Monday, September 18, 2023

The choice to keep going with childish things


I had some very weird ideas about the things you had to do when you're becoming an adult. I thought I would spend a lot more time turning off light switches, and that at some point you had to run away from home as a teenager. And like everyone else, I also vastly overestimated how much I needed to worry about quicksand.  

One thing I knew, even as a kid, was that a vital part of growing up was giving away childish things. General society was quite clear about all this - grown men didn't play with toys or read comic books, that was all kids' stuff.

You could still play with toys if you were a dad playing with your kids, that was allowed (and heck, I am on that part of life right now and it's fucking great!), but I can still remember the exact Sunday afternoon when I realised my 12-year-old mates were very much not into GI Joe toys any more, which led to some regrettable overcompensation when I tried to prove how cool I still was to them.

And it was always clear that comics were for kids. They were still a mass medium until the direct market came along, so everybody read some kind of comic - even my Mum loved the DC horror anthologies - but they were as disposable as the morning newspaper. You didn't collect them and hoard them like a weirdo.

I collected and hoarded then like a damn weirdo. I'd been reading comics since before I could read, and was still heavily into them as a young teenager, but knew I had to give it up this childish shit soon.

And then something changed when I was 15, and I think it was 90 percent the fault of the New Warriors #1. I still remember looking at it, and how fucking cool it was. 

I was 15, so this is a supremely dorky moment in my life, but it's true. I thought that first issue of the Nicieza/Bagley comic looked so good, and not just for the contents. There was something about the shape of the actual comic, I loved the slickness of it, and the proportions of the standard comic issue, and I just wanted to keep reading these things forever.

So I did. It was really easy. After all, I haven't given up yet.

After that, I tried to own my nerdiness as much as possible, but was also a total teenage dirtbag, so it all got awkward very quickly, and it would be years before I stopped being scared of showing girls how many comics I really had hidden away under the bed.

It's all fairly different now, and there are plenty of adults who maintain a death grip on their childhood loves right through their loves.

And I still wonder what would have happened if I never got that issue of New Warriors, if there was nothing to fill the void. I know my life would have been different if I hadn't kept going, but I haven't regretted holding on to anything that brings such joy.

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