Retcon Punch, Episode 05: Stuff

Retcon Punch, Episode 05: Stuff

Nov 03

New to Retcon Punch? Start at the beginning.

“Here’s what I was thinking.

“Basically, we’re dealing with a big-ass safe, that’s like decades old, right? So it’s not too big a problem because it’s old. Old means, if you break in, it just sits there broken into. It’s not going to start shouting and inform the authorities.

“So all I really need is A, the proper equipment, which is basically a trip to Home Despot”—she actually said “Despot instead of “Depot”—“and then time. A nice, solid, clear chunk of time.

“If, for example, I were to come in tomorrow night while you were in the store anyway, doing whatever the fuck it is you do, then I could torch away in the back room while you do that stuff. A few hours later, we’re open. I grab the comic and it’s bye bye Superb Comics, I’ve become airborne.”


“Chuck Berry,” she says. “Buy a CD once in a while.”

“I do.”

“Okay, what was the last CD you bought?”

“Um…the soundtrack to The Dark Knight.”

“You mean, like, the strings and orchestra and shit?”

“Yes, the strings and orchestra and shit. Hans Zimmer. James Newton Howard. Legendary.”

“No, Chuck Berry is legendary. Movie music is for…well, people like you.”

She’s busting my chops, but not in a mean way. More in a slightly flirty way that allows me to believe I have a one-in-a-thousand chance at making time with the abnormally cute girlfriend of my boss, who is a vindictive, petty man-child, and as we’ve already quite clearly established, a huge douchebag.

But first, I’ve just got to put my livelihood on the line to help her steal a very old comic book out of a very old safe.


I stumble into my one-bedroom apartment at about 11:30, flip on the TV, collapse into my crummy recliner.

A stranger would not be misguided in assuming my hovel was scheduled for an appearance on one of those cable hoarding shows. The line between kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom is blurry when there’s comic books and toys everyplace. Also blurry: The line between garbage and collectible, trash and treasure, worthless curio and precious memory.

For me, it started at a spinner rack when I was thirteen; for you, maybe it was a pack of baseball cards from a pharmacy up the road, or a Star Wars action figure you begged your mom to buy for weeks before she finally gave in. Something small, packed with meaning as your age advances, a reminder of how you imagine things were, even though they weren’t at all that way. Nostalgia. Oh, how the ghost of you clings.

Eventually, if you’re not careful, the act of saving itself becomes a way of fueling a nostalgia machine that constantly demands something new so you can eventually pretend it’s something old. So I collect comic books, even though the issue of Hulk that I pick up at work for $2.39 with my employee discount isn’t worth the energy I spent to carry it from the shop to my car. It gets read, which is fine, and then it gets bagged and boarded—a comic book geek term that conjures images of corpses zipped up tight and shipped carelessly to waiting graves—and it gets saved, filed, catalogued, and forgotten about. That issue of Hulk will exist for years, maybe decades, in a box in my home in my life, not as a single item for which I have any concern whatsoever, but as part of a larger entity for which I have an irrational attachment. They are My Comics.

My Comics, rather than an active thing I enjoy on a regular basis, are more like this huge heavy pulpy albatross hanging constantly around my neck. Every six months or so, I try to corral them into some kind of semblance of order, and it stays sorta-tidy for a week or two before every available surface is once again saturated by ephemerea.

In spite of debt, in spite of loneliness, in spite of becoming bitterly resigned to their awfulness years ago, My Comics continue to grow. They enter my home in stacks fresh from the shop; they slip into my hands at yard sales, thrift stores, and conventions. Friends I’ve had since high school stuff them into envelopes and mail them to me unannounced, with a simple note inside: “Do you have this one?” My great aunt still buys me a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man every year for my birthday.

Comics, and toys and books and DVDs and all the other detritus that attaches itself to the geek lifestyle, like barnacles on a Titanic plummeting endlessly into a bottomless ocean—they follow me around. They’re my past that devours my present. If I’m not careful, they could become my future. You might say they already are.

Next Week: Ripoff!



  1. Retcon Punch, Episode 04: Strategery | Alert Nerd - [...] Next Week: Stuff [...]

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