Three Times that First Year

By Dave Noe

E-Man has a very special place in my memory, shared by only a couple of other titles. For many years it meant a specific time and place that was both exciting and scary.

E-Man wasn't sold in my area. At least, I couldn't find it, and as a poor farm kid, I didn't have much opportunity.  Just going to town was a real treat.

Sometimes, though, circumstances arose that were unavoidable.

My parents didn't say too much to us. We were pretty young. My mother had developed cancer and had to undergo treatment in a part of Missouri that was several hours away. My father, a quiet hard working man, would be stuck in an enclosed hospital room with two young energetic boys who were used to running the hills and valleys of the farm.

He took us to a barn-like structure that had vast unorganized rows of stuff laid out on low tables. We were supposed to pick out some sort of toy that would help keep us occupied. I found the stack of comic books.  E-Man found me. I was hooked.

Three times that first year, we took the pilgrimage. Three times we hit the barn store. Each time I came away with more E-Man.  Over the next few years we had to go back occasionally. The same comics were there for years. I ended up getting most of my E-Man collection from that discount store.

I never realized just how serious my mother’s condition was. We were just kids. I never understood the operation, the treatments, the check ups.  I didn't need to know the horror my parents were going through. I was buoyed by fantasy, by some of my earliest experiences with comics, by Alec Tronn and Nova Kane.

My mother survives to this day, a product of then new successful operating techniques that are standard today.  I still read comics today, a product of the superior writing and storytelling of all those involved with E-Man and its superb backup stories.

The memory of this story wasn't prompted by a trip through the longbox.  It was reignited by the Facebook group, The Charlton Arrow, which was created by fans and pros who remembered their love for the old Charlton Comics, the company who started The Charlton Arrow.

After bringing together old fans, the group did something even more amazing. They started taking submissions from new writers and artists. This was a group that had brought back many of the original pros.  They certainly didn't have to take submissions from newbies.  I was fortunate enough to have some of my stories accepted.  Many others were, as well.

 But this still isn't what prompted my memory. You see, the creators of E-Man, Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton joined the Charlton Arrow group. They, and all the contributing pros, actively communicate with the fans and newbies. When I say they actively communicate, I don’t mean that they post statements and watch for the accolades to come in -- they have actual conversations with everyone, sometimes in private messages, sometimes about subjects that have nothing to do with comics. They tell the inside stories. They provide tips and share their experiences, good and bad.

When I read those E-Man comics, I never had the slightest idea that years later I would be able to speak to the creators, let alone, tell them the story of why their creation was important to me and how it touched my life.