Once in a while, I’m asked how I became a comic book dealer.

I like talking. I like telling stories. But it gets tiring to repeat myself all the time.

So I figured, I would just write it all down like a memoir, and maybe you’d get a kick out of reading about my mistakes.

So YOU don’t do the same stupid shit I did.

See later installments of this story: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

How My Comic Book Obsession Began

The “origin” story of my love of comic books takes us back to a hot summer in London. My mother had just remarried and given birth to twin boys.

Suddenly I wasn’t Top Dog anymore, so I turned into a reader. Leave a book lying around and I’d pick it up and read it.

Give me the TV Guide and I’d read that.

There was a general in Britain strike that year. “The Winter of Discontent”, they called it.

Mailboxes had tape over their slots so people couldn’t fill them up with letters that weren’t going to be collected.

Trains and buses didn’t run, or they operated on holiday hours.

Police did the minimum to patrol the streets. The army answered calls to fires when firefighters went on strike.

Garbage wasn’t collected. People took black bags full of their crap and piled them up in the center of roundabouts.

London stank. The rats feasted.

London during the Winter of Discontent. The rats feasted. The city stank. And my comic book obsession was about to begin...

London during the Winter of Discontent. This enormous pile of trash caught fire

Eventually the government caved in and the unions won.

(It was a while longer before Maggie Thatcher broke them, but that’s another story.)

The Stroller of DOOM!!!

Remember when strollers WERE strollers?

They were made by a company called Silvercross. Probably out of recycled meteorites and second-hand cranes.

They weren’t made in China by teenagers. They didn’t fold up and disappear into car trunks.

Silvercross strollers were serious shit.

They were gigantic metal contraptions, with hoods like an old Corvette convertible, wheels the size dinner plates, and solid metal handles.

Mary Poppins strollers.

So one day, while my mother was pushing her inferior umbrella twin stroller, we walked past an antique store.

Outside it was a rusty old Silvercross stroller.

THE STROLLER… OF DOOM!!!

Why Won’t You Stop Talking?

I like to imagine that I was chattering away at my mom and bothering her with all kinds of thoughts.

(One of my elementary school teachers said to me, “Ashley, why won’t you stop talking?”

and I replied,

“I can’t help it. I have all these words in my head and when I open my mouth, they come out.”)

So probably mom was thinking, “Ashley, why won’t you stop talking?” just as I peeked into the Silvercross stroller.

THE STROLLER… OF DOOM!!!

It seems that people still use Silvercross strollers to sell cheap comic books, all these years later...

It seems that people still use Silvercross strollers to sell cheap books, all these years later…

You can guess what it was filled with.

Comic books.

Marvel mostly. They were all piled up, kind of sloshing around in there, loose, where the store owner had just thrown them in.

Each comic book cost a penny each.

I’d love to tell you that my mom, seeing my excitement, gave me a hug, bought me a pile and we went on my way.

More likely: she was already 50 yards down the road and I ran after her, pulled at her sleeve and started whining.

Until she caved in and bought me some to shut me up.

My hands were shaking with excitement (this is a theme we’ll return to in the later days when I was actually a comic book dealer).

Most likely my seven-year-old sweaty hands turned those 2.0-grade Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comics into 0.5s by the time I got them home.

NEXT TIME:

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA, NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NER… BATMAN COMIC BOOKS!

See later installments of this story: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6