Lately, I've been picking up a lot of those Showcase Presents trades from DC reprinting the Silver Age and beyond exploits of their many characters, the latest featuring the World War II battles of Sgt. Rock as told by Robert Kanigher, Russ Heath, Jerry Grandenetti and Joe Kubert.

Pouring through these 500-pages-plus volumes of mainstream comics has been a real eye-opener for me. Largely, the stories were shorter, weren't concerned with collector continuity syndrome and had that intrinsically goofy charm just as I'd remembered them 30 to 40 years ago (think Challengers of the Unknown or Adam Strange). In other words, you could enjoy them for what they were without feeling embarrassed about reading them at all.

On occasion, however, reading some of those volumes with half-century-old eyes was far more painful than I recalled or expected. In those cases, the story logic was nonexistent (good art trumped good storytelling, in the mainstream comics industry of the past and now) and women were victims rather than equals. Still, take them for the mini-time capsules/snapshots of the comics industry and modern culture back in the day and you won't feel disappointed. (And you may come to appreciate the work and mindset of Mike Allred, one of this industry's more interesting cartoonists all the more.)

With these thoughts swirling in my head, I started thinking about the future and who will follow in the footsteps of Kubert, Will Eisner and Jack Kirby in the digital archives of Showcase Presents or Marvel Comics about the time my grandkids get to be my age. Some, I suspect, are already working in the medium, while others haven't even been born yet. And a few, like Jake Tinsley are just getting started.

The 13-year-old creator was inspired to create the Night Owl after the untimely death of his best friend and grandfather, noted Texas journalist Jack Tinsley (former executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) some three years ago. In fact, the Night Owl was one of four stories featured in the inaugural issue of Two-Fisted Adventures, recently published by Wham Bang Comics (based in Galveston, Texas).

It's probably not Shakespeare, or even The Spirit, but it's a start, and who knows where the muse will take Jake by the time he's my age, or if we're really lucky long before then...