Was John Lennon right? I think he might have been…
Some 15 years or so ago I borrowed some comic books from a good friend. The Watchmen series, a seminal title by collectible legend, Alan Moore. I had them for ages and had EVERY intention of returning them but hey, I am a busy guy and stuff started to happen… I moved houses, jobs, and cities several times. I bought a house and had kids. I got married and divorced and along the way, as many people do, I grew out of a lot of my boyhood hobbies, including comic books.
At some point I just packed up all my old comics and games and stuff and sold them, tossed them or gave them away. Sadly, I had forgotten all about the Watchmen comics (and my truant loan) until the movie came out. Watching the film, I remembered borrowing the comics and began to feel a certain gnawing guilt for never having returned them.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was randomly going through some old boxes in my garage. These boxes have been moving with me for the last 15 years but have never been opened. I think everyone has a few of these. They were marked KITCHEN/OFFICE which was why I was searching through them, I think I was trying to find a cheese grater or a spatula… What I found was, of course much greater! In the bottom of one of these boxes, in pristine condition, was the full set of watchmen comics. Pretty much the only comics to have survived the great purge.
I remembered that I had borrowed them from my old friend Andrew so I searched for him on Facebook, sent a message and arranged to drop them off in Canberra. I might not be the fastest, but I always get there in the end….
In the meantime, because these comics were lying around the house, Jason and Liam (my sons) started asking all about comic books. Being boys of a certain age, superheroes are like crack to them. We got to talking and they asked about what kind of comics I used to read when I was a kid. Thinking hard about it, I remembered that my favourites were these obscure and spectacularly unsuccessful comics by Marvel called the “New Universe”. It was a lot like the TV series: Heroes. No Lycra or capes, just the kind of stuff that might happen in the “real world”. Dudes who get powers and have no idea what to do with them. Characters who actually grow older, unlike say, the Simpsons.. I’m pretty sure Bart Simpson has been in the 4th grade for about twenty years now!
Well, I offered to take the boys out and buy them some superman or batman comics, but after hearing my story, all they could think about were these old comics. I tried the internet and some comic stores but these things were a huge failure so they just weren’t anywhere to be found. The boys were devastated and try as I might, I could not convince them to settle for anything else. By this time I was feeling pretty stupid for having built these things up into such a big deal and then being completely unable to deliver.
A few weeks later it was time to head to Canberra for work. I packed up the recalcitrant Watchmen comics ready to returned to their rightful owner. In the intervening time I’ve been asking anyone who might have a clue if they could help me find these old collectibles. I’ve been on the internet, into comic book stores and picking the brains of anyone who looks kinda geeky. I’ve had several ‘Comic Book Guy’ types sneer at the sheer stupidity that I exhibit by expecting to be able to simply order these “rare collectibles”. Worst Dad, ever…
That’s when the weirdness begins. Almost the minute I drop off Andrew’s watchmen ( only 15 years too late) I bump into Steve, who is the son of Glenn, one of my teenage besties. Steve is a Comic book guru, so naturally I ask him my question and he says he thinks he remembers seeing these old “New Universe” comics at his house!
Well, it turns out during my great sell-off/give-away/throw-away I gave a big box to Glenn and sure enough, just as I had discovered a box 15 Years later, the very same thing was waiting for me in an old archive box underneath Glenn’s stairs!
I returned home triumphant to two ECSTATIC boys with the pile of comic book stories that they had given up for lost.