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when i was younger, my grandmother, uncle and my dad would all separately take me out for my birthday.  they’d tell me how much i had to spend and we’d have the day together, eating lunch and going around to wherever i wanted to spend some birthday cash.  i look back on this very fondly.  i have some pretty awesome family.

one birthday i remember very clearly.  it was my birthday in 1995.  my uncle took me to the comic store and told me i had $50 bucks to blow.  14-tear-old alex could not have been happier.  i took him to a store that didn’t have a tight policy about selling so-called MATURE comics to the  underage, because i knew STRAY BULLETS had started–read it in WIZARD–and i absolutely had to have it.  as a back-up plan, i knew my uncle would just buy it and give it to me if they said i was too young to buy it myself.  had it all worked out. being a DC nerd with only blossoming interest in non-hero books, i didn’t really know what i was in for.  i only cared that it was david lapham’s new book, because i’d been totally obsessed with defiant comics’ WARRIORS OF PLASM and his work on that.  i loved his art and thought he was a god.  anyway, only issues 1 & 2 were out, which i knew, and comic gallery did NOT HAVE number one.  i was pretty heartbroken, but when i left the store with STRAY BULLETS #2 (and my pile of other stuff), i was maybe more excited than i’d ever been in my life.  i remember we were pulling out of the parking lot so we could go grab lunch and i couldn’t even put it together to listen to what my uncle was saying.

STRAY BULLETS #2 fucking changed my life.  it was my first black-and-white.  it was my first true indie.  it was my first taste not only of self-published comics but of a RAW-ASS story that was just gonna fuck you up and not care.  i’d opened it up to the scene where virginia applejack puts a #2 pencil in the back of a nasty boy in class who’d licked her cupcake to ruin it for her.  a little girl was stabbing someone in this black-and-white comic.  you guys–it was magic.  it was that feeling.  it was stronger than it’s ever been before or since.  that shit was like falling in love.  it started something for me that’s still going now.  it’s still going this very second.  comics, it turned out, could fucking be about anything.



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