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ForgedBy4: Memories on the World of Magic the Gathering

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Memories on the World of Magic: The Gathering

I was introduced to Magic: The Gathering in Spring of 1995…and as I remember it, that was within just a few weeks of the end of the Revised ("3rd") Edition. I’d missed Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark…and the then-current expansion was Fallen Empires.

I was there for the arrival of 4th Edition, and the first new expansion I was there for was Ice Age. Shortly after, we got Chronicles, and I remember that the card I most wanted from that set was Chromium–the Elder Dragon. (Which I got in my first purchase of several boosters!) Those gave way to Homelands, which was the first/only set I ever got to get an entire booster box–I remember getting that as a Christmas present that year.

I remember the release of Alliances, and Mirage…and remember being aware of Visions and then even Weatherlight…though as I recall it, I only got a few boosters of Alliances, and I think only a "starter deck" and a couple boosters of Mirage. (After that, my next cards were obtained through purchasing 10-cent common cards after the fact, to go with a couple of pre-constructed decks I’d bought (one for Tempest, one for Urza’s Saga). These likely included Weatherlight, Visions, and whatever other sets had come out, but I’ll get to that later). […]

Full article posted over at Forgedby4! My "history" with Magic: The Gathering.

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Secret Origins: Ziggy

It was a late August day back in 2010, Dad left a voicemail on my cell. A bit cryptic–simply telling me to call him. As my aunt was in the hospital for something, I immediately feared the worst, and called in a panic…only to find out it wasn’t anything urgent.

Dad had been online and came across a Craigslist listing for a cat at a nearby shelter, and Mom had insisted that he needed my blessing before there’d be any consideration of getting this cat, as I was in visiting often, and it’d only been a few months since we’d lost Kayla after having her over 18 years.

I found the listing Dad had seen, and immediately approved.

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The shelter had him tagged as "Sigmund." I’d planned to add "Dewey" to that, both for the library-cat and figuring it would sound quite distinguished. Sigmund Dewey.

The shelter had posted the listing too early, so Dad had to wait a few days–they had to allow time for notification any potential owners to come in and reclaim him. During that time, I recall posting in a blog at cxPulp that whether he knew it or not, this was a lucky little cat–because though he was in a shelter for the then-moment, he either had a family that would reclaim him…or he already had a family that wanted him.

And as things went, on September 7th, 2010, Dad went in. As he’s told me, he walked into the place, and even with the other cats meowing and reaching out and clamoring for attention–Dad only had eyes for Sigmund.

…Sigmund, who huddled in the back of the cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone, let alone being pulled out of the cage. But Dad got him out, and that day, he brought this cat into my life.

My conscious plan was to "tolerate" this cat, to "put up with" its presence…I wouldn’t be mean or anything, but I’d be indifferent–he was gonna be Dad’s cat.

That evening after work, I drove the hour in to meet this cat. Such a significant thing, adopting anyone new into your life–and I had to see this cat for myself.

One look at him and I got down on the floor to get his attention. He wasn’t sure of me at first, but then came over to check me out, and allowed me to touch him. (And for the rest of his life, "our thing" was that I was the one that would get down on the floor with him, so he almost never would hop up onto me).

While we were talking, the matter of his name came up, and Mom had a slip of the tongue, clearly saying Ziggy where Dad was calling him Siggy (for Sigmund).

The cat looked RIGHT at her, and we realized in that moment that THAT was his name.

He was Ziggy.

And he got several "pet names" or nicknames. In my own recollection, I most think of "Little Buddy" from Dad, as he’d call Ziggy or get his attention. (And that he was, he was Dad’s little buddy!). To me, he was "Handsome Cat" (cuz I thought Handsome more fitting than Pretty or Beautiful, though those absolutely fit as well). And to everyone, he was also just Zig, or Zig-Zig, or such. But Ziggy was what his "full name" has always been, at least to me. Just like I’m Walter, but go by Walt. He was Ziggy, though he’d go by others as well.

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The first photo above is the photo from the original listing, the very first photo I ever saw of him, the very first, period, that I ever saw OF him.

And just above, him resting on Mom, is the final photo I have of him.

The very earliest photo I have of him. And the very last.

Dad brought him into my life on September 7, 2010. And I had to say goodbye to this sweetest, gentlest cat I have ever known, on December 7, 2017.

And in between these photos?

I have THOUSANDS more. It takes all I have right now to hold it together just handling these two photos right now. I’ve shared hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of him before–on Facebook, in messages to friends, occasionally in this very blog.

And I know I will share even more yet, as I somehow learn to live in a world without this precious little cat. I can’t begin to find the proper words, in the proper order and quantity, to feel I’m doing the little guy justice. And as I break down now typing this, I can only say that this is far from the last I’ll have to share of him. But though he’s at peace now…

It is us, those left behind–Me, Dad, Mom, our other cat Chloe, friends and family who knew him–that suffer. Hurt. Have to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.

And me?

Absolutely nothing in my life before this has ever hurt so much, or affected me as this has.

Ziggy Kneeland.

Sigmund Dewey.

Little Buddy.

Handsome Cat.

Zig.

Zig-Zig.

This quiet, gentlest of spirits…

So very, VERY loved, and missed more terribly than words alone can ever begin to describe.

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Remembering Kayla on the 27th Anniversary of Her Birth

kayla_cornerSometimes it seems like Kayla’s still just around some corner somewhere.

But as in years past, I’m taking a moment to publically remember my little cat.

Today–October 4th–is the anniversary of her birth, back in 1990.

It’s hard to believe that now, in 2017, it’s been nearly 7 1/2 years since losing her, back in May of 2010.

She’s the only cat I’ve had or ever known where there was a definite date of birth…Kayla was a "purebred," that Dad found in a classified ad when we started looking to get a cat, back in 1992. He’d been a fan of the Himalayan breed, and though I wanted a kitten, he followed up on an ad, and we wound up bringing Miss Kayla Krystal home one January Thursday. As a purebred, she came with "papers" detailing the date of birth, and so on.

Said "papers" got stowed in a compartment on the plastic "pet taxi" vet-carrier and somewhere along the years disappeared. Because we didn’t care about ’em.

Kayla was instantly a part of the family, and other than as a clinical "fact," her being a "purebred" never mattered.

Even now, all these years later…I’ve yet to be able to string together a lengthy post about her. So many memories, across nearly 18 1/2 years…and for all the writing I do, have done, will do…there’s no doing justice to what this little cat meant to me.

To date, she remains one of THE primary "constants" in my life, a presence far longer than anyone other than immediate family.

She’ll always be here, until no one remembers. Always here, always part of my heart such a precious part of my life.

Below: several times Kayla was the focus of a "cover" in my The Life of Walt series of photo pieces.

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Comics Mean Favorite Stories and Characters

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

batman442I’ve spent the last few days sharing some brief, loose thoughts on some of the things that comics mean to me, have been to my life.

But I haven’t talked about my favorite stories, my favorite characters. And truly, anything actually comprehensive on that front could be an entire blog in itself, something far larger than the scope and intent of this week’s posts. So I’ll touch on a few only.

Superman was the first–Superman is the reason I was introduced to comics. I touched a few weeks ago on the significance of the Death and Return of Superman Omnibus, aos500collecting that entire saga under one cover, as the ultimate story from my childhood is presently the ultimate single volume in my collection.

Another Superman story that holds a lot of meaning for me is Man of Steel, the John Byrne series that reintroduced Superman to the world, introduced the version of Superman that I consider “my Superman.”

Over on the Batman side, there’s A Lonely Place of Dying. Tim Drake–the third Robin (or now, Red Robin in the New 52)–had only JUST been introduced as I got into comics. So the character has been around the xmen041entire time I’ve been into comics, had comics of my own…but while I was new to comics, Tim Drake the character was new to being Robin. As he grew up, I grew up; as he gained experience, I’ve gained experience. Sadly, where Tim was once several years OLDER than me…even if they portray him as being 20 or so and not mid-teens…I’ve now got nearly a decade and a half on the character. And for that, Robin–the Tim Drake version–is also one of my favorite characters.

With Batman, significant stories that I think of quickly include A rune000Death in the Family, as well as Knightfall, KnightQuest, and KnightsEnd. No Man’s Land was also quite important as it got me back into the Bat-verse for awhile, sampling the various titles since they tied in, and I tried to follow the entire thing (though trailed off when I went off to college).

On the Marvel side, while I kinda loosely followed some of the X-Stuff (particularly Fatal Attractions, the X-Men 30th Anniversary crossover/event) I didn’t actually start trying to follow ALL of the X-books until Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse. I got all the issues in batman497December 1994 that ended with the cliffhangers as those titles seemed to rather abruptly END…and then followed all the Age of Apocalypse titles for the 4-month event…and then for a few months afterward, I tried to keep up with the entirety of the X-books, learning about the characters I didn’t already know, learning about their “real versions” as opposed to their AoA counterparts, etc.

And of course, there are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was introduced to them by other boys in my Cub Scouts group having the interest, but their interest soon became my own. The comics, the cartoons, the movies, etc.–the tmnt050TMNT have actually been part of my life longer than comics, I believe. 

The Avengers and the non-X-related Marvel characters became a much larger part of my life in the late-1990s, having grabbed my attention with Heroes Reborn, but it was the Heroes Return where–for a brief time–I was buying everything Marvel that I could, while offhand sticking solely with Superman books from DC. I followed Avengers through Busiek‘s entire run, and a couple years each of Fantastic Four and Iron Man, and stuck with Thor a couple years longer than Avengers.

mantra001And significant as Marvel and DC were, I jumped onboard the Ultraverse with its launch in June 1993, and had the intention of following it in its entirety, though that quickly fell by the wayside due to the price ($1.95 to the $1.50 of the Superman books!) and sheer volume of titles. Ultimately, I followed Prime from the beginning to the very end, as well as Mantra, and I jumped on the Rune #0 promotion and so followed the Rune stuff in that entirety as best I could (I’m STILL missing one of the crossover issues with Conan!). Over the past couple years I’ve worked on tracking down the Ultraverse issues and titles I’d missed, and I’m down to a (relatively) small list of xo000missing issues from having a complete story collection of the Ultraverse…or at least, complete enough for me.

There have been book series and authors that I’ve followed–Brad Meltzer, Aliens, Dragonlance, Magic: The Gathering, Left Behind, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians–but ultimately…quantity-wise, it’s comics that have had the most impact on me, the greater variety and writers of stories that I carry with me.


Other posts in my participation in Comics Kick Ass week:
Comics Mean Memories | Comics Mean Connection | Comics Mean Education/Entertainment/Escape | Comics Mean Marking the Passing Time

Comics Mean Marking the Passing Time

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

aos453Comics in general–the whole of “comics,” collecting, reading, noticing–have provided an interesting way to mark the passage of time in my life. I’ve grown up with certain characters–literally and figuratively (most notably the third Robin, Tim Drake) and seen nearly a third of Superman’s existence, and more than half of most Marvel characters’ existence…and the entirety of many more.

But amidst that, going back to memories, connections, and education–a number of comics have coincided with events in my life, or major comic stories have been able to lend themselves to locking in memories that’d otherwise be forgotten.

tmnta025As I have memories of getting my first comics Spring 1989, basically 24 years ago…let’s use 24 years and not quibble over months and other highly-exactness that can make this more complicated than I’m already going to make it:

I’ve been into Superman for 24 years, or 32% of his existence. Batman, I’ve been into basically as long, so let’s say 32% there as well. Since my first four comics, I’ve been around for about 281 issues, give or take late issues, skip months, zero issues, etc. Superman #31-226, Adventures of Superman 453-649, Superman #650-714, and about 20 issues of the New 52 Superman. Action Comics would be 643-904 and 1-20 of the New 52. Batman I’ve seen from #439-700-something, and about 20 of the New 52. Detective Comics I’ve seen from #604-881, and about 20 issues of the New 52.

hunterprey001Amidst these: I was 11 when I got back into comics in spring/summer 1992 and turned 12 a couple weeks after The Death of Superman. The Death and Return of Superman saga, the rematch with Doomsday in Hunter/Prey; Zero Hour and the first year beyond that–made up my junior high years. The Electric Costume Superman came about toward the end of my sophomore year of high school. The soft relaunch of the Super-titles in fall 1999 coincided with my starting college.

The X-Men event Age of Apocalypse closed out my junior high years, and all the Onslaught, Heroes Reborn, and Heroes Return stuff came during xmenalpha001my high school years.

Batman: Knightfall, Knightquest, and Knights End were part of junior high for me, and all the stuff that came out of those were in my high school years. Wolverine lost his adamantium during my junior high years, and didn’t get it back until I’d started college.

X-Men #100, The Shattering, The Twelve–these were part of early college for me.

tec6759/11 and the “new look” of “Nu Marvel”–the more grim and gritty, hide-the-heroes, leather jackets and grittier logos were the thing through most of my college years, and it wasn’t until I was into grad school that things started to pull back together to a callback to my childhood/junior high days.

The Avengers were Disassembled at the start of grad school, and Johns has been THE Green Lantern writer of note since I started grad school. Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, 52, and Flashpoint have all been since I started grad school.thor085

Since moving into this apartment, I’ve seen Batman: RIP, Battle for the Cowl, and the return of Bruce Wayne.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures carried from junior high and into high school. The original TMNT run had ended and the second volume was ending about the time I was headed into high school. The Image run came along sometime in there, though I didn’t discover it until college…and the “volume 4” series kicked off partway through my junior year of college, running til shortly after my wolverine145grad school days.

The height of the Ultraverse was junior high for me, while Black September marked the start of high school for me.

While many look down on the ’90s era of comics…that’s when I grew up. Most of my favorite comics are from the 1990s.

Comics also cover a huge part of the timeline of my life: December 1980-Fall 1988 was the time before comics.

prime001Fall 1988-Spring 1989 I was reading Grandpa’s comics. Spring 1989-Fall 1990 or so was my first foray into comics. Summer 1992-December 1995 was my second. And while the number of comics I’ve been getting any given month has fluctuated WILDLY, I’ve been fairly steady in comics since March 1997. I came close to trailing off in college, and have been down to just a handful of titles on several occasions.

All of this to say: just as you can measure stuff by things going on in comics, and specific issues…I’ve been around and into comics for so long, they’ve been such a big part of my life (intentionally or in retrospect) that much of the time I’ve lived can be marked by the comics that were coming out simultaneously.


Other posts in my participation in Comics Kick Ass week:
Comics Mean Memories | Comics Mean Connection | Comics Mean Education/Entertainment/Escape

Comics Mean Education, Entertainment, and Escape

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

Comics are a great source of education, entertainment, and escape for me. I’ve learned a lot from comics–stuff that’s stuck with me, even helped shape some of the ways I see the world around me. They’re certainly a source of entertainment, or I wouldn’t still have the interest I do in them (which in turn branches into everything else). And along the lines of entertainment, they also provide a means of (temporary) “escape.”

One of the most common, practical things I learned from comics comes from the price of the comics that had most of my interest at the time: $1.25. The majority of the comics I recall particularly from late 1992 seemed to be $1.25 for regular issues or $2.50 for (Eclipso) annuals, with some other price points thrown in. As such, I find it quite easy to recall that 1.25 goes into 10.00 8 times. That may not be terribly useful, but I’ve been amused at the times it’s come into play in my life.

I learned the differentiation between “justice” and “the law” from an old Batman comic, which informs my views to this day, that there IS a difference at times, between seeing the law upheld vs. seeing justice done, or vice versa.

I’ve learned about history and the world around me thanks to “exposure” through comics. I’m often fascinated when I discover that something referenced in a comic is true/corroborated elsewhere, or prompts me to research stuff on my own. I learned a lot that way from The Sandman series in particular.

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Comics Mean Connection

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

comicskaylaYesterday I shared a bunch of stream-of-conscious memories–memories tied to comics. Tonight I’m going to talk about how comics mean connection for me.

Simply being “into comics” forms a basic connection with more people than I can possibly imagine at any given time or place. It’s an ice-breaker (or follow-up to one, anyway), a common point of interest with far more people than even necessarily the average comic reader.

I can go to a number of different conventions and interact with hundreds (if not thousands) lifeofwalt092of other like-minded individuals of all ages/gender/etc. based simply on the shared enjoyment of comics. And while entirely a topic unto itself, many conventions can hold interest simply by relation to comics, or that other convention topics also hold interest to comic fans.

For better or worse, with a number of my friends where there’s that shared interest, even if we don’t have much else to talk about at a given time, comics–past, present, future, etc.–mean there’s almost always something to talk about.

Comic shops–where I get most of my comics, virtually every Wednesday or so–mean comics connect me to Places; to a “constant.” The local comic shop is a familiar space and a regular space in my life. While a number of other things in life have changed, the comic shop has remained more constant even than where I’ve lived since 1999.

lifeofwaltspecial2010Comics connect me to fictional characters and worlds–to places of the imagination, and beyond my own imagination. Growing up, many comic heroes are not horrible role models or examples to aspire to.

Comics connect me to certain times in my life, and many of my longboxes are like time-capsules…flipping through a box I can remember the semester of college I was in when I got those issues, or the job I was working, or the convention I attended.

Comics given to me as gifts provide the connection to another person the same as any other tangible gift one might give or receive.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things–and far more detail–that I could get into on this, but I’ll stick with scratching the surface for now.

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