I grew up in the wilds of South Wales and when I was very small I was regularly bought comics by my parents. I can’t recall what the very first comic I ever had was—I’d imagine it was some home-grown nursery-type publication—but I certainly remember my first ever American comic.

I was around seven years old and out shopping with my mum when we popped into a newsagents. I was looking at the comics shelf, probably eyeing up the latest issue of Beano, Dandy or Valiant—or maybe one of the numerous Marvel UK reprint titles—when, on the shelf above, I suddenly spotted a pile of comics the like of which I’d never seen before. They were really bright and colourful and looked action-packed, with a banner across the top proudly proclaiming, “Marvel All-Colour Comics”. Top of the pile was one called Captain America. Now I knew Cap well from his appearances in Avengers Comics Weekly, where he was one of my favourites, so I was enthralled and asked my mum if she’d buy it for me.

She refused. At 8p it was far too expensive. At that time a copy of Dandy was 2p, or thereabouts, and the Marvel UK comics would have been about 5p.

I’m not sure if it was the same day, or a week or two later, but while out shopping I began to feel very unwell. The next thing I knew I was waking up to find myself lying on the pavement, with my mum and concerned onlookers gazing down at me. An ambulance was called and I was rushed into hospital. No one was sure if I’d had a stroke or an epileptic fit or whatever, so I found myself facing a week’s stay in hospital while they conducted various tests and brain experiments. Not a great prospect at any age, but especially daunting to find yourself all alone in a strange place at the age of seven.

Later that evening, when my mum came to visit me, she’d brought along a nice surprise: the very same comic that I’d been so excited about in the newsagent previously. It was Captain America #182. I devoured that comic, savoured every panel and every line. I was slightly disappointed to discover when I got to the end that it was “to be continued”, but even that didn’t dim my passion for this new type of comic.

I was hooked.

Oh, yeah, needless to say, I didn’t die of some awful brain seizure. No cause was ever found for my collapse. But out of all adversity comes some good, eh?

Image ©2011 Marvel Characters, Inc