It was in, let’s say 2008 and my sister and I had somehow convinced my father to take us to a bookstore somewhere in Victoria Island. Right from when I was young, I always had this thirst for the adventures the pages of a book would bring and I soon realised that I couldn’t nor did I want to stop. My sister on the other hand just tagged along so she could manoeuvre a way to get something she actually had interest in. It was my first time in this particular bookstore so I was a bit eager to see what laid behind the glass doors that read some nondescript name. I scurried into the maze of bookshelves searching for something that would catch my eye but after close to twenty minutes, I realised that none of the books available were even close to anything that interested me. They were too old, raunchy and dark. I wanted something I could read and feel happy, not a Stephen King book that would scar my young self for life. Crestfallen, I walked to my father who was already looking frustrated. I knew I had to at least pick something that would at least make sure this trip was worth something. I looked around me hopelessly and my eye fell on a rather large comic book. I had seen Spider-Man lots of times on TV as a cartoon and as Toby McGuire (a.k.a. the best Spider-man ever), but I had never actually read any of the comics or even the annuals like the one in front of me. In fact, that was the first ever Spider-Man comic I had ever seen. I practically ran with the annual to my waiting father and my smiling sister who had somehow found a Bedazzling set. I looked up to him and grinned from ear to ear, ‘I want this one,’ I said.
Immediately we got home, I ran off to the room so I could read in silence. Reading that story, I marveled at the art and the writing style, it captivated my young self. From then on, comic books became an integral part of my life. From Spider-Man, I moved to the adventures of The Avengers, Captain America, Wolverine and so much more. The thing about the comic world, though: it’s constantly changing, sometimes in minute ways and most times in large world changing ones. The Peter Parker I grew up with was an awkward teen who had trouble juggling between his two personas but now he owns a company and his Spider-Man suit has tech in it. Captain America is now a Hydra agent and Logan is dead. I was thinking about how frustrating the comic world was being when I realised that it wasn’t just them, in fact, nowadays it seems like all the things we grew up with are slowly ending and changing. I guess it’s something that everyone in the world experiences, you grow up and you outlive the stories that you grew up with, but it doesn’t make it any less jarring.
The thing is, for me those comics and novels were more than just past time activities, they were something more. When I felt alone or angry or just sad, I could turn to them and find solace in the pages of fictional characters who somehow taught me more than most real people. The stories had become something akin to companions I could look up to in times of doubt and stress. So, yeah, the stories change and evolve into other stories that would inspire the next generation, but that doesn’t mean the old ones are dead. We carry the stories inside of us as we try and brave through life without them—as hard as it may be—and maybe one day, we’ll be old and our grandchildren will look up to us with beady eyes and ask us to tell them a story from when we were young and energetic. We’ll look up from whatever we’re doing, pull our glasses down our noses a little and laugh. “Well,” we’ll say, “I’ll tell you the story of flying men and women and how a small spider changed a young boy’s life forever.”