a child that I fantasized discovery of an ancient hammer might transform me into a superhero, instead of the aimless and underemployed teen and twenty-something I would become.
(Geek envy! I was supposed to be Thor, not this talented Aussie with superior bone structure!)
That’s how old I was in 1974, the year I discovered comics, and fell in love with Thor.
That same summer, I decided I also loved Captain America, and Conan the Barbarian.
(I kind of liked Green Lantern, too, though after seeing that movie, I think I’ll edit that part of my past.)
All these characters and more besides come to the screen this summer. This is either the apotheosis of my pop culture youth, or a rare moment of perspective on my mobius strip path through life.
Thor #227 — my first!
My little lad Jack is eleven. Miles is fourteen. They bracket my age from the summer of ’74.
I lived in Hollywood, California, which was no more glamorous then then it is now. My home in a 1920s-era bungalow on Cahuenga was up a daunting hill from a newsstand just south of Hollywood Boulevard. World News & Books is still there, and doesn’t look much different than I remember. Maybe they still sell comics, but those comics will be as different from the .25 cent books I bought as a kid as is my bloated, broken-down butterfat body from the twelve-year old boy that braved that hill to buy them.
My boys are now the age I was when I discovered comic books, but they’d never dream of hiking a hill to buy comics with their allowance. They will watch comic book movies, but they far prefer World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto IV to reading comics or anything else. I tell myself it’s just their age, but it troubles me they don’t like to read. I think it troubles me more that they refuse to embrace my old comic book heroes, denying me the excuse to re-live my youth through them.
Superhero movies are a place where our interests intersect. We liked Thor — liked it a lot — which was something, because after the first movie trailers, with all the screaming beards and hospital interns being thrown around, I expected the worst. We geeks always expect the worst when our heroes are reimagined for an audience that couldn’t be bothered with them in the first place. We threaten our dignity by letting our geek flag fly for Thor or the X-Men, and we emperil the rosy memories of our past by revisiting the deep affections of youth and remembering who we were, and who we might have been.
in the 1970s, Thor was often at his best in books other than his own
Watching these movies should be a victory lap, but instead it’s an ass-puckering second chance to feel ridiculous for loving comic books. Only this time I’m not alone in a treehouse — I’m defenseless in a theater, with my friends, my wife, and my kids.
My favorite characters from my pivotal summer of ’74 are getting big movies all at once, validating in that money-makes-it-matter fashion that I had good taste as a kid. I stuck with comics, off-and-on, into my late twenties, but largely abandoned them as a fan during my brief career as a comic book writer.
I’m either ready to get out of comics once and for all or reawakening to a call long past its final echo.
I didn’t see it coming when I took the boys to Thor, but no sooner had that Sturm and Drang faded from the screen than Jack turned to me and said, “Hey dad, do you have any Thor comics out in the garage?”
Boy, do I.
behold, the Longbox Graveyard!
This blog will be about coming to terms with comic books, and trying to enjoy them again. For reasons that will become clear, I have ignored and denied my interest in comics for decades, to the point where I’ve become burdened and a little embarrassed by my Accumulation of books.
I’ll try to be honest as I crack open the Longbox Graveyard, both about the books themselves, and what they mean to me. Expect plenty of geek glee, geek envy, and geek rage! And expect some negative reviews, too, because I can already tell you the years have not been kind to some of my cherished favorites.
My focus will be Marvel and DC books from the Bronze Age (1970-1985), because that “Bronze Age” was the “Golden Age” to me. As I turn my comics Accumulation into a Collection, I’ll tell you which books escape the Longbox Graveyard (and why). I’ll write about getting (re)started in comics collecting — building databases, buying and selling back issues, and grading books. I’ll eventually try to come to terms with my own unsuccessful career as a comics creator.
I’ll try to post once a week or so, until I don’t. I’ve got over two months of blogs in the can so I should be able to keep pace for awhile. Expect a new blog every Wednesday, and yes, they will be numbered like comic books (OLD SCHOOL — no negative numbers or issue zeroes for Longbox Graveyard!).
Please subscribe to this blog to receive notice of future updates. Click HERE for RSS feed … or check the links at the top of the left column of the blog’s home page for a link to subscribe via email. I also have a dedicated Longbox Graveyard Twitter feed but I’m not certain how active that will be just yet.
I welcome your comments. Positive or negative, your participation will encourage me to continue this blog.
(And if my nostalgia has you itching to read some comics, check out the excellent library of Thor reprints on sale via my Amazon store).
NEXT WEEK: #2 The Micronauts!
(Special thanks to Farzad Varahramyan — a legitimate genius and a better friend and business partner than I deserve — for creating this blog’s original header art)
- The 10 Most Valuable Comic Books (celebritynetworth.com)
- Road to The Avengers – What You Need to Know : Part Two Thor (socyberty.com)
- Thor (mrmovietimes.com)
- New Avengers Movie Ad Charming (comicsworthreading.com)
- Tom Hiddleston Talks Chris Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed in ‘Thor 2′ (screenrant.com)
- What did you think of the new Thor costumes? (wholesalehalloweencostumes.com)
- ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Kick-Ass 2′ Cameos Revealed (screenrant.com)