George Rears - I remember the day as clear as can be...
It's a bright sunny summer day, and I am on my bike riding through the park past a tiny stream. I'm on my way to a store with some friends to buy some modeling kits.
I remember carrying a Batman book which I stopped to read along the way. I can clearly picture Batman ducking from Catwoman's Cat-o-nine tails coming at Batman from the right hand side. I would later find out (or so I thought) that this issue was a return to the classic Catwoman costume, one of the last remaining artifacts from the 1960's TV show discarded. I can even hear "Old Days" by Chicago in the background!
Except one problem.
It never happened.
As I've gotten older, I realized my goal of owning every comic book ever was probably never going to happen. Heck, I'll probably never own all the appearances of the Justice League. What I have instead concentrated on is finding comics I remember owning as a kid. The ones that made me addicted to 32 pages of newsprint (plus covers!).
I've re-acquired many of the books I had long ago lost including many of the Flash and Justice League books that were my favorites. I even started to collect comics by months, trying to buy as many books I could find that came out during key months of my childhood. I have since tried to pick up other books that I have fond memories of, such as the so-called 12 Labors of Wonder Woman which features guest stars from the Justice League in a series of stories that ran almost two years from 1974 to 1975.
As I looked back at books that I wanted, I really needed to get this Batman comic. I still have a bike, and I have just about every Chicago song on CD, but I didn't have this Batman issue. If I really did want to recreate my childhood, well, I was going to need this book!
I recently went back to the town I grew up in, and in doing some research prior to visiting, I noticed something really weird. While looking over Google Earth, I couldn't find this park/bike path, or any evidence that existed...and where I thought it should be, there were houses that looked like they had been there at least 70 years (no, I'm not that old). Flash forward to a few months ago at a comic show, and I noticed I couldn't find this Batman book. Anywhere.
So...now I'm curious. Does this book exist? Well... not really. Extensive searching of the Internet (or least 10 minutes of scanning comic covers on-line) have revealed that the book I'm picturing is a cross between the Catwoman appearance in Batman #266 (August 1975), the layout of the cover of Batman #274 (April 1976) and the awful coloring of Batman #283 (January 1977). Unless someone else can Identify a copy of a Batman book with a purple cover, featuring Catwoman attacking Batman from the right hand side!
So why do I have this crazy memory? The best I can figure is that in order to save disk space, my brain compressed some memories, combining various incidents to into one, single event which never happened. It feels right, but when examined up close, it fails inspection. I'll never find this book, and the park was never there- although there was another one near my house, which was kind of similar. I hope I never have to tell this story in court. Too many holes.
I have a few other memories like these, mostly centered around Christmas, remembering different relatives attending different years, receiving toys that wouldn't have been out in the years that I remember them, etc. The Batman one, I hope is the only "false" memory about comics. I'd hate to think that the book I always thought was my first off the rack purchase (Flash #228) was really my second purchase, after "Baby Snoots".
So...the park doesn't exist. The book doesn't exist. The good news is that the song "Old Days" was released in April, 1975, right around the time of the first of these books. I could very well have been riding my bike, while hearing that song. Perhaps I will find this book someday...