Thursday, February 3, 2011


  • Because the house we were building on the side of a dark and muddy hill in Aptos is not yet finished by the time school starts, we live in a trailer at the KOA in Watsonville.  My brother Gavin comes along in October of '76, and I am a latch-key kid for the first time in my life.  I come home from the last stop on the bus route, let myself into the trailer, make a snack and watch Dark Shadows reruns before tackling any homework. I start to fall more deeply in love with comic books, as they are often my only source of escape.  May of 1977 comes and goes, and I am only peripherally aware that a major cultural event has occurred.  We move to another campground, this one in Felton, and between swimming lessons and Slurpees and more superhero action figures, an infatuation with the Teen Titans comic series blossoms (ironically during their most haphazard and rudderless period).
  • My third grade teacher, Mr. Miles, reads The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe aloud to his class.  I'm hooked instantly, and read the Narnia series of books over the next couple years.
  • It is during the summer of 1977 that I discover Star Wars, mostly through my cousins, who had begun to collect all things Star Wars, primarily the comics (as that summer there is little in the way of toys ready for sale).  Of course, like any nine year old boy, I fall in love with the mythology and the world, sight literally unseen, and began the campaign to get my parents to take me to the movie.  Because of the whole trying-to-build-a-house-while-living-in-a-trailer-and-working thing my parents were doing, it isn't until September or October of 1977 that my folks finally take me to see it.  Fortunately, this is a time when a blockbuster like Star Wars (and you notice I use the title that was used on the marquees, not the subtitle, A New Hope, which was retroactively tagged onto everything) could stay in theaters for an entire year on a first run.  Needless to say, it is a paradigm shift in my sci-fi consciousness, and sets a high bar for everything to come.  From then on, the Star Wars mythology would join Star Trek and the Marvel & DC superhero canon as the basic building blocks of my geekdom.
  • We move into our not-yet-complete house in Aptos just before Christmas, '77.  By this time, I'm already writing and drawing my own comic series about the crew of the futuristic submarine Blue Shark, with myself as captain and my friends rounding out the crew.  By 1978, I'm addicted to Mad and Cracked, and draw my own movie parody comics as well.  I hang out with my bestest pal Josh Geller, devouring Battlestar Galactica, The Incredible Hulk and Buck RogersErin Gray makes me feel funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class.  I also start to notice one or more Charlie's Angels, and develop an animated crush on the female sidekick in Plastic Man.  Don't judge me.  Y'all think Daphne's hot too.  The first Micronauts begin to infiltrate my collection of toys.
  • Sometime in this period, I catch THX-1138 on TV at my cousin's house.  The computer control room set looks like every office my dad worked in.
  • Josh and I have sleepovers in a pup tent on my back deck, running a power cord for the little black and white TV.  We stay up late watching Saturday Night Live, amused by the antics of hosts like Steve Martin, Eric Idle and Carrie Fisher.
  • I continue my love affair with classic fantasy adventure movies, like the Sinbad films, Jason and the Argonauts, pretty much anything Ray Harryhausen did effects for.  Many of these classics are shown in the Rio Del Mar Elementary School cafeteria in an after school entertainment program for fifty cents (including popcorn).
  • 1978: I meet Adam and David Beach through school and church.  This will become important later.  Also, Josh gets an Atari 2600.  We play lots of Space Invaders and Missile Command, and spend an obscene amount of time listening to Steve Martin comedy records.  My parents take us to a drive-in movie and I manage to completely ignore what's on our screen in favor of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I watch without sound.  That summer, I believe a man can fly.
  • 1979: Alien is released.  It's rated R.  My parents won't let me see it.  My friend David Cordero has the alien action figure (what was Kenner thinking, marketing a toy based on a rated R movie?).  I am jealous of it.  Star Trek: The Motion Picture arrives - I am there.  I am not entirely thrilled.  Also, my parents take me out of public school and send me to St. Francis boys' school in Watsonville (currently a co-ed high school, back then a boys-only middle school).  I am Catholic for a month, an altar boy even.  Unable to handle the extreme dogma and punitive atmosphere, I get my parents to put me back at Rio Del Mar, where I'm suddenly "the new kid" again, even though I'd been going there since third grade. 
  • Quark, Man From Atlantis and Project UFO are on my regular viewing schedule.  The crew of my comic book retrofit the Blue Shark to make it space worthy.  You can see where this is going...

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