Over on the John Byrne Forum, they have a set of 12 questions for posters to answer. The questions offer a chance to think back to those hazy, crazy first days of comics reading, when everything was new and memorable.

For this group, thinking back that far may take some fog-cutting lamps and heavy machetes to cut through the underbrush. I found some of the questions pretty easy to answer immediately, and others I had to think about and say, "It must've been..."

No doubt, some of the answers might change tomorrow if I have a change of mood, or I think of another example (or someone posts one I forgot).

In any event, I thought it was a fun exercise. Here are the questions you can cut and paste:

1. What was the first comic book you remember reading?

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month?

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you?

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you?

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you?

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"?

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately?

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?

9. What title's debut excited you the most?

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers? 

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?  (Yes, I've put death in quotes; you aren't responsible if the person didn't actually end up dying.)

12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for? 

In some ways, the questions that were selected are interesting in themselves. Are there others that would be fun to answer? 

If you need some prompts, there's the GCD (www.comics.org) and Mike's Newsstand (http://www.dcindexes.com/timemachine/index.php?site=)

My answers are below. See what you come up with!

-- MSA

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1. What was the first comic book you remember reading?

I don't remember. Probably Archie.

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month?

It wasn't until I got back into comics that I tried to follow a series. When I was a kid we would get comics at the grocery store but not all the time. Back then I would focus on Spider-man but never could complete an entire arc. When I got back into comics in 2002 I think for a while I just picked up issues here or there. I think I first started with miniseries or story arcs like Ultimate War, 1602 and The Venom arc in Ultimate Spider-man. But actual series that I  followed for a long while would be Green Arrow and Marvel Knights Spider-man.

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you?

Spider-man

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you?

Doctor Doom maybe.

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you?

Probably Superboy Annual #1 from 1994. It was an Elseworlds story and a lot of the heroes died in it. I hadn't seen or read anything like it. Everyone was so deperate in it. Plus the ending was a cool twist.

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"?

Probably in Superboy Annual #1 when Batman lets the aliens that enslaved Earth capture him, then he blows them up with the bomb he has strapped to his chest.

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately?

Jim Lee, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?

Captain Britain & MI:13

9. What title's debut excited you the most?

Probably Marvel Knights Spider-man in 2004. It was a Spider-man title I could get in on the ground floor with.

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers? 

I never read the Avengers much as a kid, actually never. I was familiar with them and think I knew of the original line up and knew it changed. But I think the first time I saw a group of Avengers was on one of those Marvel trading cards from the 90s. This line up had Black Knight and a few others I can't remember at the moment.

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?  (Yes, I've put death in quotes; you aren't responsible if the person didn't actually end up dying.)

Probably Ted Kord. I had never, ever read a story with him in it before. I wasn't familiar with him at all. However the first story I read with him was Countdown to Infinite Crisis. He was the main character in the story. I was still unfamiliar with DC as a whole at the time. However during the course of this long comic that was only $1 I started to really like Ted and root for him. Then came the last page. I had really got invested and it was over.

12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for? 

For a while I just picked up whatever looked cool. Then I would get anything Spider-man. About a year ago I got specific, just Amazing Spider-man.

1. What was the first comic book you remember reading?
Adventure comics #252 The Super Sentry of Smallville was the first comic I remember seeing although I have no idea how or where. Whether I actually read it is a moot question as I barely knew how to read then.

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month?
No idea. Distribution was not that great in those days so it was pretty touch and go. I just took what I could get. And the more I got the more I tried to get, so I couldn’t pinpoint just one. Originally only Superman and Batman titles were on my radar, it wasn’t until the daughter of a friend of my parents brought over GL#3, and JLA #1 and some issue of Wonder Woman though I don’t remember which one. I had no idea there was anything else going on (aside from like Richie Rich or something which I couldn’t care less about) and it really freaked me out. I did have a vague notion of Wonder Woman through from a reprint of the Mad Magazine parody.

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you?
Adam Strange. Then and now.

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you?
I never experienced that. Not in a comic book anyway.

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you?
I was going to say Superman #149 The Death of Superman, which had the biggest effect. But if you’re talking chronologically, then I’d have to say Superman #136 The Man Who Married Lois Lane. I really felt horrible for X-Plam the way Lois screwed him over.

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"?
Fantastic Four #6 The Diabolical Duo Join Forces. Page 20 panels 4-7 where Submariner leaps through space from the hijacked Baxter Building to Doom’s ship. Go! Go! Go!!

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately?
Dick Sprang and probably also Wayne Boring.

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?
When Adam Strange was dropped by Julius Schwartz. Though by the time he was actually cancelled he was so bad, I didn’t care.

9. What title's debut excited you the most?
Maybe The Atom was the first debut that excited me. But the most? Maybe American Flagg! It came out of nowhere and it signified that there was a whole lot of new stuff out there.

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers?
I was there from the beginning.

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?  (Yes, I've put death in quotes; you aren't responsible if the person didn't actually end up dying.)
See question #5

12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for?
When I was a kid, I didn’t know you could even do that. The first memory was when my grandmother took me to a used book store and I found they had old comics. I remember buying Detective #261 The Amazing Dr. Double X. That being said, I do however remember seeing a house ad for Action #295 Superman Goes Wild and not understanding why I never saw it in the stores. Some months later, I noticed it in a barber shop and traded him for it. But that was just serendipity, I wasn’t actively looking for it. Parenthetically - and this should have been a question for the geezers among us - my most amazing barber shop find was a Plastic Man reprint from I.W. Super, nominally listed as #18. It was the first Plastic Man comic I ever saw and only knew about him from the Mad Magazine parody, Plastic Sam. It was dated 1964 and I found it in a barber shop in NYC in 1966. I traded him an Archie comic for it (long story).

That's the one!

Hoy

Kirk G said:

Mr. Age wrote:

I bought Avengers and DD #1, but Metamorpho may be my first DC #1.

My first # 1 was Plastic Man (1966). My second was probably Captain Action (1968), and my third might have been several years later, Kamandi (1972). I distinctly remember thinking how cool it was to have Kamandi # 1, which I was sure was going to skyrocket in value and help pay for my college. I think the only # 1 that I completely missed out on that I would've liked having in those early years was Silver Surfer # 1, since I'd loved the character from the FF cartoon show. But I rarely paid attention to Marvel in the 1960s, so that one went completely under my radar.

Kirk: where she pled with Jimmy Olsen to rub the jewel in the magic totem pole.

That really sounds perverse. No wonder you liked it!

Strangely enough, it was Spyman, by Steranko in Harvey Comic's Superhero line

I didn't know ANYONE followed Spyman! I only picked up the issues later at comic cons, and they were more rare than expensive, even with the Steranko connection. Most of those Harvey's didn't stand out to me, either because the good art never had good stories and vice versa. Plus, they were so sporadically distributed I don't know if I would have seen them even if I was looking (and I wasn't, so they could've been there and they didn't register). 

Alpha Flight

Okay, that one needs some explanation. Most of those were new characters made up to create a team from Canada, right? What was it that excited you about that? John Byrne was pretty hot, and I really liked his stuff, but AF itself didn't do that much for me.

What comic book did you either defend against friends' criticism or refuse to share with them?

So, what's the answer? I traded a lot of comics with kids, and sold off even more. A friend and I traded comics for a week at a time, which gave me a chance to read his older brother's Marvel monster comics, which were really bizarre stuff. I didn't trade any of my Schwartz comics or Superboys, but I did trade or sell most of my Marvels. What a stupid kid!

I don't remember defending any comics against specific criticism. The bad ones usually just got a shrug or were quickly available to trade.

Wandering: The Joker on the full-page image of his face in Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum. Holy poop, did that scare the bejeezus out of me.

That's not hard to believe. I think the question may overstate the impact of villains in the SA, although later on, like Arkham Asylum, they ramped it up for adults, and that could have a big impact on a kid reading it. SA villains were more kid-sized, although I think Dr. Doom was creepy enough looking and relentless enough to qualify. 

Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage...

LOL! That is one strange Avengers line-up. It's interesting to see responses from people from different time periods and see how they reacted to comics I was buying at a different age.

Charlie: World's Finest #112 (Sept. 1960) "The Menace of Superman's Pet"

I salute you for continuing to read comics after that introduction! WF in that period was not Superman OR Batman's finest hour.

Jason –1. What was the first comic book you remember reading? I don't remember. Probably Archie.

No, see the first comic you remember reading is one you DO remember. I think a lot of us had comics pass before our eyes for awhile--Archies, Harveys, Dells, etc.--before one stuck with us and made us want to see another of that title. I think it often is a super-hero comic, because they were more intense and had an implication of continuity, at least.

Plus, the cover of the super-hero comics related to what was inside, so we remember the story from that cover prompt. With Archies and Harveys, the cover gives us no idea of what the stories were, and most of them were so short that they didn't stick with us beyond the bit they entertained us.

I can look at the GCD in the period when I started reading comics and often pinpoint the exact comic of a title I read, because it's very familiar and the previous one is not. I probably have those earlier ones by now, but they don't make my comics-sense tingle the same way.

When I was a kid we would get comics at the grocery store but not all the time.

I think a lot of us had that experience. It makes me wonder if kids even are aware of comics today if there isn't a comics store they go past regularly, and at what age someone first reads a comic and looks for more today.

Some bookstores carry some comics, at least, but there are fewer bookstores today, too. They can get Archie Digests a lot of places, but that's like all our early years, when Archies are kind of commodities. So I wonder how that connection gets made today, at least the few times it does get made, and at what age someone first starts reading comics and keeping them?

Andy: Originally only Superman and Batman titles were on my radar, it wasn’t until the daughter of a friend of my parents brought over GL#3, and JLA #1 and some issue of Wonder Woman though I don’t remember which one.

Yowza! Having someone hand me GL #3 and JLA #1 would be pretty cool. And a girl, too! I'm glad you were able to overcome your fear of cooties and read those. I think I went from Superman to the Schwarz books (GL, Flash, JLA). I saw Batman, but he wasn't of much interest. His stories were too short, too cartoony and too predictable. The entire SA wasn't Batman's finest hour.

American Flagg! It came out of nowhere and it signified that there was a whole lot of new stuff out there. 

I got pretty excited over the First Comics line, too, both because they sounded really interesting and they were being produced locally, so there was more publicity about them. Plus, there wasn't much going on then with comics, which left a huge hole they could fill for me. But First wasn't my first.

this should have been a question for the geezers among us - my most amazing barber shop find

I remember barbershops being a good place to see what I might be missing, but none really stick with me. My uncle was a barber in a small town, and one time we went to visit, and he gave me a dollar to run to the drugstore and restock his supply. That was a lot of fun, as having a buck to devote to comics didn't happen that often.

But I don't remember getting too many comics from him after they were worn down, although I'm sure I must've gotten some. I certainly have a lot of coverless comics in my collection.

I traded him an Archie comic for it (long story).

Best, Trade. Ever. I imagine the barber just saw a new(er) comic for an old comic, but what a deal. I'm a big fan of Plas, but I was pretty old before I saw one of his comics.

Dave: I distinctly remember thinking how cool it was to have Kamandi # 1, which I was sure was going to skyrocket in value and help pay for my college.

I remember that time, too, as there were a bunch of #1s coming out, and I was old enough to realize they could be worth something--which, of course, everyone else realized, too, making it untrue. I got an extra copy of the Kirby Fourth World comics #1, which I did sell later but not for a lot. 

I think the only # 1 that I completely missed out on that I would've liked having in those early years was Silver Surfer # 1

I wanted that one, too, but I never saw it. The first SS I saw (which I still have) is #3. I *did* find Savage Tales #1 at an odd location (a record store's magazine rack), which was a rare find. I've still got that, too.

And I looked a long time to find Howard the Duck #1 when I was in college and never found it. Little did I know there was a conspiracy to keep me from finding it!

-- MSA

Mr Age said:Yowza! Having someone hand me GL #3 and JLA #1 would be pretty cool. And a girl, too! I'm glad you were able to overcome your fear of cooties and read those.

I will admit I never really liked her - she was somewhat older than me - but my little mind was so completely blown by this totally new stuff that I just had to make the sacrifice.

Andy

1. What was the first comic book you remember reading?

TIE: Iron Man #16, Captain America #119, Spider-Man #72 (same month, bought at same time)

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month?

Hulk starting with #167

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you?

Captain America.

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you?

I’d say my first favorite was either the Rhino or the Lizard.

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you?

Same answer as #1 (if “enjoyment” is considered an “emotional impact”).

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"?

Hulk vs. MODOK (see answer #2).

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately?

Herb Trimpe.

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?

Skull the Slayer.

9. What title's debut excited you the most?

The entire Atlas-Seaboard line, no question about it.

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers?

Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Giant-Man, Wasp (Fantastic Four #25-26 reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition #2).

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?

Col. John D. Armbruster (Hulk #185).

12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for?

Hulk #171 (which I realized I had missed when #172 came out).

1. What was the first comic book you remember reading? Superboy#101


2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month? Batman in Detective Comics with the advent of the New Look

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you? Superman - probably more due to watching reruns of the George Reeves series rather than the comic book

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you? Never had this problem

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you? The Superman story featuring President Kennedy that was published shortly after the presidents death.

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"? Tough one - perhaps the cover of Avengers #20 by Jack Kirby that depicts the Swordsman tossing Captain America from the top of a building while the other Avengers watch helplessly below.

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately? Carmine Infantino

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?  Can't think of one.

9. What title's debut excited you the most? The great Marvel expansion of 1968 when several heroes received their own solo titles within a couple of months of each other.

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers? Cap's kookie quartet

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?  (Yes, I've put death in quotes; you aren't responsible if the person didn't actually end up dying.) Alfred sacrificing himself for Batman and Robin in Detective #328
12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for? The Warlock stories by Jim Starlin

Mr. Age wrote: I looked a long time to find Howard the Duck #1 when I was in college and never found it. Little did I know there was a conspiracy to keep me from finding it!

Marvel came to the rescue, though, back then with the Howard Treasury edition, which reprinted all the early Man-Thing stuff, plus Howie # 1, so I never really bothered to look for it, especially since all the trade press at the time was saying it was going for ridiculous amounts ($10 in 1976 dollars was real money). I ultimately did find it, though, in of all places a quarter box, many many years later, so I ended up paying cover price for it. All good things come to those who wait (although I'm still waiting for SP: BOB HOPE).

I can look at the GCD in the period when I started reading comics and often pinpoint the exact comic of a title I read, because it's very familiar and the previous one is not. I probably have those earlier ones by now, but they don't make my comics-sense tingle the same way.

Heh, I do that too. That was how I got my Avengers line-up answer, as soon as I saw it I was like "That's it!"

Mr. S.A. said: they don't make my comics-sense tingle the same way.

Now who's being perverse? Eh?  LOL!

By the way, the person who was interested in the earliest Silver Surfer (1968) should seriously check out either the first volume of Marvel Masterworks: Silver Surfer #15... It collects the first five issues quite nicely.*

Alternatively, the first 14 issues were reprinted under the umbrella title of "Fantasy Masterpieces" so you could score it for much less per issue.  And there's an Essential Silver Surfer collection in B&W too. 

 

*Personally, I was always a bit annoyed that Marvel reprinted just the first five of the double sized 25-cent books from 1968 for the first volume. It would have been better thematically to have done the first six, as they drop in size (split up issue #7 into #7 & 8) when Goodwin told Stan to knock off the noble suffering Surfer and start doing more traditional superhero stuff.  So Stan split the next "Ghost" adventure in two and immediately started ploting gueststars in more traditional Marvel slugfests, conflicts, etc.   It still didn't work.

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