(this post originally appeared at Mike Elrod’s “Blog ‘O Bones” on October 11, 2010)

There have been two firsts in my life that I look back on fondly, and they have nothing to do with sex. It’s all about comic books, baby.

The first first was at a Rite Aid in Millersburg, Ohio. It was 1989, Burton’s Batman had planted the seed of comic bookery passion, and an eight-year-old version of me  walked over to a spinner rack filled with 22-page pamphlets, brightly covered with images of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.  At the top of the rack,  Archie, Spider-Man, and Superman’s disembodied heads implored me to “Buy One Today.”

Who’s going to argue with those icons?

I spun the rack, and came across a cover featuring a man in a green trenchcoat and fedora, a smoking gun, and a beautiful woman, unconscious, draped over his arm. It was The Green Hornet #3, written by Ron Fortier, and drawn by Jeff Butler.

When the automatic doors at Rite Aid slid shut behind me, and I sat in the car next to my grandmother reading it, I knew that right at that moment, my life had changed.

In the 21 years since then, as I head towards 30, and about to launch the biggest passion project of my career thus far, the Whiz!Bam!Pow! project, I still look at comic books with the same passion and wonder as the eight year old me all those years ago.

They have been not only an escape from the day to day, but the single biggest influence on my own filmmaking and storytelling style. To write or to draw one has been a fantasy of mine for years, partially because I envy comic book guys – they can blow up planets and not have to sacrifice craft services for a year.

And it was that fantasy that led to the second first worth talking about here: After sending out a script to a potential artist for the comic book portion of Whiz!Bam!Pow!, a fully drawn comic strip showed up in my email two weeks later. It was the first time I’ve ever had a script drawn by an artist.

I’ve made films, documentaries, interviewed some amazing people, performed music in some great places, had amazing collaborators, and many mini successes (and a massive number of failures) in my career, but nothing compared to that attachment downloading (and no, I’m not going to name the artist. Sorry – give me a week or so) and the finished product popping up in all it’s primary-colored glory. I was hooked.

Giant robots. Fun. Thought balloons. Bigger-than-life superheroics. It was all there, and it was a moment I’ll never forget. As Whiz!Bam!Pow! continues on its merry way towards reality (stay tuned), I can’t help but look back and remember that spinner rack, telling me to “Buy one today.” Let me “make one everyday,” and we’ll be golden (aged).

Until next time…