I’m a late bloomer when it comes to ‘traditional’ comics. If you can believe it, aisde from a collected ‘Batman Greatest Stories Ever Told’ paperback that my father had in his library, my earliest comic origins come from hardcover collections of both Daffy Duck and Mickey Mouse comics presented as self-contained stories, which I read over and over (and even, in my first and only attempt at artistry, emulated with a pen and pencil for a self-published school newspaper at the age of 8).
Next up was Archie – and Betty, and Veronica, and Jughead – thanks to a babysitter who would let me peruse her massive collection of Digests and Double Digests for hours on end. These pocket-size books were endlessly entertaining to me as a child, and would lead me to check out Herge’s Tintin and Goscinny/Uderzo’s Asterix and Obelisk series from my local library, which was exceptionally well-stocked with both.
I wouldn’t stay long in the world of long-form comics storytelling, however. Cartoons exerted a far greater pull on me, starting with Charles Schultz (Peanuts) and Gary Larson (The Far Side), and eventually expanding to Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Berke Breathed (Bloom County), and G.B. Trudeau (Doonesbury). By the time I began high school in the 1990s, aside from occasionally leafing through Punisher books at a friend’s house, these were the only type of sequential art I was reading.
It wasn’t until I moved to the St-Henri neighborhood of Montreal in my early 30s and walked down the street from my new home to the recently-opened Crossover Comics storefront that I began to explore the by-now very different world of comics.
I was amazed to discover an entire world of independent storytelling had left the underground and sprung up beside mainstream Marvel and D.C. books to offer seemingly endless alternatives to superheroes. My first true graphic novel purchase was Alyson Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home,’ which with the help of the team at Crossover’s enthusiastic guidance would lead me to discover not just a great source of pleasure and entertainment, but also the eventual realization that the visual and narrative medium comics offered was perfect for an idea that had been brewing inside of me for close to a decade.
I’m not sure I can trace a path from Code 45 all the way back to those early Archie and Tintin days. Neither does my story as a comic creator include a youth spent yearning to create my own superheroes and see them take flight on the page. Instead, comics sunk their hooks into me as adult, and presented me with equally adult stories told with a level of creativity and individuality that I had previously only experienced in cinematic or novel form.