Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bruce Smith, Tarzan and Comic Books

My mom's dad is Bruce Smith. He's not doing so well these days. He's suffering from Alzheimer's disease and it's getting worse instead of better. The whole thing is very taxing on my grandmother and my folks. I don't even know how tough it must be since I'm quite insulated from the daily situation, only hearing about it sometimes from my mom. But for the last couple of years that it's been happening, I've been thinking about my grandpa a lot and in a way getting to know who he was better than I did when he was well. And this has lead to a possible understanding about some of the things that make me tick.

I grew up in the North Woods way up in Northern Wisconsin, about 30 minutes from the Michigan boarder. Now up there boys are almost expected to get into things such as hunting and fishing. So my brother, Greg, and I gave fishing and hunting a pretty good go of it, but it never really caught on. We did do a lot of camping.

But it seems our focus was aimed at comics and movies far more than it was about sportsman activities. I have very fond memories of Greg and I orchestrating grand epic adventures with our Star Wars and G.I. Joe action figures. Stories that would continue for weeks. We even illustrated one story in sequential art. And there was an audio tape that accompanied the art! The G.I. Joe guys lead us into the G.I Joe comic book. And we naturally found ourselves collecting X-Men and many many other Marvel and DC comics. Sean McKeever also played an integral role in our interest at this point with is shop ensconced in his parent's hardware store. He was an enthusiastic influence as well as someone else who was interested in these types of things.

These strong elements had lasting consequences as I still am an avid comic book collector. This strange desire to tell fantastic stories influenced my decisions on my higher education as I went to Florida to learn the film and video trade.

Why was that? Clearly my dad and his brother fully embraced their dad's sportsman ways. It appears that those things can be passed down in some way. Why did it not take with us? Where did the collector gene come from? Who was into these kinds of things before us for Greg and I to receive the 'geek' gene?

I submit that something was passed down the line to us. Not from my dad's side, however, but from my mom's. It may have manifested itself in her as an interest in art, for she is an amazing artist (come see her newly established online art gallery).

Does this mean that Jack and who ever else is coming will be sportsmen? That would thrill my dad!
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