I have loved comic books for most of my life. Andrew and I were talking about how long I have read comic books. I started trying to put a date to when I started reading and collecting. My best guess puts me starting to fall into love with comic books somewhere around 1977 or 78. That means that I started with comic books when I was 6 or 7 years old. I would have been barely able to read them at that point.
Some of my earliest comic book memories includes a mix of DC and Marvel. I remember reading Superboy really early. I also remember the treasury edition of Star Wars that was released with the movie by Marvel and Whitman. I still have a beat up copy of The Defenders #28 (featuring the ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, and the Hulk) and a slightly less destroyed copy of Daredevil #142. I have remnants of other comics from around that time period. I also have memory of my first subscriptions: Dazzler and Star Wars. Those were around 1981. I have loved comic books for a long time.
It is really a great time to be a lover of comic books right now. It isn't something I have ever been ashamed of. Collecting is something that I have had to retire from, though. I found having a family and providing for them came into conflict with regular comic book purchasing. But I still love them.
It is a great time for comic book lovers because they have become mainstream. There was a time when comic book heroes were an every day feature. Daily comic strips featured some of the big, and small, name comic heroes. Superman and Spider-Man both had daily runs for decades. But even when they were in the newspaper, the characters were not mainstream - ie, they didn't make money. Now, with the release of Batman Vs. Superman this weekend, there are people who know the characters and even some of their qualities that make them interesting.
For me, Marvel Comics have been my staple. I grew up with Spider-Man and Captain America. Iron Man was neat for a science geek, as were the Fantastic Four. Being able to see these characters given some quality screen time (minus the Fantastic Four) has been a real unrealized dream come true. But the really great thing about being a comic book fan is found on the television, in my home, every week.
Marvel and DC are both releasing some quality stories and entertainment on the small screen. I have just finished watching the second season of Daredevil. The interesting feature about that series is no major network is handling its release. It is on Netflix, an online streaming service. No commercials, no season schedule. You get a single blast of an entire season. And it may be the best comic book media being produced right now.
I won't get into a DC vs Marvel debate because they are apples and oranges. I feel that the DC tele-verse (Arrow, Flash, Legends, and Supergirl) are doing their own stuff. They are light and "super". Which has really been DC's best quality. Tell stories about heroes that are not down to earth. Tell stories about characters who get to do things beyond the human experience. Marvel has always felt at home dealing with characters who are more down to earth. These are people who are capable of things beyond human experience, but they have to deal with those gifts within the every day, relatable world we all experience.
Granted, the current crop of television tries to cross over that line. Arrow tries to be "normal" and Daredevil steps into the wild and wacky at times. But overall, they fall into the old shoes they have worn so well over time.
And more than anything else, it is a great time to be a comic book love because I get to share it with my kids. Nick doesn't do comics, but he likes the movies. Andrew, bless his geeky little soul, is a DC fan. That sparks endless conflict between comic fandoms. But I love being able to share something that is part of me, and has been part of me for so long, with my boys. Which means that I am pretty well guaranteed that for many years to come, I will love being a comic book fan.