While hunting around in my parents loft the other weekend I came across a box of old comics from my childhood and in there was the first comic I ever bought! It was a Marvel UK reprint of Secret Wars #2 (although confusingly it was numbered #3 as it was fortnightly and split the individual issues in two). I can vividly remember buying this on holiday in Cornwall at the age of 7 after seeing an advert for Secret Wars toys on TV and nagging my parents into getting me something with superheros in. Seeing all those fantastic characters like Spider-man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four in one place blew my mind – not to mention all the crazy villains like Dr Octopus and Absorbing Man. Because it was a Marvel UK reprint it even featured a back-up tale featuring Alpha Flight which gave me twice the superhero action for my 27p!
Looking back at it now I can see just how great Mike Zeck’s pencils really were and certain panels I still vividly remember even after all these years. Whether it was Captain America rallying the troops in a futuristic amphitheatre, Johnny Storm creating the FF 4 in the sky in flames, or Ben Grimm morphing back into human form for the first time while Magneto threw giant metal balls at him. I didn’t even appreciate all the awesomeness that was to come with Spidey and his black costume, but as a result of reading this book I would go on to buy more FF and Spider-man comics than is truly healthy and started me on my road to comic fandom. I even started collecting the Secret Wars sticker albums from Panini (although as with those albums, I never even came close to finishing it!).
Now, this may seem a bit contradictory seeing as this is a blog all about digital comics, but I was inspired to write this by thinking about how today’s generation of comics fans will never get to experience this simple sense of nostalgia. They won’t remember their first download in the same way I have remembered buying this book. It won’t be as linked to a specific moment in their childhood that mine was, and it is doubtful it will even be kept for more than a few years as digital copies become transfer-able across devices with copies kept in the cloud not in a dusty box somewhere in an attic. Perhaps I’m being overly nostalgic and a world where every comic is available at the tap of a tablet is a geek nirvana which I am failing to embrace. But for me, no matter how great the world of digital becomes, until it can replicate the simple joy of a 7-year-old discovering super heroes for the first time (and then revisiting it 25 years later!) then it will never quite replace the world of print.
So what was your first ever comic? Tweet me it @pipedreamcomics with the hash tag #myfirstcomic.