I ordered 12 comic book long boxes the other day. I woke up this morning to a notice that they had shipped.

When my parents got divorced, there was this... adjustment period, where a seven year old kid and his now absentee father have to figure out how the world, and their relationship, is going to work from here on out. It is entirely common for father and son to find some activity in which they both enjoy, and proceed -- which at first seemed difficult, because my dad liked... alcohol, and pornography, and exotic fish, while I lived mostly in a fantasy world and spent most of my time quietly reading or watching television. Plus, I was sort of a mama's boy, and Dad and mother, as you might expect, weren't on the best of terms.

It's so weird to think of now. Mama's boy, but idolized my father. Neither of those things would last. Still.

The local K-Mart had recently added a book section, and between the crappy paperbacks and the crappy magazines, they had started selling comic books. This wouldn't last either -- six months to a year later, you couldn't get comics there, but it was a nice place to start. They had the only things that remotely interested me -- Spider-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [Archie Comic's version -- by far still my favorite, though not as highly thought of as others]. I started putting toy money towards comics, and that was the beginning for me.

I was new. Taking care of the books was the last thing on my mind, and I took them everywhere. And since I didn't have much money, nor many options, I read the same few over and over again, and it wasn't long until, eventually, Dad saw me with them. I didn't think he'd be interested -- Doug, my step-dad, never had a problem with the hobby, but Mom really disliked them, so in between indifference and hate, I didn't expect Dad to even have an opinion. And my normally talkative dad didn't say anything about them. Another thing Randall did that nobody got.


A few weeks later, Dad, my aunt, her daughter, and myself had all packed up for some... rustic excursion or something similar, and when I hopped into the back seat, Dad handed me a brown paper bag with powdered doughnuts, cartons of cigarettes, and comic books to hold.

I still remember them really well. It was part one and three of Marvel's "Trial of Peter Parker" -- a small storyline in the now much maligned "Clone Saga." The fight scenes in them were Spider-Man versus a hulking, scarred man in a bright pink cape called Kane, and an bodacious, yet Adam's apple-sporting blond named "Stunner." I was in heaven. In a three hour trip, I must have read those comics about a hundred times a piece. There were two others in the bag though I didn't look much at. Not for lack of trying, but because Dad kept them in the passenger seat while my aunt was driving.


I didn't get "Superman." I read them, of course, but it was all vaguely over my head, and I still didn't understand a lot of the stuff that the writers [mostly John Byrne, I think], were trying to do with the character at the time. Besides, there has always been a lot of public opinion against the Man of Steel, so I sort of went along with that. Dad loved them though, and pretty soon he was getting all 5 [!] Superman titles in the mail. Now, looking back, it's funny, because when I asked him how he could read a character as "lame" as Superman, Dad pretty much said what I'm saying now -- that as a kid, when he'd read "Superman," he didn't quite understand what was going on in the book, and now, reading the character, he felt like he was coming back to something he'd been missing. By high school, I'd understand.

So that's five books for both of us a month [5 Spidey's, 5 Supes -- the 90's were something], plus single issues of characters we enjoyed -- the X-Men, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, the Hulk, Steel, Thor, Superboy, Captain America... and eventually things like Titans, JLA, Avengers, and Fantastic Four. If it had spandex-clad do-gooders? We were there, snatching them up.

We were those kinds of comic book fans -- we both had subscriptions and pull lists, would pass books back and forth, and weren't above buying something to complete a crossover or just because we liked the cover. You can always tell the hardcore comic book fans because they'll buy stuff they don't even like -- mostly out of loyalty to a character, or just a hope that something awesome will happen in the book and it'll pick up again. My dad didn't have a lot of income as a professional paper boy [well, he was a district manager, but even he wouldn't want anyone to parse words], and I was mostly just mooching off parents and getting a pittance for mowing lawns. And all of that went to comics.

As one might imagine, eventually we managed to compile quite the collection -- and not between us, but each. My collection today fills more than 10+ Rubbermaid tubs [holds more than long boxes, and keeps out silverfish, but... not the best for the books, as spacing goes], while Dad's collection should at least be able to rival mine, if it isn't bigger.

The size of his stash is actually something a mystery to me. Around the age of 15, I stopped going to see my dad, and instead we'd go out and do things, or meet at my grandmother's. The only reason for this, really, was that I had a particularly busy year, and slowly but surely my room at Dad's had been cordoned off for storage, which meant I really had no place to stay there anymore. And at the time, that was fine.

But being away also let Dad's collection grow beyond my watchful eyes. It's actual size is a mystery to me, and may in fact be far smaller, or far larger than I expect.

Dad had a lot of possessions, but as far as items you'd expect the family to descend upon, and cut up amongst themselves, he had very little of interest. When asked, it actually took me a minute, because in a way [and I love you Dad], he was a bit of junk pauper, and I couldn't think immediately what of his I'd want to have.

But then I remembered. All those trips to King's and Cheryl's. All those days spent in the car, quietly reading, not talking, and passing books back and forth. And "oh, I like this," "you'll like that," and "what did you think of this?" And me asking if I could borrow this book or that, and him just saying, outright to me, "Randall, those comics are as much yours as they are mine."

So that's what I want. And dammit, I don't have a single place for them, but that's what I want, so I put in the order for the boxes, and it shipped today. And I still have no idea how I'm going to manage being in that house for the first time since... forever, but I'm going to have to go. I have to get my inheritance.

He loved those stories. All of this, the writing, the Mojo Wire, the movies and the comics? They're partly for him, to write one of those stories for him. To put his [my] name on one.

I'll stack them to ceiling if I have to.

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