Cyclops on the A-Field: A Comic-Con mini-hiatus post.

20 Jul 2010 by Jim Gibbons, No Comments »

This week, the absolutely massive San Diego Comic-Con International calls all nerds and fiction enthusiasts to Southern California with its siren song. As a bit of a nerd myself, as well as a Dark Horse Comics employee, I’ll be heading down to Comic-Con for the rest of the week. I was hoping to get in a few posts beforehand, but alas, preparing for the comics community’s prom is a lot of work. In flipping through my camp photos however, I found a shot that seems particularly perfect for this “my comics job calls, so my camp blog suffers no new posts” update.

I nabbed these goofy sunglasses from someone (Chris Arnold?) and "X-Men" came out that summer. What do you expect?

My Kodak disposable couldn't handle a shot at dusk back then. I've lightened this in Photoshop to show off a bit of the A-Field (aka the Athletic Field).

This photo features so many aspects of camp I plan to talk about later on this blog including the A-Field, the goofy items we used to purchase at thrift stores or the uniquely bizarre grocery stores of Northern Wisconsin, living without electricity and how schedules are determined by the 8 p.m. dusk of summer, my somewhat embarrassing and lamentable love of visors during my teenage years… there’s a lot I could touch on here, but I must pack my bag for San Diego, so I’ll keep it brief.

The summer of 2000 was my first year on staff. That meant, it was my first year with days and nights off to visit the small towns surrounding the remote Camp Shewahmegon. This was also the same summer that “X-Men” came out.

One night off while the rest of the staff out on the town went to carouse at the Hayward Musky Festival, Adam Kwasman, Bill Trieshmann and I went to see “X-Men” at the glamorous Hayward Cinema 4. (Actually, despite it’s small theater number size, the Hayward Cinema 4 was newly remodeled and quite nice.) Aside from loving the movie and having it inform this photo that proves I’ve at least been a huge nerd since age 15, I remember Adam Kwasman going on and on about how much he loved the opening sequence featuring a boyhood Magneto living through the terror of the Holocaust and how that lead to Professor Xavier’s arch nemesis suffering the stress that manifested his mutant abilities. It’s a badass movie sequence, make no mistake, but I remember Adam praising it almost to the point of hyperbole.

Recounting this viewing of “X-Men” actually reminds me that it was over a similarly nerdy moment that I think Adam and I actually became friends.

Camp’s fiftieth anniversary fell during the summer of 1997. One weekend, all of camp’s alumni were invited up to Drummond (At five miles away down a winding country road, the nearest town to camp.) for a big celebration. While camp was filled to the brim with SROs (Suddenly Returning Old-Timers: a phrase coined by Mac Harris.), our cabin groups were sent off on a hike to make room for the visitors. My counselor Ben McIntyre was the cousin of Bunkhouse’s counselor, my counselor a year prior in Cabin 12, John Kroupa. The duo decided to take both Cabin 14 (My cabin, the third oldest.) and Cabin Bunkhouse (The oldest cabin.) out on the same hike. You know what they say, “Less boredeom in numbers.” While Bunkhouse was full of some rad dudes, I wouldn’t have said my cabin group was particularly close to those cool, older campers. After that hike, I think our groups kind of formed a bond.

Anywho, thrown together by the aforementioned and unfavorable hiking situation, our cabin groups took to chatting and bullshitting in the hopes we could make the whole affair more enjoyable. Somewhere along the way, Kwasman and I started talking about superheroes. In hindsight, as I mentioned, I think this was when the two of us became buddies. Sadly, I don’t remember much of the actual conversation, but the one tidbit that does stick out is when Kwasman started talking about how much he liked Green Arrow. I was pretty much a strict Marvel reader at the time and had no idea who the Emerald Archer was, but years later when I became familiar with the superheroics of Ollie Queen, I remember thinking it was fitting that Kwasman was a Green Arrow fan and seemed destined for a life of politics. (Green Arrow’s known for a being a staunch liberal and was even the mayor of DC’s fictional Star City for a while.)

That’s all for now, folks! I’ll see you back here next week for more tall tales of summer camp life!

An art print of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox that I purchased from Banner Year Press at this year's Stumptown Comics Fest. I'm comics crazy right now!

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