Marvel Letter: Archeology of the Quest

I was 14 when I saved a copy of Marvel Two-in-One #34 with my scathing “I hate this comic” letter in my desk drawer and looked at it every once in a while.

I lost of track of it some time later, through high school, college and work, vaguely sure that it was somewhere in my mess of drafts, articles and rejection letters.

The memory of it came to me years later, but the search was always detoured by distraction and ultimately, the lack of the required energy of such a futile quest. After all it was just an eight-word letter that didn’t even approximate my original message.

It is a funny tale and works for this site and so I blogged on it five years back, working solely from memory and thus erroneously cited the comic in question as Marvel Team #31 (featuring Spiderman and Iron Fist).

It was only recently, in these pandemic days, that I decided to find the damn thing. I knew that it was from one of three comic series (Team-Up, Two-in-One or Iron Fist) and scoured through various blogs and archives for it.

I knew the issue focused on saving kids from a burning orphanage and so keyed on images of orphans and fires. I thought I had found it in an issue of Marvel Team-Up which had a collapsing building and an orphan-looking kid.

I ordered the issue on-line and several others following to ensure that I got the one with my letter too. I knew it was wrong before I even opened the issue. It looked wrong and was. I returned to my on-line search and finally noticed the burning hospital (not orphanage) in the background of Marvel Two-in-One #34 that I knew that I had found it. It was then that I realized my letter was in Issue #40 by looking at the cover.

The memory of walking through the pinewood hallway to my bedroom at the cottage came to me at that moment – the cool, dark air, a distant screen door closing, the feeling of emptiness of seeing my letter in print, edited to nothing – and then the feeling of comics not being what they once had been – a place of wonder – it all came into me like that.

It’s funny how that feeling returned again now, when I had finally found the issue again, at the end of this farcical quest. I had found it last and so what indeed? What’s next?

Great Aunt Ida Remembers: A Darker Side

Great Aunt Ida’s memoirs focus on her childhood in the late1900s: These days would now be thought of as the dark ages by the present generation – when young girls of gentle birth were not allowed the freedom of conduct which they have today. 20151122_145601Most telling is her language, simply offered, reflecting insidious racism: …where the darkeys singing in the harvest fields, the village church sounding faint and sweet on the quiet air of a Sabbath morning.20151031_154840She goes on to relate a terribly revealing anecdoteThe brother was known to everyone as Tommy did fine cabinet work, but they seemed to move so silently and unobtrusively through life; there was a story that Tommy had been wild as a lad and when he was out one night carousing with some other boys of his own age – it may have been Halloween –  but anyhow a stone thrown by someone crashed through the window of a negro’s cottage and killed a baby asleep in a cradle. 20150919_152535No one ever knew who threw the stone, for the guilty one never told, but in a very few weeks Tommy’s dark brown hair had turned snowy white. Having heard the story, he was of course an interesting figure to us – though he was now a middle aged man.

Great Aunt Ida Remembers

My Great Aunt Ida wrote down her memories, dating back to her childhood in Maryland during the late 19th Century:

I have thought many times since my hair has grown grey and so many things that have been so important to me have seemed to lose their importance with the passing years, that I would go back home and visit the scenes of my childhood, make a sentimental journey, as it were, to all the places that are so indelibly stamped on my memory…20151122_145802…the guinea hens roosting in the cedar trees late in the fall and being very noisy first before a storm: the bees buzzing among the roses and the holly hocks all through the long summerHollyhock Christine McIntosh_Flickr..the great oak trees that sheltered the spring where water was always so cool and clear: the back lane that led out to the dirt road and the huge cherry trees…20140110_111722She somberly concludes her brief reflections with thoughts on her days living in 1940s New York:

When I am wearing a thick coat in April in New York and feeling resentful over the late spring, my mind invariably travel back home and I feel again the soft air, smell the fragrance of the blossoms on those far away hills – it is a very real sensation – one that I have loved and kept close in my heart for a long time and like many beautiful things – it is better to keep put away – for fear it might be lost or shattered.

Combat Fishing in Campbell River

I just returned from a salmon fishing excursion to Campbell River, British Columbia._MG_4340 I had expected to be quietly drifting along the coast, maybe even catching a few of the 45 million salmon reported to be running up the rivers.

Instead I found a gaggle of 60-70 boats going back and forth in a narrow, in and out of each other, fighting for the fish; it’s referred to as “combat fishing” by the guides._MG_4316I didn’t fish so much as have the rod handed to me by the guide when there was a bite and then just reel that in as best as I could. (I batted .500)_MG_4321It was an odd experience, complete with one boat even running over a seiners’ nets, not like my childhood memory from many years ago, sitting there in the cold with father, hanging on to my rod and staring down into the infinite blue, catching mostly dogfish. 20140709_120958I did however catch more fish this time (4 times as many); I’m still trying to understand if that makes it all worthwhile.