Today’s Paffooney is a tribute to a childhood hero, Aquaman. I drew the picture from a comic book inspiration source coming from DC Comics in the 1960’s. Aquaman is a B-level superhero with not nearly so many fans as the big three, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. He was, however, my second favorite after Spiderman. He was more important to me than the Avengers. And this was strange, because I only had the chance to read the sacred comic books in the old barbershop in uptown Rowan. I only remember about two different issues that I was able to read during the long wait for a haircut. (Haircuts on Saturday took forever, because all the bald and crew-cut farmers would take forever getting their hair cut. And they hardly had any hair! I think the barber cut each hair individually.)
Aquaman and Aqualad would journey together in an incredible undersea world of sea monsters, giant fish, scuba divers, villains like Black Manta, and Mera, a real hot underwater babe. Topo the octopus could play comic relief by playing musical instruments or getting drunk on old lost kegs of pirate rum. I became a part of the adventure. I’m not sure whether I imagined myself more as Aquaman himself, or Aqualad. Aqualand was dressed all in red and blue, my favorite colors. I liked his blue swim-trunks. I myself could never wear swim trunks without a fatal case of embarrassment over my knobby knees and hairy legs. I admired Aqualad’s smooth and muscled boy-legs, though not without some shame and embarrassment. Some suggest that the relationship between Aquaman and Aqualad was a homo-erotic thing just like Batman and Robin. But, hey… NO IT WASN’T! It was a hero and sidekick that mirrored the complex relationship between a father and son. My father and I could never talk at any deeper level than Aquaman talked to Aqualad. Yet my father had super-powers for solving my problems and helping me do things and make things. Yes, I think I loved Aquaman because he reminded me of my own father in his quiet competence.
And I had a Captain Action Aquaman costume, a Christmas present and wonderful treasure. I played with it so much that only the broken trident, mask, and swim fins remain. The rest was all broken and unraveled and disintegrated from being played with. The Aquaman in my Captain Action collection has replacement parts in it to make it more complete. Yes, I spent time and money putting that toy back together so that I might play with it yet again.
So why is the super-powered King of the Sea so important to me? After all, his super powers are to breath underwater and telepathically talk to fish. I think, reading back over this stupid little essay, that the most important theme is the father-son thing. I never owned a single Aquaman comic book as a kid, but I watched him on Saturday morning TV. He was one of the Superfriends. And my father had been in the Navy on Aircraft Carriers. Yes, Aquaman is my favorite because Aquaman is secretly my father.