Posted - January 26, 2019
Comicbook Memories of a Gen Xer
I don't recall the first comicbook I ever bought but by the time I was nine years old I had amassed the start of a collection - around ten or so issues.
In Manila, where I grew up, and where I still live, comicbooks were fairly easy to come by. There was a shopping mall called Greenhills and there was a store there called Regina's that had a magazine stand with DCs and Marvels sharing rack space with the magazines. Regina's is still around but they no longer carry comicbooks. Back in the day I remember watching a Flash Gordon film at Greenhills Theatre right beside Regina's.
After the matinee I went over to Regina's and bought this.
My Mom was looking over my shoulder and said 'You know, that's not about Flash Gordon'. I told her I knew but inside I was like 'Duh, Mom, of course!' - by that time I had read enough DC to start to become a bit of comicbook lore snob.
Back to that Flash comicbook. These were the days Don Heck, and later Carmine Infantino do the art chores for the Speedster. And I hated their art. I felt it looked hurried, and doodly and amateurish. Only later did I learn that both Infantino and Heck would be regarded as comicbook legends. As I learned more about both later on, I began to admire Infantino the person, from what I've heard of him; although his art never quite took off for me. Don Heck on the other hand, when I realized he did the art for those excellent Avengers issues in the 70d, specially Heck's rendering of Giant-Man, well, I've since changed my mind about him. Still, privately, I think Infantino and Heck had something to do with the Flash being cancelled during the mid-eighties; with that shabby art I'm sure the series was losing money for DC. Although the reason pointed at for the cancellation would be the Crisis on Infinite Earths event which also featured the death of Barry Allen.
Another thing that I bought from Regina's is a comicbook I cannot locate anymore. It featured Adam Warlock. This comicbook actually made me sick! Ok, that wouldn't be fair. I think it is more plausible to recall that I was about to get sick and the ink-heavy Warlock art (the panels were so dark) made me dizzy and a bit nauseous.
My favorite store that carried comicbooks was Dex & Mae, also in Greenhills shopping center. Unlike Regina's - which is still standing - Dex and Mae is long gone. It was in a part of the shopping center called Manila Bank Arcade. Right beside it was a bookstore specializing in coffee table books then nearby was another store I liked as a kid - a store that sold items you can use to do magic tricks. Anyway, Dex & Mae, I know they sold a other stuff but I'm myopic with regards to comicbooks at the time so can't recall what the other stuff were. What I can recall was they had a wall of comics. Literally comicbooks in plastic bags hanging on a big white wall. You can either pick from that wall or request to see the other comics at which point the saleslady would lift up a two-feet stack of unbagged comicbooks from under the counter and I would pick what I wanted. Heaven. One day I went in there and this jumped out at me from the wall.
Oh my God. This was my introduction to cosmic Marvel. Not FF 50, which predated me. Not the original Captain Marvel comics, which did not make enough of an impression, but this. The FF's hunt for Galactus, their adventure inside his solar system-sized spacecraft ending with a mission from Galactus - a mission which would eventually give us Terrax the Tamer.
Ah Dex & Mae, you were one heck of a comicbook store.
As Dex & Mae went into decline and eventual closure another shop opened up in the Manila Bank Arcade section. This was my first comicbook specialty shop in the Philippines. It was called Filbar's. It wasn't even really a proper store, just a bunch of display cases arranged in a square. The comicbook I most closely associate with Filbar's was this.
The Longbow Hunters was a highly regarded Green Arrow series that I never got to read because at that time I could not find the initiative to fork out extra cash for DCs new Prestige format. Another memorable comicbook that I never bought but always associated with this store was this.
Kirby's foray into his own line of comics. These days no one except Lee himself is bigger than Kirby as legendary creators go. Back a that time I was of two minds about Kirby art. I thought the character poses were too exagerrated and the art looked stiff and inflexible when reading books like Captain America. But then I would pick up something like the The Forever People and feel like the art is spot on. Today, Kirby is such a giant that I have lost my power to have an opinion about his art - 'of course I like it, it's Jack Kirby' is my knee-jerk reaction.
A stone's throw away from Filbar's another kind of comicbook shop opened up. This time it was a second-hand comicbook shop. It came complete with an eccentric proprietor. A middle-aged rock music fan type with curly hair and a pronounced anti-social vibe. Anyway I frequented that store because it helped me to complete my collection. I was still a school kid at this point. One time a much older collector came in - a working guy - and he bought a whole stack of comics - I remember a sixties Sub-Mariner in that pile. After the purchase the store owner turned to me and referred to the customer as 'a real collector'; perhaps insinuating I was not. When I bought from him two or three issues would be plenty. I didn't say anything at the time but inside I was like 'Dude, lay off me, can't you see I'm a school kid on allowance'.
At one time there was a bit of a incident at the store. I was loitering in the front back issue bins and something was happening inside It turns out that a kid tried to shoplift an issue. It was this.
I already read that issue and I remember thinking 'If you're going to steal one that would be a good choice'. It was about a kid who admired Doctor Octopus. And included, ironically, a wonderful sequence about a night time break in in a comicbook shop.