Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hey, Jim Shooter Has a Blog

Here, check it out.

I've been reading through the back pages this week (it only goes back through March), and he has a lot of interesting stories from behind the scenes of Marvel Comics in the 70s and 80s. I know Shooter's been a controversial figure over the years, and some of his blog is telling his side of the story. But none of it comes across as self-serving to me. What I get from his blog is stories from a guy who passionately loves comic books and has a tremendous talent. Now that we're so far removed from the controversies of his tenure at Marvel, it's interesting, even important, to get his perspective on it, too.

My recommendation is to maybe steer clear of the comments section, though. Some people are still very passionate about some of those dust-ups (particularly the controversy over the return of Jack Kirby's art, which Shooter seems to be unfairly blamed for) and refuse to let go of their own versions of the stories.

Anyway, it's been an interesting flashback week for me. Not only did I finally sit down to read Shooter's blog, but I also discovered that the Hy-Vee has a generic strawberry soda. I used to love generic strawberry soda when I was a kid. I used to get the store brand at Jewel when I was a kid. The cans were so incredibly cheap that we'd just get a bunch of them and get to drink them with special dinners or whatever because it made me and my sister Jayne feel grown-up. (I think my Dad didn't want us getting hooked on Pepsi like he was. Sorry about that, Dad, but some things run in the genes.)

Anyway, my young heart was broken a bit when Jewel stopped carrying strawberry soda. They still had all of their other flavors, but strawberry was replaced by a fruit punch flavor. I think I was 12 or 13 at the time, so in 1988 or 1989. It was just in the last year or two when I stopped casually checking the soda aisle at Jewel to see if it was still there. And no, never. It never was.

So I saw a cheap 2-liter at the new Hy-Vee (78 cents) and decided to take a chance on this generic strawberry soda. And, wonderfully, it tastes almost exactly the same. Enough to almost transport me back to the late 80s.

One of my favorite memories from my kid-hood is going grocery shopping at Jewel with my Mom. We'd go on Friday nights and usually I'd sit near the comic book spinner rack and read comics. I'm sure the employees loved it, but whatever. I was still new to superhero comics back then--until I was 10, I pretty much exclusively read Disney comics, Marvel's Star line for kids (Peter Porker, Muppet Babies, etc), G.I. Joe, Transformers, and the Marvel Star Wars comic. If Jewel didn't have the new Mad or Muppet Magazine, I'd just start reading random comics. At the time, I still wasn't into DC (they seemed too "adult" to me somehow), so I'd read random Marvels, especially any Spider-Man books, since I knew Spidey from cartoons.

For some reason, Shooter and the soda and all the talk of the 80s on his blog made me remember a specific memory. That was the memory of the comic that was my real gateway into the Marvel Universe. A book with a cover that just jumped right out at me and a thickness that demanded to be sat and read.

Amazing Spider-Man #300.

When I saw this, I just had to read it. I knew Spidey had a black costume because I'd read earlier comics on and off (my friend Shane had the "Kraven's Last Hunt" story, and the annual where Peter and Mary Jane got married, all of which I'd read), but the Todd McFarlane art was so different from anything else I'd seen.

My Mom bought me this comic. As soon as I got home, I went down to our finished basement with the vinyl couch and the track lighting and the paneled walls and sat down in front of the television. I didn't turn it on, though. I sat on the couch and put Amazing Spider-Man #300 on the coffee table where I played with my Masters of the Universe and MASK figures and Legos and opened my can of strawberry soda and a Rolo, and I sat and read this comic. I was sucked right into the story of Eddie Brock and the alien costume's revenge on Spider-Man. That was a comic book that you read. And you remembered it. It made an impression.

At least it did on me when I was a kid. It pulled me into the world of the Marvel Universe at last. It sent me to the library to find Origins of Marvel Comics and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. It made me want to learn about the history of Marvel as a publisher. It made me well and truly a Marvel fan, and then a comic book fan in general. It wasn't like now, where stories in comic books tend to be so poorly told that you blow through them in two minutes and immediately forget them. There were comics then--and back issues I read at the time--that I still remember to this day because they were stories worth telling.

God, did I love comics.

I remember that night, sitting in the basement alone, completely rapt in Spidey's story, eating my Rolo and sipping my strawberry soda and having the most special night. And after that, I watched the movie Critters on WGN--a movie I just watched this week for pretty much the first time since then (I plan to do an 80s Revisited about it).

This has been quite a week of pleasant memories. And for that, I thank Jim Shooter. And Hy-Vee. And Marvel Comics.

And my Mom. I mean, she bought me all of that stuff.


Mike_D said...

I did the 100 Movie meme on my site as well:

SamuraiFrog said...

Very cool. I always notice Al Leong as well, except I always end up referring to him as Genghis Khan because of Bill & Ted. Jeez, I think the last thing I recognized him in was Lethal Weapon 4. Wonder what he's doing now?

And I also read Jurassic Park (and The Andromeda Strain) for biology class. They were for extra credit.

Kal said...

I totally remember that comic which is sitting downstairs in one of my many comic boxes. I know the thrill of what you speak. I would come home from school and read comics in my big leather chair until supper. It was my chance to escapte the realities of the day. I still do that today actually.

SamuraiFrog said...

These days what I do is get those big fat Marvel Essentials volumes out of the library and sit and read those. Sometimes they're hit or miss, but I still don't think Marvel's published anything better than those Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Mans...