I am not a person who’s very motivated by nostalgia. I’m subject to it, like anyone else, but it’s not something I seek to embrace. I can even be a little wary of it because if I have a nice childhood memory of some book, TV show, movie, or comic book then I don’t want to ruin it. Sometimes seeing something through adult eyes can spoil a childhood memory of it. It’s not any kind of grand fear it’s just that sometimes I say to myself, “I’m not sure if that will hold up”.

For some people every entertainment from their childhood holds up. These are the people who embrace nostalgia. One look at a favorite toy and they are right back there. Ten years old, not a care in the world, and having a grand old time. It even makes me a little envious at times. They sure look like they’re having fun with this whole nostalgia thing.

At least that beats the depressive nostalgics. I don’t think I know any people like that anymore. They are people who only seem to enjoy themselves when reminiscing about something. The present and future hold no joy for them but the past does. Maybe I’m not old enough yet to know a lot of people like that. That type of feeling could arrive with a more advanced age.

I did just watch a movie called “Kicking and Screaming” (not the Will Ferrell kids’ soccer team one of the same name except with an ampersand) that was very much about nostalgia. At least for one of the characters. The movie was about a group of guys who were graduating from college and had no idea what they were supposed to do next. It’s one of those navel gazing, talkative movies that is about conversation and character interaction rather than plot or action. I have a soft spot for such films. As long as they’re good.

Anyway, one of the characters was highly into nostalgia. It was the main thing that kept him going but it also paralyzed him. He was nostalgic for conversations he had yesterday and was getting prepared to be nostalgic for conversations he was speaking in at the moment. It was tough for him to get anything done but the crossword puzzle. I found him an odd character but also oddly familiar.

I bring up the subject of nostalgia because of one book I just bought. “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century the Complete Newspaper Sundays: Volume One 1930-1933”. First off, we are living in a Golden Age of comic strip collections. In the last five years or so (I’ll actually start the age with Fantagraphics’ 2004 “Complete Peanuts” book) a lot of classic, not so classic, and nearly forgotten but good comic strips from the last hundred years have been published in nice hard bound editions. I’ve been able to see and own a lot of comic strips that I have only been able to read about for most of my life. Buck Rogers being one of them.

This is the very first Buck Rogers book I have ever owned or read. As famous as it is I’ve never read it before. The strip did end the year I turned one so it’s easy to see why I never read it. Before now, and this Golden Age that I mention, old comic strip reprints were mainly the realm of hard core comic strip fans. The books were few and far between and not as mass market as they are today. It was tough to even get word they existed.

Even today these books are hardly in the mainstream publics’ eye but the internet puts them on the radar of most comic book and comic strip fans who are out there. “Buck Rogers” was one that I wasn’t even planning on buying until I got to flip through it at my local comic shop. I was captivated but the sheer amount of imagination in the drawing. It’s not one of the great illustrative strips but it is full of life.

“How does this all tie in with nostalgia?”, you ask. That ties in to another question. What kind of nostalgia is it that makes you nostalgic for a time and place you were never at? Because that’s what this book was doing to me. The intro describes ten year old kids, in the days before TV and the internet, delighting in spreading out the Sunday funnies on the floor and reading this week’s episode.

That’s a description I have read before so it was nothing new to me but in reading these strips I was feeling that I was a ten year old in the 1930’s reading these. I was not only transported to the wonderful future world of the 25th Century but also to the past world of the 20th Century. And the trip to the past, a past not my own, was a bit nostalgic.

Thus I began my contemplation of nostalgia. And if there is a word for being nostalgic for a time you never knew. I bet if there is one it’s in French. They have great phrases for all sorts of ideas like that. Look up “L’esprit de l’escalier”. It’s one of my favorites.