When I grew up, I lived in The Four Color World. As a kid I was more concerned about whether Spider-man was going to stop Doctor Octopus and Venom this time than whether America was entering Iraq for Operation: Desert Storm. I was more focused on Marvel’s Secret Wars and DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths than anything dealing with The Cold War. The history I focused on was what year did Wolverine join the X-Men and Captain America join the Avengers, not what events led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I lived in The Four Color World. And I think, to a certain degree, I still do.
What is The Four Color World? Well, that is typically what the world of comic books is called. Comic books are usually referred to as four color books because of the four colors used in printing comic books in the thirties through the sixties: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Comic books are printed differently now and there have been many experimental forms of printing through the years but through it all they are still referred to as four color books. Or The Four Color World.
My brothers and I spent a lot of time in that world. We were introduced to it through our Dad. I remember being given an old Superman comic when I was very little. I don’t know if it was my first comic book I was ever given but I know it was one of the earliest I ever read. It was SUPERMAN #233. I remember that bright orange cover with the yellow burst of light way back in the center of it. And standing in the middle of the cover, busting a set of chains as if they were tissue paper, was Superman. I remember my Dad giving me that comic and thinking that it was about the coolest thing ever. My brother, Nathan, and I tore through that book repeatedly.
I remember when my Dad opened the mysterious white box that he kept in the basement and pulled out a copy of X-MEN #1. There were five superheroes all fighting one bad guy!! And when he introduced us to THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA…I was done. I was hooked. And I’m still hooked. And, incidentally, so is my brother. Comic books not only provide us (and perhaps me, more specifically) with a few moments escape from real world crisis and wars or morality plays showing us the difference between right and wrong, but for me they instantly transport me to the early eighties. They take me to a place where my Dad and I would sit and draw superheroes all day. A place where my brothers and I would play with nearly non poseable action figures. And of course, a place where we all read comic books together.
The term “The Four Color World” may refer to comic books in general, but for me it means so much more. It is a connection to another time. It is a connection to a philosophy and a way of life. And, most importantly, it is a connection to family. That is my Four Color World.