I was eight. I lived in Crossville, TN (It’s okay, I moved). I spent every spare second I could drawing, day-dreaming, or arguing about comics. On rainy days, I would lay on the super uncomfortable berber carpet in our finished basement with a single couch pillow tucked directly under my chest. On my right, I had a clean, neat stack of typing paper awaiting the perfect moment of inspiration; on my left, a perpetually lopsided pile of ten to twenty comics. I can still hear my sister’s radio playing Air Supply, Barry Manillow, or some other eighties-appropriate music. When I look back to those days, I remember them very fondly—usually.
“Does the way the girls look in these comic books ever…bother you?”
My mother curiously lifted the top comic from my stack and dangled it by the wide edge of a spread, allowing the magazine to sort of flip itself. Each page hung in the air for a seeming eternity as it fell before her curious, apprehensive gaze. That comic was more than an issue of “Legion of Superheroes”. In her grasp my mom held the greatest vehicle for my current fantasies and future career.
The comic seemed to gasp for air as mom’s loose grip slowly crushed the life from it’s thin, grey pages.
“Because, you know…this isn’t how real women look.”
She looked down at me with her famous “tell me the truth” stare.
“You know that…right?”
I snagged the dangling comic as quickly as I could while still being respectful.
“Oh, yeah. I know. They’re just…super.”
I smiled a reassuring, yet completely improvised grin.
“It’s just, these women—They don’t confuse you, do they?”
I took a deep, confident breath.
“No. I know they aren’t real. They draw the guys the same way.”
I held up the same comic as if to reassert my point.
Mom looked back at the comics, still unsure, and kissed me on the head.
“Just talk to your dad and I if you have any questions. Okay?”
I looked back at my mother…and lied.