When I was a kid, my local comic book store was a seedy, subterranean hole. I never saw other kids there — only adults and teenagers, who came alone and seemed furtive and abashed. We guiltily pored over the spandex-covered torsos and gore-splattered pages in separate corners.
Now, as an adult, I live partially in Seattle and partially on the Internet, two places where comics and graphic narratives are as respected and celebrated as any other medium. No one hides in the corner, and I read comics without shame — almost. One comic book hero remains a guilty pleasure.
The towers framing the majestic roof of Centennial Baptist Church reach for the heavens near downtown Helena, Ark. The elaborate red brick church stands out in a neighborhood that's seen better days, given the boarded-up homes and businesses nearby.
There is a long history of alcoholism in American literature. The heavy drinking of writers like Ernest Hemingway and Hart Crane inspired a kind of myth of the American writer as a genius armed with a typewriter and a bottle of whiskey. The success of writers like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald also gave rise to the belief that alcohol somehow stoked their creativity.