Thursday, October 11, 2007

Neal Patterson - 1976

sgNeal Patterson In the fall of 1976, I started junior high school. Due to the curious way in which the school board divided up the neighborhoods, I had to go to a school one mile away while most of my elementary school friends when to a junior high much closer to my home. It felt strange not only adjusting to a new school, but doing so in a place where I hardly knew anyone. Mornings were the worst, when all the kids gathered into their various cliques in the courtyard waiting for the doors to open. I had no clique and stood around awkwardly hoping no one would notice what a loser I was.

Then one morning I saw a familiar face. Vince was someone I had known casually in elementary school, but we never hung around in the same circle of friends. He was standing by the wall looking as out of place as I felt, so I went over and struck up a conversation. I noticed he had this really cool comic book cover taped to his loose leaf binder. It was The Eternals #2. I was especially intrigued by the bold lettering which claimed, 'More Fantastic Than Chariots of the Gods!' Today, such a claim would elicit gales of laughter, but to a 70s kid raised on those Sun Classics movies, this really got me excited. Vince was only too happy to fill me in on what was his current favorite comic, and I grabbed the latest issue as soon as I could (it was issue #6).

From that point on, Vince and I would meet in the courtyard and talk about The Eternals, comic books, Space: 1999, horror movies, and all the other things we had in common. I then started going over to his house after school, where I got to read Vince's back issues of The Eternals. Having been more of a DC kid, this was my first exposure to Jack Kirby's art, and I was truly blown away. I was also glad to have a partner with whom I could face the brave new world of junior high.

As the months passed, The Eternals story line lost its luster for me, but my friendship with Vince grew. We were best friends all through our adolescence and remained friends well into adulthood. I always associate
The Eternals #2 with starting an enduring friendship."

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