The Comics Empower Project has almost almost 100 personal stories!
This time, Peter tells his story:
First time I encountered a comic book was when my brother was sick.
I was about four. He is five years older than myself.
My mother bought comics for him when he was at home sick from school.She only bought Classics Illustrated.
If we were going to read comics that she provided us, they would be classic stories (i.e. Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Green Mansions, The House of Seven Gables and Sea Wolf).
When he was back in school, I read and looked deeply at the comic books.
The next issue I remember was Batman #244, The Demon Lives Again.
I found it exciting in adventure and dynamic on how the characters interacted.
Soon after reading this issue, I began collecting comic books. And a lot of them. But a strange twist of events drew me toward the Marvel Comics line, with the likes of Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and The Avengers.
Even Team-Up and Two-In-Ones rounded out my collection.
I went so frequently that the corner convenience store owner knew me by name. He would welcome me every week and would go so far as to let me open the bundles of newly delivered comics. He let me pick the one off the pile of each new bundle that I wanted for my weekly purchases.
For years, I collected them, traced them with pencil and paper and read them over and over. I watched the prices go up.
From the Still only to the Now priced. But, it never deterred my buying habits.
At least until the convenience store went out of business. It was then I found another store, riding my bike further to get my weekly reading. Eventually, I had to drive to the local mall where that store had ended up and it grew in popularity.
Still, the stories had me reading and reading and reading.
I appreciated the artists, the writers and the characters that held my attention over the years.
I pursued an art degree via architecture that went to illustration. All the while, still collecting comics. I respected the styles of those artists and writers I read over the years but never fully tried to copy them. Letting them stay a pocket of art, I held in the highest of respect, as my own drawing style developed academically and personally.
Then in 1989, my reading was turned upside down and changed forever.
As an illustrator/cartoonist I admired, pursued and created my own characters. But seeing BATMAN, the film, that year, changed my outlook on comics. It was from that day on, my main focus turned to Batman.
The designer Anton Furst just completely enthralled my appreciation of concept designs for films. I came late but discovered Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, that same year.
It was that year, I embraced the concept of what Batman held to the core of his being as a character. With this character, he re-affirmed within me never to give up no matter what the odds. And I took that ideal with me, for years to follow.
And I even got the honor of meeting (albeit briefly) several key persons who helped make Batman even more popular since 1989. From the film producer, Michael Uslan, the voice talent of Kevin Conroy from Batman: The Animated Series, Dr. Travis Langley, Author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight and even Athena Finger, granddaughter to Bill Finger (A key creative in the creation of Batman, just now getting more posthumous deserved recognition).
With the advancement of digital technology, avenues of distribution and exposure, a personal pursuit of independent storytelling has given a new outlook and empowerment to go further and never give up.
In the past couple of years, my tastes of various new creators of comic books have given me an even broader appreciation of the art form. Digital delivery has indeed helped me discover many I might not have bought in physical form.
Though my financial commitment to comics has waned, it has not stopped me from still appreciating the art form. Constantly, I support it through my patronage of my local library where one or two trades or more are checked out a month to read.
In the conclusion, there may, in fact, still be a graphic novel, maybe not the great american graphic novel, but a graphic novel in me that still is germinating within me. Comics have empowered me to read, appreciate and respect this modern art of storytelling. Even kept me curious to pursue subjects only slightly referenced by a comic to find out more about those subjects.
So, never look down but look it up. The knowledge is out there. Stay hungry for all of what it entails.
Find out more about Peter on Twitter or see his portfolio at his website.
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