How did I start collecting comics? Here’s some of my earliest memories of comic books and pictured within this post is a scan of the ONE BOOK that quite literally shaped a large period of my life and kicked off a hobby I still enjoy today.
For those who don’t know, I grew up in a restaurant family within a little town nestled on the Ohio River. It was the kind of family run restaurant where everyone was pleasant and there was a great little candy counter as you checked out. Sometimes, when I was very young, my dad would take me with him when he picked up candy to restock that counter. We would visit a small, locally owned distributor just down the road that in my eyes could have put Willy Wonka to shame with the bevy of treats they had for sale. On one visit, I noticed they had small stacks of out of date comics tied together in blocks with thin rope. They were selling comics by the pound. No joke, they weighed them as you checked out to determine the final price. Since each stack was tied, you never knew what you would get until you made it to your car. I always loved discovering what new titles were in the mix and every so often, dad was good enough to treat me to a pound or two. I can still remember my excitement cutting the string and leafing through those covers. Who needed candy, I had comics!
My dad may get bragging rights for introducing me to comics, but it was my mom who takes the prize for making me a comic book collector. She always had an eye for detail, style and encouraged my creativity. One day, while helping clean out an old attic with a friend she stumbled across a comic which she gave to me. I was maybe eight or nine at the time. I still have it to this day. It was a single issue of Fawcett Magazine’s Captain Marvel Adventures. A very old copy of the February 1944 issue number 32 to be exact. That book, quite honestly, changed my life. It wasn’t just the comic, but rather the mystery that it could be valuable that hit home with me. I’ve never parted ways with that issue, have no plans to ever sell it and never looked back from the dawn of a hobby I now love.
I would go on to open a series of seven comics shops (called Chuck’s Comics) in the 80’s and later launch my own comic news and information website (comicrelated.com), but it all ties back to those early influences. So, with all the respect I can offer a single comic, I’ve included a scan of the actual issue that made me a comic collector. Thank you Captain Marvel. Shazam, like family, will always make me smile.