Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Life in Comics


I loved comic books as a kid. Not so much the Marvel Comics or Archie, but the kind made by Dell and later, Gold Key. A lot of TV shows and movies, with heavy accent on Disney films. Things like Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson, 101 Dalmations and so on. I remember prices ranging from 10 to 25 cents, all of which fit comfortably with my modest allowance. So a trip to Debbie and Irv’s corner store to see what was new was a big thrill and a weekly ritual.

Somewhere along the way, my mother decided that reading comics would warp my brain and keep me from reading actual books. She was wrong. Not only did I read habitually as a kid (books and comics), but I kept it up throughout high school and college and into my adult life (well, not the comics). And I knew she was wrong, but hey, I was a kid and the only power I had was the power of subterfuge. So when she banned them, I continued to secretly buy them. I'd come home through the side door, stick them under my shirt and go straight to the basement where I hid them in a special place.

Why am I thinking about comics? Because one of the comic books I habitually bought was Dennis the Menace and two that really struck my imagination were Dennis the Menace in Hawaii and Dennis the Menace in Mexico. I still remember some of the panels of the latter when they went to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. And here I am for the first time in Mexico City and thinking I should try to go there.

I honored what would have been my Mom’s 97th birthday yesterday and am happy to say that I believed I forgave her all her motherly shortcomings before she died at 93. She was bi-polar and in her manic phase, was capable of doing some damage. Like banning Christmas for one year, stealing some money from my savings account, changing my choice of studying Russian in 9th grade to Spanish without consulting me (though here in Mexico, I thank her for that!). But one of the most difficult transgressions to forgive was her deciding (perhaps I was in college?) to throw away all my comic books that she found. Not only would they probably be worth a fortune now, but it would warm my heart to cross a bridge back to my childhood by re-reading the old comic classics. I could have prepared for this trip with the Dennis the Menace one!

But that’s okay, Mom, I forgive you. Now I wonder if I could find that comic online.

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