My first exposure to comic books came when I was eight years old. My older brother, Eric, took me to the local comic book shop in Toledo, Ohio. He was really into playing Magic: The Gathering. He tried to teach me how to play once, but I was uninterested. I was drawn to the comic book aisle.
Most of the comic books featured male heroes (and they still do), but I gravitated towards female-driven ones. I was deep into Supergirl, Wonder Woman and, later, Jem and the Holograms. Since Supergirl was Superman’s cousin, she shared many nemeses with him, though she didn’t have one centralized one as he did with Lex Luther. And, since she’s also from Krypton (her name is Kara Zor-El), she shares his vulnerability to Kryptonite. But I always felt she got the shit-end of the stick when it came to storylines. Even the movie, when it came out in 1984, was disappointing. It had perhaps the greatest cast of all time—Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow—and yet it’s quite possibly the worst movie ever made. But I have to admit I just bought the DVD for four bucks and I’ve been watching the shit out it.
I also love Wonder Woman, who I got to play in the NBC pilot. She’s an Amazonian from the land of badass warrior women. She has a variety of armaments, such as the Lasso of Truth, but at the end of the day she’s a warrior. She uses her strength. Interestingly, the character was invented by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist and feminist theorist. Marston, who lived in a ménage a trois with his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston—who was the inspiration for Wonder Woman—and Olive Byrne, his former student. The Marstons went on to invent the systolic blood-pressure test, a key element in the polygraph test and the basis for her Lasso of Truth.
Though the majority of the comic books I grew up loving are DC, I’m not the kind of person who says, “I’m only going to read DC, or Marvel, or Vertigo.” I’m not a comic book snob. Lately I’ve been really into a book called The Last Days of American Crime.
It’s written by Rick
Remender, who worked
on Marvel’s Uncanny
and Venom titles and
illustrated by Greg
Tocchini, the Brazilian
comic book artist. It is
a vigilante comic book that mixes in elements of Orwellian social critique. My boyfriend, who is also an incredible comic book geek, gave it to me to read.
I read both graphic novels and comic books. I keep my comic books in bags and boards. I place my graphic novels on the bookshelf, where they belong. There is an underlying tension between the graphic novel folks and the pure comic book folks, but I like them both. I love nothing more than to sit down and read, from start-to-finish, a graphic novel. You don’t have to wait for the next issue to come out. That has always been, for me, the downside of comic book serials. I bring my collection with me wherever I go, including when I left home shortly after graduation to pursue acting. That adventure lasted about a month. I stayed in Greenwich Village in the NYU dormitories. I realized very quickly that people have been there their entire lives and they’re still chorus girls. That’s not what I wanted. They did have amazing comic book shops though, like Midtown Comics and, of course, Forbidden Planet.
Before I finish, I’d like to address another fixation of that era: Pogs. I recently went home and my mother made me get rid of my collection. I had hundreds of Pogs. This is a shame since Pogs are, obviously, still collectibles. The complete set of 36 Tales from the Cryptkeeper Pogs goes for $250 on eBay. You can also pick up six Michael Jordan metal slammers for $200. They are super rare.
Pogs were undeniably ridiculous but also very fun. If you have a moment, search for Pogs on YouTube. There’s still a small community of diehards but, for the rest of us, our days of Spawn slammers are over. It’s bittersweet. Though my passion for Pogs hasn’t waned, life has taken me far from them. Life, however, has brought me deeper into the world of comics. My brother, the same one I used to follow into the comic book store, is a comic book author now. We’re collaborating on a web comic called No Angel. It’s about a girl who finds out she’s half-angel and half-human. And no, she doesn’t play Pogs.