Studies have shown smell is the most evocative sense for remembering, just like it’s the most evocative sense for sex. I knew this before they proved it, though, and maybe so did you if you think about it. The smell of a place, of a person, of a time: it doesn’t really “take you back” or “throw you” into anything, which would be the trite things to say. It doesn’t. What it does, in my experience, is it suddenly, sneakily, altogether implicates you – it accuses, interpellates, decries you with the realization that you were a previous version of yourself once. It’s a sense so sharp and bare it grazes guilt, teases embarrassment. Oh.
Comic books don’t get much respect from the general reading public, with the exceptions of your Art Spiegelman’s Maus and your Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and if you run in dorkier circles, then your decades-old classics like Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
I was never into comic books growing up: the ones I saw were all your standard Batmans and X-Mens and when I tried to read one it referenced like 100 issues of strange back-story I’d never read, offered little to think about, and then just ended after like 5 minutes of reading. I got a lot more out of reading normal books. Superheroes might be cool, but even as a kid I could tell they just weren’t as smart and interesting as your Giver or your Ender’s Game.