I love heroes and heroines. I’ve loved them since before I knew superheroes existed. I read every version of Robin Hood and King Arthur and every book of mythology I could get my hands on as a kid. A boy in kindergarten told me about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men, but my parents didn’t hold with TV, so I never got to explore them. They were geeky enough to foster it in my brothers and I, though. Star Trek was on the approved list of TV shows and Star Wars in 2nd grade or so was a revelation.
Our public library was pretty good, but they didn’t really believe in comics beyond some Peanuts and Garfield collections in the dark back corner of the Juvenile Fiction section. Somehow, it was understood, comics didn’t really count. I don’t know who changed their minds in the library hierarchy, but suddenly… There were TinTin and Asterix, who had adventures just as bizarre as the Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Lizard Music, and Outlaws of Sherwood. They were funny and they had pictures, but they weren’t picture books. A few years later, my brothers and I were very excited when the library picked up huge newsprint anthologies of early Superman, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Batman, and X-Men comics. Even better! There were rocket ships and awesome costumes (bear in mind I was about 10) and wisecracking. The female characters sometimes weren’t that great and I was smart enough to know that the dialogue sucked a lot, but still, they were cool! Clark Kent (even as Superman) was kind of boring, but Dick Grayson was funny and Peter Parker was very relatable. Then there was Kitty Pride, who had an actual dragon and could step through walls and fly a plane. Kurt Wagner was a dashing swashbuckler just like in the old stories plus he could teleport! They had long detailed story-lines, and I could be “better” at comics than my brothers (I was older; this was always desireable) by remembering names and powers and histories.
I was homeschooled from 4th-8th grade and got a very good education out of it, but ended up an incredibly geeky highschooler, luckily with a protective shield of similarly geeky but more social friends. It was the time of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I rediscovered comics in the Elfquest series, Sailor Moon, and Saint Tail (thank you Japanophile friend), but always kept that fondness for superheroes, grabbing every Batman and X-Men collection that the library picked up.
In college, I became more self-confident in my geekery and started actively seeking out specific titles and characters, and came to the conclusion that I was missing a lot in the hit and miss library collections. Since then, I have acted as volunteeer comic/graphic novel advisor for my hometown public library and become a collection management librarian in my own right in a different library. I’m putting together some good collections, I think, choosing titles for various ages that highlight strong stories and fun characters.
In my personal life I haven’t put together more than a tiny collection so far, but I’m working on it, starting with Blue Beetles, old-school Booster Gold, and Birds of Prey.