Monday, December 17, 2007

Comic Revival

When I was a kid I was a Dandy reader.  I never read the Beano, always the non-conformist me!  I was introduced to it when I was home sick from school one day and my mum was going to the local shop and asked if there was anything I wanted.  She probably expected me to say Lucazade, but like I've said ever the non-conformist, so I said "A Comic!".  She brought me a copy of the Dandy, and so from then on, every week (I used to collect mine on a Saturday morning, with if I was lucky the change from twenty pence to spend on sweets).  I used to read Korky the Cat, Desperate Dan (I am a member of the Cow Pie Eaters Club) and all the other characters.  As time progressed Dandy merged with other comics and became the poorer for it (IMO).
I progressed to other comics, Eagle, Warlord , 2000AD and the mini (in size) Commando stories, also Peanuts (or Snoopy as I preferred to think of it) and Calvin & Hobbes, Tin Tin; and....
I hold my hand up, I still read them today.  I don't buy the comics per se, but I buy the collections of my favourite characters.  Strontium Dog, Snoopy, Tin Tin, Commando, and others as and when I can.  For me it's escapism, they don't require the concentration of a novel, but they are as detailed.  They can be subtle or blatant in message and IMO the artwork better than anything likely to win The Turner Prize. 
Most of the comics I had when I was a kid are now long gone.  There are some that I can remember to this day for one particular reason or another.  Interestingly those that stick in my mind where those that I read when I was home from school sick (I was quite a sickly child).  Perhaps because I read and re-read them, have nothing better to do than cough and splutter my way through yet another bronchitis infection.  Those memories could now however be enhanced by the Internet.  There are many comic book dealers who are able to supply me with copies of those that I remember the most.  The question is, should I, or might it harm a beautiful childhood memory? 

1 comment:

will said...

Yes and no :^)

The child's stuff (The Beano and The Dandy) don't age very well. They are very childish, meant to appeal to young kids, and, depending what era you were reading, can be very embarrassing - get ready for sexism/racism that will make your toes curl.

The teenager stuff can still be very good. These are stories that were written by Alan Moore, Alan Grant, Frank Miller etc. These writers have gone on to produce some of the most compelling comics writing of our (and any other) time. However, it is the writers that are the key. Judge Dredd is best when in the hands of Alan Grant, with other writers he tends to lose the satire that makes him a compelling character (avoid the film with Stallone).

For me, one of my happiest times was finding out what had happened to Spider-Man while I was between the ages of 13-26. Again it was the writers who made the character I loved. Then, some other writer would try to take the character in another direction and "meh".

If you are going to use the Internet, use it to research. There are copies downloaded and you can read them. These, of course, aren't as good as having them in your hand but will give you an idea. Else, get yourself to a bookstore and find the graphic novel section. Spend an hour or two reading through collections - hell, try your library!

And, if the worst comes to the worst, go to a local comic shop. These days I have found the "comic book guy" to be a lot nicer than the one from The Simpsons - they have to be or their shop folds.

But - I'm with you! Comics are wonderful, the perfect bedside read.