So why this blog? That’s a valid question. I’ve asked myself that too. I’m a teacher and an extroverted guy by nature so it’s not like I’m ever at a want for a good discussion. I do enjoy writing but I doubt that alone would have ever lead to the birth of this little endeavor. So I guess this is the intersection of several passions. You see, I’ve loved comic books and superheroes for as long as I can remember. I loved Spider-Man long before I could read the comics myself and some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are of sitting on the couch, captivated by the amazing illustrations of Spider-Man’s latest
adventure, as Mom read me the comic we just picked up at the grocery store. As I grew up, I never lost the passion. I stopped collecting comics around sixteen (when a comic budget had to turn into gas money) but the characters stayed in my heart. I never stopped reading articles about superheroes, being aware of what was happening to the characters who filled so much of my youth. I’ve come to appreciate them in an academic sense too, deconstructing the stories and discovering the intelligent and varied layers to these modern myths. I watched them on my TV and, eventually, in movies that finally seemed to capture the excitement I remember feeling when I’d open a comic as a kid. Recently, this has lead me back to Books Galore, my local comic store. Hey, I’m an adult with a job now! I can budget money for gas and comic books. Yay!
It wasn’t the rediscovery of an old passion that lead to this blog though, at least not on its own. Rather, I was at my parents’ house for Mother’s Day, enjoying some familial banter around the kitchen table when the seeds for this new (and nerdy) writing venture were planted. As we talked, the topic turned to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. We reminisced about how my brother David and I had seen all five Turtles movies on opening night. In fact the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (released on March 30th 1990) is the first movie I remember being so eager to see that we had to go opening night. We crossed off days on the calendar for months until the big night finally arrived and Mom and Dad took us to see it! (Incidentally, Grandma came too and she really loved it. She still references it often. What can I say? The Turtles are cool no matter what your age.) Anyway, the conversation jumped around tangentially from the Turtles to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to adaptations from comics to casting and directors to etc, etc. etc. As I went on (and on (and on)) about comic books Mom observed, “Michael you have a lot of comic book knowledge.” It was a good moment. I’ve still got it! I never stopped caring about this stuff. I’ve never forgotten. At this moment I could easily (and accurately) riff off a long list of He-Man villains but trying to recall anything about sines or cosines is beyond me.
Over the next few days I reflected on this love of comic books (was this burning an eternal flame?). Fear not – at no time did I beat myself up for not retaining basic trigonometry terms (and yes, I had to Google “sine” and “cosine” to learn they were trigonometry things…I was thinking algebra). The topic came up again a few days later, that Wednesday, as my girlfriend Kalie and I were at our favorite coffee shop, Coffee Culture. Since it’s May there was grading to do, but thankfully we were talking about anything but the papers in front of me. Kalie was telling me about Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, the book she’s currently reading. We discussed the story as well as her passion for modernist literature. I cleverly (and with total subtlety) hijacked the conversation and turned it from the modernist literature she was absorbed in to the political themes found in Nick Spencer’s current run on Sam Wilson: Captain America.
Kalie told me that a blog would be a wonderful outlet for my near-constant need to talk about comics and all comic related things. It was partly a joke but there was seriousness there too. Kalie you see is an amazing writer. She actually runs two blogs of her own, Just Dread-Full (a horror blog) and 1000 in a Decade (where she discusses literature and life). She loves writing and I’ve happily written for her blogs before. I’ve also had fun writing for my friend Jeff’s Star Wars blog, The Imperial Talker. (You should totally click on those hyperlinks and go read their stuff. It’s all so good! Seriously, don’t take my word for it. Go find out for yourself!) At first I dismissed the idea…but then I started to think it might not be so crazy. Kalie began to encourage me with great excitement. I was still a little tentative until I realized the name “My Comic Relief” wasn’t taken. Right?? It seemed so perfect. I do love comics and reading/talking about them brings me great relief (and joy and happiness and…). So a few clicks of the mouse later…and here we are.
I can’t say for certain where this will go or even exactly what I plan to write about here. Obviously there will be a lot about superheroes and the comics I’m reading. I’ll have academic deconstructions of all this too because that’s how my mind works. I can’t help but analyze something at length when I read or watch it. It’s second nature to me. Given the superhero cinematic boom we’re in the middle of, explorations of the films will surely happen too. I want it to be personal, to show why this genre has always resonated with me. But on that note, I won’t rule any topic out from the start. Who knows? There may be all sorts of musings on life in general here! My mind (as my students, family, and friends will all affirm) is a tangential thing. So I’m not setting any inflexible boundaries. I’m just going to let my mind wander and we’ll see what happens.