As I examined pictures of the upcoming Star Wars “Saga Collection” action figures and looked over the Diamond shipping lists, I felt a surge of pure, unmitigated joy. Comic books and toys are a means of reclaiming youth, and I’m glad I discovered them again before it was too late.Last summer, I realized that comics were the only thing capable of distracting me from the cold, hard world. Nothing else comes close. Books, TV, movies, music, video games, alcohol, art, chicks… I’ve tried them all, and they’re great, but with them I’m always still rooted in this world. I don’t know the exact reason, but there’s something about the “cool” nature of the comic book medium–the fact that your mind must work so hard to complete the picture–that forces you into an alternate, all-consuming reality. Life’s problems and concerns become a distant memory.
It was the Hulk movie, ironically, and my brother’s enthusiasm for comics that brought me back. Before Hulk, no movie had so accurately conveyed the awesome power of the heroes I loved as a kid. Like many folks, I was an avid comic collector when I was younger, but as I grew up I cast them aside to pursue more “adult” activities. I sometimes think I “sold my soul” by discarding something I loved in favor of what society said I should be doing. But a small piece of me retained a love of comics, and, by extension, action figures. Over the years I would pick up a comic here and there, or buy a nice looking figure to display in my living room.
The final piece of the puzzle was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. I know, Star Wars is a movie, but it’s also much, much more. It’s an expansive mythos that can only be completed in your imagination. The movies are just a brief glimpse into that mythic world. I grew up with Star Wars, and for as long as I can remember I’d been hearing rumors about the prequels. In a sense I’d been waiting all my life to see this final chapter. The experience of seeing it for the first time overwhelmed me. My love for the movie roused an uncontrollable desire to buy the toys so I could have a little piece of that mythos with me at all times. Like reading comics, it was a way to instantly transport myself to a galaxy far, far away. Suddenly my love for toys and comics congealed into a single, juvenile obsession.
I am fortunate to have rediscovered these childhood passions when I did. Who knows–if I had waited a few more years, that youthful part of me might have been lost forever. Now it seems that nothing can ever take it away.
So go read a comic. Buy a toy. Set aside your worldly concerns. Become a kid again.