Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Secrect Origins

Happy New Year! 'Tis the season to regroup, rethink and forge ahead. So, in honour of the coming new year I thought I'd take a look back at how I got into comics. It all started way back when I was a lad... Well actually it wasn't until I was in high school that I really became aware of comics. Oh, I knew the iconic characters like Batman and Superman and Spiderman but only through their spin-offs into TV and movies. I had a friend in high school who decided to start collecting comics. I flipped through a few of his books but wasn't really impressed. It was all superhero stuff and full of characters I'd never heard of with names like Dare Devil and Wolverine. I was more interested in playing AD&D and watching Robotech (I think I just dated myself there.) so that was as far as that went.

Stephen introduced me to the New Mutants some time after that. I remember thinking that Illyana Rasputin (Colosuss' little sister, for those who care) was kind cute and I was intrigued by a six armed samurai woman who's name escapes me now. (Spiral?) That was enough to get me to read the section of Dragon magazine dedicated to the Marvel role-playing game. So even though I didn't read any of the comics I was becoming fairly well versed on the backgrounds of some fairly obscure characters. Surprisingly, this all became useful a decade later when I was living Japan.

I was working as an animator in Tokyo and the friend of an acquainence who helped me get into the industry there asked me for help translating some storyboards for the Spiderman cartoon that was being animated there. It wasn't actually translating words that was the problem. The translator simply couldn't follow the story; it was too convoluted to make sense.
(This was the cartoon version that included half the Marvel universe and had Peter Parker sprout a set of ten-foot hairy spider legs out of his rib cage.) My job was to explain things like who the Kingpin is and why Kraven the Hunter want to kill Spiderman...

But I didn't really get interested in collecting or reading comics until after I finished high school and started seriously pursuing animation as a career. I met an new friend (this is getting confusing so I am going to start naming names. I may or may not change names to protect the innocent.) His name was Dave. Dave lived for comics. So I would accompany him to the comics shop and there I discovered... MANGA.

I was already an anime fan and manga had the same look and feel so, while Dave bought his superheroes,I would browse. A lot. But I was very particular about what I would buy. I recall liking the artwork in Akira when it came out but I didn't want to collect it because it didn't have any giant robots. (So my exposure to anime at that point was very limited.) There were, however, two comics that did catch my fancy: Nausicaa and Appleseed. So I decided to get my feet wet. I told myself I would collect anything that caught my eye until I had all of these two series and then I would quit. And thus began a long and intense love affair with Japanese comics.

Next time: why I fell for manga and how it all ended.

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