A Sad Life That Was Dedicated Entirely To Comics

I first read this Pete Hamill column when it was first published in the New York Daily News on June 5, 1978. In those days, I read and collected any mainstream articles about comic books that I came across, keeping them all in a three-ring binder, scrapbook-style. This piece in particular always stuck with me though, a far cry from the typical sorts of “ZAP! POW! OLD COMICS ARE WORTH MONEY!” pieces that one would usually come across. That binder full of clippings sadly disappeared over the years, and it had been literally decades since I had read this piece, though I remembered the basics of its contents well. But recently, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, who has been collecting old newspaper comic strip sections, posted the thing in one of the Facebook groups he was a part of. And so I reproduce it here for your own enjoyment.

As a kid, though, I took entirely the wrong lessons away from this piece. The whole thing didn’t sound sad to me, but wonderful. Here was a full-grown adult who was able to continue to indulge in the passions of his youth–the same passions I myself was stoking. Far from being a cautionary tale, it provided me with proof that it was possible to be a grown-up and still read and collect comics. And while I have a wife who does understand, and my own home isn’t anywhere near as ramshackle as the one described in the article, I can still trace a direct line between Casey and myself. I don’t know that it’s healthy, or particularly wise, but it has proven to be largely a happy existence, and so I regret nothing. Thank you, Pete. Thank you, Casey.

5 thoughts on “A Sad Life That Was Dedicated Entirely To Comics

  1. It’s sad but it’s touching and Hamill does a really nice job. Perhaps it’s because of their friendship but it never descends into the ridicule I sort of expected.


  2. A great piece, evocative piece. I can see a lot of me in Casey, though not his ultimate fate, thankfully. And not his plethora of original art, alas! Thanks for this post from the past, it really touched something inside…


  3. Are you kidding me? We’re supposed to swallow Hamill’s story? As a writer, Pete Hamill would manipulate, obfuscate, and downright lie about the facts to make his (rather nasty) preconceived point. His friend has an original Caniff, Frazetta, Kirby, Davis and Hogarth, among others, but no fund to finance a great find? He can’t put it on a credit card and float it for a few months, or sell off a piece or two from his golden age collection as trade-off for an original Foster page? This story has nothing to do with collecting comic books; the friend could have collected baseball cards or or porcelain tea cups; he could have blown the money at the track or on a drunken binge; it’s about a husband who was a selfish SOB to his wife; nothing more. But we don’t even know if some spending spree is the reason his wife left him. Certainly it;’s got nothing to do with comics. Hamill needs to fill his column inches; he ruminates about a friend’s failed marriage. Nothing to see there, really.


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