Remember why you liked comics in the first place?
Our Comics Empower Project continues!
This time, David tells his story:
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
To truly immerse you in why the lore of comic books and the world of superheroes means so much to me, I have to first start with a revelation about me: I was born with Cerebral Palsy.
For those that haven’t heard of the condition, Cerebral palsy impacts movement, muscle control, dexterity, and strength. It typically stems from developmental problems or injury to the brain. In short, it made things like catching a baseball, dribbling a basketball or playing piano border on the impossible for me. You can imagine as a child growing up in suburban America how this might’ve colored me in the eyes of my peers.
I was shy, reserved, had few friends outside of school, even fewer in school. I often struggled with the notion that I was different, and therefore not as “good” as my classmates. I wondered why it had to be me that didn’t fit in, and in the limited capacity of a twelve year old boy began to try and escape the only way I knew how.
Having always loved to read I was the kid that was excited to have to complete a book report. One day in a Kroger’s store while accompanying my Mom on a grocery trip I spotted the diminutive comic book section, something my eyes had never been drawn to before. The heroes and heroines that graced each colorful cover seemed strong, confident and capable of anything. And while all the books on display caught my eye, Uncanny X-Men #307 called out to me.
I had to see how the heroes in the book were going to battle this intimidating vision called ‘Exodus’. A menace that seemed to tower over them on the cover, growing larger than life to the point he was spilling off the page. My eyes lit up. I had to have it!
But alas, money wasn’t something that my parents had in reserve, and back in those days, budgets were tighter than yellow and blue spandex. Even the $1.95 cover price could’ve sparked an instant “No” from my mother.
I found her rifling through her coupon book in the vegetable aisle. Meekly I approached her with the comic, fully expecting a negative response. “Mom, do you think you can get this for me please?” The please was thrown in as window dressing, for it was a special occasion.
“What is it?”
“It’s a comic book.”
I knew my Mom well enough to know that not only had she not given me an outright No, but that ‘We’ll see’ was code for, “Yes, I’ll get it for you but I’m busy right now.” I beamed instantly.
I finished that comic on the car ride home, but continued to read and study it as though it were some ancient tome holding all the infinite secrets to life on earth. I was hooked, soon every week I was picking up comics with my allowance, graduating from the periodical rack at Kroger’s to a full-fledged comic book store.
I began to learn about mutants, how they were hated and feared, shunned by the very people they had sworn to protect. My knowledge began to expand and soon I was reading about a certain adamantium-clawed Canadian, and then, the world’s greatest detective.
Slowly, I began to understand that not only did these characters have tremendous strengths, but also glaring weaknesses- weaknesses they too had to overcome, to power through.
I calculated that I too had some measure of the same, even with my cerebral palsy. After all, I was still creative, bright and eager. I knew that I could be using the skills that I did have to supplement those where I was lacking. Though this realization didn’t change my whole world overnight, it did open up a new way to look at life. The impossible no longer seemed so far away anymore, no longer out of reach. I have comics to thank for that.
Here’s hoping you’re ready to take on the world,
David “Doc” Schroyer
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