Here’s a question for you: What comic kick-started your collection? What was the book that made you pick up another and another until you became either a collector or at the very least, an avid reader?

The comic which convinced me that comic book reading was for me was Marvel Superheroes Summer Fun. Not only did the comic generate my interest in comics and the super hero genre, it also opened up my eyes to the possibility of the Marvel Universe.

It was summer 1991, I was nine and the school summer holidays were in full-swing. As was the norm with school holidays, when it came time to do the weekly shop (usually a Thursday thing in our house), I tagged along to make the whole experience more… er… ‘enjoyable’ for my mum.

Going on the weekly shop (something I couldn’t do during term time) meant that I could convince my mum to buy all kind of things that appealed to a nine year-old mind – sugary cereal, ice cream, ice pops and crisps. If I was lucky, I might also get away with a comic or a magazine.

Marvel Summer Fun 4

On one particular trip to Asda, while perusing the section devoted to magazines and newspapers, I spotted a curious comic titled Marvel Superheroes Summer Fun. The cover of the comic featured ten super heroes (some I recognised, some I didn’t), and looked like something I simply had to investigate.

After thumbing through the comic I was sure I needed to read the contents, so began the not-so-subtle attempt to convince my mother to let me pop it into the shopping trolley. To my surprise, she agreed without any hesitation and there it sat until the shopping trip was complete and we were packing up to head home.

Throughout the entire journey home (the supermarket was a good 20 minutes from our house) I read that comic, not taking my eyes off it for a moment. I was transfixed. I’d read many comics in my short years, but nothing quite like this.

Published by Marvel UK, the comic contained four stories – all reprints of US material. The first and last stories contained a number of Marvel superheroes, while story two and three focused on individuals – The Thing and Iron Man, respectively.

What grabbed my attention about each story was just how vibrant the stories were. Not just the artwork, which was action packed, but the writing itself which captured my imagination in a way comics hadn’t done in the past.

The book also made me more interested to learn about as many of the characters as possible. Sure, I was familiar with Spider-Man, Wolverine and a few others, but who was the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and Dormammu?

Bear in mind, this was 1991 and pre-internet, so learning about all these characters wasn’t as easy as a Google search. I’d need to search out more of these comics to spend more time in this world.

And that’s what I did.

From this point on, I picked up every Marvel comic I could. From UK titles to US books – anything and everything.

Before long I had amassed a collection of comics featuring all manner of super heroes and finally, when I’d figured out which characters I liked the most, I was able to zero in on titles that really appealed (X-Men, Spider-Man etc). From Marvel I jumped to DC and from there I opened up my reading to include other publishers such as Dark Horse, Image and IDW.

Today, while I don’t tend to pick up physical comics anymore, my appetite for comics and super hero stories remains just as ferocious and I devour digital titles from a variety of publishers. And all because of one comic.

So, do I still own Marvel Superheroes Summer Fun? You bet!

Over the years, Marvel Superheroes Summer Fun has survived various moves & relocations, as well as two comic book culls, where I’ve reduced my physical collections down to only a handful of comics. The comic is battered, the cover is barely hanging on and it’s been read and re-read more times than I can recall, but I won’t ever part with it.

Every time I pick up that comic, all my memories come flooding back. Not just the memories of being in the supermarket, but of all the fun I’ve had since as a comic book reader and collector.

So, what comic kick-started your collection? Feel free to chatter in the comments section.

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