Mansters’ Journey Into the World of Comics (Part 1)
Hi Pint-o-holics, Lloyd Green here. You may also know me as “Manster”, as Johnny Ganache likes to call me. As nicknames go, I like it. And the shot of Malort I drank to earn that name, well, I liked that too. So much so that before the night was over I was swigging it straight from the bottle. I’ve had other nicknames such as: Mr GreenJeans, Lloyd Purple, La-Loyd, Lloydalicious and my previous favorite, Flood. That one goes back to 1980, freshman year, Newington High School swim team (we were a good team back then). Coach sent me and an upper-classman (Guppy) out of practice for fooling around during the rest period between 200 yard sets. We had to go hit the showers. Well that was just fine with me, swim practice can get pretty tiring so I could use a break. The showers were behind a door at the top of a long flight of stairs. The shower room had a few floor to ceiling poles, each one sprouting 6 shower heads around the top and a drain around the bottom of the pole. There was also a ridge running around the floor to keep the water from going down the stairs and in the locker room. If you plug the drains with paper towels and turn on all the shower heads you can fill that sucker up and then slide around the shower floor like a fool who just got kicked out of practice. After a while that got boring so we headed back down to the pool, helped put away the pull buoys and kickboards and such then headed back to the locker room. As we opened the door to the showers we were hit with a cascade of water that was now running down the stairs like a waterfall. We never turned off the showers or unplugged the drains. Or should I say, “I” never turned off the water or unplugged the drains. Yes, yours truly, the “Manster” shouldered the blame for flooding the showers and the men’s locker room and thus earned the nickname, “Flood.” It stuck throughout my high school years and sure was better than “Guppy.”
Now let’s flash forward 27 years and get to the story of how this “Flood”, this “Manster” got into comic books. It all started in February of 2007 at Border’s Books in Farmington, CT by the West Farms Mall.
Go to that location now and you’ll find the health club, LA FITNESS filled with people paying $30 a month to exercise way less than they intended. Hey, I’m not judging, I used to be one of those people – only now I pay nothing to work out way less than I intended. Now where was I ? Oh right, the start of my comic book addiction.
Prior to my trip to Border’s I had gotten wind of the upcoming Marvel comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series by Peter David, Robin Furth, Jae Lee and Richard Isanove. At the time those names meant nothing to me save Robin Furth, whom I knew as Stephen King’s research assistant and author of The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance, but if it was about the Dark Tower then I was definitely on board. If you’ve ever heard me on the Pint O’ Comics podcast then you may recall that I’m a big Stephen King fan (I even have a tattoo inspired by his book, Different Seasons, which itself spawned two of his best film adaptations, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption). The Dark Tower series has always been amongst my most favorite works of his, from its existential musings in the first book to its inevitable conclusion, ****SPOILER**** showing us that we are all doomed to make the same choices, repeat the same mistakes over and over again in end endless cycle.
By now you’re asking, “can we get on with the comic book stuff already ?” Well, let’s head back to the book store…Every week I would visit Border’s and check the spinner racks down at the end of the magazines to see if the Dark Tower comic was there yet. I was aware of comic book stores but I was 40 years old and about five years past the days of obsessively collecting football cards and going to card shows. I was a self respecting man with a wife and two children. In short, I was not a “comic book guy.” I just wanted to check out The Dark Tower comic. When the book finally arrived I snatched it up and after reading it was amazed by the Jae Lee art and pleased with the the adaptation and expansion of the story I already knew.
I discovered that the comic book format was actually a pretty cool way to tell a story. Now, of course I was familiar with comic books but I had always equated them with superheroes. Sure, I liked Batman and Spider-Man; I grew up watching Adam West and the animated Spider-Man show in the 70’s with their super catchy theme songs. It’s just that I never really got into reading comic books as a kid. Although, truth be told, when I was about thirteen I did use a comic book to hide naked lady pictures cut from the pages of a Playboy I found in a dumpster while delivering the Hartford Courant. This would have been my “Flood” years But once again, I digress.
That single Dark Tower comic was the genesis of my adult relationship with comic books. That first fling lasted just shy of a couple years. I collected the monthly issues until about the third arc then I dropped off completely around autumn of 2008 after not being able to find every new issue in either Border’s or Barnes and Noble (Marvel was still distributing to the big chain stores at this time). I did not yet know about comic shop pull lists and hadn’t even ventured into a LCS yet. My time away from comic books would last a few years but during that time I did discover the Comics app by Comixology. I tried reading some free issues and realized reading a comic book on a small phone screen is just not worth the effort. Not long after, I bought my first tablet and with the larger screen and the “Guided View” in the Comixology app the digital comic book became a pleasure to read. It felt as if the tablet was invented just to read comics. Now if I could just find something that interested me…
Around that time I seem to remember The Dark Tower issues were not yet available on Comixology, but there were plenty of free offerings to read so that’s what I did. Some of the free issues led to me buying full story arcs (Such as The Killer and Cyclops – both by Archaia).
I tried a few Marvel titles but the problem soon became apparent…There were so many different adjectives (Amazing, Superior, Invincible, Incredible, Uncanny, All-New, Ultimate, Amazingly Incredible, Incredibly Amazing) and issue numbers and writers and artists and reboots and events and I just didn’t have any F-N clue where to start. It turned out, for the most part, the independent publishers typically started with number 1 and continued with sequential numbering until the book was complete. Most times even with with the same writer and artist. So I just went with that because that I could understand. I just sort of hovered around the Comixology and read a little here and there but still nothing really pulled me in…yet.
Then in 2011 I saw something on a co-worker’s desk that eventually changed the way I consumed comic books, increased my monthly spending habits, influenced the way I designed certain home renovations, gave me a whole new set of friends and sent me down this long and winding road with no end in sight. Come on back next time to find out what was on the desk.