As I finished off my list of favorite graphic novels last week, I realized something: I was listing my favorite comics now, books that have meant something to me as an adult, or at least into adulthood. Even some of the ones that I think would have been important to middle school me, like Smile, did not exist then, and if there were manga series being sold in bookstores before I hit high school, I never saw them. Comics have branched into my specific tastes more and more over the years, but I always knew it was a medium for me, and I managed to find some graphic novel stories to cling to.
- Garfield by Jim Davis. I don’t much like this comic now. Whenever I pick up a Sunday paper and look at the comics section, I find the whole thing boring, repetitive, and really just unimaginative. But when I was a kid I loved it. I bought the collections, almost at random, getting a new one or two every time I visited my grandmother in Maine and went to the local bookstore with her. I read it every week in the paper, and reread my books so many times I surprised myself with how beat-up they had gotten when I found them again a couple years ago. I watched the cartoon, and even read the Pet Force chapter books…which just proves the level of bad taste I managed to reach as a kid.
- Archie Comics. I didn’t get really into these, but when my other grandmother took my brother and I with her to the grocery store, she let us pick out a comic. (Remember when they sold individual comics at the grocery store?) I would pick out Archie, or Betty and Veronica, or Jughead, one of those. I liked the goofy stories, and I liked how no prior knowledge was required to jump into the comic, so I could keep up a random collection without getting lost. What did my brother pick out the first few times, you ask? Well…
- Sonic the Hedgehog. Again, I read this comic at random for a few years, first as my brother got random issues, and then as I finally began collecting it myself. I swear, this was actually a heavy story sometimes, where you had to actually worry about characters dying or relationships falling apart. The first internet community I became a part of was a series of forums dedicated to Sonic, and I drew my own fan art, so this should have been early evidence of my nerdy tendencies. And this spanned into…
- Knuckles the Echidna. Oh man, I loved this comic, even more than Sonic. I loved the anti-hero quality of Knuckles, and his seriously bad ass girlfriend Julie-Su. Disappointment reigned when his spinoff comic was canceled, and he was relegated to the bonus comic at the back of Sonic. That began my decline on reading the whole thing, though I’ve been starting to get back into it since Archie Comics released the collections.
- Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP. Again, I am not going to not mention a manga on this thing. Cardcaptor Sakura was the first manga I owned, found on a random shelf in a Walden books. The volumes I own are little and flipped, and there have been two great rereleases from both Tokyopop and Dark Horse, but I have too much sentimental attachment to these volumes to replace them.
What comics were important to you as a kid? Do you still read them now, or have you put them away? Do you look on them fondly, or wonder why you ever picked them up to begin with?