Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Bit About Alex

The following is a short piece of, well, something, that I wrote a couple of years ago as a writing sample for various comics magazines in hopes that they would be taken aback by its brilliance and I would be hired on the spot. They weren’t, and I wasn’t. In any case, I think the piece serves as a nice little introduction for this blog, which is in its infancy, but will hopefully one day take on a life of its own and conquer the world. (It won’t.)

So, without further ado, I present:

A Fan of the Dark Knight Returns
Or: How I Became a Fanboy
By: Alex Giannini

When I was nine years old, I remember very distinctly being asked by a family member that I had never seen before what it was I wanted to be when I grow up. My answer drew a laugh from those standing around; some even shook their heads and walked away, obviously tickled by what I had said in response. But to me my answer made perfect sense. You see, when I was nine years old, I wanted to be Batman. It was the only logical choice for a kid that had owned every action figure, watched every television episode and movie, and bought just about any comic whose cover was graced by Gotham City’s protector.

Batman embodied everything a kid could ever want to be in life; he was a crime-fighting hero with a cool car and an even cooler secret hideout. And if that’s not enough, his alter ego was a billionaire playboy without a care in the world. Oh, and he had a butler. A butler named Alfred. Why would any full-blooded nine year old American boy strive for anything else in life? Then, suddenly, when I was 11 years old, I was Batman. Well, for one night, anyway…

I got the costume almost a full month before the 31st of October, but I dared not put it on until it was just the right time. I couldn’t take the chance of getting it dirty or, worse than that, tear it in any way. So for almost one full month, the essence of The Batman clung to a wire hanger attached to the knob of my bedroom door.

Finally the big night came, the one time in my life that I could actually be Batman. I remember the costume with its black cloth mask and two eyeholes that kept creeping up towards my forehead as I walked from door to door. The long, flowing black cape that I would continually get my feet tangled in, my muddy boots ruining the pointed bottom of the not-so-well-constructed fabric. I remember my mom going out and buying me two pairs of black gloves, one for the elementary school parade earlier in the day, a dress rehearsal of sorts, and the other for the real thing at night. Because, as we all know, Batman works so much better at night.

As for the most important part of the costume, I had plenty of black tee shirts baring the unmistakable insignia of The Batman, but this was, of course, a special night, one that called for a special black tee shirt. Or, at the very least, one without holes and grass stains all over it. So, there I was in my costume, which in my own head was the greatest Halloween costume of all time. And how could it not have been? After all, I was Batman. (And, just for a visual here, to anyone else who may have seen me on that Halloween night those years ago, I was way more Adam West than I was Christian Bale).

But in any case, somewhere between the ages of 13 and 19 I became wholly disinterested with Batman, and with comic books in general. I suppose it was because I was getting older, more mature. (Right) In high school I was more interested in baseball and girls, probably not in that order mind you, and I certainly didn’t have time for Batman. Old comics got stashed away somewhere in a closet and pretty much everything else was thrown out. My days with The Batman of Gotham had officially come to an end.

That is, until quite recently, during my junior year in college. I had a class up on 14th Street in Manhattan, a good ten-block walk from the main campus of New York University. Along the way was a comic book shop with countless images of Dark Knight Detectives and Supermen of all sorts right there in the store front. One day my interest in taking a look inside and appeasing the inner child finally overcame my apprehensiveness of what it must look like for a 21 year old to walk into a comic book store. Little did I know…

It was on that day that I came back to comics, and more importantly, it was on that day that I came back to Batman. I bought a few of the newer issues with my childhood hero on the cover and was impressed enough to start making monthly trips back to the store to keep up with the ongoing stories. And, in case you were wondering, the very first issue that I bought was Batman #613, right in the middle of the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee opus that is “Hush.” Pretty good place to start, huh? (And, if you have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, don't worry. We'll get to it!)

However, it wasn’t until I asked a few questions and purchased a collected edition of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns mini-series that I became completely enamored with comic books once again. Miller’s graphic novel is the reason that I still read comics; it is the reason why I don’t feel too bad when I drop fifty bucks a week on books and it serves as a rationalization of sorts for why I can spend that extra ten dollars on a trade paperback. (Or an extra forty that I don’t have on a Bowen statue). Dark Knight was, and still is, a brilliant piece of fiction, a biting and horrifying satire of 1980’s New York, and quite simply, it is one of the best things I have ever read. And I was an English Literature major in college.

Seriously, show me something, anything, that’s better than Dark Knight and I’ll give you a cookie. And don’t lie; you know you liked Dark Knight waaay more than any of those fancy literature-type books that you read in high school or college that you think you should bring up in such a conversation…

Annnnd we’re back in the present. And yes, now I clearly see that where I decided to end the above piece really wasn’t a very logical place to do so. However, I was young(er) and na├»ve(er?) and I thought everything I wrote was revelatory. Today I realize that I'm just as full of it as the next guy, but hey, at least now I have a blog. OK, enough of this—tomorrow, a bit more of an introduction to my own, slightly crazy thoughts on comics culture.

1 comment:

GarHoch said...

Alex nice site. Good luck with it