You know who I love? ROM, that's who. I am the exact perfect age to remember and have been captivated by every single stage of the Spaceknight's brief career. I realize that this might be hard to imagine , but there was a time when the idea of a toy with blinking lights and electronic breathing noises was very exciting. The first Star Wars movie was still a pretty recent memory, and this toy was like owning your very own special effects!
Of course the toy was very expensive, and I never so much as knew a kid who owned it. And, in the turns-out-those-grapes-actually-are-pretty-sour department (TOTGAAPS), it was a pretty lousy action figure, having something like half a point of articulation. But, aw man, the dreams ROM inspired.
And then there was the ROM comic, a merchandise tie-in comic that had no right to be good, and by today's standards probably isn't, but in 1982 I would have fought you for saying as much. There was quite a while there when ROM was my favorite character in the Marvel Universe (which is pretty much saying he was my favorite character in all of literature). The dustbins of juvenilia contain more than a few passionately scribbled attempts to figure out what my Spaceknight incarnation would look like.
ROM's comic lasted 75 issues, and each and every one of them was written by Bill Mantlo. In 1992, Mantlo was the victim of a hit-and-run accident while roller blading, and will probably spend the rest of his life in a nursing care facility. Floating World Comics is hosting an art show to raise money for Mantlo's continued care on December 6th, which will include the above contribution. For those of us not in Portland, Oregon, a book will be available of the work donated to the show. I hope you'll consider donating, or buying a print, or a copy of the book. Do it for Mantlo! Do it for ROM!