Comics Features

Dara Berkey’s Adoration of Comics

I like stories. I always like stories. Any kind of story. I like silly stories and stories that make you think. But also, I like characters that you love or love to hate. I like true stories the best, which is why I choose history over literature as a major. It’s not just comic books superheroes that matter to me. I love anime and manga, especially Studio Ghibli movies. In addition, I love fantasy novels—high fantasy, urban fantasy, steam-punk fantasy, and historical fantasy. I love Star Trek. Also, I even love classic Disney animated movies. The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast are my favourites. I am a multiple fandom geek.

Between the original Power Rangers, Batman: The Animated Series, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball Z, I was a pretty busy little girl (like 5/6 years old). I have distinct memories of watching heavily edited version of Dragonball Z early in the morning before school. I am not a morning person, I have never been. But you bet I was up at 6 in the morning to watch it.

Afternoons, I spent watching Power Rangers and Sailor Moon. According to my mother, I would sit in front of the screen and watch the heroes battle the bad guys as a tiny ball of excitement ready to burst when the heroes won and saved the day.

Saturday mornings was cartoon time for four hours. But Saturday was supermarket day when I was younger, so when I went with my mom I would read all the Sonic the Hedgehog comics while she shopped (remember when you could get them at the grocery stores?). Mom said that I didn’t need it, so I never got a chance to get any.

As I got a bit older (like 11/12), I spent more time watching anime and manga especially when Pokemon arrived on the scene, but the DC Animated Universe was the foundation for my love of DC heroes and X-Men: The Animated Series was the same for my love of Marvel heroes. I invested in all the shows that I could—especially when I could convince my mother, my father or my sisters to watch something with me.

Once Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! were on the scene, I had a major obsession with manga over American comics books for the longest time. I mostly read Justice League and Batman comics since I loved Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League/JLU.  However, the Japanese manga One Piece and Naruto catapulted me into geek fandom. I could wax poetic about my love of One Piece. The anime takes forever to watch, but the manga, to me, is better.

My favourite comic books when I was little was my dad’s collection of Spider-Man team-ups, I think they were from the late 1970s/early 1980s mostly (because MJ and Peter were together happy or married and her hair style was ridiculous). He had a whole bin of them (there’s like seventy plus comics, in varying degrees of conditions). I read all those at least three times (My dad was a Spider-Man freak when he was a kid in the 1960s). I have a great fondness for that version of Spider-Man in those stories. They were not complex by any means and you knew that Spidey and whomever he was teaming up with was going to win, but they were still super fun.

Everything from American comics, to Japanese manga/anime, and cartoon were larger than life.

I wasn’t a normal little girl, or what could be considered normal. I didn’t like dress-up, hated shopping for clothes, and my Barbie had been so done with Ken and became an independent woman or something or another. Unfortunately, I was very shy and quiet and I really didn’t have any friends, but the thing was that I didn’t mind being alone most of the time and I still don’t. Maybe its lame but all those characters and their stories made me feel better about being different from most people or most girls. Also, I find that I can overcome my natural shyness and quietness when someone asks me about one of the pins on my backpack or about the book I’m reading or whatever.

You bet I still watch cartoons, even though now there are channels with them on 24/7. I still spend time reading comic books and manga. I read some of the newer comics, but I rather revisit the older stories that still resonate with me. Honestly, I still love when Spider-Man teams up with other heroes. Still, I have my stacks of old monthly Shounen Jump, anime box-sets, shelves and shelves of books, manga and comics. I have half of the basement with all my geek stuff. My Master Thesis in History is on Captain Marvel/Shazam.

Superheroes, anime, comics, and whatever other fandoms I find myself in will always be important to me.

The stories of heroes and villains ingrained in my life make me happy.  Why do comics matter to you?  Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Dara Berkey

Superhero nerd. History nerd. Favorite personal hero--Shazam/The Original Captain Marvel. Favorite female hero--Any of the Batgirls. Favorite male hero, other than Shazam--Any of the Robins.