Mitchell Brant, Comic Books, and Me . . .

If you’ve read chapter one of The Eye-Dancers, you already know that Mitchell Brant is a big fan of comic books in general and The Fantastic Four in particular.  It’s always dangerous to read too much into a fictional piece.  What I mean by that is–just because someone writes a story, populates the story with characters, that doesn’t mean they are writing an autobiography.  On the other hand, bits and pieces of any writer filter in to his or her fiction.  They have to, really.  How could they not?  The Eye-Dancers is chock-full of things that resonate for me as an individual, and one of those things is comics.

One of my older brothers was a comic collector.  So I did have that influence.  But my fascination with comic books (“graphic novel” is a fairly recent term–back in the ’80s, when I grew up, they were comics, plain and simple) surely was innate.  As far back as I can remember, comics, especially old ones, printed and produced long before I was born, have called to me, beckoned, urging me to read them.  And like Mitchell, I have always loved The Fantastic Four.  In chapter one, he pulls out Fantastic Four # 99.  I know it well.  I own it, have read it many times.

 

A good old comic book has the power to transport me back to a simpler time, a time when I used to go to the local collector’s shop and talk with the owner, Jim.  (These were the days before eBay and online shopping, which, sad to say, dates me a bit!)  As far as I know, Jim is still in business, still operating his shop on the south side of Rochester, New York, where I grew up.  Walking through that shop, looking at the old issues displayed in the glass case, smelling the scent of Mylar and decades-old paper in the air, I felt a magic, an excitement.  I couldn’t wait to buy something.

I haven’t been back to the old shop in years.  But it’s still there, inside of me, and a small part of it comes alive in Mitchell Brant.  So, thanks, Mitchell.  For helping me, hopefully for helping all of us, to rediscover the magic, to reclaim the wonder we once knew.  We still have it, after all.  Maybe it’s been pushed down, deep, hidden, struggling to reemerge.  But it’s there.  And for me, The Fantastic Four and all the old comics of yesteryear are sure-fire ways to find it again.

If you’ve never read The Fantastic Four, the originals from the 1960s, check them out.  They might surprise you . . .

–Mike

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