Full Circle Of a Dream Born In Rangely- Ken Bailey

FULL CIRCLE OF A DREAM BORN IN RANGELY. It was spring, 1972, a Thursday afternoon -- I was in study hall in Mr. Louis Dwire's room at RHS, waiting for the day to end so I could get my weekly time in down in the Foto Lab darkroom which was the next and final period of the day on Thursdays. Work was done, and I was passing the remaining time reading "Scholastic Scope" magazine, a reader I found on Mr. Dwire's shelf.

"Town Plans Day to Honor Super Hero" read the headline of one of the news blurbs in the back of the magazine. It told the story of the aptly-named Metropolis, Illinois, a small town just across the Ohio River from Paducah, Kentucky. They had decided to capitalize on their name and had petitioned DC Comics, owner of the Superman character, to be allowed to declare themselves the official real-world "Home of Superman." They wanted to throw a party in their town to honor that most famous of Superheroes, and thus the news story.

I was delighted! I had been a fan of Superman for as long as I could remember, buying my monthly copies of his various comic books (for twelve cents each) from the rack at Strain's Drug Store in Rangely, and -- before that -- watching actor George Reeves play him on black-and-white TV. I wanted to go immediately to the party -- but Metropolis, Illinois, might as well have been the Moon for its distance from Rangely; attending was impossible.

It is a long story, but now -- almost fifty years later -- I just returned to my Wisconsin home after attending my ninth year with the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis! I have been there both as a tourist, and as an exhibitor in their "Artist's Alley" (my own comic book characters "Supercat" -- from the Rangely years -- and "EnergyGirl" -- from the present -- are heavily influenced by Superman). For a weekend, the town is filled with people dressed as superheroes. Famous stars from Hollywood and famous comic book artists from New York and other places come to sign autographs and sell their wares. Movies are shown, auctions are held, and people can forget the real world for a day or two and live in a world of outracing bullets and overpowering locomotives.

I love it. It keeps me young. And -- for me -- it started in Rangely, years ago, in a study hall at RHS.