A few months ago, someone asked fanboys (of which I guess I am) on the DC Messages Boards to recount their "first time" -meaning their first encounter with comic books. Here at last -because YOU demanded it- is my "secret origin".
I was about 6 or 7 years old - 1970 or 71 and my family was visiting our cousins who lived on Long Island. I was bored with sitting around eating Italian pastries and listening to the adults gossip, so wandered into the basement to find something fun to play with (like my cousin Teresa's awesome Barbie collection). Only this time I found a small cardboard box full of DC Comics. These were the first comics I ever saw. Ever. I remembered they were from the 60s cause of the black & white checkerboard across the covers. As I dug through the pile - my eyes grew wider and my heart raced. Of course I knew who Batman, Superman and Aquaman were from TV, but this was my very first exposure to Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Flash and what was this - THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA??? What the...??? Who are all these other guys who are friends with Batman AND Superman - Hawkman, Atom, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter??? It was like I discovered pizza and Christmas all at once. Unfortunately, my aunt or uncle (don't exactly remember which) quickly took the box from me, claiming that they belonged to my cousin who was away in Viet Nam at the time. Everytime I went back to that house, I asked to see that box of comics and they either denied it's existence OR told me that my cousin took them when he came back from the war. What's up with that?
Years later, as an adult I asked my cousin about the comics. He told me they were probably still in that basement and his parents just didn't want me to see them. To this day it baffles me, and makes me wonder why adults would want to deprive a child of something that I was obviously very interested in. I never forgave my aunt & uncle for that, and probably never will. All I ever wanted to do was escape for a little while and enjoy the treasure that I had discovered.
My aunt and uncle are both long gone, but when I do think of them I remember those comics. But at least now I knew who the JLA were - and there was no turning back. Within a year or two I was buying my own comics, not only JLA - but lots of others (including Marvel!)...and I still am. I'm proud to say that I've never hidden my comics from my nephews, but then again the younger generation seems to have no interest in comic books, which saddens me somewhat - but also makes Uncle Doug's "hobby" all the more special.