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Pulp-y love: AiPT! writers and editors confess the origins of their comics romance

Ain’t love grand?!

There’s a certain cynic within me that finds it hilarious to spend just one day of the year celebrating love. As if a world full of ignorance and super hurricanes couldn’t use more of the pink stuff on a daily basis. But if we’re to focus our L-O-V-E powers for just 24 hours, why not make the most of it?

So, in addition to calling our moms, hugging a few close friends, and getting all romantic with our significant others, the staff at AiPT! are celebrating our shared first love: comics. Below, our writers and editors have compiled a list of the moments they all fell in love with comics. Whether a memorable issue, a stunning visual, or just some charming anecdote, these stories should make your heart swell a few sizes.

And, on the plus side, you didn’t even have to buy us anything.

– Chris Coplan, Comics Editor

Forrest Hollingsworth, Contributor and Comics Podcast Co-host

Around 10 years ago, when I was still in high school, my best friend, who had graduated a year before me, would pick me up from class on Fridays and we would watch movie after movie at his house – I think the most we ever maxed out at was 19 in a row. Naturally, my interest in these (Samurai flicks, Godzilla, B- or even C-grade slashers) would wax and wane, and during one particularly bad chunk, I reached for his copy of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction on the table. Everything changed. I had flirted with comics before, grabbing some cheap TMNT or Spidey books off spinning racks at Walmart and the like, but this was completely different. I was immediately drawn into the rich darkness of the world, the obscure cult angles and high-stakes heroism grounded by the realistic dialogue. Above all though, I was struck by the art – that weighty, dynamic and scary-but-restrained art. I devoured it faster than you might a Doritos Locos taco (a favorite at the time… and still now), and reached for Wake the Devil. I’m still reaching for the next one, and the next one…

Ritesh Babu, Contributor

All-Star Superman. That’s what did it. Comics are the magical medium, blending text and imagery to achieve something distinct that neither alone could, capable of feats even cinema or prose could not accomplish. Yet, I’d never grasped any of that as a kid. I loved to draw and I’d read comics, sure, but I never truly understood what the medium was or could be. I simply liked comics, as I always had. They were neat. And then came All-Star, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s 12-part epic of the superhero. And suddenly, I understood. I finally got it. In the span of those 12 issues, I laughed, I cried, I was broken down and remade. The book fundamentally shattered and rebuilt every idea I’d held about not only the superhero, but comics themselves and what they could be. No comic had ever gotten me to the point of tears, nothing had ever elicited such emotion and hit me the way it did. Instantly, I knew I was hooked. I needed more. And here we are, years later, with me chasing the high of All-Star and talking about comics, because that’s how hard I fell in love.

Rory Wilding, Contributor

Although I did read Sonic the Hedgehog comics from at an early age, comics became an addiction when I first read V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. After watching the disappointing film adaptation in 2006, I did pick up the source material, which is a different and definitely superior beast. Lacking in superhero action, the story is very much rooted in the moody atmosphere where the characters are trying to survive in an Orwellian future where the United Kingdom is a police state. It is no doubt a bleak read (as is a lot of Moore’s work), but it did open my eyes into how comics can be more than just about superheroes (although that came later). Following V for Vendetta, I wanted to read more by Moore, which led to Watchmen (my favorite comic book of all time) and several others, and I even wanted to check more stuff from Vertigo, leading to The Losers. My introduction to comics may have been through a dark read, but the more comics I collect throughout the years, life seems a bit brighter.

Chris Coplan, Comics Editor

My love affair with comics has just enough in common with your ordinary household moth. Rather than drawn to a porch light, I found myself obsessed with the foil cover X-Men Prime #1 from 1995. This glowing holograph beckoned to my 9-year-old self, hinting at some kind of magic adventure waiting within. Add in the fact that I’m a natural contrarian, and my brother forbade me from even touching it, and I became obsessed in no time. When I did finally get my hands on it, the book was a minor letdown, but I couldn’t shake the sensation. Every comic I’ve read since then has been in pursuit of that promise of something otherworldly and transformational. Sometimes I find it, most times I don’t at all, but nothing stops me from searching onward. Every time I pick up a book, I think this could be my new favorite, and that’s an attitude I hope permeates the rest of my life.

Dave Brooke, Content and Media Manager, Comics Podcast Co-host

I was about 9 when I encountered my first comics rack. On it was all sorts of entries, but Amazing Spider-Man #363 instantly took my breath away. The cover, by Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin, features Spider-Man, Venom, and Carnage’s heads floating in front of a webbed green background. The cover was striking for a variety of reasons and you better believe I read that issue so many times it fell apart in my hands. I grew up in a small town that didn’t feature a comic book store until I turned 13, so it was difficult to enjoy ongoing stories, which I think is why a single great issue was such a delight. Reading and rereading the same few issues sparked my imagination and made me value the comic book medium that much more.

Robert Reed, Contributor

While Ricardo Delgado’s Age of Reptiles: Tribal Warfare was my first formal introduction to the medium, I didn’t really get into comics until New X-Men #114 (2001) grabbed me and never let go. It’s a kick-ass cover and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely did a beautiful job welcoming in readers like myself who only really knew the X-Men from the cartoons and movies. Beast was always my favorite from the cartoon, so seeing him with this majestic feline form was a huge incentive to keep reading. And it didn’t take long for teenage me to develop a crush on Emma Frost. That run kept me involved with comics on a monthly basis – had it not been so good, I’d have fallen out of the medium without giving an honest chance.

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