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What I'm thankful for: the comics edition

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Nov 26, 2019, 4:45 PM EST

After I went on a bit of a diatribe last week about the infestation of variant comic covers, I wanted to assure you, my loyal readers, that I'm not just some comics Grumpy McGrumperson. While there are certainly things about the business and the culture around comics that occasionally irk me, I unabashedly LOVE the four-color arts.

With Thanksgiving just two days away, I've found myself in that reflective mood that's always brought on by the gleeful anticipation of a day full of food, family bickering, and football. With apologies to the late, great newspaper columnist Furman Bisher, the master of the What I'm Thankful For column, here is what I'm thankful for with regards to comics:

- Basketful of Heads. My goodness, Joe Hill is a crazy, brilliant writer and that first issue is a master class in hooking a reader right away.

- My spinner rack. Because every nerd deserves to have his/her own spinner, just because.

Mike Avila

- For Second Coming, by Mark Russell and Richard Pace, an epic and hilarious takedown of religious hypocrisy and misinterpretation.

- Also, for Ahoy Comics, for having the courage to publish it.

- For somehow stumbling into a place where I can reach out to John Byrne and he responds to me. I'd be lying if I said I don't still pinch myself when JOHN BYRNE emails me.

- For my being the last person to discover the music of some hot up-and-coming band named My Chemical Romance. True story: I couldn't name one MCR song before I interviewed Gerard and Mikey Way for their Young Animal comics. Don't know how I missed their whole era, but there it is. I'm especially thankful to have a bunch of new music (hey, it's new to me!) on my playlist.

- Comics publicists who send PDF review copies. While I LOVE holding a comic, it's much easier to travel with a digital 'stack' of PDF comics than actual floppies or trades.

- The almost perpetually empty TSA-Pre line at LAX. As a very frequent flyer, any saved time is precious. I've probably jinxed it now.

- Not running out of gas in the Arizona desert with Todd McFarlane while driving back from Greg Capullo's house and finding ourselves at a highway pie shop. Hell, I'm thankful for just being able to write that sentence.

- Finding a great copy of the Wizard of Oz Treasury Edition comic at NYCC. It wasn't just for the cameras; that geek joy was pure!

- The staff and volunteers who work at all the conventions I attended in 2019: ECCC, SDCC, FL SuperCon and NYCC. Those people bust their butts for four days and I don't recall one scowl or outburst. I would be arrested within the first three hours of Day 1 at any Con, because man, we nerds are a handful.

- Not fainting when I was able to hold IN MY HANDS Todd McFarlane's original cover art from the first Spawn issue, as well as the double page splash from Spider-Man #1. Breathtaking.

- The "Avengers … Assemble" moment in Avengers: Endgame. Those two words evoked magic every time I read them in an Avengers comic, and when Chris Evans delivered the lines, it just felt … earned. An unforgettable cinema moment for me. Can you imagine the discipline it must have taken to wait that long to finally hit us with that phrase?

- For getting to experience and share that moment with my oldest daughter, who is obsessed with the Marvel movies.

- I had such low expectations for Dark Phoenix, I wasn't even disappointed by Dazzler's official and truly lame film debut.

- For Danny Fingeroth not shying away from the controversial aspects of Stan 'The Man' in his biography, A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee. The book provides ample context on Stan beyond just the barrier-breaking 1960s when Stan, Jack, Steve and others created the House of Ideas. It also underscores what was perhaps Lee's greatest talent: editing. An essential read for comics buffs.

- Getting to talk with so many incredible artists, writers, and editors whose work I admire. I've been lucky to interview A LOT of people across many fields; comics pros are hands-down the most insightful and generous with their time and thoughts.

- Remembering to take some time to browse Artists Alleys at the Cons I attended and say hello and express thanks to artists who worked on some of the most memorable comics of my childhood. In particular, Bob Hall, the supremely underrated West Coast Avengers artist, was a delight. The Wonder Man sketch I got from him in New York was a collecting highlight in 2019.

Art by Bob Hall

- For Raina Helgemeier's graphic novels, which appear to be my daughter's gateway drug into comics that I've spent years searching for.

- For Marv Wolfman and Gerry Conway. Because imagine what the Bronze Age of comics would look like without their immense contributions.

- For Brian K. Vaughan, who gave me the most polite interview shutdown ever when I asked about when SAGA would be returning. FYI, my interview with BKV will drop on the Behind The Panel podcast in 2020.

- For my utter shamelessness in dropping that plug for my podcast.

- Finally, I'm thankful for the chance to write and talk about comics in various shapes and forms and get paid for it. Sometimes, it feels like stealing. But I'm still not giving it back.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.