This is Alex. He’s an engineer, marathon runner and self-proclaimed trophy husband. He also happens to run the extremely enjoyable Pittsburgh-centric blog Everybody Loves You which makes me smile A LOT, especially his This Week in Tweets feature. He grew up in Knoxville so he’s Pittsburgh through and through and some of his finest posts are when he’s waxing nostalgic on his childhood memories of the Burgh, like this one about the South Side with a shout-out to Page Dairy Mart. In case you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is the Page Dairy Mart Hot Apple Dumpling Sundae, then you should probably add that to your Pittsburgh bucket list ASAP.
But enough about sundaes, let’s check out Alex’s bookish memory and, as always, if YOU want to share your tale of childhood reading or how much you loved earning personal pan pizzas from the Book-it program, then please please contact me (like, now!):
Bookish Memory: Comic Books
When the laudable blogger Laurie Koozer first asked if I was interested in writing about my favorite children’s book, I mistakenly overlooked the adjective “children’s” and started to mentally draft an essay on A Million Little Pieces. This fictitious, non-fiction memoir by James Frey viscerally details his struggles with addiction and recovery through a narrative style bordering on prose. Though it is my favorite novel and I highly recommend it, the book is probably not the most appropriate choice for adolescents. Realizing my mistake, I then mined my memories for a more suitable selection. Unfortunately, I came up empty. I remember really liking Where the Sidewalk Ends, but that’s far too clichéd of a choice for someone as pompous and irreverent as me to write about. Then I realized that I hadn’t actually read many books as a youngster. I was a voracious reader, but my preference was a presumed inferior form of literature – comic books.
I remember being cognizant of comic books and occasionally enjoyed reading them when I was a little kid, but it was one particular issue that got me profoundly interested. While at the nearby Foodland in Mount Oliver with my parents, I strayed over to the newsstand as they shopped for groceries. The cover to Uncanny X-Men #241 seriously grabbed my attention and I sat down on the ground and started to read it. My 11-year-old mind was instantly blown away. I convinced my parents to pony up the dollar and purchase the issue, and from that day forward I was on a quest to learn as much about Wolverine, Colossus and Rogue that I possibly could. Over the years I began reading just about every comic I could get my hands on. I ended up learning about accountability from Stan Lee’s Spider-man, morality from Frank Miller’s Batman, irony from Evan Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese, women from Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise and storytelling from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
Comic books are now almost solely responsible for the most eagerly awaited summer cinematic blockbusters. They have gained greater acceptance into our literary canon, and creators such as the aforementioned Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman are universally heralded as great writers. New issues continue to arrive weekly at your friendly, neighborhood comic book store with the intention of grabbing readers young and old alike. I’ve saved all of my comic books* as an investment, but not a financial one. I’m hoping to have a child one day who likes to read them as much as I do. Their lives will be enriched and entertained, and I’ll have an overflowing cornucopia of presents for them that have long since been paid for – double win!
* I recently moved, and part of that process was hauling nearly 2,500 comic books from my old attic to my new one. I’m sure that the site of all of these, along with my numerous action figures, gave the movers we hired quite a lot of ammunition to make 40 Year Old Virgin jokes. However the jokes on them, I lost my virginity at 30**.
** Actually this is a lie. I was about half that age, but I was inspired by James Frey to stretch the truth and make my story more interesting.