One of my fondest childhood memories is having had a shared love of “The Incredible Hulk” comics with my dad. That may sound like a preposterous statement to some, but not if you love comic books. My dad was the one who bought me my first comic book, and it’s a hobby I’ve stuck with my entire life.
Being handed a comic book was like magic. I don’t know where my dad bought them — maybe a local convenience store, or maybe at the supermarket. Every so often, usually when I was least expecting it, my dad would come home after work, come by my room, smile, and hand me another issue of “The Incredible Hulk.” My eyes would light up and I would read it immediately. The adventures of Bruce Banner, the misunderstood scientist and lonely soul, would delight me for however long it took me to read them.
As I grew older, I expanded my reading to “The Uncanny X-Men” and found the world of mutants to be a fun and interesting place. Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers became regular staples in my library, and soon I was buying even more esoteric books like “Dreadstar” and “The Alien Legion.”
Eventually, I began to grow more serious about my comics and started thinking more like a collector rather than just a fan and reader. I grew into one of “those” comic book collector-types: I began “bagging and boarding” everything and storing my comics in protective boxes. I began to sell and trade, and my collection grew.
Then I had kids. I was now dragging my two daughters with me to the comic book store on a monthly basis. They would hear a lot of “don’t touch that” as we went from shelf-to-shelf — it was still really my hobby alone — until one day, one of the guys who ran my local store gave each of my kids a comic book. It was a nice gesture but my older daughter Eve had never really shown much interest in comics and my younger daughter Emma was still too young to read, so I didn’t expect them to take to it. Eve surprised me, however, when she devoured the first book and quickly wanted more. Each month, going to the comic book store became something we both looked forward to, and as my younger daughter grew old enough to enjoy looking at the pictures, I started buying them for her, too. Now, even though Eve has moved away, I still buy her monthly titles, often saving them for her when she comes home or we visit her. I ask her how she’s been enjoying them so far, and she even keeps them in a special box with bags and boards like her dad does.
And as for my younger daughter, Emma? One of our favorite things is reading comics together on the sofa, but usually, if she goes to the comic book store with me, she’s finished reading her books before we even get home!
These days, there are comics for all ages: In addition to titles you may be familiar with, like “Spider-Man,” “The Avengers,” “Archie,” and “Superman,” you can also find kid-friendly versions of nearly all of these titles now. There are also comics based on popular toys, games, and TV shows, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to your children (and is age-appropriate). The depth and breadth of comic collecting has grown since I started; there really is something for everyone.
Comic books may seem to some an unlikely way to connect with your kids, but for me, they’ve brought me closer to my own children. It was a shared hobby that allowed me to connect with my own father as a kid, and continues to be a point of connection for us even now. Last year, I bought my dad a collection of “The Incredible Hulk” comic books for Father’s Day. Thanks, dad.