The Chat with comic-book guru and Everett CC professor T. Andrew Wahl

By day, Wahl, 45, leads the journalism and media communication program at Everett Community College. By night, he’s a comic-book historian. He travels the state professing his love for superhero comics and is closing in on 3,500 miles of road-tripping for Humanities Washington. He has two daughters, Katja Wahl, 16, and Anastazia Burnett, 25, and a grandson Dax, 2. He has read 20,000 comic books, and counting.

What does the T stand for?

Theodore. Dad is also a Theodore so I’ve always gone by my middle name, Andrew.

You’re sitting down with a new comic book: Where are you and what are you drinking?

That’d be my front porch. I bought one of those zero-gravity chairs and it’s perfect for reading (and napping). As for beverages, I tend to go unleaded, so ice water or Diet Snapple are my go-to drinks during summer.

If you could have a beer with anyone in history who would it be?

No question: Benjamin Franklin! He was one of my first inspirations as a journalist and editorial cartoonist, and there are few characters in history more interesting.

Besides teaching, what’s your dream job?

Not to sound cheesy, but I’ve got my dream jobs. It’s always been journalism and comic books for me. I published my first newspaper, The Shooting Star, at age 5, and my first comics when I was 10. Journalism ended up paying the bills first (I was a newspaper editor before teaching journalism), and comics and comic-book history became the side gig.

Fill in the blanks: People think I am an extrovert but I am really an introvert.

My mom is a quiet homebody and, in reality, I actually take after her. But Dad is a big-time extrovert, and I’m able to tap into those tendencies when I need to, which is handy for someone who gives public presentations on a regular basis.

Favorite superhero?

Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. She debuted in 1980 and was my point-of-view character into the X-Men and the Marvel Universe. My teenage daughter, Katja, is actually named after her. I convinced her mother about the name before telling her where it came from.

Most proud moment?

Every time I think about what amazing young women my daughters have become. I’m not usually one to live vicariously through others, but my girls make me beam with pride.

One thing you (and others) wish you’d stop doing/saying?

“Back when I was at the newspaper …” But it’s unlikely I’ll ever stop saying it because I believe passionately in the mission of newspapers and the work that journalists do.

What books are on your nightstand?

I’m doing research right now so my bedroom and home office have been overwhelmed by fanzines and other primary-source documents related to the comic-book industry. The last books I read for pure pleasure were Laini Taylor’s “The Daughter of Smoke &Bone” trilogy. She’s a YA (Young Adult) writer from Portland with a beautiful writing voice. It was my second time through the series and I recommend them highly.

If you could meet any comic book artist in the world who would it be?

Alive? John Byrne, whose X-Men run in the late ’70s and early ’80s were responsible for my lifelong addiction. I’ve actually met most of my favorites, but haven’t met Byrne yet. Historically, it’d be Jack Kirby, co-creator of the Marvel Universe (and someone who should be known by the general public at least as well as Stan Lee).

People would be shocked to know you are …

A grandfather. My adult daughter has a beautiful 2-year-old son who is my latest comics-reading buddy. We play action figures together, too!

Three things in your fridge.

Milk, cheese and Diet Coke. All three are weaknesses.

Best year of your life?

Hmm. Let’s go with 1980. I was 10 and was nearly killed on a family trip. The experience left me with a real appreciation for life. That was also the year I started seriously collecting comics and first played basketball, another of my lifelong passions.

Most favorite obscure comic book?

Just about any superhero comic from the “Bronze Age” of comics, a period covering roughly 1970 to 1985. I love them all.

Guilty pleasure?

Guilt? I get to travel the state publicly professing my love for superhero comics! There’s no guilt in my game.

Pet peeve?

Generation Z’s lack of understanding about why the news is important. It kills me! As a group, they care about issues — global warming, human trafficking, equal rights — but are painfully disconnected with politics and the process, and don’t understand the important role journalists play as watchdogs.

Who do you like more, Betty or Veronica?

Betty. No question. I was raised by working-class Democrats. They would have frowned on me dating Veronica.

— Andrea Brown, Herald writer

Do you know someone we should get to know better? Send suggestions to abrown@heraldnet.com or call 425-339-3443.

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