By Bob Reyer

Our senior correspondents have all written glowingly of their joy in reading comics.  As the actual senior in our little community, I’ve experienced this feeling for nigh unto half-a-century. I will not presume to add another log to the metaphoric fire, but I do want to take a moment to tell you about my father, whose 100th birthday would have been 12 September,  and his role in my start as a comic book reader.

To set the stage , my father’s father died when my dad was twelve, and it being the 1920’s, he quit school and went to work to help out his mother. He used whatever spare time he could muster up to educate himself, and became quite a reader in the process. My mother loved books as well, so it’s no wonder that I was reading at around the age of three (…or so I’m told).

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(My Mom and Dad on their wedding day, June 1, 1940)

In an era where it was a rare occurrence, I was born to over-forty parents, and had a difficult entry into the world, nearly taking my mom out in the bargain. As a youngster, I was quite sickly, and also allergic to everything it seemed, resulting in many visits to the doctor. My stoic acceptance of this sorry state-of-affairs would prompt my dad to take me to the local candy store to pick up a reward—COMICS!

Once a week, sometimes more, my dad and I would walk into the shop and grab up a treasure trove of the latest books on the news-stand. When I was out sick from school (a regular event), he would invariably bring home a cornucopia of four-color fantasies. I still can vividly remember the afternoon he brought me a copy of the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, which I sadly don’t have anymore—a horror story for another day! (Kids, always put your comics back where they belong!)

When I was a tad older, my father and I did the week’s grocery shopping (Mom didn’t drive), and while he was checking out and bagging, he’d send me across the street to the stationery store to grab him the latest Sports Illustrated or Newsweek, saying “If there’s anything left over, buy yourself something, and thanks for helping”. Of course, he always knew there’d be extra money, and it became our private joke.

In those ancient pre-comic-store-days, with spotty distribution of product the norm, if you missed an issue, which was often, it could be difficult to track it down. So, once a month or so, we’d go to one of the local Farmer’s Markets, or even better—a great store my dad discovered called 441 Bargain Books, which actually had an organized back-issue section; there are still hundreds of comics in my collection from these expeditions, which generally ended with a trip to the luncheonette around the corner for an egg cream!

When I was a teen-ager, we moved from Huntington (a large-ish town on Long Island’s North Shore)  to the hinterlands of Bohemia some 30 miles east, which in the 1970’s had exactly one small shopping center—and no good place to buy comics. To remedy this, each Wednesday, my dad would bring to work an index card that I had prepared with the titles and high numbers of the books I was collecting; on his way home he would stop at the store and pick up the week’s releases, and also any new #1’s he thought that I would find intriguing -–he could not break that habit! There was this gem, for instance, that quickly became a favorite:

 

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire Vol 1 1

 

In later years, as my collecting bug (…and collection!) grew, despite an occasional “Where are you gonna put all this stuff?”, if I made an outstanding back-issue purchase, or had an interesting convention story, he’d get the same joy from it as I did.

My dad, my best friend, Hugo Reyer, passed away on April 3, 1994. If he were here, I think it would make him smile to know that I’m trying to pass along, as he and my mom did for me, the love of reading, in whatever form, to a new generation.  My thanks to all of you out there for this opportunity, and most importantly…

Excelsior, Dad.

(September 12, 1913–April 3, 1994)

VERDICT

Spread the joy and wonder of comics to the younger folks in your circle; they’ll thank you for it, and the charge you’ll get from seeing a child’s eyes light up—there’s nothing better!  There are still some great new all-ages books on the stands, and in addition to that, Marvel & DC have reprinted virtually all the important stories from their respective histories in affordable editions. Those older books are still a great introductory tool, and for the most part, they were written to be all-age inclusive.

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About The Author

Bob was rocketed to Earth as an infant after his parents were scared by a huge bat! Landing on an island of Amazons, he was injected with the super-soldier serum and sent into space where he was bombarded with cosmic rays! This might explain his love for comics, but probably not. 'Nuff said?

10 Responses

  1. Bob Reyer

    Amy, I apologize for the delay in responding to your kind comment–I’m not the most computer-centric fellow, and I often forget to check on these things. Your comment regarding my essay was much appreciated, and in fact, it made MY day! Thanks again, bob

  2. Logan Rowland

    Bob, I know I already emailed you my reaction to this, but I wanted to share with the entire Talking Comics community my adoration for this piece you have written…

    This article was absolutely beautiful. Words worthy of use in describing the things, people and places we love are often hard to come by. You did exceedingly well with your article about your father. Through your eyes, I learned the bond and love the two of you shared through reading. It brought a tear to my eye as I thought of my father and the support he shows me in my writings and the music I make. Truly a beautiful article that I hope many read today and the tomorrows to come. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life, and showing us why your father was a man to be loved.

    Thanks, Bob,
    Logan

    • Bob Reyer

      Logan,

      Thanks for your kind words about my small tribute to my Dad.

      If my essay can remind people to reach out to their parents today, or if that isn’t possible, to simply remember the things that made their childhood special, I’ll have had a good day!

      Beyond that, let’s not forget that for most of us, there was an “in” to the comics habit, whether a parent, friend or school-mate; provide that for the kinder in your own lives, too!

      Bob

  3. Luciano M

    Beautiful article Bob I was also fortunate to have parents who bought me way to many comics and even let me convert a room in the basement into a comic room. Remember my dad setting it up so I could hang comics on the wall.

    I read this this morning as I watched my two daughters play with a Captain America Shield and. Thor hammer yelling Avengers smash.

    Thanks and I hope you have a wonderful day.

    • Bob Reyer

      Luciano,

      It seems we were both blessed with parents who understood how vital reading is to a child’s development, no matter what form it takes!

      My Dad set up something similar for me on “his” side of the basement. He built a book-case for me to store my comics in, as well as building shelves to hold my “art supplies” and my growing collection of “Captain Action” figures and costumes, many of which my Mom made for me by hand!

      Thanks for the lovely words, and my best to you and your family of super-heroes!
      Bob

  4. Giant Woman

    Bob,

    Once again you have written a beautiful article reminding me why it is I love to buy books and comics for my niece, and my friends children.
    Thank you, not only for sharing your story, but also for passing your love of comics on to all of your readers

    Sarah

    • Bob Reyer

      Sarah,

      My Mom and Dad would be beyond thrilled to know that there are folks out there still fighting the good fight to get books into the hands of children!

      Keep up the good works, and thanks so much for the lovely review!

      Bob

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