When it comes to my comic book collecting I’m not much of a nostalgia person. I spent most of my late 1970s childhood reading Marvel comics, added in some DC Comics when George Perez starting drawing the Teen Titans in 1980, but then pretty much dropped out of buying mainstream superhero titles by the late 1980s. I became an indie guy. So a lot of times when I see other people getting nostalgic for the comic book heroes of their youths I don’t really relate. I still like the comics I had when I was a kid and still have many of them but they rarely fill me with nostalgia. That sentimental feeling for times gone by. I moved on from the superhero world a long time ago. That’s why it was weird when buying some comics this week really made me nostalgic.

There is a type of video that my comic book collector friends on YouTube like to make. At the end of the year you make a video showing off a wish list of comic books that you want to buy in the upcoming year. Not being much of a back issue collector I never made one of those videos until this year. I made it to get into the spirit of things and filled it with comics that would fill holes in my collection. I was in no rush to go out and get any of them but it was fun to make the list. One of the comics on the list was Matt Wagner’s “Mage”.

“Mage” #1 come out sometime in the middle of 1984. The Grand Comic Book Database says May of 1984 but it also says they are missing the publication months for issues one through six. I’m not exactly sure when “Mage” came out but I bought the first issue off the shelf. I think it must have come out later in the summer but I don’t know for sure. Either way I graduated high school in June of 1984 and went off to college that September. I kept my pull list at my local comic shop when I was away but didn’t manage to get “Mage” onto it before I left. Though I enjoyed the first issue I don’t think I saw another issue until about issue four or five. In those pre-internet days if you missed out on a small press issue you were out of luck. I knew there was no way I was going to get those issues I missed so I didn’t bother with the series. Oh well, some get away.

Flash forward to the series winding up in with issue fifteen in December of 1986. I was at my second college and used to frequent a comic shop in the White Plains Galleria called “Heroes World.” It was there that I saw that final issue. A friend of mine at school had recently loaned me “Grendel: Devil by the Deed” also by Matt Wagner. “Grendel” was the back-up story in “Mage” for a bunch of issues. I really liked it and so my interest in “Mage” was renewed. I grabbed that last issue plus a few others that the shop had in the 50¢ bin. I ended up with issues twelve through fifteen and read the end of the series. That’s how we rolled in those days. You read what you could get your hands on. You didn’t wait until you got all the issues or for the publisher to put the series out in a collected edition because collected editions were rare in those days and so were small press back issues.

Then in 1987, against the norm, a publisher called Starblaze Graphics published all of “Mage” in three oversized editions. I bought the first two of them which reprinted issues one through eleven and then had the complete story. It quickly became a favorite. So for years and years I had “Mage” issue one, issues twelve through fifteen, and the two trade paperback volumes. I didn’t bother to fill in the issues I was missing or get that third collected edition because that’s not how I, or anyone I knew, did things in those days. Comics were hard to find and buying a story in different published versions wasn’t on my mind. It wasn’t until 2006 that I finally added that third collected edition to my collection. It cost me $6.50, shipping included, from Amazon. As an aside It would have cost me $14.95 in 1987.

Even after completing the TPB portion of my “Mage” collection I didn’t have much interest in tracking down the single issues I was missing. I almost never go back issue hunting and when I have I’ve never seen an issue of “Mage” in any long boxes. So after I made up a wish list and put “Mage” on it I decided to check for them on the internet. Of course they were there since you can find just about every comic these days. It’s now rare when you can’t find something. I checked some comic shop web sites and eBay for individual issues but I never ended up buying any. Each issue was three or four dollars plus shipping and that was too much money and bother. Finally I saw a full fifteen issue set of them on eBay for $25 shipping included. Not a bad price but it was being sold by a non-comic book collector. That usually means the comics aren’t in great shape. Not always but usually. I didn’t jump on the set but I did put it on my watch list.

From then on every now and then I’d check my eBay watch list and the set would still be there. Three months later and nobody bought them. The series just isn’t in demand. Then I read an announcement that Matt Wagner was finally going to do the third part of the Mage Trilogy. These 1980s issues were “The Hero Discovered”, and second series from 1997-1999 was “The Hero Defined”, and now we were finally getting “The Hero Denied.” That made me go see if that “Mage” lot was still there. It was. By coincidence I had just sold $25 worth of Deadpool TPBs on eBay so I figured I’d buy the “Mage” lot. So I did.

They got here less than a week later. As I suspected they were in middling condition but that was okay. As I opened the package and looked through them a wave of nostalgia came over me. It made me so happy to look through those old comics. I couldn’t stop grinning. I took them out of their old 1980s comic book bags and put them in some mylar bags that made the comics look shiny and new. Even now as I flip through them issue by issues they make me smile.

I’m not even positive what the nostalgia is for. I never even had these issues at the time. It must be because I associate “Mage” with my college years. It’s distinctly connected to that time unlike other comics I read at the time. I didn’t stop reading comics during my college years but “Mage” must be in my brain as a discovery of those time. Plus the main character is about the age I was when I was reading about him. Early 20s or so. That was a good time. Now let’s go bask in the memories.