Before I can talk about you and how I first came in touch with your great adventures, I have to clarify what the term “comic” meant for me. For a long time this term described for me American superhero comics: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and every other hero that had his or her own comic. But as a child I read a lot of other sequential art stories as well, I just didn’t consider them comics – I honestly don’t know why. Such stories were about Asterix, Mickey Mouse and other characters. Mainly I read Donald Duck pocket books, which are called “Lustiges Taschenbuch” in German. I loved those. So my love for comics goes back a lot further than I first thought or expected. I think it’s really funny to think back and discover how my perception of things have changed over time. I wonder what else might have changed – maybe we will find out in future letters. But now that we know what my narrow definition of what a comic was and what kind of stories I read as a child, we can jump ahead a few years and find out what my first encounter with “real” comics looked like…
If I remember correctly, I was 13 years old when my cousin gave me a bunch of his comics. Most of them were adventures of Spider-Man. One of the story-arcs was about Peter as he transformed into a real, giant Spider only to hatch out of this particular form and become a normal human again. As I learned later, the writers did this, just to give him organic web shooters. My understanding is, that most fans doesn’t consider it a good Spider-Man story, because it has no real meaning for Peter. It just exists to alter one of his abilities. But I think it was a great, terrifying story. Maybe I would think otherwise, if I read it again today, but I want to remember it positively. It’s the same with old TV shows like MacGyver or A-Team. I don’t want to watch them again because I don’t want to break the illusion and the positive image I have of them in my head (and because I can’t watch TV the whole day – it is already an impossible task to be on track with five or six current show). Nevertheless, I will never forget the fun I had reading through those issues for the first time and get in touch with those characters.
Within those comics from my cousin, there were also stories with you, Spawn. It wasn’t just the regular series, but also the Violator and Blood Feud mini-series. At that time I didn’t really get the Violator character and why he keeps showing up. He was just this disgusting, dirty individual and I wanted you to kick the crap out of this guy and be done with it. Now I understand the purpose of him a bit better and have even come to like his mini-series. He is not just an antagonist; there is much more to him. He was as much a slave to Malebolgia’s cause as you were and just wanted to be respected by his father.
But one of the best issues I had, was the crossover between you and Batman. Yes, this was a real thing. Spawn vs. Batman. I wish we would get a similar mini-series today (one can always hope, right?). I don’t remember the premise of the story, but I remember one panel specifically. Batman, lying on the ground, bleeding, nearly beaten to death hell’s pawn. Even though I was (and am) a huge Batman fan, I loved the idea that even the greatest detective of all the comics out there, could not defeat you. Of course you two would later get along quite nicely, but I didn’t want to hear about it. So I did what I had to do: I cut the comic apart. At the time I loved to make my own posters of my most favourite things. So I cut out some panels, images, and a few word balloons and rearranged them to create a story were you and Batman would meet, but instead of getting along later, in my version you beat the hell out of him and let him bleed to death.
No worries, not all of my stories or posters ended this dark and bloody. I also liked to make them about specific characters. I made one about Batman, Spider-Man, and of course, you. I cut out panels – especially single and double page-spreads of gorgeous shots of the characters – added some facts and the product was finished. I know some of the readers might think: “How can you be such an idiot and tear those beautiful comics apart? They are treasures! Are you insane?!” I know, I know. But in my defence, I was young and naive. And besides, those were just the German translations of the American comics, so no real value was lost… I hope. And I did it because it was fun. I wish I still had those posters, I wonder how good they really were. It’s really funny because today, almost twenty years later, I do similar things. I print out cover images and use them as decoration for my walls or I make digital collages of different characters and use them as wallpapers for my MacBook. It’s almost as nothing would have really changed, just the medium is different (connecting the dots, remember?)
But let’s get back to the main story here. As you can see, Spawn, ever since I began reading “real” comics, you were with me. And since the beginning I would say to everyone who asked me, that you were my favourite comic book character. Even as I stopped reading comics and just liked the idea of them, I still would not stop talking or reading about you. I knew just very little about your past. I mean, I just had something like 15 issues of the main Spawn series. Most of them told the story around issue 100. I knew very little about your past and about your wild future. Despite the lack of knowledge, the fascination never got lost. I even began to buy the “Spawn: Origins Deluxe Edition” Hardcovers. Unfortunately there are only four of them, so I still missed a lot of your stories. But then ComiXology introduced you to its lineup.
A few years ago, every single Spawn and Spawn spin-off series became available on ComiXology and I gladly took advantage of this opportunity. Since then I have been reading through every single issue, to get the full Spawn experience. Currently I am at issue #165 and I’m still loving it. It’s really good to know that my faith in the quality and depth of your stories didn’t let me down. Consider this: Being a huge fan based on a handful of issues, then buying every 250+ issues digitally, beginning to read through them and realising: Huh, that’s real bullshit. Fortunately that is not the case. I enjoy the adventures with you, Sam & Twitch and every other great character that was introduced so far.
My love, respect and devotion grows with every single issue. There are other series I am catching up on or reading for the first time, like Invincible, Y: The Last Man or my project of 2016: The Walking Dead. Those series I rushed through – mostly because the stories were so intriguing and I just wanted to know what is happening next. With you, I want to take my time and really enjoy the process. This gives me the time to think about story-arcs and certain developments. I mean, I waited so long to finally read everything that is out there, I have to enjoy that. Not forcing myself to read ten issues per day just for the sake of having read it. That would be ridiculous and missing the point of all the effort.
I would like to end on this note and I am looking forward to next 100+ issues.
Live long and prosper!