I didn't know at the time, but choosing to buy that issue of Iron Man #133 not only started on the sexy path of comic collector (hey, maybe if enough people say it comics can be sexy), but also changed my life in a much more profound way.
Coming from a large ethnic family, friends weren't something I could choose. I was born with a great group of siblings and cousins that I will always love and cherish. But what that meant as a kid growing up in the USA, I didn't have what my family called 'American' friends (regardless of their ethnicity). The first friends I was able to choose, were from comics, and that's why even in my 30's with a robust(ish) social life I'm proud to count Iron Man and Batman among my friends. Granted, I don't readily promote that fact about me (except right now with you, I'm still looking for that girlfriend that shares my passion for comics), but I do sport a painfully acquired tattoo of both Iron Man and Batman.
Pictures of the tattoo don't do it justice, but if you ask I'll be glad to drop my pants. (Did I mention the tattoo was on my thigh?)
It's that deep connection with comics that drove me to be an author, and although I've been writing them for as long as I can remember, I've yet to publish my first word bubble. On the other hand, I have found a modicum of success with my prose writing. To date I've been published in nearly a dozen different anthologies, and have several more planned for 2014, including a short comic in a horror anthology.
Coincidentally enough, around the same time I was drawn into the world of spandex and masks, I watched the first Nightmare on Elm St on tape when my family was asleep. I know I should have been terrified, but even at that age I must have already had that blackness in my heart that all horror authors share. It's a corruption that twists all ideas to the macabre, gory and demented. Thankfully, I'm able to satiate those thoughts with my writing and I'm the normal-ish person I appear to be.
That unique combination during my upbringing of superheroes and slashers led to me creating Paranormal Detective James S. Peckman; a human living in a world where coworkers have healing abilities and villains work for ancient alien gods or suck your blood, if you're lucky. I've written ten of his cases so far, and even have the pleasure of having one published in an anthology of winter themed stories.
Attempting to widen my writing influence, I regularly update my blog, AzarRising, with any various writing news and interviews. I continue to post rejections letters I receive, in an attempt to encourage other struggling authors and show that a rejection letter doesn't mean what you've written isn't print worthy. In fact, almost every story that I have published received a rejection letter prior to seeing print.
However, to keep from being completely gloom and doom, I also post intros to the stories that have been printed as a showcase of my work, and hopefully also to serve as inspiration to the next writer reading my blog.
In another effort to spread my name, I've been going to conventions and trade-shows with stacks of my business cards and copies of my anthologies. I've met some wonderful people at these shows, and even made business connections that proved fruitful, leading to additional publications.
However, my greatest convention memory was pure fan-boy, and not as an author. Four years ago at New York Comic-Con while looking for a publisher to whore myself to, I found a little nook of a booth with no customers. But what he did have, was a display of dozens of classic golden age issues, including Tales of Suspense #39. For those of you not in the know, that issue contains the first appearance of Iron Man himself.
Having not planned on buying any lofty purchases, I didn't have the necessary money on hand. I had convinced the dealer to give me time to go to an ATM and (following a call to my bank to confirm that I hadn't gone insane or lost my card) added to my ever growing collection the crown jewel of Iron Man comics.
At that point, I had already collected ever Iron Man series issue, and this addition gave me the new mission, of obtaining the entire run of ToS with Iron Man. I can say with much pride, and pain in my wallet, that I am nearly complete on this mission that began nearly 30 years ago with Iron Man #133. A comic where the hero, and my friend, nearly died at the hands of the Hulk.
Come back in two weeks for the third and final installment in this collector's comic history.