Part I will attest, I'd mostly been reading comics in French at that point, either in translation or, for the most part, in original Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées. In fact, before reaching the age of 14, I'd read all such books in my local library - Spirou, Gaston Lagaffe, Les Tuniques Bleues, Natasha, Buck Danny, Boule et Bill, Iznogoud, EVERYTHING whether adventure strips or humor. If I didn't have it at home, it CAME home for a week. I devoured the things. And when I was done, I found a small section of English-language translations of Tintin and Asterix (all new puns!) and read THAT.
I was at an age when an English-language comic would do just as well as a French album (as they called them), and at a fraction of the price, so when I started getting a small allowance, it seemed much more reasonable to buy a 75¢ comic (Canadian) than a 7$ Asterix or Jumbo reprint book, or even those 1.25$ Mad Magazines (cheap) I liked so much. The first comic I remember buying was DC Comics Presents #59 and it rocked my world, and over the next few months would regularly buy DCP, which had Superman team up with such strange characters as OMAC, Kamandi and the Demon (coincidentally all Kirby characters). I was no doubt drawn to DC at first because I knew the characters from the Super-Friends cartoon show.
and this is a story I've told before - was used variably as a bedtime story, as a play starring our stuffed animals, and as an audio tape where I did all the voices (I'm sure my Kitty Pryde was abominable). It was all I had and it had to LAST. So when I came home to northwestern New Brunswick, I just had to check out what these mutants were up to when they weren't telling each other fairy tales. Of course, those 2-for-1 bags held issues from a couple years back, so Uncanny was already at #175 (again, a book I've written about, you can see how influential these early comics were). I had to seek it out too. For some reason, the drug store where I would get Mad and those old Jumbos had its spinner rack in a completely different section. I remember buying three comics on that specific rack: the aforementioned X-Men (leading to that book becoming the largest consecutively collected comic in my history), a confounding issue of All-Star Squadron (I didn't know what Earth-2 was and couldn't understand why Batman was driving THAT car), and the second issue of Marvel Universe NOT-Deluxe's Book of the Dead.
My God, It's Full of Stars!
As I got older, I started looking out for new points of sale, out of the way convenience stores where they might carry some comic the mall's book store didn't - Suicide Squad was only ever sold at a store where they kept the comics on the BACK of a support pillar, for example - and made my rounds more than once a week. Once for the new comics, and sometimes a little more to get a random issue of something I didn't habitually pick up, just to chase the blues away. Other people ate their emotions, I projected them on newsprint. And the names of those stores! I don't know if the moon landing was this huge thing in Edmundston NB or what, but they had names like Tabagie [smoke shop] Astral and Apollo News (with spaceships and planets on the outside sign). What magical place names to get your comics from! (And therein lies the tale of this post's title.)
As usual, I'd love to hear about your teenage experience with comics, becoming a collector, and what pulled you deeper into these imaginary worlds. Comments section at the ready!
In Part III: The College Experience