I should have become a comic book reader two years before I did.
I was reading newspaper comics in the Washington Post for years before I picked up my first Marvel or DC. And in those two years, the only parts of Mad Magazine that mattered were the comics – the movie and TV parodies, Spy Vs. Spy, The Lighter Side, and A Mad Look At. I even scanned through a few comic books one day probably in 1987 – and a G.I. Joe issue to boot! – but put it down with disinterest: Whereas the TV cartoon was saturated full color, the comic was limited four-color printing, and it looked dull on beige newsprint. This was at the house of a friend from school, and I believe my brother read several of his G.I. Joe comic books. But not me.
Soon after, my brother Kevin immersed himself in Dungeons and Dragons, and brought me with him. While we could potentially play with friends using their materials, and even though this board game without a board mostly took place in our minds, we knew we had to buy a few essentials – dice, a rulebook, perhaps a module. I think what happened was that our mom looked up “gaming” in the yellow pages, and found a store in Washington, D.C. It was half-hour drive in the “wrong” direction since we always drove north and west to shop at our local mall, and parking in Georgetown (that particular section of D.C.) was difficult, but Mom and Dad were up for it . And so we visited Another World, a comic book shop with a large back issue selection (whatever that was – it smelled old), new comics, and some gaming.
We procured the red boxed Advanced Dungeons and Dragons starter set. Georgetown wasn’t going to be a weekly trek like our mall (or downtown Bethesda, two miles from our house) were. And it wasn’t going to be monthly. Perhaps Mom and Dad liked to stay out of D.C. on weekends since they were there Monday to Friday for work. Or perhaps they were willing, but Kevin and I didn’t realize we merely needed to ask. Whatever the case, my sense was that this was a special trip, not the start of something. Adding to my disorientation was that Another World had two entrances and a quirky layout. The store straddled two sides of an acute street corner without having the corner itself, was small and cramped, had two different “rooms,” and was on two different levels, one a few steps higher than the other. And again, it was filled with comic books, which I didn’t understand or like, even if I had been seeing Griffin Bacal’s wonderful animated television commercials for Marvel’s monthly G.I. Joe series for years.
But we went back months later and Kevin actually bought some G.I. Joe comic books.
What happened at Another World? Find out next week…