I still remember the mix of excitement and embarrassment as I headed upstairs to try and dig this one out of the longbox… knowing that I would soon be writing about it. I hid this fact from my wife – because, a) I really should have been concentrating on my Forensics assignment, and b) I wasn’t sure what she’d think about me, at the ripe old age of 36, writing about comic books. This wasn’t something I’d tried doing since I was a kid — so, maybe, in some ways it felt like a step backwards… or a regression. I dunno.
Something a little bit different for this little text piece – not entirely comics-related, but I thought I should do something to commemorate the fact that today marks the five-year anniversary of this daily humble blog. That’s 1,827 days in a row… which, hey – that and a fiver might buy me a cup of coffee… but, it’s still something I can sorta-kinda hang my hat on, eh?
At the risk of boring you all to tears, and being a bit too self-indulgent – I’d like to share, I believe for the first time in written form, some memories of how this place came to be in the first place. It’s not exactly a riveting story… but it’s mine.
This wasn’t something I planned. None of it was, actually. It was all born out of, of all things, academic writers block – on January 31, 2016. There was no running start, no planning process… no goals or aspirations, this little spot was nothing more than a means to an end to try and break up a bit of a logjam in my brain.
Back in the Winter of 2016 I was a Junior in college… working on my B.S. degree in Psychology. I was taking a Forensic Psychology course… which, at first I had dreaded – thinking I’d have zero interest in the subject. I always saw myself in a more clinical role… and saw Forensics as nothing more than a waste of time.
Well, I was wrong. Like as wrong as wrong can be. Wrong-er than I’d ever been before. I was absolutely taken by my Forensic Psych classes… and I became obsessed with concepts like profiling and crime scene analysis. I was hooked… perhaps a little too hooked. If you’ve seen my body of work as it pertains to comic books – it’s probably clear to most that – yeah, I can be a bit obsessive… so, this might not come as any sort of surprise.
In the weeks after Christmas 2015, I started either my second or third Forensics class – and we were tasked with researching a cold case… using the skills we’d learned in previous forensics classes to put together a profile for who might’ve done it. Now, this is an intriguing assignment – because, as these cases had gone cold – there would be no definitive “right answer”, ya know?
After about a week of mulling – because choosing a cold case to research, especially when you’re as indecisive as I am, is quite the task in and of itself. I’d much prefer just having one assigned to me – but, that wasn’t in the cards. I’d wind up choosing to “investigate” the Amber Hagerman case from 1996. Amber is the namesake for the AMBER Alert here in the U.S., the child abduction alert system.
And, me being me – I got REALLY into this case. I’m kind of an idiot — so, I might’ve actually convinced myself I could solve it (20 years later). Remember, the first word of “Delusions of Grandeur” is delusion. Anyhoo… after spending the better part of a month putting together my case… while researching every bit of information I could find, it came time to write it up and turn it in. The due date for this assignment was – January 31, 2016.
And so, five years ago… probably to the minute as I’m writing this – I plopped myself down to summarize and organize my notes – and wrap up the assignment. Thing of it was — I couldn’t. I’m not sure if I just didn’t wanna let the case go… or, if I just couldn’t put together my thoughts in a cohesive fashion – but, the fact was… I just couldn’t. No words were coming… and, I mean – I can usually write just to “hear myself talk” (as evidenced daily on this very site) – but, on this day… for this assignment – I couldn’t even B.S.
I started to panic a bit. I have a predisposition to Panic Disorder which I deal with even today… so, this wasn’t exactly a surprise. I’d never been in this exact spot before – I’d never just not had words, ya know? I stepped away from the assignment several times throughout the day… hopeful that the next time I’d sit down, the words would come to me. But they didn’t… and the clock was ticking – I had to have the assignment in by 10pm that night… or lose points. I was rocking a 4.0 GPA at the time… and, the thought of blowing it — well, that just wasn’t an option, ya know?
So – what could I do? Well… I decided to check out some blogs I was following — trying to take my mind off of things for a bit. Hopeful that maybe a distraction would “lube the tubes”, right?
I remembered that one of my favorite sites had just opened up a message board – the Weird Science DC Comics site. Among the forums was one where readers/listeners could submit their own comic book reviews. I’d made a mental note of it a few weeks prior… thinking it might be fun to be a part of something like that – but, having blogged before in the past, I knew that it could be something that could turn into a chore — so, I briefly mulled it over, before dismissing it completely.
Well, on this day – January 31, 2016 – I thought that maybe writing about a hobby I was passionate about might clear the logjam enough so I could write about an academic pursuit I was passionate about. I came over to Blogger… and, with resignation that I was about to start yet another blog that I’d more than likely quit on in less than a week… I opened up Chris is on Infinite Earths.
Ya see, Weird Science uses Blogger… and so, I figured I’d write everything in the same format – because, naturally – when they’d get a load of my absolute genius… they’d BEG me to join the site – so, it would be best if I was using the same platform. Right? Right??? Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen.
So, what’s a fella to write about is the question?
By late 2015 – early 2016, I was kinda “done” with Marvel Comics. We’d just wrapped up Secret Wars… and, to me, the entire Marvel Universe was pretty lacking. Current DC Comics… ehh, we were in that interim between The New 52! and DCYOU… so, lotsa garbage I didn’t wanna think about over there too.
Now, I’m a weird guy (clearly)… I’ve long said that I hold the Sins of the Son against the Father – since I especially disliked the direction of “current year” Marvel… I found that I no longer enjoyed the Marvel books that I loved growing up. It was as though I couldn’t look at them with anything but sadness… like, I knew what these characters I loved would eventually turn into… ya know? That probably doesn’t make much sense (unless you’re insane).
My comics “happy place” was now older DC Comics. In fact, in my first email to the Weird Science show, I’d asked them if they’d consider including some retro-reviews onto their site and show. They responded that they just wouldn’t have the time for that. And so, I saw a “need” – one that I could possibly fill.
But – where to even begin, right? What could (or should) be my “opening salvo”? Well, I went with – one of my very favorite single-issue stories of all time: Tales of the Teen Titans #55.
Well, I did the thing – wrote up my first piece… bada-bing, bada-boom – copied and pasted it into the Weird Science Message Board… and waited to be bathed in both adulation and adoration.
Yeah, it didn’t quite make the sort of splash I was expecting. One fella looked at it, and commented that he appreciated that I included some advertisements from the issue. We called that fella Reggie – and, he might come up again a time or two(hundred) during my reminiscences.
Turns out that writing about Beast Boy and Deathstroke hanging out at a Denny’s was enough of a “tube luber” to get me to finally be able to put together my thoughts on the Hagerman case – and I managed to turn it in on time. Not sure if it was a mental-logjam-clearer… or, maybe it was the fact that I enjoyed writing about comics so much, I needed that assignment out of the way so I could write s’more?
That very night-into-morning, once I had the Hagerman case “closed”, I wrote my second “Discussion and Review” piece – on a book I really enjoyed, but (for un-comics related reasons) can’t really get into anymore – Green Lantern: Mosaic #1. The next morning, I wrote my third – Mister Miracle (vol.2) #7.
And the ball just kept rolling. I was so psyched to write about these comics, that I just couldn’t stop. I never meant for this to be a daily thing… in fact, at first – there wasn’t going to BE a schedule – I was just going to pile in posts as they came to me. Could be 3-4 in a day then nothing for a week – I didn’t really know. In hindsight, that probably would have been the healthier approach… but, the smart healthy way has never been my style, has it?
After writing my fourth piece, Who is Donna Troy?, I decided that I wanted to shoot for an entire week of posting. How quaint, right? I wanted to prove to myself (and any other hopefully-interested parties) that I could be a “valuable” addition (or “pinch writer” if need be) to a comics review site.
But, much to my chagrin – after publishing a week’s worth of random DC Comics reviews – I was still flyin’ solo. I wasn’t scooped up by any comics sites, I doubt I had a single actual (non-me) visit to the blog – it was a weird feeling. An embarrassing one – made me feel like a real “late bloomer”.
Anyhoo – seven days in a row turned to ten… then I decided to try for a month… then it was one-hundred days… then it was a year.
I think that’s where I’ll put a “pin” in the reminiscence for now. I might continue these over the next few days… if you’ll indulge me.
I would really like to thank everyone for visiting… and sticking with this site and my content after all these years. I know it’s a very different place today than it was at the start – much of that is out of necessity… and just lack of time. I’d love to do some “old school” Chris is on Infinite Earths style “Discussion and Reviews” again – hopefully one’a these days I’ll be able to.
THANK YOU ALL for joining me – for this very low-key Fifth Anniversary. We’ll talk more soon.