Getting back, obliquely, to the subject of my current obsession and potential work project, I found myself losing far too much time the other day on eBay, looking for old fanzines and comics news magazines, and remembering just how exciting it was for me to discover such things existed, lo those many years ago.
I’m likely misremembering, but I’m pretty sure the first one I found was Speakeasy, a snarky, British magazine that felt as close to British music tabloids like NME and Melody Maker for the comic book industry as it was possible to get. It was a discovery that blew my little teenage mind for all manner of reasons, and not just because it suggested the existence of a complete culture to comics out there that threatened to offer the little outsider teen that I was a sense of belonging and validity that I had failed to find anywhere else.
Speakeasy was something that let me know that you could love comics but also feel frustrated by them; that it was okay — that it was necessary — to be critical about even your favorite characters and creators, and just as importantly, that you could be critical in such a way that was amusing and, perhaps, creative in its own right.
(This was before I’d really started reading Melody Maker or NME, so I hadn’t realized how much Speakeasy owed to them; it seemed more creative and essential in that particular vacuum, I admit.)
Speakeasy folded in the early ’90s — maybe 1991? I can’t remember — and I moved on to the American comics press, becoming a devotee of the weekly Comic Buyer’s Guide newspaper, which also felt like a revelation: not only were news stories treated as news stories, but there were also op-ed columns, humor cartoons and, at the time, a letter column where creators themselves would write in! It felt like a further glimpse into the world behind the curtain, but a confirmation that there was a world there to be found. I was entranced, and jealous; I wanted to be there.
It’s only now, writing this, that I realize that I got there, that my career now is working in the contemporary version of those magazines and newspapers. It’s something that makes me feel unexpectedly happy, and proud. It took a few years and a few misadventures and wrong turns along the way, but I got to where I was supposed to be, without even knowing it.