When the Moment Passes

Isimonson thor got to thinking about the Simonson run on Thor yesterday, as regular visitors probably noticed.

I missed the whole Simonson Thor run when it was on-going, discovering it about five years after it was over when my friend Bruce and I traded favorite comics series. That was, of course, long before the days of Thor: Visionaries and other graphic novel collections, AND I was a poor college student, so I had my hands full trying to track down copies of all those issues (as well as the Baldur the Brave mini-series).

Now I’ve got all the Thor volumes on my shelves, and all those carefully collected comics are in plastic bags in the basement. Sometimes, you just need to be patient.

goldkeytrekBut sometimes, if you’re too patient, the moment has passed. When I was very young  Gold Key had a line of Star Trek comics. They weren’t very true to the characters or the show, for the most part, but I was a kid who loved Trek, and they were Star Trek, and so I wanted to read them. Anyway, one day when I was 7 or 8 I walked into a department store with my mom to discover a rack of 4-6 volumes of  these Star Trek comic books — not just comic books, but COLLECTIONS of 8 issues. The first “graphic novels” I ever saw.

I begged Mom to buy them for me, but while we weren’t exactly poor, we weren’t exactly rolling in extra cash, so she got me one of them. When we finally returned to that store (it was on the far north side of town) weeks later, the awesome display was gone — the other 3, or 5, collections had vanished into the ether, never to be hungrily devoured by young Howard.

For years I dreamed of those unplundered riches, wishing I’d found a way to obtain them. And then, at DragonCon five years ago I wandered into the dealer’s area and lo and behold someone had reprinted every single one of those Gold Key Star Trek collections. They had the same covers and everything. Not only that, they were showcased  in a stand-up display that looked nearly identical to that one from my childhood. There they ALL were, even ones I’d never seen before (I found out later that another company had reprinted the entire Gold Key run).

I stopped, stared, smiled sadly, and walked past.

By then I’d realized I didn’t even really LIKE the Gold Key Star Trek’s very much, because they weren’t really Star Trek. The characters in them didn’t act very much like the characters I loved, the stories were simple, and the equipment didn’t even look right (turns out that the original artists hadn’t had anything to work from but publicity shots, but later issues do look more like the show).

As I walked away I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d somehow been able to purchase them and pass them through a window in time to my younger self, I’d have made me very happy. Older me just felt, well, old and a little sad.

4 Comments on “When the Moment Passes

  1. It’s weirdly tragic how we have these memories of experiences from our youth, and as we get older, we sometimes shy away from re-experiencing things for fear that we’ll ruin those happy younger memories. There are a lot of movies and TV shows and books I read back when I was young, that I’m hesitant to dive into again for fear that I’ll discover they’re just garbage…

  2. I used to think that Space: 1999 was just too sophisticated and adult for me to understand, but on re-watching a few episodes as an adult, I discovered it made about as much sense as it ever had.

    Over the last decade I found a new appreciation for the original Star Trek, warts and all.

    But you’re right; there are some things I just don’t want to revisit, for fear of ruining the memory. In the case of these Gold Keys, I tried re-reading the one volume I had, and I was amazed that I had once found it captivating, or even mildly entertaining.

    I suppose that’s not entirely fair of me. There are a few moments, and a few individual issues that I picked up from the rack, that stick with me. It’s just… I’ve moved on, and those moments are few and far between, and my guess is that if I encountered similar “moments” now they wouldn’t resonate because I wouldn’t have the same sense of reverence for what I taking in.

  3. This reminds me of the advice I give to my nieces and nephews (which they then ignore): do stuff you want to do now – you think that the barrier is money, or even time, but a bigger barrier is you. When you get older, you will have changed, and you won’t WANT to do that stuff any more. Did I enjoy living in Europe? Yup. Is my time sleeping on overnight cars with strangers, hoping nobody stole my stuff while I slept over? Damn straight.

    I think my main “comics regret memory” is when I picked up Sandman #1 on the stands, looked over it, said “not enough superheros” and put it back.

    • I think that’s excellent advice. There’s some stuff I was open to doing when I was a kid that just doesn’t hold much attraction for me now. Playing in rock bands in dive bars, for instance.

      You know, I think that’s why Sandman never caught on. I kid. I would have missed it myself if some friends who owned a comic store hadn’t insisted I read the second collection. They wisely told me to start there rather than with Preludes and Nocturnes. I still think The Doll’s House is my favorite “connected” collection, although I enjoy some of the standalone collections (you know, where each issue is pretty much a short story) nearly as well, or just as well. A lot of those individual issues are masterpieces.

      I’ve just about completely lost touch with comics these days. I wonder what’s great that I’m missing?

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