I had turned thirteen that summer, and was finally getting used to living in my new town. I was still addicted to comic books, but I was still a DC guy in the world of Marvel Zombies.
The only thing I liked about the Marvel books was George Perez (I hadn’t discovered John Byrne on X-Men yet), and he had just came over to do The New Teen Titans. Having loved his run on Avengers, I could only dream about what George Perez would do with the Justice League. My favorite artist on my favorite book. That would be a combo.
The ironic thing about the whole thing is that I believe Justice League was my favorite book partly because it had the same artist on it from when I had started reading comics until then: Dick Dillin. Grell had left Legion, Novick was off of the Flash, Swan was doing Superman--but who else could do Superman other than Curt Swan? Historically, I now realize Aparo had still been on Brave and the Bold during the six years previous, though I wasn't buying it at the time--so let's not ruin the story.
So I'm riding in the car up to West Point New York, and I flip open the JLA 184, and wow. George Perez. Drawing the Justice League. And Darkseid. I couldn't believe it. I was all smiles as I read the book the first time. I was just as happy the second. Then about 15 minutes prior to arriving I started to read the letter page. Dick Dillin had died.
I felt guilty. Here I was enjoying this issue, totally oblivious to the circumstances that had caused it. This wasn't just a fill-in issue, or even just a creative change. Dick Dillin, the guy who told me stories every month for the past six years, would tell no more tales.
I remember being depressed that whole day. I also remember not being able to tell my parents why--they would never understand the closeness I felt to a person I had never met, talked to, or written to. The guilt went away, after a while. But I think part of my childhood died on that trip. Not only because the last connection to being a six-year-old discovering comics was gone, but rather because of a lesson learned: Be careful, sometimes you do get what you wish for.