Well, I certainly had a head start, as a little kid, to have a comics collection. Between my parents, in the 40s, and my older brother, in the 50s, our family had a couple of hundred golden and early silver age comics. They were stored in an old chest, in the basement. In the late 1950s I would wander down into the dark to rummage through it, holding a penlight in my mouth, searching for adventure. Taking a few at a time, I would retreat to my bedroom to linger over them, and sort of read them (I was still a pretty young reader), but mostly examine the artwork and make up my own storylines. The colors were glorious, the artwork bold and simple, but alive with energy.
Who knew then that there were different artists, doing different comics. I never even thought of the artist or writer. The product was all that mattered. All these years later I have surmised that when the magic finally started fading from the comics was when I was aware of the behind the scenes efforts of artists and writers and letterers and editors and publishers. I became aware that these people were just—making this stuff up! The characters became less real, the stories more contrived. I know now that artists fought to not be anonymous, but the effect was better when the story and art seemed spontaneously created.
Actually the same goes for movies. I watch the DVD extras that show how the movie was made, and then I become so aware of the shenanigans that it took to create it, that I fall out of the story and watch it on a superficial level. Creative artists certainly deserve credits, but I wish there was a way to do that without intruding on the suspense of disbelief. I include credits here when I can, for archival reasons, but I think it was cool to say 'by Walt Kelly' and not go into any other detail, and hey we always thought it was Walt Disney himself who turned out the thousands of cartoons with his signature.
Well anyway, who knew that I was seeing a lot of Walt Kelly art back then or Carl Barks, or so many others that we now revere. There were the good duck stories, or the good Superman stories or the totally anonymous adventure stories.
As a youngun I enjoyed the funny animal stories, of course, but I started becoming intrigued by the science fiction stuff and made way for new experiences. Those were my brother's contributions to our collection, and it began to affect my little brain. My brother, who is 6 years older than me, took me with him to sci-fi movies, which back then were hokey as all get out, with musical scores that became a cliche. But I enjoyed them as well, and my imagination got quite a workout. Thing is, sci-fi in the comics was different (and better) than the movies because it was more adventurous, beautiful women in exotic outfits, and actually taking place in space. The movies were mostly earthbound with Eisenhower banalities. Space Ace in Jet Powers, 1958, was a reprint from I think 1950, and started to awaken my 'mature' sensibilities.
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