May 20, 2015

Giant Box of Comics presents "Stories from the Comic Life" - "I'll Never Forget That Issue" by Brendon Lam

I always flipped right to the back. I had to have at least seven of the top ten books. Had to. No ifs, ands, or buts. If I didn’t have it, I knew I had one month to redeem myself. That’s how it went every month for 8 years. That’s how I would read Wizard Magazine.

As I grew older, I began to look back at my younger self with a sense of shame. All of those top ten lists had only helped to fuel a speculative market that would nearly put the mainstream comics industry in the ground. The amount of bad that Wizard has done and been through has been well-documented; and whenever Wizard is mentioned in a conversation, it’s almost always in a negative light. I usually don’t participate. I sit there, silently, and feel bad. I feel bad because as much harm as that magazine and company may have caused to the industry, I owe them everything.

I’ll never forget that issue. Wizard #81 boasted a “Bold New Wizard” and it was reflected in Wizard’s choice to feature the X-Man, Cable, on its cover. (Editor's Note: I couldn't find a scan of the Cable cover of Wizard #81. There were even variant issues for a collector's magazine!) Yes, that Cable. But I had never seen Cable like that before; I don’t know that I ever had seen anything like that before. It was 1998 and 14 year old Brendon had just had his mind blown. Frantically, I flipped through the pages, but not for the top ten lists like I had in the past, this was more important and I needed it right away. And just like that, there he was. Jose Ladronn. He was the artist responsible for the cover that made set my brain on fire. I couldn’t even get through the article because I couldn’t comprehend all the art that surrounded it. The stocky bodies, the square fingers, the sheer amount of stuff in the backgrounds.And where the hell were everyone’s eyes? In that exact moment, I knew that I needed to own everything this guy had ever drawn and will ever draw. I don’t remember exactly how long the article was, but it actually had very little to do with Jose Ladronn. It was actually a spotlight on a young, up and coming writer by the name of Joe Casey. That month, instead of trying to figure out the next top ten list, I hunted down every issue of that Cable run. It was so different from everything else I was reading, but it also helped that it was really, really good. All of a sudden, I went from being a kid who bought books just for the characters to being a kid who consciously followed creators. Later that year, Joe Casey would have a short stint on The Incredible Hulk and of course I would be there on that Wednesday to purchase it. Little did I know that I would be purchasing my first issue of the creator who would become my all-time favorite artist, Ed McGuinness. I owe that to Wizard. They led me to Joe Casey, who led me to Ed McGuinness, who led me to guys like Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly. Ladronn led me down the slippery slope that was Jack Kirby, Moebius, Steve Rude, and Milo Manara. I never looked at storytelling the same way again.

That was the first time it happened, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Alan Moore, America’s Best Comics, Garth Ennis, Preacher, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Bone, Herobear and the Kid, and Starman. The list is endless. Even as a retailer, I learned about things like the “Terrible Twos” from them. As a teenager with very few friends and even less internet, Wizard Magazine substituted as both, and for that I will always be grateful. Plus, I had tons of posters for my locker.

Brendon Lam is also a dude who used to own a store and also has a lot of comics.

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