Friday, April 21, 2006

My first comic

It's no longer "first comics week" but I have no concept of time other than it is flying, so I'm going to tell you about my first comic anyway.

As a young child, I was something of a female chauvinist. I didn't have any feminist analysis of oppression or hate men for any patriarchal sense, I just thought boys were gross, as well as everything that was even nominally male. Toy dinosaurs and trucks weren't actually male, so they were okay, but any anthropomorphic or humanoid toy had to be female for me to play with it. I had a rocking horse on springs that was technically named "Thunder" but I renamed it Jill so she could be a girl. Needless to say, I hardly had any Ken dolls. Actually, I never had a real Ken; I had Mr. Heart, the dad of a family of dolls, an Aladdin doll, and Prince Phillip doll from Sleeping Beauty. However, I had (still have) dozens of girl dolls. They took over my bedroom and were finally relegated to one half of the basement.

Suffice to say, when Marvel released a Barbie comic book, I was all over it. My first comic books were Barbie Comics #1 and Barbie Fashion #1 (they came bundled together). I have no idea what was in it or what the story was like, but it was pink and there were paper dolls and lots of pictures of clothes.

I do remember that it had a letters column. One letter has stuck in my mind to this day--a guy wrote in a few issues in after he had read his little sister's Barbie comics. He said that he was tired of ultra-violent comics like The Punisher and it made him happy to see that there was at least one Marvel comic book out there that told cute, funny stories without any gore.

There were Marvel company ads for other titles they sold, and I especially recall their ads for X-Men because I assumed all the characters they showed were boys, including Storm. I was ridiculously surprised and pleased when Fox Kids first aired the X-Men cartoon and I found out that she was a girl. If there were even a few girl X-Men I could make a concession and like them, even though there were boys too. (In the end I liked Rogue much better. Maybe I would have gone the other way if they used her costume from Claremont's leather years, but as it was Rogue had awesome hair and a cool belt.)

My one frustration was that there were never any superhero Barbies to play with. I really, really, really wanted X-Men Barbies. The closest they ever came while I was a kid was Flying Hero Barbie, who was pink and glittery--not like any X-Men I knew. The release of Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and (ugly) Batgirl barbies along with Elektra, the Invisible Woman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy dolls made my heart happy for the current generation of weird little girls who want their dolls to kick butt as well as have hair long enough to brush and lots of interesting outfits to wear. And, of course, I bought some for myself. Supergirl and Wonder Woman are wearing each other's costumes right now and sitting on top of my toybox. Seriously.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Erika said...

Do you have anywhere that poem essay or something you wrote about your socks and childhood toys? I remember reading it on Little Pink Mafia, but I don't think it's there anymore and I really liked it.

5:35 PM, April 25, 2006  
Anonymous Chawunky said...

I remember, as a young boy of 10, feeling like I had to justify to the cashier my purchase of a Princess Leia action figure--odd, that.

5:46 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

A sweet story, and I was especially struck by this: "One letter has stuck in my mind to this day--a guy wrote in a few issues in after he had read his little sister's Barbie comics. He said that he was tired of ultra-violent comics like The Punisher and it made him happy to see that there was at least one Marvel comic book out there that told cute, funny stories without any gore."
When I buy my "Fables", "Y", SIP and los Bros Hernandez, I also shop for my students that range from 4th graders to high school seniors (it's a small rural district, and I see all ages in the course of a day). The kids ignore some titles; others are snatched up as soon as they come in, with much pouting over who gets to read "Runaways" first.
As a lifelong Marvel guy I here publicly confess that DC has become the better company. Over the past couple of years, the tone of Marvel's flagship titles have become more and more vile, from the swiftboating of Gwen Stacy to the obscenity of "Marvel Zombies". The creators at Marvel seem intent on inflicting their own neuroses on the rest of us, no matter what it does to their bottom line-- "Emma Frost" in paperback is a HUGE hit with the high school girls, but I couldn't give the original away because of the cheesecake covers that had no relevence to the material inside.
This is turning into a rant, and Free Comic Book Day is fast approaching. Let's hope the companies put out their best material, and not their remainders. Thanks for your blog-- currently the best written and the most quotable about the art of comics.

8:34 AM, April 29, 2006  
Anonymous Vasu said...

ormondroyd, I'm most likely going to be teaching next year, and I had the same thought about buying comics for my kids. I'd be curious to know which titles you pick up and how well they go over.

9:38 AM, April 30, 2006  

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