Inspired by the strange coincidences between Adam’s and my first forays into comic books as children, I’ve dug up this gem from my attic: Marvel Comic’s “The Life of Pope John Paul II” (full size image). Published in 1982, this graphic biography (as opposed to a graphic novel) tells the “entire story” of Pope John Paul II “from his childhood in Poland to the assassination attempt!”
What excitement! What exclamation marks!
I bring up this prematurely illustrated hagiography now because I got this comic from a trade with Adam in the early eighties. It was Adam’s and now it’s mine. My question is: what the hell did I trade for it? And how did Adam persuade me that this comic was worth a trade in the first place? Sure I was a good Roman Catholic boy, but so was Adam. He should’ve wanted the comic book just as much as he convinced me that I wanted it. And gosh, the assassination sounds like a good enough read, but I’m sure whatever I traded had some pretty violent bits too. So why did I do it? I don’t know, and for years I secretly harbored a resentment that I had been had.
It wasn’t until decades later, when the pope died, that I realized perhaps this musty old comic book had some value. So — and I now admit that this was the real impetus for rescuing my comics from my parent’s attic — after the pope’s death, and probably even before the new pope was picked, I logged on to eBay, prepared to sell this “collector’s item” to some sobbing, mourning Catholic desperate for one last piece of pope memorabilia.
Yes. I planned to profit on the pope’s passing.
Does this make me a bad person? A good person doing a bad thing? A sinner? A seller? A merchant of death?
I don’t know. But I do know that I wasn’t the only one with this idea. Apparently all across the country were hundreds of other adults who had held onto their misbegotten Pope John Paul II collectible comic books from their childhood. Because there was a glut of pope comics on eBay. Dozens of the very same comic, all for sale for the highest bidder. It was a buyer’s market in pope comics. So saturated was the market that I didn’t even bother to sell.
So here I am, a few years later, faded old pope pictures in hand, my chance to make something of a decades-old trade with Adam long gone.
Maybe Adam still has whatever it was I traded for Marvel’s “Life of Pope John Paul” and he’s finally ready for a counter-trade…