Part I of my essay on how I came by the comics hobby, we know I started with hardbound albums in all genres, superheroes a minority. Part II detailed how I plunged into the Big 2's shared universes and lost myself. My college years would add the last pieces of the puzzle and make me the comics reader I am today.
Three things happen in the space of a year to change EVERYTHING. One is that I come of age, which means I can purchase "Mature Readers" material. At the same time, I gain access to comic book stores where such material, and more besides, is sold. Though my first year at university is spent at my home town's campus, a small hobby/comic book store opens in the area. It has a major impact on my role-playing game hobby, but as for comics, it might mean a copy of The Killing Joke or Arkham Asylum, not much more. It's when I move to Moncton that I start going to real comic book stores and actually dip into new material. Oh and the third thing? It's the 1990 and Marvel Comics have recently become nigh unreadable. I end up quitting every book I was buying, which gives me a lot a comics cash to spend on other stuff!
Though the best store by far was a place called Wilky's, a friend of mine had heard about a going-out-of-business sale going on a the local "1,000,000 Comics". We went and found that all back issues were 50% off. Even better was the fact that a lot of their more recent back issues weren't bagged, boarded and priced, so the clerk was giving us 50% off cover price! We bought entire runs of books (or close to it), whatever seemed interesting, and for me, it meant books unavailable at newsstands - Baxter books, New Format books, etc. There were gaps, but not a lot. My friend got himself Hellblazer, Sandman and Swamp Thing, while I grabbed Animal Man, L.E.G.I.O.N., Shade the Changing Man and Morrison's Doom Patrol. And man, there wasn't a bad series in the bunch! THEY BLEW MY MIND! (We went back the next day to take advantage of those unpriced books, but the owner was there and looked everything up in his Overstreet Price Guide - no way was I going to pay 16$ - or 8$ - for the death of Superboy.)
My mind had been opened to new possibilities. From then on, yes, I was still reading lots of mainstream superhero books, from DC and Valiant, but I was also reading everything Vertigo was putting out, and lots and lots of indie comics, from Dark Horse and Caliber to Innovation and Tundra. Just like I'd done in high school, I was trying everything I could. And I still am. Over the years, Marvel got out of the 90s and I started reading their Kool-Aid again, and for a while, I had to quit comics for financial reasons. When I came back, I opted for trade paperbacks only, then slowly got back into monthlies, and now digital releases. My diet consists of superhero fare, but also humor and all ages books, horror and SF, fantasy and crime drama, licensed properties and creator-owned comics, art house indie comics, new and vintage, and in all formats. And now you know how it got that way.
How about you? How did growing up change your comics hobby?