Growing up in a small town, our local comic book shop (Ojai Cards & Comics) was struggling until one day it finally closed shop. Wanting to continue my collection of ROM comic books, I was forced to go to the next closest comic store: Ralph’s Comic Corner in Ventura, CA. I have many memories of this comic book shop, but what caught my eye was the Warhammer poster above. I had to know what this game was!

Warhammer is a table top game where you collect an army of pewter miniatures (now they are made of plastic) and have a war against your friends. You line up your army against theirs, and you take turns moving your units across the table. This is not a board game, you literally use a large table and move your army across it by measuring their movement in inches. All actions are determined by the roll of the dice. I was still in 6th grade at the time, and I was a masterful chess player… so after getting a brief introduction to this game, I had to play! To me, it was like chess with way cooler game pieces on a much larger scale! This became the crux for my love of all that comprises the fantasy genre.

Deciding to play this game is to make the decision of adopting an entire hobby: Collecting  metal figurines, gluing them together, painting them, and then playing the game. I had to convince my friends to play this game with me, which was a lot to ask… but they all did! We spent years all through Jr. High and High School collecting and playing Warhammer. When my friends really wanted to branch out and play Warhammer 40,000 (the sci-fi version of this game) I think I was the last to convert. I clung to fantasy Warhammer as long as I could. The armies and magic that were involved in this game really opened my imagination.

In 7th grade, I was given another creative writing assignment, this time a short story. I wrote about Warhammer, describing the epic battle between the High Elves and Chaos armies. Here is a sentence from it that I remember writing: “The Chaos double-headed dragon descended down from the sky from behind a cloud of Harpies.” If that made no sense to you, then you can imagine how my English teacher felt. Warhammer was always on my mind, but the best part was… I began reading again.

In Jr. High (7th and 8th grade), I began reading Mossflower, Redwall, and Mattimeo.

This is a series of books by Brian Jacquez about a mouse that can sword fight like no other! Every character in the book was some type of animal (squirrels, otters, birds, etc), and they fought against the evil animals. A rat was the antagonist, and there were many intense battle scenes throughout these books. Brian Jacquez has since elaborated this series, writing a new installment every year. These books were the kindling that kept my love for reading warm.

It was tough to get back into reading. Reading is a lonely activity, no doubt about it. So as an adolescent, if there was a choice to pick an activity that involved my friends or to read a book, then I chose whatever it was that involved my friends, every time. After finishing the three novels above, I remember finding it difficult to find something new to read. I tried reading one of the Dragonlance novels, but for some reason it didn’t stick. So, I defaulted back to Warhammer. I read fantasy novels published by Games Workshop such as Felix and Gotrek: Trollslayer and Hammers of Ulric. It has been a long road to get the fire burning again, but after only 3 or 4 of these novels, the flame and excitement for reading died once more as I entered High School.

Stayed tuned for Part IV.

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