From the time I was six years old I was quoting movies. My teachers seriously thought something was wrong with me.
The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Jaws. It had been re-released in my hometown as part of a double feature with Jaws 2. This was 1978 (back when our theater had only one screen). I was six years old and I can truly say it didn’t make me afraid of going into the water…I couldn’t swim (still can’t). My father took me and my older brother to see it one afternoon, and by the time we got home I was quoting Roy Scheider’s line just before he fired his M1 rifle into the oxygen tank that (SPOILER ALERT) blew up the great white.
“Smile, you son of a…” BLAM!
That line was part of my description of Jaws to Mrs. Farrell, my grandparents’ upstairs tenant, when she asked me about the movie. I may have substituted another B-word for “blam” to explain to her what Chief Brody was really trying to convey. Needless to say she was surprised by my vocabulary and retention skills at that age. Hers was the first of many baffled looks and shaken heads that would be a theme through most of my childhood.
When my father used to take us to the movies, more often than not we would arrive five to ten minutes after the movie started. We’d sit through the film, the entire credits, wait another twenty minutes in our seats in the empty theater, then watch the movie from the beginning of the next screening. Once the movie reached the part that was playing when we first arrived, Pop would get up and say, “Okay, we can go now.”
Some of my favorites back then were: Jaws, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, Excalibur, The Big Red One, Time Bandits, and the only move I’ve seen three times in a theater: Superman The Movie.
Amazing Spider-Man #175 (Copyright Marvel Comics)
The first comic book I remember owning was The Amazing Spider-Man #175 (December, 1977). The Punisher and Spider-Man were teamed up against a villain called The Hitman. The cover by Ross Andru showed The Hitman pointing his rifle at The Punisher who was kneeling at the edge of the Statue of Liberty’s crown holding up an injured Spider-Man, who in turn was holding up J. Jonah Jameson. My brother had picked it off of the spinner rack at the local convenience store and I remember just sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ house staring at that cover, trying to figure out the storyline from that one image. How did they end up on top of the Statue of Liberty? How would they get out of this situation (with Spider-Man’s arm injured, no less)? Was The Punisher a good guy or a bad guy? The story inside didn’t interest me. At age five I probably wouldn’t have understood most of it anyway. I just immersed myself in that cover, creating story upon story in my young mind. It had tension. The bad guy had the upper hand, but Spider-Man had to get them out of this. God, I love the Bronze Age.
Some of my favorite comic books of the 70s and 80s: The Uncanny X-Men (especially the Claremont/Byrne/Austin and Claremont/Smith/Wiacek runs), The Fantastic Four (the Byrne run), The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Team Up, Star Wars, G.I. Combat, Sgt. Rock, and Cerebus.
Please read the title of this post again: There Are No Nerds or Geeks Here.
This blog won’t be a forum for rants about how George Lucas ruined the Holy Trilogy with unnecessary CGI, whether Han shot Greedo first, or for fighting the stereotypes about comic book readers. It’s for the less rabid folks like me that appreciate movies and comic books and have an even greater appreciation for the creators that brought them to us. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of interviewing a few of them. Those interviews will be posted soon, along with reviews of lesser known movies, some classic comic book storylines revisited, and some posts on my latest passion: original comic book art. I’ll try to go light on the nostalgia (but I can’t make any promises), and even lighter on the snark.
All posts are Copyright Fabrizio Fante