Or “Comics will get you through times of no beer, better than beer will get you through times of no comics.”
To paraphrase the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
I’ve loved comic since before I can remember. I can’t remember when they have not been a massive part of my life. I still don’t understand how people don’t “get” comics. Do you read books? Do you watch TV and films? Well comics are the intersection of that little Venn diagram. There you go. Easy. Once when I worked in a comic shop and a customer wanted to cancel his standing order for “The Sandman” because it had “Too many words in” I was left furious for days. I was only more furious when I was once reading a book, a crappy Shaun Hutson book at that, on my lunch once and someone said “What you reading a book for? If its any good they will make a film out of it”
Anyway I digress. Comics. My first real memory of my love affair was insisting that the newsagent kept a copy of each issue of “Scooby-Doo and friends” each week that I would buy, carefully read, and then put out of harms way in a box so that other people would not do annoying things like flick through them or god forbid do the puzzles/ colouring/ remove the posters. I was five. Before that I had read, or looked at and filled in the speech bubbles in brain, some of my Uncles comics, mainly old E.C. comics from the 50s or underground Hippy stuff like the “Freak Brothers” or “Plop”.
I would read any comics I could get my hands on, Star Wars, Archie, Commando, even Care Bears. It didn’t matter. If there was a story to be told in sequential art I was there. When I was about seven I bought my first copy of 2000ad. Issue 330 and BOOM! A whole new world of space police, monsters, flesh eating Dinosaurs, Future sports, Future Shocks! It was like amazing, never knowing what I was going to get week to week which just added to its brilliance. Around the same time I discovered American comics. I found out that the Superheroes I had been reading in things like “Mighty World of Marvel” were in fact reprints of colour, yes COLOUR, 20 odd page stories. Yoink! I’ll have some of that.
At around 10 I discovered there were actually shops which just sold these American imports. The same comic would come out the same (ish) time every month. No more traipsing around the local newsagents of the area hoping for the best. I discovered the X-Men, The Teen Titans, Alpha Flight, The New Universe!
Ahh the New Universe. Marvels (pretty much failed) attempt at a new self contained accessible universe. This was just what 11 year old me wanted. I was there on the Ground floor. I read, and re read those issues of D.P.7 again and again and again. I still kept up with other comics though, any money I got would go on them, The Marvel Mutant family mainly. But still if it was a comic I would read it. Luckily my Mum was friends with the Lady who ran the local Animal Rescue charity shop, who would put aside any comics they got in and let me have them for half a pence. Or on let me have the lot for a silly price, like the day I managed to get Progs 98 (and a few before) to 520 of 2000ad for .50p!
I was always proud of my comics love. Yes it give the bullies at school more ammunition (Fat hippy kid, wearing second hand clothes that stinks of putuli oil AND he reads silly kids comics like a baby, Brilliant!) but losing myself in a good pile of comics in “General Reading” lessons was the escape I needed.
When I had to do work experience, I did it in the local Comic Shop. I put the actual staff to shame with my love and knowledge. When I got my first job, it was in a Comic Shop. I worked my way up form Part-Time helper monkey to Manager. When I became a Chef, It was noted that I would need half an hour off on a Thursday afternoon as it was new Comics day and I had to go pick up my new “stash”.
At one point I was spending around £50 a week on Comics. That’s £200 a month! And I still could easily if I had that sort of disposable income again. But I don’t. Having said that, I still read a silly amount. I still buy some monthlies. I still buy collected editions. I read them online. I borrow them from the libraries. Again, if a story is being told using sequential art I will read it.
I still have the vast majority of the comics I have bought. The loft at my parents and the back bedroom are full of them. Luckily they never go in either of they would realise how much room I’m taking up! I have loads of comics that are worth silly money. I have never bought a comic hoping it will be worth any thing, if a comic goes up in value that’s just an added bonus. I’ve always just bought them for the story and/or the art.
I try to pass on my love to anyone who will listen, (my best friends 5 year old calls comics “Leon Books” and has her own little stash of “Batman: the Brave and the Bold”) and in this day and age it should be a no brainer, Like “The Walking Dead”?, Like “Avengers”?, Like “The Dark Knight”?, Why not try the source material.
But not only things like that. I have read comics that have given me a greater understanding of many things including the Middle East ( Palestine ), The Holocaust ( Maus ), Iraq ( Pride of Baghdad ), Teenage girl brains ( Diary of a Blabbermouth ), The lyrics of Belle and Sebastian (Put The Book Back On The Shelf ), Child Abuse ( Tale of One Bad Rat ), The history of the North East (Alice in Sunderland ), The list is never ending. There truly is something out there for everyone.
So, Comics are Ace. They have made me the person I am today (For Better or worse. Mostly better, Im sure). Try reading some. I promise there will be something out there for you.