When The Kid began third grade his family lived in a swamp. During the Christmas break, they moved back to town and with the New Year of 1950 The Kid went to a new school, which had been his old school. Although the hallways of learning here were familiar and the faces around him were familiar, the friendships of first grade had somehow dissolved during the time he was elsewhere. He found making new friends difficult.
One friend from the early days stuck with him, but she was a girl. All her other friends were girls so they automatically kind of became The Kid's friends too. Perhaps if The Kid were 16 he would have found this a situation to glory in, but he was 8 and hanging around girls seemed more a detriment to making male friends than helping. Besides he was taking grief for his lack of skill in team sports and becoming skilled at the less-than-manly arts of hopscotch, jacks and skip rope didn’t seem the best image to develop. Maybe it was better to downplay his friendship with the girl next door while at school.
Of course The Kid was very naïve in thinking this, if not out-and-out shallow. After all, the girl had been loyal to him when none of his other former friends had. Avoiding her companionship at school wasn’t going to change anything anymore than his switch in baseball caps did. He had been branded as the Swamp Thing, the Hick from the Sticks, The West Whiteland Wimp, the Doofus from Glenloch and any new friends probably weren’t going to come from the jock cabal.
It didn’t help that he quickly became a teacher’s pet. It wasn’t by choice. He didn’t campaign for the position nor did he seek it. His shyness, his quietude, his deportment just always seemed to lead to it. It didn’t help he had a couple skills that brought him to notice. One of those skills combined with what had been in a spare room of the house back in the swamp, was going to lead him to the longest lasting, most bestest friendship of his life.
So what was it lurking in that upstairs room at the house in the swamp. Was it Aladdin’s Lamp or some exotic magic amulet?
Not at all, it was something marvelously mundane. It was stacks of comic books that stood as high as The Kid. These were comics The Kid’s father had bought and saved and stored over the years.
There were new comics, because by this time The Kid was spending his own meager allowance on such mind-rotting literature, at least in the opinion of the academia and other anal retentive types. After all, these do-gooders of doom did eventually drive The Crypt Keeper, The Old Witch and The Vault Keeper into Mad magazine and turn them into Alfred E. Newman.
These self-declared guardians of good taste and youthful morals even got Congress involved, trying to out from the closet Batman and Robin and Green Arrow and Speedy, and any other super hero who dragged a young boy along on his adventures. They saw in this a great homosexual conspiracy to capture the youth of America, instead of the more obvious idea that the comic book reader of those days was a kid and these boy wonders would give them a figure to identify with. Of course, the comic book publishers were as wrong as the Congressmen and their so-called brain trusts. The Kid never imagined himself in the green shorts of Robin, but in the dark cowl and cloak of the Caped Crusader. I mean, come on, who wanted to be some kid in the shadows of a great man? The Kid was already too often in the shadow of others.
There were all kinds of comics stacked in that room some new and some very old. There were ones in those stacks that dated from the very beginning of the form in the early 1930s such as “Funnies on Parade” and “Famous Funnies”. These comic books began as reprints of the Sunday comics in the newspapers, although some of these issues used daily strips and weren’t in color.