I was digging through a box of stuff from my youth the other day, and among some bits of junk, lo and behold, I found the first issue of Moon Knight. Wow.
I found it to be in surprisingly good shape. I say surprisingly because I had tons of comics when I was a boy, but I wasn’t one of the kids who kept their issues in nice mylar sleeves. No, I read them and folded them and stuffed them in my bag when I went to grandma’s and dog-eared the pages and lent them to friends and kept them in untidy stacks in my drawers and closet. The box or two of comics that still survive from that time are yellowed and worn and torn. ”Heresy!” I hear the comic snobs cry. And don’t even get me started on what kind of shape my Star Wars toys are in; there’s not a single figure or vehicle still in an original box. I’d scorch and paint X-Wings to make them look battle-worn. Armies of stormtroopers would be caked with the dirt and detritus of wars fought on some godforsaken swamp planet (i.e. my backyard).
And all things considered, I like rediscovering things that way. They may have been abused, but they were used. They were the fuel of my imagination, and when I come across them again after so many years, they help remind me why I do what I do, and how I became the creative person I am. I don’t want to be reunited with an old comic of mine in a sleeve – I’d much rather see it bent and softened and remember the family camping trip that it accompanied me on. I don’t want my old toys in a pristine box on a shelf, untouched – I want to find a carton of defeated plastic Imperial villains, worn and dirty from some epic battle fought with all the action figures of all the kids on my block, out in the big field behind the school.
I did not get a sonic screwdriver for Christmas this year. And I even left a whole bottle of Maker’s to go with your cookies. WTF, man? I thought we were tight.
Sedrick loved stormy autumn nights, because that is when his toys would come alive.
Deep in his sleep, warm under his blankets—handmade, no doubt, by long-dead aunts or grandmothers—he would hear the wind howling and the branches of the twisted old juniper tree skritching against his bedroom window.
Then the toys would awaken. The robots would whir and beep and the army soldiers would line up in formation and the cars would rev and the battle tanks would chug and clank into action.
Sedrick would leap out of bed with glee and pull on his wellies over his pajama bottoms, gather the toys into a pillowcase, and head to the graveyard behind his house, where he would lead the living toys in a joyous macabre parade all around the crypts and through the headstones until the wind died down and the toys slowed and halted.
Then he would take them all back to his room and put them back where they belonged—because he was a good boy and kept his room tidy—and then get back into bed, to sleep once more and dream of the next time the wind would blow and the rain would fall deep in the night.