Surprisingly for me, I was a late entrant into the wonderful world of comics, and their brothers in bondage, graphic novels. I think I must have been in my late 20s, when I gradually became aware of the very popular Sandman comic. I had heard whispers of the qualities of this series, and how cool its writer was. This didn't connect with me until I went to a signing in Kingston's original Waterstones, where the extremely popular comedy writer, Terry Pratchett was signing his new book. Except that he had actually co-written the book with a pleasant man in black called Neil Gaiman, who sounded familiar. There was a massive queue of people ready to chat to Terry (who is one of the nicest writers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting), but nobody seemed to be conversing with Neil Gaiman, sitting right next to him. Feeling sorry for him, I made light conversation about the book "Good Omens". During this, I remembered that he was the writer of Sandman, so I told him how cool Sandman, despite having never read it.
This lingered with me, and I felt a little bad about this little white lie. I read Good Omens, and thought it was utterly brilliant, and maybe this Gaiman fellow was worth taking a punt with. I got the original "Sandman" graphic novel, which was actually issues 8-16, and found it riveting. I loved not just Gaiman's flowing narrative and love of stories, but I also thought the art was excellent. As each graphic novel got released, I eagerly picked them up. Through the name of Gaiman, I got into Books of Magic; from this I learnt about the English Magus, John Constantine; then I found out about the amazing Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing. At this point, I discovered the comics department of Forbidden Planet on New Oxford Street, and I found that there was a whole world out there that I had never heard of. I picked up the Sword of Azrael graphic novel, because it looked so cool, and started buying the ongoing series through the NoMans Land storyline. When Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker were brought in as the new regular writers (and the covers were redesigned as "New Gotham"), I jumped on board, and became a fan of the Batman family of titles. From here, there was no going back. I had become a superhero fan, and there was no saving me from the shared universe concept. To be fair, I also briefly flirted with Grant Morrison's "New X-Men", and Greg Rucka's excellent Queen and Country series. However, to this day I remain a DC Fanboy, and there's no escape.