By Kevin McVicker
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11
Much of the wisdom my mother imparted to me as a child is lost to the ages and extracurricular activities in college, but this one verse has lingered in my mind as I grew from adolescences to the man I am today. I was regularly reminded of this verse by my mother as I played with my actions figures and, as she put it, “spat on the walls” while trying to mimic the noise a gun would make. I would curl up at the end of the my bed between it and my wall with a short stack of comics and thumb through them vigorously after spending whatever little money I had the chance to earn on them all the while her voice in what some would call a nagging tone recited this line to me in a desperate attempt to have it cling to my young mind made of Teflon.
Eventually this verse stuck and was taken to heart even as I disregarded much of the faith I was brought up to believe, but I have a feeling not to the intended effect which my mother had hoped. I’m fairly confident she wished for me to be responsible and handle society’s acceptable pastimes for adult males such as fixing cars, killing animals, and building furniture to sit yourself in once all of those exhausting chores have been completed. I attempted those pursuits once instead of what might be considered trivial pursuits (Ha! Get it!), but I was a generally awful person to be around during that time, at least more awful a person than is typical. Yet there are many who enjoy those activities, which I would never wish to take away from them, but for me that seems less like being an adult and more like being boring. Sure, when the zombie apocalypse comes those individuals who have built up those skills will be more useful than I, but I’m hedging my bets that won’t happen.
As I grew though, I did take to heart the scriptures earnestly imparted by my mom in my view of comics. As a child I generally would enjoy the art in the comics and take little to no time actually paying attention to the script written by men who now I idolize. I would occasionally read, and comics are where I learned to read, but being a generally lazy human that I am, reading often takes energy which I find is better exerted through video games. Yes, I am basically inert apart from my fingers which have been borderline arthritic since I was twenty-one due to excessive use saving the universe/princess/drug shipment.
As I got older, I put away my childish fancy of illiteracy and started to read. I never read anything requested or assigned to me though. I’m still not sure how I got through High School and College without reading through one single book required of me. While my friends read Moby Dick I was working my way through the Maximum Carnage storyline and while they read The Sun Also Rises I was finishing up Grant Morrison’s run on the X-Men. While I went back and read several books I was supposed to read years later, I typically found myself extremely rebellious in that I didn’t appreciate reading what someone told me to read. I was so awful at this I even once was supposed to do a book report on book about Genghis Khan and I read more issues of Conan the Barbarian to write that paper than the book I was supposed to read. I made a B on that paper too. But all of this is off topic and irrelevant.
As I read more comics, I became aware what was actually occurring in comics. I know that sounds as though I had no idea what was happening in the pages of the comics, but as I child I’m not sure I did. Comics were simply good guys beating up on bad guys. I had no complex moral understanding of what it meant for these people to put on tights and fly or swing around the city and protect citizens. It was a very simple understanding of who these masked men and women were. Yet, once I put away those childish thoughts, and dwelled on comics as a man (or “adult” if you’re concerned about inclusive language) I began to realize the complex personalities and moral codes played out in the history of this medium which date back to the oldest known mythologies in human history. Not only this, but as our society has changed there is a modern voice for change in comics which is often much more blunt and explicit than other art forms and mediums.
As an adult I’ve learned that comics are a dense and powerful form a literature. It goes beyond simple tales of men in tights, to tales that have resonated throughout humanity and history. To me, this is what it means to put away childish things. No longer do I have a simplistic view of comics and what they are offering. Sure they are exciting and engaging, and if they didn’t have those qualities no one would stick around to see and hear what is actually happening. From the cradle to the grave comics can have relevance and that is a beautiful thing.