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Before the Golden Age

By Carrie Vaughn

A lot of people have been asking me about comic books.  After the Golden Age is so obviously inspired by the classic comic-book superheroes, surely I must have a lifelong love for them.  But I have a terrible confession:  I didn’t really read comic books when I was growing up, and didn’t start until college, when I encountered Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and all those seminal graphic novels that changed everything.  Instead, I watched a lot of TV, and that’s how I fell in love with superheroes.

I grew up in a golden age of TV superheroes:  Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk, the Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man, not to mention those Spider-Man shorts on The Electric Company, the Super Friends cartoon, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that Bobby/Iceman was supposed to be part of the X-Men.  I thought, he doesn’t have time for that, he’s off saving the world with Spider-Man and Firestar!), and a bunch of others I’ve probably forgotten.  I even adored The Greatest American Hero, which was on some level a spoof—but a spoof that remained true to the spirit of superheroism.  Ralph really did have powers, and he really did help people, however goofy he was while doing it.

I had Wonder Woman and Supergirl Underoos.  My second time trick-or-treating on Halloween, I dressed up as Wonder Woman.  I spent a lot of time on the playground in preschool pretending to be Wonder Woman, including getting into a knock-down argument with the other kids about what she would really look like flying in her invisible jet.  (I insisted on sticking my arms out and running around making airplane noises.  I was informed that this was incorrect, and that she would merely scoot through the air in a seated position.  Well, sure, I said.  But my way is more fun.)  I would spin around and pretend that my costume changed, just like Lynda Carter’s.  Spin Wonder Woman!  Spin Scuba Wonder Woman!  Spin Motorcycle Wonder Woman!  It was awesome.  And dizzy.

I tried reading comic books—my brother’s, not mine.  Girls were not supposed to read comic books, so nobody gave me any.  Fortunately, Rob shared his.  I gotta tell you, early 1980’s runs of Superman and X-Men and such were kind of…boring.  Not nearly as interesting as what I was watching on TV.  I later found out from comic-guru friends that it wasn’t just me—this was not the best time to be reading comic books.  It was the lull before Alan Moore and Frank Miller knocked the stuffings out of the genre.

These days, I have boxes of my own comic books.  It’s even okay for girls to read them now, which is awesome.  I came to comics as an adult, for the most part.  But my true love has always been for the superheroes rather than the medium they first appeared in.  Which is why, I think, I wrote a novel about them instead of a comic book.  I didn’t need the pictures.  I wanted the hows and whys and thoughts and meaning.  The “what if?” questions that made me daydream as a kid.  That still make me daydream.

‘Cause you know, I still occasionally dress up as Wonder Woman.


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  1. May 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    hey web-boss – need to fix the title of this page so it’s same as the book

    • May 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Hi there. The title of the article and the book are supposed to be different. The article title a play on the book title. 🙂

  2. Berni
    May 2, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I have to laugh at the thought of girls being not supposed to read comic books. I’m a 55-year-old woman who has read comics since childhood. (I got hooked on them by a female cousin.) My 88-year-old mother used to read the comic books in her father’s store when she was a girl.

    • May 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Like Carrie, I also didn’t start reading comics until after college, for the most part. I didn’t really have access to them, as the grocery stores weren’t good at getting issues in sequence, and I didn’t know where else to get them. I did read Disney Adventures as a tween, which featured excerpts from Jeff Smith’s BONE, a comic I still love (and now own in hardcover). But I really came into comics with the (now sadly demised) CrossGen books — and from there into Marvel and DC and indies. And now I write comic scripts for Platinum now and again. So even as a late comer, I’m big on comics love!

      Very excited for the novel, Carrie! It’s on my wishlist (until my book budget gets back on its feet).

  3. May 3, 2011 at 12:23 am

    great post carrie! I’m excited for this book 🙂

  4. Greg
    May 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I fondly remember watching the shows you mentioned and have been a life long reader of comics of multiple genres and from several countries. I was one of those people looked down upon in school because of my love for reading books of all types and I think early exposure to the superhero, adventure and horror
    I look forward to reading your new novel. Some of the funnest short fiction I read last year was in the Masked anthology from Lou Anders.

  1. May 1, 2011 at 11:41 am
  2. May 1, 2011 at 11:50 am

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