I’m a bit more melancholy than usual as I write this. Last week, I said goodbye to Forbidden Planet, locked the store and headed back to the home that I’ve had for fifteen years that is no longer my home. As I type this, I sit in an apartment with a heating problem, knowing I can’t just text a friend to see if they want to go grab a drink.
This has me thinking about goodbyes. We bid them, sadly, to our favorite characters from time to time. Yet they’re never really gone from us. Their stories are on our bookshelves and in our comic boxes, long after they are published. From Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen in GOTHAM CENTRAL, to Julia’s beloved Donna Troy in the New Teen Titans collection GRADUATION DAY, to Jean Grey in the DEATH OF PHOENIX; these characters are no longer just flat images on a page — they’re friends. They linger in our hearts.
The story-lines and creative teams we love come to a halt yet, whatever happens the characters endure. Whether it’s Clark, Steve, Bruce, Tony or Diana they will continue long after we stop collecting and pass our collections on. So, why do we continue reading, collecting, and running to the stores on Wednesdays?
We continue reading because goodbyes are hard. We do this because we’ve grown up with these comics; these people go through the same things we do. They comfort us, look out for us, teach us what it is to be a good person. A hero.
For everything that we bid goodbye to, we say hello to something else. The wonderful thing about creativity is that there is always something new being created. For every time an Avenger falls, there is a character like SPIDER-GWEN to captivate us. For every time a writer like Gail Simone leaves BATGIRL we get another title from them, such as SECRET SIX.
For me, whenever a co-worker goes they have left me something to love. When Vita moved on, she left me RAT QUEENS and PRINCELESS to remember her by. Danny left me CAPTAIN AMERICA, a character I never knew outside of the Avengers. But she gave me a love and appreciation of Cap that has me re-reading WINTER SOLDIER again and again. Drew gave me Mark Waid’s DAREDEVIL, Alec and Val gave me a desire to collect toys and fill my house with them.
And Julia, well, Julia reminds me again and again that the passion we have for these characters should never be hidden but celebrated. She once told me she had to take a minute to compose herself when she saw Donna Troy’s return. She loves Donna and I cannot help but envy how Julia allows herself to smile whenever she tells me about a book that has touched her heart.
The list of my co-workers goes on and on, but they have all left me a better person for knowing them and this article would be far too long if I mentioned everyone by name and extolled their virtues. Let’s just say that the biggest reason I shopped at FP and the very best reason that I loved working there was the passion that each and every employee has for graphic literature. Most of the graphic novels on my shelves were recommended by someone who works at the Planet. Each time I even look at my shelves, I am grateful for my time there.
Most importantly, the customers at Forbidden Planet have left me the joy of knowing them and of, hopefully, helping steer them towards titles, writers and artists. I hope they’ve enjoyed that as much as I have enjoyed them sharing their favorite titles with me.
Since I got permission from them to say their names, I want to thank Ira and Shara for always bringing joy to our faces and lives whenever they came into the store. As I was once the sub box guy and put titles into the boxes, it was a wonderful moment for me when I got to meet Box #223. It was months before we met face to face and I couldn’t help but notice we had similar tastes in books and I was grateful whenever we got a few minutes to chat about the things we’d read, what we enjoyed and even what we didn’t. Box #48 is one of the kindest souls that I have met. When #48 has finished those comics they get packed up and sent to soldiers overseas.
That is what I will miss the most – the kindness and generosity and solidarity that exists at the Planet. The stereotype is that if you lock two geeks in a room they’ll argue about whether Superman or Thor would win in a fight (or, if it were Julia and myself, it would be the battle of the Batgirls, as we both love Barbara, she tells me all about Cass and I try to convince her that Stephanie is kinda cool).
I think that what would really happen if you locked two geeks in a room, though, would be a whole lotta love. And then, when you unlocked the door and let the geeks out, I imagine they’d head out to the nearest con and take pictures with the cosplaying ladies. (Sidenote: Straight guys, this is your advice for the day from your new gay best friend: just politely ask if you can take a picture with the cosplay gal, say thanks and move on. I am available for any other questions you can only ask a GBF. Just send an email to Julia and she’ll forward it to me.)
One last word about goodbyes. This week we said goodbye to Leonard Nimoy. He was an amazing actor and man and I can only say this: Mr. Nimoy, you have given us all so much joy. Thank you. You lived long and, we hope, we gave you as much as you gave us.