Hey, you know the old chestnut about remembering where you were when you heard that JFK had been murdered (yeah, murdered; ‘assassinated’ always sounds to me like a kind of veiled justification)? Well, as time has gone by, there’s the whole 9/11 thing as well . . . and I’m guessing that if I were to ask my mom and dad where they were when war (that’s WWII, history buffs) was declared then I’m betting they’d be able to tell me to the second.

Touchstones. That’s what things like that are and, in a strange and almost magical way, they get you through life’s darker moments . . . provide a commonality so that groups of folks can say, "hey, yeah, I remember that." Well, last night, when I was out with Paul Stephenson (from the PS Artbooks studio) and George Moody (a mutual friend), I came across a whole load of other memory-joggers.

We meet up every four or five weeks, the three of us, have a meal and talk about books and comics, movies and TV. Last night, though, it took a strange turn even for us when George mentioned my recent birthday (4 July) and, congratulating me on surviving another year (hurrah!), he said, with a nostalgic twinkle, “Ah, 4 July . . . that was the release date of Showcase #4, the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash.” And then, George turned on Paul and, jabbing a finger in his direction, said “And 24 May, same birthday as Carmine Infantino.” And barely pausing for breath, George shrugged and concluded with his own ‘claim to fame’ (almost): “29 August . . . the day after Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s.”

George, as you can probably tell, is something of a comics buff. Well, we're all of us comics buffs on here but, man, George is like something from another planet. He can recall the stories--the panels even--in the various issues of DC and Marvel comicbooks from the 1950s and ‘60s, can give you the running order, can recall where he encountered a first-time-seen ad in a specific issue, and can even tell you when DC’s covers went from ‘small’ 10c to ‘Still 10c’ before shifting to ‘large’ 10c and ‘large’ 12c (which featured a whole interior page from DC—addressed to “boys and girls” as I recall—explaining why they’d had to hike the price an extra couple of pennies) and finally to ‘small’ 12c. Wow! Two pennies. Hard to figure why we all had such a hissy fit when you think that today’s equivalent (though it’s probably fair to say there isn’t an equivalent today . . . but you know what I mean) will set you back five or six bucks!

Ah, how things change.

Things change for all of us as time drifts by but they’ve changed Big Time for George. He’s battling a very serious illness and, by golly, he’s doing it with style and stoicism . . . still managing to access the memory of those four-color fables he committed to a locked-away place in his brain, and howling (yes, dammit, truly howling) with sheer delight when he’s recounting how, as a baggy-assed kid, he bought such-and-such a comicbook at such-and-such a shop, way back in those hard-to-believe early 1960s.

It’s a shame that Reality has its downside because the world of make-believe is much less traumatic. Like Paddy Chayefsky said in Network, “Kojak always gets the killer and nobody ever gets cancer in Archie Bunker’s house”. And, in the world of comicbooks, at least until Jim Starlin’s The Death of Captain Marvel, nobody ever got cancer in Smallville . . . leastways nobody I can recall, and I read and re-read a whole slew of those mags.

But George doesn’t live in Archie Bunker’s house. He lives about twenty miles away from PS Towers and he doesn’t know I’m writing this stuff about him. He’s not particularly an ‘online’ kind of guy, and that’s fine. He won't see this and I don't want him to. You folks have never met him and you probably never will. He’s a fighter, George is, and he’ll keep on fighting and, hell, who knows . . . maybe he’ll lick this thing. I hope to hell he does. But he could do with a little help. So go ahead, open your windows a little and send out some of that Good Karma, send it spinning out on the night breezes all the way to George’s place. Like I say, he won’t know you’re doing it . . . but I will. And I thank you for it.