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Darby Pops Off: “Comic Books Taught Me to Daydream” by Kate Jay

Written by Kristine Chester | 1 Comment | Published on September 25, 2015
The content that follows was originally published on the Darby Pop Publishing website at http://www.darbypop.com/darby-pops-offs/darby-pops-off-comic-books-taught-me-to-daydream-by-kate-jay/

You never forget your first comic book.

For those of us who grew up when the Internet was in its infancy (or just a germ of an idea), that first purchase was often made randomly from a spinner rack at your local drugstore. In my case, it was Web of Spider-Man #123, which introduced me not just to superheroes (and the fact that wavy lines conveyed “spidey-sense”), but something far greater: storytelling via sequential art. Our guest blogger this week, Kate Jay, takes us on the journey of her discovery, and the impact a few kids from Riverdale continue to have on her.

What’s your comic origin story? Tell us on Facebook (facebook.com/DarbyPopPublishing), Twitter (@DarbyPopComics), or in the comments below.

Until next time,



I was on a trip with my family to a cabin in Colorado as a preteen when I discovered my first comic book.

We had no TV, limited music (I didn’t yet own a Walkman), and I was alone for three weeks with my cousins and grandparents. I had run through all of my “Nancy Drew” books on the drive from Chicago to Colorado, and was in dire need of some new reading material. Something that would keep me distracted at night before everyone else fell asleep and I would be left alone with my creepy-preteen-thoughts – and the sound of my grandfather snoring.

This is when I first met Archie Andrews.

And Betty Cooper.

Jughead Jones.

Reggie Mantle.

Moose Mason.

And Veronica Lodge.

Veronica Lodge. What a sick, drop-the-mike, party is over, no-further-description-needed, f—-ing name.

She was tall (I’m 5’3), raven-haired (my perm that summer wasn’t doing me any favors), her nose turned up to perfection (mine still held the width of my toddlerhood), her lips were full (mine were two flat lines and still are), she had loads of money (we didn’t), and she wore pedal-pushers and heels (my favorite outfit at the time was a yellow lion sweatshirt with fuchsia gemstones for eyes).

Her sweaters filled out in a way that mine only would when I rolled my dad’s socks into balls and stuffed them under my shirt.

She was everything.

Veronica was the “cool girl.” She was the Christine Morrison of my town. And even though I was 1200 miles away from my Jr. High School, I couldn’t escape the familiar longing to be someone else.

Because I couldn’t catch up on my real-life gossip (it was 1989 and “Oregon Trail” was the only thing to have taken over computers at that point – so forget IM’ing), I would have to wait until my grandparents needed groceries in town before I could race to the checkout line at Corkles Minimart and catch up on all the Riverdale gossip.

I would read the latest issue over and over in order to better understand the look that Archie would have on his face after Veronica drove off in Reggie’s red sport’s car while Archie’s poor, old, jalopy was stuck on the side of the road.

And as Betty comforted Archie, my eleven-year-old self, comforted Betty. In a way that only the “girl who also always lost the guy” would know how to do.

At night, after reading the pages one last time, I would close my eyes and imagine what it would feel like to be Veronica. Daydreaming about how my life would be different. What it would be like if I could jump into the pages of that comic book for just one hour.

But every time I woke up I was still Betty.

Betty with a perm.


Kate Jay is a regular blogger, tweeter, Facebook and Instagrammer for Hampton Fitness Products. She continues to write screenplays on spec. So… if you happen to have a boat-load of money, and are ready to spend it on making her movies, please be in touch. Follow her on Instagram @kateesb78 and @Hamptonfit.

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1 Comment

Michael Sacal says:

I couldn’t tell you what my first comic was, but the first I remember were from DC. One in which aliens transform Superboy into a robot. One in which Superman and Superboy collide while travelling through time and switch bodies. One in which Superman is confronted by a male version of Wonder Woman. One that opens with a character on a flying playing card standing outside a House of Cards that rises from the sands of the desert, issues of Who’s Who, and Secret Wars II also come to mind. Certainly Spider-Man.

Some of those were in English, most of them were reprints in spanish.

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