When I was in fourth grade, I was exposed to something that would change my life and still affects me. It infected my imagination with a disease that caused it to burgeon. That disease was incurable and has stayed with me to this day. What I am talking about is my exposure to superhero comic books.
Before this, I had been exposed to comic books but more in the sense for little kids. I had many Richie Rich comics. My mom bought them for me thinking that was the kind of comics I wanted when I asked her to get some. I didn’t complain when she brought them home. I was just happy to have comics in general and I devoured them.
That all changed in fourth grade.
I’m not even sure where exactly it came from but I had gotten a hold of a Prince Namor, the Sub Mariner comic (not sure what issue but it was either #1 or #3 from the 60s/70s run. Pretty sure it was a #1). Now, it wasn’t that I had never seen a superhero comic before this. I had. It was that this was the first comic I owned. It was tattered and beat up but I loved it. I read that comic over, and over, and over again. It used to sit on the nightstand next to my bed and I remember reaching over on Saturday mornings to open it up and read it again before going to watch the Superfriends (yall know what I’m talking about).
We didn’t have a lot of money but we weren’t poor. My mom, if memory serves me right, wasn’t really a fan of superhero comics. She wasn’t against them but there was a sense that she didn’t take it seriously and would rather that I would read something else. To her credit, it was my mother who instilled in me a love of reading. But since she wasn’t a real big fan of superhero comics, I didn’t have many of them and to my recollection, the only one that sticks out in my mind is this particular comic. It wasn’t until later on that I began to build my own collection. As Providence would have it, that was stolen and I had to start all over again. I now sit at a little over 2500 comics which is about seven long boxes full.
I still am a fan of comic books, but some years ago, I wanted to read about those characters in novels. Books are must more robust and I didn’t need the pictures. I wanted to read the stories. The problem was that it was hard to find any superhero prose novels. In my area, it was impossible. I had to go on Amazon to buy them and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Why am I saying superhero prose novels? Because I have to differentiate that from graphic novels. One is a mainstay of the comics industry and the other is a rarity. Or was.
Over a period of a few years, I garnered a collection of superhero prose novels. You heard me right — I collect superhero prose novels. I consider myself an aficionado. This is niche stuff here. I have the biggest superhero prose novel collection within the tri-state area where I live. That’s speculation but it is a pretty good one. I currently have over 120 superhero novels in my collection. I even have a wish list on Amazon.com of all of the novels I still have yet to get. With the rise of the superhero and the MCU, superhero prose novels are back on the scene. I’m happy about that. However, some of the classic superhero novels are either hard-to-find or expensive. I’m a patient man. I can wait.
The superhero novel market has suffered from a reputation of being sub-par books. I believe that’s inaccurate. They suffer from good and bad books just like any genre. In some cases, that it’s true. But that is not all of them. Some are written rather well.
A great example of this is Predator’s Smile by Christopher Golden. That is one of the best superhero novels I’ve ever read. He had a full grasp on this character and it was a fantastic story with great writing.
I wanted to lay this out to you is because this is what I read and what I put into my own writing. It is part superhero, part supernatural-suspense. Some of my characters in the RIU lean one way or the other but it’s always a mashup of the two genres. I love and enjoy them both and I don’t see myself changing from that anytime soon. I do have a fantasy series but that is coming way in the future, God willing. The majority of where I live as far as my writing is in the superhero-type arena.
I still have many novels to add to my collection. My hope and goal is to keep the superhero prose novels alive and that people would see them as legitimate writing that is just as good as anything else in the mainstream. My strong desire is to present them as dealing with adult topics and not just something people think are just for kids. Comics aren’t just for kids anymore. That ship sailed in the 70s and 80s. Now, the novels that are written for them is an opportunity to explore adult topics as well as any other book genre.
So, I’ll keep you posted when I add a new book to my collection. I like to include you along on this journey and watch it grow with me.
I also want to know what your take is on superhero novels. Have you ever read a superhero novel? Do you consider the things that I write in the superhero category or do you think of it as something else? I’d really like to get your take on this.
Well until next time, see you in the Tapestry!