The Comical Life of Troy Hickman #1
So when it came time to write my first blog piece for Newsarama, I asked myself what I could bring to the table that was uniquely my own. Could it be the perspective of a bearded, overweight comics fan? Wow, that’s like carrying coals to Newcastle, or trying to sell Lemmy Kilmister on the benefits of facial wens. Perhaps I could talk about what it’s like to walk into a convention with a pro badge, and proudly notice everyone I pass eyeing it, right before they murmur “who the @#$% is Troy Hickman?” Nah, a column on that would serve only to make me long for the sweet release that oblivion will bring. I guess the obvious choice would be to use it to hype my upcoming Twilight Guardian mini-series, but hey, if I spent a lot of time trying to convince strangers to embrace something of mine, it’d be like dating again.
I suppose it would be best to start this blog by simply telling you that I love comics. Yes, I realize that all of us here can say that, but I don’t think I can make clear to you the EXTENT of that love. I eat, sleep, and breathe comics. I walk through my day seeing the events around me in panel form. If I could, I would elope with a comic and make our own little love-nest on Fire Island, if only our culture would could see the beauty of the bond between man and funnybook.
My first exposure to comics came from a no-account older second cousin named Steve, who gave me half a dozen comics after he’d read and dog-eared them. The one that stuck with me the most was Captain America #100, his first solo issue after a long run in Tales of Suspense, and it totally rewired my pre-school brain (and I will write Cap stories one day, mark my words). Even though I would discover girls in the years that followed, I knew I’d found my true love that day I cracked the cover and saw the Star-Spangled Avenger encased in a block of ice like a patriotic popsicle (I’m sorry, make that a patriotic, pulse-pounding popsicle!).
From that moment on, comics and everything about them consumed my imagination. One of my earliest memories is of taking a thick, off-white, first grade writing tablet and creating the crude stick-figure adventures of “Man-Monster,” a scientist who would imbibe a potion and turn into a finned, furry, hulking behemoth. While other kids were playing cowboys and Indians, or imagining they were the Six Million Dollar Man, I remember getting together with my childhood pal Ed Clay and pretending to be various superheroes in sense-shattering slugfests with each other (always the result of some matter of mistaken identity; Stan had taught me well). Ed and I would argue the virtues of the Beast versus Jack Russell, Werewolf by Night as we duked it out in the vacant lot next to my house. I was so into superheroes that I remember paying Ed a nickel apiece for the crude tracings of comic covers he did (my first “original” art purchases, and I still have ‘em tucked away next to pages by some of the legends of comics).
From there, it just continued to snowball, from watching my collection grow to an entire wall of long boxes, to forming my own little small press comic imprint, to attempting in futility to name my son “Clark Kent Hickman,” (the failure to do so being the one thing for which I can never forgive my ex-wife). People have come and gone, tragedies have arisen and been put behind me, but comics have remained a glorious constant.
It’s decades later now, and Ed Clay eventually turned HIS true love, playing old-timey records, into a career as a radio personality. And me? Well, I’m proud to say I’m the Green River Kil—uh, I mean, I write comic books professionally. And even my old pal Man-Monster eventually became the finned, furry Strangeness of my Common Grounds series. I guess if you stick around long enough, and stay true to your passions, some pretty amazing stuff is possible.
Troy Hickman is the writer of the the Eisner-nominated Common Grounds, City of Heroes, Witchblade, and a bunch of other comics, which never ceases to floor him. His new series, the Pilot Season-winning Twilight Guardian, comes out later this year from Top Cow.