Hey, gang-

Well, my wife Nicki and I woke up to a bit of a surprise this morning…SNOW DAY!

For some folks up north our “snow storms” would be considered flurries, but here 1″ of snow or more can be a “Snowmageddon” and practically shut down areas around the mid-south. What little snow we get usually melts, then freezes, and then has more snow fall on top of it. It can be pretty treacherous, and Memphis drivers aren’t all that good when the streets are dry.

Just the slightest hint of snow in the weather forecast can have folks around here freak out and descend like ravenous locusts on the local grocery stores, desperately searching for milk and bread- because apparently none of us can survive a snow day here without them. I have never understood it. We can go for a week or more in good weather without them, but store shelves can be emptied almost immediately by this snow induced phenomenon. Luckily for me I did my grocery shopping yesterday on the way home from work before any of the weather hit and when they still thought we’d just get light flurries.


I grew up in northern Utah for several years. There we would have 1′-2′ of snow at a time instead of the inch or two we’d occasionally get here. When my family moved back to Memphis and I had my first snow day home from school I didn’t know what that was- or why. “A snow day? Wait- they are going to close the school because of ‘snow’..?!!” For four years in elementary school back in Utah I used to walk three blocks to school, in three feet of snow, uphill- both ways! Blew my 10 year old mind that something like a “snow day” could happen. In the southern school district’s defense, we could walk to our neighborhood schools and didn’t have to ride school buses. There are a lot of rural areas around us and the buses have to travel down a lot of two lane country roads. Those are some of the first to freeze over and stay frozen. To me snowy weather and school closings seemed to happen a lot more then than it does now, but then again I’ve never had kids and I’m no meteorologist.

As a kid I loved comics, and would spend my $1 a week allowance on them at the local 7/11 out in Bartlett, TN (a suburb of Memphis).  The first one I bought there was a copy of “The Amazing Spiderman” #171. Back in the “olden days” new comics were still $.25-.30 cents each, and you could find some older ones for a dime or so around town if you were lucky. Today $.25, $.50. or $1.00 comic bins can be found at some comic retailers and conventions, and if you’re willing to do some long box diving you might come up with some back issues needed to fill in a run, or discover an overlooked key issue worth more than it’s marked.


Occasionally some stores didn’t return older books and you could find some of the ones you missed there. My mom and I would find comics at yard sales, too. Many of my early comics never had covers (retailers would send the covers as returns instead of the whole book and toss out the old comics, or so they were supposed to…). It didn’t matter, those cover-less, well read, and sometimes ragged comics were still just as enjoyable to me as a new one off the newstands. This was waaaaaaaaaaay back before comic shops, the internet, and digital comics. There were a few trade paperbacks here and there, but mostly origin and/or best of collections. If you missed a single issue it could be years before you could locate it. The first comic I ever remember reading was “Marvel Team-Up#4, which was a two part story that began in MTU #3– which I didn’t buy a copy of until I was well into my late thirties or early forties. Found it at a small comic show in Cape Girardeau, MO.


Like the MTU issues, it was several years before I ever found the Nova issue (#12 by by Marv Wolfman, Sal Buscema, and Frank Giacoia) that was the first part of the Spidey #171 Photon story (by Len Wein, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito). Had it happen again not too long after with a second issue of a three part story with the Green Goblin. Thankfully that one didn’t take as long to run across as Nova #12 or MTU #3 and I found it several months later on a spinner rack at a 7/11 across town.

You were truly at the mercy of whatever the spinner rack or newstands were stocked with.

Some were filled with more Marvel Comics (like at my first 7/11), some with more DC Comics (like the one I later found at a convenience store across from Graceland), and others with Archie, Harvey Comics, and other publishers.

One of my favorite places to shop as a kid was a used bookstore in downtown Memphis called The Paperback Shack. Towards the back of the store the shop had a few huge cardboard boxes that were overflowing with back issues.  ALL were 10 for $1.00..! After my parents divorced, my mom would take my sisters and me there from time to time. We’d walk around the outdoor Mid-America Mall (now the Main Street Mall), visit some of her old co-workers, and have lunch at our favorite burger joint that looked like an old trolley car. It was a big family outing for us to ride the bus there and back, and I would always come home with a HUGE stack of comics for a buck or two- instead of just a few when I would “buy off the rack” at a convenience store.


After my parents split up, money for things like allowances was a bit hard to come by. Even before the divorce my family wasn’t well off, and I always had odd jobs like mowing lawns, shoveling snow, cleaning parking lotsselling night-crawlers (large earthworms for fishing), and such to make extra money for toys, model kits, and eventually comics. (A friend and I would get free lunches at Taco Time once a week for cleaning the parking lot, and we would dine out on a wooden deck up in a tree in the front parking lot- I loved that!)

One such odd job I did happened while living with my mom in Memphis after the divorce- and it was most lucrative during the winter months if it snowed or when it was rainy. Sometimes my mom would send me to the grocery store to pick up whatever items we were out of at the time. She had just learned to drive and was terrified of driving in snow and icy or wet conditions. We had a few really steep hills that could be scary in dry weather. The store was just a couple blocks away, and we had a fold-up shopping cart I could use to haul it all back in. I would walk up and down our street and ask if any neighbors would need anything. Mostly it was bread and/or milk (again- they are essential to surviving snow in the south) or maybe eggs, butter, or soup. We had several older neighbors that would have had a hard time getting out in bad weather, especially in snow and ice. Usually they would tell me to keep the change or give me an extra dollar. Enough neighbors tip you that way and it was a nice bit of loot for comics..! Now some grocery stores will deliver, but back then you really couldn’t call up your local store and have them bring your winter survival necessities- well, at least not in our neighborhood. You definitely couldn’t order it on-line!

After doing my shopping at the grocery store and before heading back home, I would stop in at the Rexall drug store next to it and hit the comic spinner rack and spend all of my delivery earnings. I might also buy a candy bar or package of Now-And-Laters to enjoy later while reading those new comics. I loved playing in the snow as a kid, but I grew to love comics more. When your parents go through a messy divorce, those kind of good memories are gold to a young kid and stick with you for life. We may not have had iPads, internet, or video games then, but I don’t think I would have traded those snow days and the memories of them for anything.

Hope you’re having a great snow day. Earlier my wife and I took a walk around the neighborhood and let the cats play out back. Now that we’re back inside I’m going to enjoy a hot cup of coffee (or two), draw some sketchcovers, look at a few new art books I got in the mail this week, and read a few comics- I’m waaaaaaay behind.

Stay safe and warm, and happy comics reading to you!


PS- thanks to all the hospital staff, police, fire, road and electrical crews, media, convenience and grocery store employees, delivery drivers, mail/UPS/FedEx, and all the others who braved the roads (and other drivers) to do their jobs today and all the other bad weather days and holidays..!