Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trains & Comics

I am a huge fan of trains and comic books.  I have been a fan for as long as I can remember and I don't remember what my first experience with trains or comics was.  I have a feeling that it was my father's influence, but I could be wrong of course.

My father would build model railroad towns and landscapes and spend hours running his trains through these towns and landscapes when I was very young.  I believe he used HO scale.  I remember standing in the garage of our house in Vacaville, CA at the age of 3 and staring up at the plywood that the railroad, towns and landscapes were built on.  I'd stand on my tiptoes until he picked me up.  His railroad had everything: a depot, track switches, people, trees, grass, mountains, tunnels.  It was so great!

When I was 4 or 5, my mother and I took the train from Vacaville to Madera to see my Nana and Papa.  I think that was my first train ride.  It wasn't a terribly long ride, although it seemed like a huge journey for me.  I don't really remember much about sitting on the train, but I do remember my mom pointing out my Uncle as we pulled into the station.  Maybe I was younger than 4.  I know I talked about the train ride to whoever would listen for several days after.  I can't remember if my parents ever showed that they were tired of that story.  Sometimes, there's something really magical about the stories children tell, because they experienced something new and exciting.

Well, the love of trains has been with me forever.  Which is the same length of time that I've been in love with comic books.  My father had this huge steamer trunk full of comic books when I was a child and occasionally, he'd open it and pull out comics and I'd sit on the couch and look at them over his shoulder.  I was young enough that I didn't know how to read, I don't even think I was in any kind of school.  So, he'd tell me what was going on and who the characters were.  He was always very patient with me as he explained Batman, Spider-Man, The X-Men and Fantastic Four and others.  In the early 80s, Super Friends was a Saturday morning cartoon that I watched, and on the occasions he was home, he'd watch it with me.

I knew the names of several comic book heroes and villains by the time I was 6.  On a side note, I also knew all about Luke, Leia, Hans Solo, Obi Wan, and Darth Vader by the age of 6, but that's a different story as well.  I wanted super powers just like the heroes I saw on the Super Friends show.  I also watched, as a young child, the Super Woman show and the Batman show.  I loved how Batman had animated words whenever Batman or Robin hit Penguin, Joker or Catwoman.  Pow!  Kaboom!  LOL.

When we moved to Europe, I was able to ride trains again and was so very happy.  We had to leave dad's comics in storage in the US, but I think riding trains in Spain, France and England was a pretty fair trade.  We rode on the Metro a lot when we lived in Spain and one year we took the night train to Paris from Madrid.  That was pretty fun and it was also my sister's first time on a train ride like that.  It was my first overnight train ride too.  When we went to London, we rode the Tube frequently.  I rather like underground railroads, subways, metroes, tubes or whatever they are called in each city they operate in.

When we moved back to the US, I still enjoyed trains and comics and by then there were new cartoons based on comic books on Saturday mornings.  I especially enjoyed watching The X-Men cartoons.  Then, the 90s brought Batman cartoons, Batman movies (Michael Keaton was pretty darn good as Bruce Wayne/Batman), X-Men movies, X-Men cartoons, Justice League cartoons and all of these continued into the new century, 2000 and beyond.

I'm still a huge fan of trains.  I ride a light rail, which is a nice way to commute.  I love watching the cargo trains that go by the light rail station.  I am also a huge fan of comics.  It is pretty much a given that I will go see any movie based on a comic book.  I love Batman and X-Men and Spider-Man and Superman.  I hope they do a Wonder Woman movie, but I have no idea who would make a good Wonder Woman.  Linda Carter was so great as the 1980s Wonder Woman, that I'm having a hard time picturing someone else.

I hope one day, I'll be able to share the joys and excitement of trains (both real and model) and comic books with my own children.  I think that will be a really fun thing to do together.
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