So do you remember the first time you read an indie comic? Were you nervous? Did you know what to expect? Did your heart beat race a bit faster than it normally does? Well I’m sure each indie fan has their own unique 1st time experience that sent them down the path of the indie comic rabbit hole. Let me tell you about my 1st time.
The year was 1992, and an 11 year old version of myself and older brother had just saved several months of our allowance to purchase a copy of the Amazing Spiderman #300 (1st appearance of Venom) from our local neighborhood comic shop. Little did we know that we spent $75 dollars on a crumpled piece of Amazing Garbage, because we knew nothing about comic book grading but the comic shop owner was happy to take our money. On a side note, shame on the comic book store owner for selling 2 kids a crappy copy of Amazing Spiderman #300 knowing good and well it was worthless, and shame on him for selling me and my brother on a dream that we could one day retire from all the money we would make from selling this book in our old age. Needless to say his shop went out of business during the comic book greed bubble burst of the 90s, but that’s an article for another time. Spiderman, the X-Men, Super Man, and Batman were the hero’s we loved and in turn their comics were the ones we loved to read. My brother and I were super huge Marvel and DC fanboys and we were easily satisfied by what the big 2 were dishing out every week. We loved the lore, the story dynamics, the art, and even the artists. Marvel and DC knew how to make a good book that appealed to our demographic and we were hooked. The big 2 were the heavy hitters, the bees knees, the legit kings of comic crafting and I was in love and knew I could love no other. It wasn’t until my good friend Ricky had gifted me 4 issues of Grendel War Child published by Darkhorse that I discovered that maybe I could learn to love another.
After school one day on our walk home, Ricky pulled 4 Grendel books out of his backpack and gave them to me. He told me that his mom would not allow him to have these comics anymore and he had to get rid of them. I thumbed through the books and the 1st thing I noticed was that several of the pages had cut pieces of white copy paper taped over many of the pictures. I asked Ricky what was up with the paper taped all over the pictures, and he said his mom did it because she did not like what she saw. So like any curious 11 year old boy I started to remove the taped pieces of copy paper from the pages. It was exciting removing the 1st piece of paper. It felt like Christmas peeling taped paper away to reveal a gift, and the 1st gift that was revealed was a presumed villain receiving the bloodiest Call Of Duty style headshot. At that moment as a kid I was stunned. “SWEET CHRISTMAS” how could this be? Comics don’t have killing. Well they do but nothing like this. Mind you this was 1992 and Mortal Kombat would not be introduced to my life until a few months later, but true graphic violence in a comic was eye opening for me. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not some psycho weirdo comic fan that gets off on gore, but in 1992 this was all so new for me. This wasn’t a villain being uppercut into the air sending him crashing through the roof. This was a guy being shot through the head and brain and blood splattering everywhere. I wanted to see more so I started on the 2nd piece of taped paper, and I tell you what I was not prepared to see what I saw next. I was thinking that head shot looked pretty cool, what acts of violence would be displayed next? To my surprise it was not a gun related but 2 women being intimate Cinemax style. Mind you I was a very sheltered 11 year old and never had the pleasure of stumbling across my dad’s stash of Playboys, but seeing 2 women getting down in a comic book blew my mind. How could this be? Was what I was looking at in a comic book even legal? It felt like I shouldn’t have been looking at this at my age, which I probably shouldn’t have. Marvel and DC didn’t have graphic head shots, they didn’t have 2 ladies giving each other shirtless hugs, they didn’t have any of this. Just in case you are wondering I didn’t just ogle at the pictures I also read the story which is kicks ass in its own right and really didn’t even need graphic images of blood and boobs to move the story. Grendel War Child is a story of a protector of a child who is to grow up to be a ruler, however the child is being hunted so that he will not be able to assume his future position. I enjoyed how the hero of the story was flawed and not a saint. I liked that the characters looked like normal people and not the muscle bound hero’s of the big 2. I liked that the characters were just so different than what i was used to. I was taken in by the art, story, and the whole idea that comics did not just have to be about saving the world from destruction with the use of muscles and spandex. That day Ricky gave me his comics taped up by his mom changed me, probably not for the better, but it created a love for indie comics.
So what was your 1st time like? Are you a creator that is making a book that you think will shape the mind of young comic fans. Share your experience or story with us at Comic Indie, and let us help you get your story out to the world.