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How this all started
by Branden Hart
My parents didn't raise me to be ashamed of the things I liked to do. My dad probably would have liked me to play more sports, but he never pushed me. He always gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted, as long as I was serious about it. When I was 3 or 4, my folks signed me up for soccer at the local Y. If I remember right, I played for two years. Whether it was practice or an early Saturday morning game, one, if not both of them, were out there cheering me on. Every time I was picking flowers by the sidelines as the ball rolled past me and my coach was screaming at me, they were cheering me on. Every time I kicked the ball at the goal and somehow ended up kneeing myself in the crotch, they cheered me on. My dad used to treat me like I had won the entire game by myself, even though I usually got most excited about eating orange slices and drinking Hi-C during halftime. I think he knew from the beginning that sports weren't for me. So every day after those games, he would make me feel like a champion by taking me to Dallas. And that's where I found most of my true loves—the hobbies that really spoke to me.
We lived in a small city about an hour south of Dallas. There was shit-all to do in the town I was raised. Whenever we needed anything out of the ordinary, we had to go to Dallas. Every Saturday, we'd jump in his car and head up there. When I was really young, the best part of these trips was going to Toys R Us and finding the newest Transformer or a really cool Lego set. I'd rip open the packaging on the way home, too anxious to wait the hour it took to get back to Corsicana. As I got older, Transformers turned to video games (which my parents definitely didn't care for).
Then one day, my dad came home from work with a thin brown bag. He tossed it to me on the couch. Comic books. I fucking hated comic books. And Spider-man? That was kids stuff. I'm sure I said "thanks" in a way that made him think he had just shat on my foot. That Saturday, my dad and I made our usual trip up to Dallas. I went ahead and brought my comic books with me—after all, I had to read something on the drive up there, and I had read his Supra's owners manual from cover to cover.
I was floored. This Spider-man happened to be right at the beginning of the Venom story arc. Not only was the art amazing, the story was dark and moody. As a boy on the verge of becoming a teenager, it was right up my alley. When I finished, I asked him where we could get the next issue. He told me it wouldn't be out for awhile, but he'd take me to a comic book store where I could find some other stuff to read.
Lone Star Comics was in a strip mall. The first time I walked in, it smelled wonderful, a smell I would later come to recognize as fading pulp mixed with the Mylar bags it was stored in. I began browsing the stacks, all the time becoming more and more frustrated. There were all sorts of comics—comedy, drama, science fiction, horror—mixed in between the regular DC and Marvel fare I had so long associated with the word "comic." Why the hell hadn't anyone told me about this?!?
I don't remember what comic I bought that day. I just remember feeling like a new world had been opened to me. My dad and I continued to take our trips to Dallas, and soon, he told me we'd be spending a weekend up there to go to a comic convention called Fantasy Fair.
Before I went to Fantasy Fair for the first time when I was thirteen, I had never seen a man on a leash being held by a leather-clad woman with tits up to her chin. I had never seen anyone carrying around a three-liter bottle of Mountain Dew like it was a water canteen. At Fantasy Fair, my eyes were opened to the world of geeks. And I realized that, in their own way, they were pretty fucking cool.
My love for comics has risen again, as most of you know. And as I finished the last pages of Preacher last night, my eyes were opened another time. Today, I go to Austin, to a book store called Book People. I will browse their shelves of graphic novels, and even if I don't buy anything, I know I'll find something that I want to read, that I'll buy in the future. I can't help but thank both my parents for teaching me to love the written word, but I have to specifically thank my dad for teaching me what wonders can happen when the written word is combined with art. And for showing me that chick with tits up to her chin.
We all have hobbies. I know Michele likes comic books, she and Shawna love photography, and turtle builds things and burns Peeps. Tell us how you first fell in love with the things you love to do. Well, maybe except you turtle. I'm not sure I want to know why you like burning things so much.
Uberchief is a closet cosplayer. Whatever that means.
Haha! Tuesday after next, you'll get to see why I like to burn things:)
I fell in love with hunting by walking out into the wilderness and a blizzard, alone with a rifle and spending 9 hours stalking various deer without a clue as how to go about it-nobody told me a thing, I had never read anything, I just went.
I came close to taking a shot that day, got lost and spent the night under a pine tree, only to wake up in the morning, completely buried in snow and half-frozen.
From that I learned the thrill of the hunt, to respect the abilities of that which we would call prey and the power and beauty of mother nature.
Posted by: pirate | April 23, 2007 12:16 AM
I read comics a lot when I was a kid because my parents used to split up the paper in the morning. They would toss me the comics to keep me from reading about the Vietnam War. That's how I became a Spidey fan, which led me to reading other comic books.
I lost the comic bug for a long time and only got back into it when a friend recommended Gaiman's Sandman series to me. It was just a slippery slope from there. I read everything the guy in the comic book store recommended. And more.
I'm not as obsessed as I was a few years ago, but comics are still one of my greatest hobby pleasures, next to photography and watching Turtle burn or build things.
Posted by: michele | April 23, 2007 6:25 AM
I need a good geek. I just found all my old Star Wars cards in a box at my Mom's. How do I figure out how much they're worth? Serious.
Posted by: Ernie | April 23, 2007 9:47 AM
Ernie--you may be able to just type all the information about the cards into a google search and get some results that way.
Posted by: Uber | April 23, 2007 10:16 AM
I don't game as much as I used to. Don't know what happened there. Just got tired of the endless stream of FPS and RTS that all felt like either Doom or C&C.
I still read a lot.
We have our favorite TV shows but I'm almost to the point of just waiting for them to come out on DVD.
Music is a constant.
For fitness I've slowed down a LOT mostly because of some of the meds they're feeding me as I turn into my father. Blood pressure meds do weird things to your energy levels so it's Tai Chi and walking Max vs Tae Bo and running my knees into the ground. I have to say it doesn't hurt as much, but I've got to pick it up, I'm getting what my daughter calls a Buddha belly. I don't WANT to change my diet.
And I would say I'm spiritual but not religious. I spend time in prayer and meditation but avoid organized religions like the plague.
Posted by: Timmer | April 23, 2007 10:57 AM
I was big into comics up until I went homeless in 93...I never really got back into it until a couple of years ago when my buddy convinced me to start writing for the graphic novel he's illustrating.
DC's 100 Bullets is probably one of my more favorite reads. Mignola's Hellboy series is also a favorite.
Darth is a recovering dungeon master...
Posted by: Darth Monkeybone | April 23, 2007 12:30 PM
Reading 100 bullets now Darth. GREAT series. Waiting for the fourth volume to get into the local comic store--they were out and had to order it.
Posted by: Uber | April 23, 2007 2:08 PM
as far as building things, I guess it is just part of my personality. I like to make something from nothing.
as far as burning things, I like to make nothing out of something.
kinda ying yang type of shit if you ask me
don't make me get all deep on yo' ass
Posted by: turtle | April 23, 2007 7:55 PM
Darn fine town.
Not quite an hour south of Dallas on the other highway, I-35, Red Oak Texas.
Bet you didn't know it used to be called Possumtrot.
Posted by: Dave in Texas | April 23, 2007 10:30 PM
Corsicana...Collin Street Bakery...mmm
Posted by: Darth Monkeybone | April 24, 2007 9:17 AM
Bet you didn't know it used to be called Possumtrot.
Also used to be known for quite a bit of prostitution.
Corsicana...Collin Street Bakery...mmm
Wow Darth. Never expected someone to mention that place. Best blueberry donuts in the world.
Posted by: Uberchief | April 24, 2007 9:34 AM
I haven't tried the blueberry donuts yet...but I have threatened a roommate with violence when I caught him eating my peanut butter cookies...*drool*
Posted by: Darth Monkeybone | April 24, 2007 12:43 PM