Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and his uncle was shot in front of him, Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed and he fell down a well and Cal El fell to earth after his home plant was destroyed. The comic book world, and more so now Hollywood, have always loved a good origin story – the story about what drives our protagonist to take up their mantle. But my question for you is simple. What is your origin story? What got you involved in the world of comics?
Mine is a simple tale of a young boy with an undiagnosed learning difficulty and an overactive imagination requiring fuel. We recently asked people to share their comic-inspired tattoos, and mine (Judge Dredd) has a bit of a story behind it… this is my origin story.
Let’s set the scene – a young gormless nine year old is taken on a class trip to the library. The teacher is encouraging the children to look at different books in order to improve their reading. The teacher hands the young impressionable child a copy of “flat Stanley”; the tale of a young boy who was flattened by his brother, resulting is mischief and hijinks, or so I was told. I never did get round to reading it, because my own wee mind with its short attention span attributed to my dyslexia thought flat Stanley looked, well, rather crap.
However, after a little searching through some of the mounds of books I stumbled across an array of Judge Dredd graphic novels (sadly my hunt to rediscover the specific titles still eludes me). With a quick flitter through these books I saw blood, guts and gore galore. I had to have it, but how would I convince the wee old woman that these where appropriate? Well, like any resourceful youngster would do, I hid it in a pile of other books – yes, flat Stanley was in there too – and winner winner chicken dinner, Chris got the graphic novel home.
I read it from cover to cover that night; enthralled with everything to do with the dark world of Mega City One. I always have a distinct memory of the Angel clan, especially Mean Machine, thinking that they were rather funny talking, and struggled to read what they were saying until my mum had explained that I had to sound out what they were saying… for this simple boy writing in dialect blew my tiny mind. Obviously when my mother found out what her eight year old was reading there was some explaining to do, but after she saw me engrossed in a book (finally!) she made the tough decision to allow her son to read material far beyond what he should, and I thank her every day.
I also instantly fell in love with Judge Dredd’s no bullshit “shoot first, and don’t leave anyone to answer questions” approach which echoed the Dirty Harry movies I had watched with my dad only months before. At this point I knew what, and who I wanted to grow up into…THE LAW, wielding my trust Lawgiver and riding around Mega City One on my Lawmaster.
From here I struggled to find anything like the 2000AD novels and eventually found a stash of Ghost Rider, Star Wars and Tin Tin comics. A pretty varied mix I know, but this young boy’s imagination was vast, and for the first time in my life I was genuinely excited that there was something out there that I could read. My mum then helped me take steps to read more and more books, and I was introduced to the works of Roald Dahl. These cemented the foundations of my weirdly eclectic reading material early on, and quite possibly explain my twisted and dark adult humour. Sadly, without my mother’s prompting I fell away from reading novels, but always stuck by my weekly 2000AD subscription.
I took me years to eventually have the confidence to venture back into proper novels, still to this day it has to grip me within the first few chapters or it joins the ranks of unread books collecting dust next to my bed. Thankfully, I have found novelists such as Jim Butcher, Conn Iguldlen, Phillip K. Dick and Issac Assimov have regularly piqued my interests.
Well, I may have waffled on a bit, shockingly I’m not overly fond of telling my tale (yeah right), but now I want to hear your stories. How were you introduced to the comic book world, who introduced you, and is there a certain title/ character that will always remain dear to your heart?
Let me know in the comments, and I hope you all enjoyed my comic book origin story.
The writer of this piece was: Chris Jobson