My firsts

Following along with the 2 Guys Buying Comics’ “First Week,” here’s my contribution.

First Comic I Read:
Uncanny X-Men #212

My cousins were a huge influence on everything cultural that I liked. They were just as responsible for getting me interested in comic books as they were getting me into Public Enemy. As much fun as I had hanging out with them, when we’d go visit them, I started going straight to their boxes of comics.

I’m pretty sure I started with Uncanny X-Men #212 because the cover looked fun to draw. I’d gone through enough attempts at playing Marvel Super-Heroes with them that I knew who Wolverine was; I knew he was the default favorite character. So I wanted to draw him.

This would have been during the Mutant Massacre, but to be honest, I don’t remember the story at all. As far as reading goes, I really only remember thinking the word “Uncanny” was weird. The appeal to me was the art. I loved drawing, and here was a box full of pictures to emulate. So I remember drawing that cover, and I remember drawing the cover to #213, with the Alan Davis closeup of Wolverine and Sabretooth.

After I drew enough covers, I started reading the insides. After I asked enough questions, I started thinking, “I could get into this.”

First Comic Purchased
X-Men Classics #58

Once I finally made the transition from baseball cards to comic books, I needed to figure out where I could buy them. Unfortunately, the only place I had ever seen comics for sale was Allison’s Drug Store in Auburn. I started tagging along with my mom on the Saturday morning trips to town, and this was the first issue I picked up.

At first I was excited to get this brand new issue of X-Men, with all this stuff about Corsair, the Starjammers and the secret de-orphanization of Cyclops…but it didn’t take long for me to feel a little cheated. First off, I thought this Mignola guy who drew the cover really wasn’t any good — his art was all blocky and didn’t have very many lines. Secondly, I quickly discovered that this was a reprint of an older issue. I felt like, as this small-town drugstore-shopping kid, I was being mocked for my isolation. I was trying to get into their world, and here it was like they were making it as clear as possible that something was going on in the lives of the X-Men, but ha ha, I was stuck in the reprints.

But it was all I had, and until Pamida got comics a few years later, it was all I was going to get. Other than the reprints of the 1970s Ghost Rider, it was really the only series that you could find month to month.

Once I came to terms with its reprint nature, I started longing for the days (and calculating how long it would take) before X-Men Classics started reprinting those issues I’d read in the beginning at my cousins’ house. Sadly, it didn’t make it that far.

First Comic To Hook Me:
Uncanny X-Men #279

I owe my current fascination to a guy named Brandon Bruckner from Norfolk. I met Brandon at Academic Adventures Camp in Peru, Nebraska. He was my roommate one year, and we didn’t get along at all. Then the next year, we were pretty much inseparable.

Brandon loved comics, and he brought a lot with him. He indoctrinated me into the world. I’d had my initial exposure from my cousins, but Brandon taught me everything I thought I needed to know. Between him and Scott Sachs and Jaime Bellmyer, we created a comic at camp called X-Dudes — every bit as derivative as you might guess — but it was the first time I really felt inside this culture.

I read all the comics he brought to camp, and when I came back home, I begged my dad to take me to a comics store. I feel so guilty about it now, but he gave in and drove me all the way to Omaha…so I could buy one issue. Uncanny X-Men #279.

It was everything I’d wanted but didn’t get from my X-Men Classics. I read it and had such a small idea of what was going on, but I felt like I was peeking in on something special. Colossus was returning, and I had no idea he’d even been gone. There were all these characters I’d never heard of. People were wearing these strange blue and yellow costumes, as if the X-Men had team uniforms. Wolverine wasn’t even wearing a mask. I was completely lost, and I loved it.

I came in at a good time I guess, at least in terms of accisibility, because the next time the Brownville Flea Market was in town, only a few months had passed and I was able to get caught up and sucked into each variant cover of X-Men #1. Then Pamida started carrying comics. And I was hooked for several years…until a little thing called Age of Apocalypse annoyed me so much I gave up.

First Comic to Bring Me Back
X-Force #125

I was living in San Diego, and I noticed a comic shop along my ride downtown to work. I stopped in to this store that has since closed, and one of several salespeople approached me and asked if I needed any help. I basically told him I wanted to get back into comics, and I had no idea where to start. He asked me what I had liked before, and I told him “X-Men, Sandman: Mystery Theatre, and Madman.”

He recommended a lot of stuff that I really hated, like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, which I still think is absolute crap. But one thing he pulled for me, based upon my Michael Allred appreciation, was X-Force. He assured me that it had nothing to do with Cable, Shattershot or Rob Liefeld. It was completely different.

It was smart, it was funny, and it was exactly what I was looking for. I had never become so dedicated to a title. I stuck with it after I moved to Lincoln. I was happy to see it become X-Statix, and heartbroken to see it cancelled. I’ve been loving Dr. Strange and Dead Girl’s team-up the last few months. And, no matter how awful Peter Milligan’s run on X-Men has been, I can never forget what it did to bring me back into comics.