By Robert Lloyd
Back in 1974 I had a teacher who, on the first day of class, overheard me say that I watch the Super Friends cartoon (I was 9 years old at the time). She went into a tirade about how "all super hero cartoons and comics are pornography." Perhaps she was thinking of the EC horror comics of the 1950's, or about Dr. Fredric Wertham’s crusade against comic books! I'll never know, because if I challenged her, I'd end up in the principal's office.
It's a speech I'll never forget, because she got so emotional. I could see her face get red and the veins pop out of her neck. I felt like I'd made a cardinal sin and violated one of the ten commandments. She was completely unhinged.
My teacher told me I'd become a babbling idiot who would only look at pictures and never learn to read. Or that I'd soon be putting on a red cape and leaping off buildings. She targeted me each time she spoke out about the deterioration of youth culture. There were kids in my class who were getting into fights and using inappropriate language all the time, but she turned a blind eye to that!
Needless to say, I was an avid reader. I subscribed to the Scholastic Book Club years ago and would get my orders delivered to me in class each month. For some reason my teacher left those facts out during her speech about me being such an idiot. My grandmother used to work at a news stand and brought home Little LuLu comics for my mother when she was young. She was a strong advocate of comics as a reading tool.
It was because of comics I learned to read. We knew there was nothing wrong with Super Friends. If you watched an episode they were helping people in distress. The same was true of the comic series. As a kid, I got to see my favorite DC heroes solving problems and battling villains.
Both my mother and grandmother exposed me to many different types of books -- mysteries, poetry, biographies, science fiction, history, science, art, and many more. It was so I could discern the good from the bad.
My 4th grade instructor was the most inflexible and stodgy person I ever met. I noticed a lot of teachers in my school were not in touch with the times. Many of them should have retired 20 years ago because they were so burned out and resented the fact they had to teach. They showed that attitude when they would unleash their anger at the students. Especially with inconsequential matters.
My new teacher informed the school librarian the same day -- she also chastised me about my admiration for comics and super heroes. I had to listen to this ridicule the entire year. These adults said that I should be "ashamed of myself" and that reading comics was for "illiterates."
It's still hard for me to believe that any of my classmates didn't watch cartoons or read comics. Maybe they just didn't want to admit it in front of this instructor. The only reason I was talking about it was because another class mate mentioned that he watched Super Friends. He didn't come to my defense when the teacher made me the class pariah.
My parents were so upset about my treatment that I was encouraged to start my own library. As a result of that experience I have a home full of books that I enjoy. I stopped going to Borders because the clerks referred to me as the "Star Trek comic book guy". There was no professionalism or sense of boundaries with the employees in the store. I used to shop in the store after work. I was dressed in professional attire because I was a customer service representative at the time. I wasn't the only person that was the recipient of negative comments because other customers I knew left for the same reason. It's why I shop online at Amazon.com.