Personal story time. This isn't the full, "how I got into comics" story, but a large chunk of it. For some reason, back in 2006 (can't believe that was TEN years ago...) I caught a wild hair and randomly subscribed to 4 comics "series". Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. I had never done this before, and I 100% can't remember what the catalyst was for this act of childish money spending, but I guess looking back it was divine intervention, as it has lead me directly to where I am today.
I was 19 years old at the time, and I'd always had an appreciation for comics, but was never an avid reader or collector. The only comics I'd really ever seen or read were 50 or so that my grandfather had given me as a kid back in 1996. They were all mid 80's issues, and mostly worthless, but I always kept them because my grandfather and grandmother got divorced later that year. This happened when I was 9. My grandfather was technically my "step-grandfather" so I literally never saw him again for the rest of my childhood. Luckily we reconnected a few years ago, and that's a happy ending but a story for another time.
He and I had a great relationship, and that was a big loss for me. I don't think you fully grasp that at 9 years old, but as I got older the memories I had with him became more cherished and faint, and the only tangible thing I had left, were the comics.
I'll never forget the night he gave them to me. He and my grandmother lived about 2 hours away from my childhood home. My grandfather came and picked up my younger brother and me from school one Friday to take us to his house for the weekend. He and my grandmother had this great back yard, it was early summer and he was a marine, so naturally he had us camp-out that night. 20 years later I only remember bits and pieces, but the thing I remember most, was when he brought the stack of comics out. I must have poured over them for hours, Conan, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. The pictures were all I really cared about, and I just couldn't stop flipping through them.
My grandfather must have noticed as the next morning when we left to go back home, he gave me the stack to take with me. The weird thing is I don't ever remember looking at them again, at least not as a kid. So they sat in the bottom drawer of my little kid desk for years, becoming "more collectible" I guess.
Back to 2006
I think those 50 comics were just an incredibly slow seed that had been planted in me 10 years earlier, that for some reason decided to flourish right at the time that Civil War was being published.
I began reading my new subscriptions as they would come in, and I found myself running to the mailbox before anyone else in my family would find them, not like they were Playboy's or something, I think I just thought there was a stigma about them. Remember kids, this was 2006, comics weren't really "cool" yet.
The book I gravitated most towards was ASM, sidenote.. this may be why 10 years later one of my most prized possessions is my complete 1-700 ASM run, maybe. This was the time of Straczynski on ASM, and a wonderful time it was. As I read the first few issues, I realized that whatever I had thought about comics was WAY wrong, and they were actually incredible. I always had an appreciation for the characters, movies that had been released up to that point, even the books themselves as a keepsake, but I never knew how good the storytelling was.
Well, as I read through ASM, FF, X-Men, etc., I started to realize that I was missing something. And that something was Civil War. So I went out to the local Borders (now defunct book store.. google it millennials.), and picked up the "Prelude To" & "Civil War" TPB's.
I was hooked. I devoured both trades that night and my future was forever altered.
Mark Millar's story and Steve McNiven's art blew me away. The story was compelling, and to this day I can call out 10 different moments in the book that were incredibly shocking, compelling, moving, etc. FROM A COMIC BOOK.
For most people, this Matrix-like "comics awakening" is normally attributed to the great Frank Miller's Dark Knight, but for me it was Civil War.
Which brings us all the way back to 2016.
Today, later tonight actually, I will be sitting in a nice comfy chair watching that story that captivated young, stupid, and clueless Jeff, unfold in front of me in a way that I never thought possible. I can hear the old-timers now, "You only had to wait 10 years... big deal That's nothing!!" And they're right, we are incredibly spoiled as 20 somethings to see these stories from our "Saturday morning cartoon" youth & young adulthood getting the big screen treatment before we're old enough to run for President, but who cares. It's not our fault that computers sucked until 10 years ago.
I re-read Civil War last night, and even though I now remember/realize how much different this cinematic Civil War will be from the comics, I am sure that the overall heart of the central story will be captured by RDJ & Chris Evans, and I can't wait. I know Bucky Is different than Stamford, Ant-Man & Black Panther are on the wrong team, and Spider-Man isn't married. I know Sub-Mariner isn't coming in to save the day, the Punisher isn't going to execute a bunch of bag guys, and I'm not going to get an eye full of Cloak's... cloak, but I'm actually excited about all of that. It will be like I'm 9 again, looking at the pictures, not knowing what to expect.
So for the first time in a long time, I'm shutting the phone DOWN tomorrow night, and along with 105 people that have been invited to an almost all ACC advanced screening here in Atlanta (See previous post - Jammin' Jeff), I'm suspending disbelief for 2 hours, and living out an experience my 9 and 19 year old self wouldn't believe....... and I can't wait!