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“Reading Sandman Was Like a First Kiss” – Jake’s Story

Remember why you liked comics in the first place?

Our Comics Empower Project continues!

This time, Jake tells his story:  

I read my first comic when I was around 10.

As a kid I suffered brutal asthma and had a mandatory period everyday where I would have to sit with a vaporizer mask on my face, with nothing to do but inhale medicine.

Since the vaporizer was too loud and we couldn’t hear the television, my mother started buying me superhero comics to read for when I had to have the mask on.

I would regularly end up sitting there with the medicine long since vaporized, still reading Alpha Flight or X-Men, oblivious to the awful buzzing sound of the machine running without any liquid left in it.

I eventually no longer needed the vaporizer and lost interest in superheroes as I entered high school. Following graduation I maintained a strong interest in fiction and ended up pursuing a degree in English. Although I ended up switching my major to Anthropology I never lost my love of storytelling.

As is the case with so many other people I thought that comics were childish. Superhero tales were predictable adolescent power fantasies and comics were synonymous with super heroes. I was only interested in big boy books now!

My ignorance was shattered one autumn day in 1994.

I was hanging out with a friend at her apartment between classes and the subject of comics came up. She asked if I read them and I said I used to. She then asked me if I had ever read The Sandman.

I will never forget the way she asked me – it was slightly conspiratorial and impish, like she was asking if I’d ever tried cocaine. I said I hadn’t and she reached into a pile of books and pulled out Seasons of Mists.

I flipped through it and caught glimpses of remarkable things. I don’t remember the details but I think my friend waited patiently while I devoured the book in front of her. A dealer’s smile on her lips knowing I would be asking for more soon enough.

The Sandman: Seasons of Mists was like nothing else I had ever read. It became one of those rare mind-blowing precedents like your first kiss.

It was the kind of experience that fills some previously unrecognized gap in your soul, causing you to spend the rest of your life trying to recreate the feeling it gave you. It wasn’t just the masterfully crafted story, it was the medium itself.

Clearly, combining words and images was incredibly powerful.

It was because of that day over 20 years ago that my love of comics was reignited along with a still-burning passion for storytelling in general. I went on to get an MFA in Creative Writing and produce some stories of my own including the children’s chapter book series, The Pinkaboos, which is my attempt at hooking innocent children on the heady thrill of mixing art with words.

Learn more about Jake Gosselin and The Pinkaboos at

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Category: Comics Empower