March 4, 2015
In 1974 I had turned six years old. Like most six year olds, I was into Bozo, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and playing with whatever toys I could get my hands on. I was also a big fan of the old Batman TV series, a love that was passed down from my Dad. No one in my family or peer group was into comics or superheroes aside from my Dad’s interest in ’66 Batman. The only comic books I was exposed to at this age were a hard bound Batman collection that was on my Dad’s shelf and a well worn Sad Sack comic that I had probably gotten at 7-11 on a whim.
The first comic I ever saw, aside from these, came in the form of a book that I found at Kroch’s and Brentano’s. A book I found on my own as my parents searched for books that interested them, a book that took hold of my imagination by the cover alone and that fulfilled every promise across every page when I cracked it open. A book that instantly became my book. The type of book I still seek out to this day whenever I get the chance. What I found was “Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee”.
At this time, I had no idea who these strange characters were on the cover. I had never heard of Spider-Man or the Hulk. Everything about the cover spoke to me. I instantly loved the drawings of the heroes. They were exciting and cool and somewhat dangerous. This is the moment I went all in, a moment as crucial to my life as when I saw Star Wars opening weekend as a nine year old.
My parents shelled out the $5.95 for the book (not cheap in 1974), which proved to be money well spent. I read every word, over and over, and over and over again. I studied every panel. I not only loved the comic pages but also was mesmerized by the words of Stan Lee. Each chapter had an introduction by Mr. Lee that was written in such a personal and whimsical way that I could not help but be drawn to it. His words were something to be cherished. They were part of the overall experience that was not to be overlooked or skipped. His words taught me how to communicate through print and truly changed the life of that six year old.
To this day, I hold this book in very high regard. It was life changing for me and for many others I assume. I have shared this book with my daughter and watched her pour over the words of Stan Lee the way I did at her age. The origin stories are important. The artwork is important. Stan’s words are important.
When given the task of writing a personal blog post about being a True Believer, I could think of nothing more personal and meaningful to me than this book and the life it sparked.