Flashback! Where Cullen Punches the Miserable Bastard Version of Himself in the Face
Posted by Cullen Bunn on Sep 13, 2011
Take a look back through the vast expanse of time to see young Cullen Bunn walking into his first honest-to-goodness comic book shop.
Up until that point, my comic book purchases came from yard sales and flea markets (where they could still be found in vast quantities) or at the 7-11. I don’t remember the name of the store, but it was in a shopping mall in Georgia (my family stopped there to take a break from a long road trip). I stumbled into this vast, sparkling shop full of nothing but comics!
I bought a copy of Dazzler #1 and some issues of (the now direct-to-comic shops) The Micronauts. I talked my dad into some money for a few other issues, too. Needless to say, I was hooked. The rest of the trip, I read and re-read those comics. I daydreamed of the day a real comic shop might open in my home town.
Fast forward to a few years later. I wandered into a Waldenbooks and bought a copy of Uncanny X-Men #191. This is the issue where Kulan Gath turned New York into a city straight out of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s probably one of the comics that most influenced me as a writer. As I checked out, the clerk started going on and on about how awesome that issue was. We talked about comics for less than five minutes, but I walked out of the store excited and happy and more interested in the hobby than ever.
Now fast forward to a time much, much later. This was about—I dunno—ten years ago. I had been out of comic collecting for a short while, but I decided to give it another go. I walked into the store and, for whatever reason, turned into the grumpy old comic book reader from Hell. I hated everything I saw. I hated the art, the stories, the characters, and the ideas. And I wanted to make sure everyone within the sound of my voice knew how miserable comic books were (and how miserable I was). I’m not sure what was going on in my life to make me such a hateful bastard. Maybe it was because I was a struggling writer. But I’m sure the comic shop employees rolled their eyes when they saw me coming.
If I could go back in time, I’d punch that miserable bastard version of myself right in the face.
Nowadays, I like to think I’m much more positive about comics (and life in general). I have bad days, but I don’t take it out on a hobby (and now profession) I love. It took me a while to recapture the joy I felt in those early days, but I’m really glad I did. How did I do it? I read great books. I appreciated talented creators. Even the books that weren’t so great often had elements I found enjoyable, so I savored those moments and didn’t stress over the bad stuff.
I enjoy going into the comic shop every week. I indulge a little in some geeky comic book conversations. I try to suggest good books to people and I seek out suggestions for other great books. I try not to dwell on the negative. I just avoid it.
In the end, I figured out that it’s my choice if I’m going to be negative or positive about a hobby that—whether or not I wanted to admit it—I loved. I realized that nobody wanted to hear my ranting and raving.
Most importantly, this is the lesson I learned:
If comic books are a source of great strife in your life… if you must complain most loudly and forcefully about stories of superheroes… well, you have probably never had a real problem in your entire life.
And we all have real problems.
Comic books—if you take them for what they are—are there to help ease some of the stress.
Today’s Comic Book Bucket List
Today’s foray into things to do in comics before I die is…
Write a badass Druid story
Dr. Druid is a character who always came off as kind of a joke. He was something of a poor man’s Dr. Strange, only with a bad haircut. All that changed for me when Warren Ellis wrote the short-lived Druid mini-series. In that book, his powers spiked and he surrounded himself with a creepy group of helpers. He was cool and menacing and scary.
I’ve had an idea to bring him back into the Marvel Universe for some time—one that includes revenge against Daimon Hellstrom (who killed him) and the Macabre Man-Thing (as a kind of partner in crime). I hope that I’ll be able to tell that tale one day.
Cullen Bunn is the writer of The Damned, The Tooth, and The Sixth Gun from Oni Press and The Fearless from Marvel. He is also the author of a middle reader prose horror novel, Crooked Hills, from Earwig Press.
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