Thursday, July 21, 2016

Simpler Poké-times

My stepson Gregory's Poké-binder from 2004 unearthed at last!
Recently, I came across my stepson Gregory's binder containing his Pokémon card collection. The front page consists of a handwritten Table of Contents on which he listed the organization of the cards (by "type" of course). It is in a protective plastic sleeve, as are all of the cards. When I first saw the binder, I thought to myself "Now, here's something to blog about" and began noodling through the possibilities of just what cards to scan and post. I had completely forgotten just how many types of Pokémon there are, and this was back in 2004. It is a very safe bet that the Poké-stable is even more extensive now.

Fire Pokémon circa 2004.
While at a high school graduation party for one of my former students last weekend, talk turned to PokemonGO. At a party of twenty recent high school grads, nearly everyone had an opinion, and most were either glowing in their support ("it's already made more people healthy than Michelle Obama!") or at the very least respectful ("pretty impressive... Pokémon has been out forever!"). For these students, that thinking is not just hyperbole, it is fact. Surprisingly, Pokémon has been a phenomenon for much longer than most suspect, having been part of our cultural zeitgeist since before most of the teens with whom I was celebrating that day were born.

Water Pokémon.
As a forty-seven year old comic book collector, I have had a fairly long association with Poké-stuff, having read translations of the original manga to the extremely fortunate twist-of-fate that had me taking my son and his friend to see Pokémon: The First Movie-Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998). My son's "friend", later became my stepson as I met and fell in love with his mother. (The boys were in pre-school together.) In a weird way, I suppose I owe a significant portion of my awesome life to the desires of two goofy boys to see the frist Pokémon movie on the day it opened (when that concept really meant something).

Grass Pokémon.
My appreciation of these goofy pocket monsters runs deep, but not so deep that I every actually took the time to learn how to "play" with them. For the most part, my kids and I bought the cards because of the cute pictures, shiny colors and the need to "Catch 'Em All". Even now, reviewing the plastic sleeves which speak of "Melting Power", "Energy Jumps", and "Form Changes", I marvel at the mythology these creations are part of (beyond even the Ash-centric television program) and at how little I really know about how these things engage in combat. At our house, Poké-cards rarely fought, just sparked imaginary adventures to be played out in the minds of my children.

Ground Pokémon.
It strikes me that in the not-too-distant future, today's young adults will talk about Pokémon cards the way my father talked about comicbooks. Growing up, he woudl frequently remind my brother and I that "I had the very first issue of Spider-man/Batman when I was in the Army... I wish I'd held onto it!" Some aging hipster will operate under the misconception that her son's college can be fully financed with a mint condition rare Cubone variant or "Special Collector's Item" foil Lugia. Truth is, it is likely at that point that she'll realize the value in the card is not in the monetary reward, but in the memories special one's may evoke.

Psychic Pokémon.
Image with various Pokemon that accompanied my Twitter post!

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