How comic books help my brother and I stay connected

When I was seven, I wanted to be just like my older brother. Forget the fact that I was a nerdy little girl, and he was a thirteen-year-old wild child. To me, he was a rockstar, a troublemaker, and everything I wished I was. He was forever the Bart to my Lisa Simpson.

He plastered his walls in pages torn out of Rolling Stone, tied G.I. Joes to bottle rockets, and, right beside his bed, he kept two long cardboard boxes stuffed full of comic books. One day, I wandered into his room and asked what he was doing.

“Sorting my comics,” he replied, not glancing up from the book he was examining.

I sat down on the floor and watched for a minute.

“Can I help?” I asked hopefully.

In case you are an older sibling, and maybe you don’t know, there is a special kind of generosity in the moments when you choose to have patience with us younger kids. Moments when you could just  say “scram” or “you’re too young” or just shout a very loud “MOOOOOOOOOM” down the hallway. I was lucky to have a brother who was more patient with me than many may have been. I was curious to a fault, I asked too many questions, and I never stopped talking. But my brother, for whatever reason, chose to include me when others might have brushed me aside.

My brother looked me over, maybe a little puzzled as to why the heck I was interested, but then began patiently explaining how the comics were sorted. He showed me how to put them in alphabetical order, how you grouped all the Swamp Thing books together, all the Batman comics in a stack, Punisher in another. And it suddenly became something we did. Me quietly grouping the comics, making sure to be gentle with the plastic sleeves of books. Soon, he started passing his castoffs over to me. Power Pack, Simpsons comics, and other books that were just junk to a teenage guy, but treasures to an elementary school sister.

The comics he gave me were totally different than the books anyone else would gift me. Through library trips and book store visits, I read my share of typical elementary school stories. The Babysitter’s Club, Harriet the Spy, The Boxcar Children, and Maniac Magee were just a few of the characters filling my shelves. But the comics were something different; they were fun and pulpy, and they just oozed that undeniable cool of something made for older kids.

Over 20 years have passed, and now, with several states between us (and jobs, and spouses, and all the other things that start to crowd up our lives when we aren’t looking) it can be hard to keep in touch as much as we’d like. Then, two Christmases ago, I asked my brother about a comic I’d heard about on a book podcast. It was described as Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet. Before he left to go back to Chicago, my brother had left a copy of the first Saga trade on my dresser. Right from the first panel, I was hooked on comics again, and all those afternoons spent with my brother flooded back into my memory.

Now, comics give us a way to stay connected. Even just through grammatically messy text messages sent flying between Boston and Chicago.

I picked up the first Fables trade- can’t wait to read it

Did u get the new Saga book? The artwork is insane

Thanks for getting me started on Y the Last Man im 4 trades deep already

All these years later, when I open a book, one full of images and words to peel through, I feel like I’m back on my brother’s bedroom floor. Sitting there, with plastic wrapped comics in piles all around us, I’m just happy to be in attendance, hanging out with my much cooler, much wiser, older brother.

Daryl Thomas is a digital marketer living outside Boston with her fiance Ryan. She loves her cat, loud music, baking cookies, and drinking strong cups of coffee. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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