In our last episode, Tim’s parents took him and his brother to their first comic book store…
But this is where my memory gets fuzzy. I believe we went to Another World one more time, six months or a full year later. As best as I can piece it together, on the first visit, in addition to the Dungeons & Dragons set, I bought two periodicals: I saw an issue of Mad Magazine and had to have it. Mad was still a kind of forbidden fruit, and we had just gotten into it a few months earlier, but our subscription hadn’t kicked in. For now it was the serendipity of seeing one on a newsstand, having the money, and getting the parental permission. My other buy was G.I. Joe Yearbook #3. (I should here define the series “G.I. Joe Yearbook” as an annual run of double-sized specials that complemented the regular, monthly G.I. Joe series.) Interesting, Kevin also bought a copy. Why did it grab us? Probably because the cover showed favorite characters in distress, a scenario I was intrigued to see to its resolution.
I don’t want to undersell that point. The cover made me worried about the characters. Snake-Eyes is in trouble! Scarlett defends him! Storm Shadow — a villain — is also helping? (This is a stark contrast to many comic book covers nowadays that feature glamor poses with little drama or story content.)
So Kevin bought Yearbook #3 as well – we were occasionally selfish and territorial about our possessions, and didn’t consistently share everything.
Yearbook #3 was just a curiosity. It did not turn me into a lifelong comics reader. That would happen two years later. But it was still an entertaining book, with a wordless story told only in pictures and pantomime that did in fact follow up on the cover image. My aversion to newsprint was abating. (I can’t reconcile how newspaper comics were fine but comic books printed with the same palette on the same stock were not. It might be that I was used to higher quality color and printing from glossy magazines like Hotdog and Dynamite, that I was already picky and fetishizing the bound periodical as a keepsake.) (I mean “festishizing” in the general, non-sexual sense of the word.) But as much neat content as it had, like a fun “Kitchen Viper” joke, and an article on the TV show, Yearbook #3 was still this weird… thing I didn’t entirely love. It’s like an album you don’t appreciate until months or years later, but in this analogy, it wasn’t a single album, it was the entire pastime of listening to music. I liked prose books, I liked magazines, I liked Garfield collections, I liked cartoons, but comics still hadn’t clicked.
I recall pulling Yearbook #3 off my shelf and reading it a few times afterwards, one time lying on my brother’s bedroom floor. But it sparked no storylines for our G.I. Joe toy games, and no discussion of buying additional comic books.
What was the comic that changed Tim’s life forever? Tune in next week to find out!