My Dad cut a hole into the sheet rock high in the garage and laid down plywood on the opposite side to create a storage space above our family room. He installed a door with a magnetic latch, and you needed to get out a ladder to access this makeshift attic. My comic book collection moved in short thereafter. My folks had a trio of steamer trunks that fit my ever growing assortment of comics. I also wasn’t afraid of heights and could maneuver the ladder, a skill that I would conveniently forget when it was time to clean the rain gutters.
I spent many hours reading up there with a corded lamp, never mind that it could be stifling in the summer months and stuffy with all of the other stored items and the nasty insulation that would make your skin itch if you touched it. I read mostly Marvel titles but there were plenty of EC, DC, and Gold Key horror comics to choose from. This splendid isolation was occasionally shared with my brother or sister, but most often it was just me. The time up there was truly special when it rained, as the drumming sound drowned out the rest of the down-ladder world.
When I finally moved out I took my comics with me. Not surprisingly I never found the time and rarely had even the inclination to read from the collection. I had moved on to books, both novels and nonfiction. I was reading things besides comics ever since I started to read, but now the shift was complete.
My collection kept shrinking too. I sold an initial batch to a newly opened comic shop before the comic book bubble burst. Recently I handed over the final two lots to buyers on Craig’s List, not even making back the cover price on a majority of the books. I collected as a reader. I had some valuable books, but these were purchased at the time because I had to know what happened to Jean Grey when she turned into the Phoenix. And why was Spider-man’s black costume such a nasty creature? And who ever thought ninja turtles would encourage a kid to mail order martial arts weapons?
Selling the collection came easier than expected. It’s only a minor pain, as I still purchase graphic novels and trade paperbacks. Most of the stories in my collection are well burned into my mind. They form the foundation of my writing, working nicely along a foundation of cheesy monster movies and science fiction television.
It’s the special place through the hole in the garage I miss the most. The knowledge that another part of childhood is gone is a minor pain necessitated by growing up. On reflection upon the world as it is, we who had a happy upbringing should be grateful for it as so many others have gone without.