They thought they were a bad influence on me, not understanding that it was comics that taught me how to read, and gave me a sense of morality and ethics to this day. They thought comics were a distraction from my school work. I, on the other hand, treasured my comics. I kept them in a tin box to protect them from the environment, stacked them front-to-back the way you are supposed to, to keep them from bending up. I had compete runs from everything from X-Men to Journey into mystery and Thor and Amazing Spiderman, and Daredevil and Conan and Eerie and Creepy and on and on and on, all in pristine condition, not because I thought they’d be worth something someday, but because I just liked keeping them that way. So one day, when my grades weren’t sufficiently high, my father sat down across from me, opened up the tin box, and one by one, tore up every single one of my comics as I stood by and looked on. “This is for your own good.” He said “You’ll never make a living from comics, you know.”
Shocking, to say the least. My parents could have cared less that I was reading comics. I’ve just never understood the violent, yes violent, hate some people have for comic books, but with attitudes like Staczynski’s parents it’s easy to understand why the medium has never garnered much respect (my opinion of most of DC’s and Marvel’s modern output aside). Now, there are all sorts of reasons for this attitude, one of them being the Comic Code Authority, but the saddest part of this whole story is that there are huge swaths of the general public (IMHO) that would really enjoy comics but because of the bad rep they have, most people will never try them. When I tell acquaintances about comics they immediately dismiss them. If by some chance I can get them to read something written by say, Alan Moore, they’re rather shocked at how good it is. I lent my copy of Watchmen to co-worker I know. He’s a scriptwriter and filmmaker on the side. But he never got around to reading it because it was a comic. One of the best things ever written period, and he couldn’t bring himself to crack it open. That’s another thing that bugs me too, a lot of people that work in film and video often dislike comics as well. They work in a “Visual Medium” and they detest comics…?! I just don’t get that. Tim Burton has publicly stated that he would never read a comic… then why the fuck did you direct Batman Tim? I happen to be one the few people on the planet that thought that film sucked by the way. Some of that is changing, a little, as films like Sin City, 300 and Spiderman have amazed the general public, but I’m ever envious of the exalted position that comics hold in Japan. My eyes almost teared up the first time I was in a Japanese bookstore because of the rows upon rows of comics in every conceivable genre (but that’s another post). But you never know. Perhaps if my dad had ripped up all my comic books maybe I could have had a career as a sci-fi and comics writer too.