Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Reflection #11/40

On August 3rd, 1999, I started work at Barnes & Noble in Dublin, Ohio. I was glad to have the job, because I had just moved to Columbus, and was going to get married in a little over a month. On my first day a manager named Matt Kish gave me a tour of the store. He was a funny guy; I immediately liked him and hoped that we would become friends. According to him, he decided early on that I was some sort of right-wing nutjob and should be avoided. I guess I don’t always make a good first impression.

But one day Matt came into the break room and found me reading a copy of Jack Kirby’s Forever People. He asked if I liked comics, and I said yes, figuring he was probably just interested in recent well-known stuff. Then he surprised me by saying that Jack Kirby’s New Gods was one of the best things he’d ever read.

A little bit of backstory: Jack Kirby, the greatest American comic book artist of the 20th century, wrote and drew a series called New Gods in the 70s. It was all set to be his magnum opus, an epic story told over the course of years, but tragically it was cancelled with issue #11. People of my generation had not had a chance to read the series until it was reprinted as a cheap paperback in 1997. I bought a copy as soon as it came out, and it was, like Matt said, one of the best things I’d ever read.

So we bonded over Jack Kirby, and even though Matt was a cruel, bitter man who delighted in tormenting others, we became friends and, over time, boon companions. We talked about comics, we collaborated on making our own comics, we argued about weighty philosophical issues, and we stayed in touch when we lived in different cities.

Okay, so maybe calling him a cruel and bitter man is unfair. Matt often gave me a hard time, back when we worked together, but he’s also shown me plenty of support, encouragement, generosity, and forgiveness over the years. He has been a true friend. And, eventually, he became family, when he became the godfather to my first-born child.

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