04 May 2009

Out of Lexington

I first read Scott McCloud’s recollection of being dragged kicking and screaming into superhero-comic fandom by Kurt Busiek in, I believe, his introduction to Busiek’s Astro City: Life in the Big City. Both boys from Lexington, Massachusetts, went on to become award-winning comics creators.

That story appears in more detail in McCloud’s new Zot! collection, which both collects his black-and-white comics published from 1987 to 1991 and serves as a portrait of a comics artist as a young man. I wasn't surprised to see McCloud mention the Million Year Picnic, the same Harvard Square comics shop I used to visit; there weren’t a lot of choices at the time (though back then Newbury Comics was actually a comics store on Newbury Street).

I was surprised to see McCloud drop the name of Christopher Bing, the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book artist. He was the boys’ “slightly older friend,...deadly serious about breaking into the big leagues.” But then I remembered hearing Bing talk about growing up in Lexington, and realized he was about the same age as McCloud, so it made sense for them to be a crowd.

Also in the same little cohort were Ted Dewan, a cartoonist and children's-book illustrator now based in England, and his brother Brian, now a musician and graphic artist.

And I found yet another familiar name: these guys started to come together at the William Diamond Junior High School. Diamond was the teenager whose drum summoned the Lexington militia on 19 Apr 1775, the first day of America's Revolutionary War. Diamond's name has also been adopted by a modern-day youth fife and drum corps.

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