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Saturday, April 13, 2024

EDITORIAL: What Happened to the Golden Age of Comic Books?

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When I unfasten the crumbling velcro of the ⁣weathered shoebox tucked underneath my bed, a puff of dust ⁤erupts, ⁤filling the room with the ⁣sweet musk of decay and⁢ memory. As soon as my old, gnarly knuckles reach into its cavernous depths, a wave ⁢of nostalgia hits me. Because just inside, hidden like a treasure, lies my precious collection of comic books impeccably ⁤preserved in their plastic sleeves.

Growing up ​in Schenectady, NY, comic books were more than just escapism for me – they were a gateway to another world. I‌ wasn’t just Brian McCarthy, the skinny kid⁣ with glasses from Union St, but a cape-draped companion for‍ the likes of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and ‍more. These comic books, with their eye-catching art and adrenaline-charged tales, were⁤ my childhood friends. We had our own golden age, a term I would use now with a ⁢tinge of irony and a heavy dose of regret.

You see, comic ‍books​ aren’t just ‌about the ‘WHAM!’, ‘POW!’, ‘CRASH!’ – ‍they’re about⁣ much more than that. Yes,‍ they’re about enhanced beings, extraterrestrials, caped crime fighters, but dive deep, and you’ll see that they’re also about the triumph of good over ⁤evil, about human endurance, and ⁤the resilience of⁤ the human spirit.

Unfortunately, as I look around ‍today, I wonder: What has happened to that golden age? ⁤The ‌intoxicating allure of glossy pages is replaced by the cold, sterile screen of electronic readers. The intricate labyrinth of⁣ depicted action ‌is simplified into digital universes that are too perfect, too clean. Where is the heart? Where is the soul? And most importantly, where is⁣ the robustly relatable storyline that commanded you, trapped you, and wouldn’t let you go until you turned that last page?

I still ​remember‍ Villaggio’s Store – three blocks from my childhood home. The place was a veritable cornucopia of comic goodness – shelves upon shelves of comic ⁣books, fresh off the press. You could smell the ink, see⁣ the vibrancy of ⁤the colours, and feel the page’s ‌texture between your ‍fingers. The owner, Mr. Carlito, would always keep aside the first issue⁣ for me.

“Do right by her, Brian. These ain’t just books, they’re⁣ poetry in motion,” Mr. Carlito would say. His words still echo in my mind, reminding me of the sheer value these books held, not just‌ for me and him but for countless others.

I recall ‌spending countless afternoons perched on my bedroom windowsill, lost in the make-believe world. Between sneaking a few lines under my desk during Math class and pleading for an‍ extended bedtime to just ‘finish this one page,’ it was never just about reading; it was about living through each panel, each burst of ⁤action, each moment of biting suspense.

I miss the​ bite in​ the air⁣ on those late afternoons, my frozen fingertips turning crisp, glossy pages where indomitable heroes defied odds, where moral‍ dilemmas were the ⁤norm, and where, despite hardships, heroes⁤ lived by the rule of justice.

Today’s comic ​books, unfortunately,⁣ don’t mirror those sentiments. Each pore of their being ​screams a commercial agenda. Evolved, they⁣ say? Evolved into a ⁣commodity, I ⁣retort. Stories are recycled and regurgitated, characters rebooted to inhabit newfangled ⁤narratives that are more dark than daring, more senseless than sensational. You see, they don’t make comic books like they ⁤used to.

My comic book collection now‍ sits in a dusty corner of my house, each issue a testament to a bygone era. A part ​of me cringes every time ⁣a kid picks one up ​and discards it for a video game controller or a swipe across⁣ his digital device. Back in the day, our heroes were ink and paint, not pixels and artificial intelligence. But maybe that’s just the grumpy old man in me ⁢lamenting the passage of a time when life was simple, when comic books were a true reflection of our society.

Are ⁤we too blinded ‌by the glare of immediate gratification to remember ‍that ​comic books are​ not just adrenaline-rushed action sequences? They are a reflection⁤ of us, our humanity wrapped in coded moral vignettes ​of good triumphing⁢ over evil. They are our ⁢righteous hopes captured in ink and expressed speech bubbles.

These books taught me more than school did – they​ taught me about empathy, bravery, and the importance of being morally grounded. They held meaning,‍ shaping ⁢us into responsibility-bearing individuals, whispering lessons of truth, justice, and moral integrity to us prepubescent kids navigating the ‌fickle ​world.

The golden age⁣ might be dead, but⁢ I still yearn for it. I yearn⁢ for the return of those thought-provoking storylines, characters that were resilient‌ yet human, heroes who‌ stood tall, yet flawed, echoes of their battles and camaraderie resonating through the panels.⁢ Truly, ⁣I yearn for ‌the triumphant return of⁣ the golden age‍ of comic books -⁢ the heroes of my⁢ childhood.

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Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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