Monday, September 13, 2010

Sent Away (Part 3)

Last week we ran a drug-fueled letter by a "sent away" friend, from 1971. Though I thought he gave permission initially, he freaked a bit when he actually saw his teenage self displayed online. So we pulled it down. But he consented to rerun it without his name.

The author of this letter holds a special status in the personal mythology of my teenage years. For starters, he is a hero for standing his ground against all those forces that once condemned comic books. Marvel helped him survive childhood, which he did just barely, considering the entire school system seemed as if it were constructed, by design, to fuck him up and keep him down.

His own father, in a futile attempt to rouse him awake for school, would contemptuously gather up armfuls of his son's prized Marvel Comics and dump them in the gutter. My friend would robotically get out of bed, retrieve and wipe off his comics from the gutter, then return to slumber under the covers. His internal clock was set to go off for 3pm each day—the moment the school bells rang to go home.

My friend was sent away in 1971. It was a last-ditch effort to get him to shape up and “hit the books,” as his father put it. But the only books he ever hit were comic books—with time out for The Three Stooges and keeping immaculate baseball score ledgers. Well, guess who had the last laugh. As he ripened into manhood, he became a pioneer and leader in the exploding rare comic book market. A Wall Street-worthy enterprise. Those same publications his father had thrown into the gutter were now worth untold thousands. In an ironic twist of ideology, his father actually became an investor in comics, scratching his head in bewilderment over million-dollar estate sales his son would broker.

But before all this, I received this letter from Vermont in 1971:

(click pages to enlarge)

© 2010 Josh Alan Friedman

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