Thursday, July 13, 2006

Looking To The Stars - A Few More Of My Favorite Things

My first job was working as a generic clerk then as a video clerk in a books/music/movies superstore that shall remain nameless. It was a cool one at first but after a switch in the management it became more and more unbearable, but ain’t that always the way?

Well, while I was working there I got introduced to a little film that wound up changing my life for the better. It didn’t quite inspire me to follow my dreams (I’ve needed precious little motivation to do that) but it did inspire me not to let my crummy job get me down and to try and stick with college so I’d at least have a chance at a better day-job while I was doing the theater thing at night.

Well, eventually I got fired from that job, anyway and on the same day, I used my last paycheck to buy a copy of this movie which had inspired me so: Clerks.

So naturally, it got my attention when I walked into the comic shop one day and heard the owner complaining about how Marvel Comics had gone crazy. They were handing over the reigns of Daredevil to an unproven writer – guy who made a few movies and written a few indy titles for Oni Press.

Nodding in sympathy (I was a DC boy, what did I care?), I asked who this horrible hack was.

“Kevin Smith or something.”

Unthinkable as this may be today, Kevin Smith was not quite a household name among geeks. Chasing Amy was just barely in the video stores, the Internet was not yet the huge bastion of rabble-rousing message boards that it is now and Mallrats hadn’t yet become a huge cult hit with every comic-reading guy who saw a little of himself in Brodie Bruce.

I knew jack and squat about Daredevil but I knew who the guy who made Clerks was. And if he was going to take a hand at writing comics, I was going to give it a shot. So that leads us to #4 on our Top Ten Chronological Countdown…

The First Marvel Comic: Daredevil #1

Ironically, I didn’t wind up getting this book at the comic shop. In a blunder worthy of Walt and Steve-Dave themselves, the former owner of my first comics-shop ordered too few of the first issue. He expected it to be a critical flop. Instead, he sold out in an hour. Of course the reason he expected this was because of all the people who will buy a #1 anything… until the demand kept coming later in the week, as word of mouth spread among the small comic-reading community of that town.

Thankfully, I was able to get the last copy from the Waldenbooks in the mall.

Chagrined, the store owner wound up tracking down a line on some other things by this Kevin Smith guy, who it seemed was selling some things on that new-fangled Internet. And so it was that I was able to get…

The First Autographed Comic: Clerks: The Comic Book #1

Years later, I would get a book autographed by Kevin Smith in person. That’s a rather prized collection piece right there. And if a picture is worth 1000 words, then this is worth quite a bit.

(And for those of my friends who have commented upon my slight resemblance to Mr. Smith, just so you know- I’m the one in the back wearing the goggles).

What? I was cos-playing Jack Knight!

Anyway, as personally noteworthy as that comic is to me out of all the books I got autographed, simply for the way Kevin Smith indirectly influenced my life, it is not the first book I ever personally got autographed by a creator. No, that distinct honor goes to…

The First Autographed In Person Comic: JLA/Avengers #1

I had the good fortune to run into Kurt Busiek first thing in the morning, just as he was about to leave the DC Comics booth. I later got to spend a good while hanging out with him and George Perez in a signing room and got him to sign the book as well. Sadly, the first issue of Busiek’s Conan was just a few weeks away, so I didn’t have an issue of that to sign yet. But, there’s always the next convention.

Of course it is fun to look at all the significant first-time comics as a collector. But as we all know, a comic is only truly worth something if you read it. So the last four comics in my top ten are going to be books that all touched me in some way or another. They aren’t signed. They aren’t worth much on e-bay. But I won’t trade my copy of them for anything.

And I’m going to talk about them all next time, right?


I’m going to take a break on the reminiscing for a week. Take some time to really do some deep, soulful writing of the prose.

Besides, Clerks 2 comes out next weekend and I’ve just gotta speak my peace about that. ;)

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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