How Comic Books Made Me a Better Human Being!

Free Comic Book Day in Halifax – and all across the world – May 2, 2015

Growing up in a little town called Capreol, about twenty miles north of Sudbury, I came to appreciate a little downtown convenience store called Del Papas.

Only I never called it Del Papas all that often. To me and my brother Dan it was simply “the comic book store”.

They had a whole wall full of comic books and was where I spent a fair bit of my paper route money. I also spent some of my grandmother’s money as well – but I will tell you a little bit more about that later on.

Let me tell you why I dig comic books.

Comic books help teach me how to read.

I would sit and I would pour over my comic book collection any chance that I got. The Hulk, Batman, Swamp Thing, Dark Shadows and the like – I read them all, cover to cover. I especially enjoyed the big smash-up issues – say where Hulk fought The Thing. Nothing appealed to my young growing psyche so much as the sight of Thor bringing down a skyscraper on top of The Hulk.

I read paperback novels as well – but I usually bought those paperbacks from the spinner rack at Lalonde’s Drugstore.

Once a month or so I would ride an hour long bus ride to Sudbury and go to a real bookstore. I would go to the Coles in Sudbury and I also frequented an amazing used bookstore that kept me happily reading the adventures of Doc Savage, Tarzan, Conan, Leo Kessler’s Wotan Panzer Division, Barnabas Collins and whatever other pulpy novels I could unearth in that wonderfully funky old used bookstore.

I can’t even remember the name of the bookstore – but it was the highlight of my shopping trips to Halifax. I recollect that it was close to the D&D Hobby Shop – and no, that did NOT have any connection to the D&D game that became popular in later years.

But growing up in Capreol, it was Del Papa’s Convenience Store that kept my comic book habit fed.

Funny thing was – but it also fed my spiritual side.

My grandmother had made a deathbed promise to her sister that she would faithfully attend church every Sunday – so every Sunday she made the long walk across the railroad tracks to the Capreol United Church. Early on she decided that we two kids had to go as well. Shortly after that decision my Grandmother – whom we called Nanny Judy – made the discovery that my brother Dan and I could be bribed by comic books.

So – every Sunday morning she got us to go to church with the promise of a visit to the comic book store on the way home from church.

At first she used to stop at the comic book store BEFORE going to church but she found out that Dan and I were not above reading our comic books during the sermon – so she quickly re-evaluated the situation and bumped the comic book store trip to AFTER church.

So every Sunday my brother and I would each get a 12 cent comic book. Later on that bumped up to 15 cents. Occasionally, I could talk her into a 25 cent comic book. Later on I discovered the wonderful Eerie and Creepy and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines put out by Warren Publishing – and I dedicated a regular portion of my hard-earned paper route money to following each issue of Eerie and Creepy magazine.

So hats off to all of you comic book readers out there. Get yourself to your local comic book store this weekend – and DEFINITELY next weekend for Free Comic Book Day.

Parents, if you have a kid who does NOT like to read – buy him a freaking comic book. Sure, it has got pictures in it. Sure, it is often nothing more than a visual ode to city-wreaking and chest-thumping and UFO crashing – but I tell you this. ANYTHING that gets a kid to pick up a book and read it is a wonderful thing. Reading comic books was what taught me about storytelling structure and voice and character.

Lets hear it for comic book day.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

7 responses to “How Comic Books Made Me a Better Human Being!

  1. Have you read Michael Chabon’s “Kavalier and Clay”, Steve? One of my faves! 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on Shewrite63 and commented:
    Comic books could be called the gateway drug to reading novels.

    Thanks for the reminder of Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd. I grew up reading older siblings’ superhero comics. My best memories are of reading the Golden Key series. These lured me into exploring the classics.

    Our piano teacher would supply those of us waiting for our turns with piles of Archie, Tom and Jerry, etc. comics to pass the time in her back dining room.

    The avid reader of my offspring still enjoys visiting comic book stores. Although she possesses two English Lit. degrees, she has returned to her original love of drawing and story telling. She even created a few of her own mini comics: You can read her online comic series for free ANYTIME

    Happy days!



  3. Hello from Hanmer, Ontario! I bet my uncle would remember the stores you’re speaking of (in fact, I bet he used to frequent the same store for comic books!). So glad you have such nice memories of the area. 🙂


    • Pleased to meet you, Arynn.

      Actually, if you are talking Hanmer, there was a nifty little magazine shop in the Dominion Mall that used to sell bulk bags of comic books with their covers cut off that I also frequented. The covers were cut off so that the store could get a refund and then they sold them in bulk. I never really minded the missing covers, just so long as the stories were still there.


  4. Travis Fitzgerald

    Used to get my comics at Martin’s Variety (where Hanna, Shaw, and Meehan met, near the New Section), or at the Pinto by the tracks on Dennie. Thanks for bringing back those great memories of Capreol back in the day.


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