Comical

As a kid, one weekly highlight was the arrival of a new comic. I devoured issues of the Lion, which was my favorite, but also sometimes managed to see copies of the Victor and Hotspur.

American comics (Batman, Superman, etc) were very exotic and rare. I remember there being a small shop in Blackpool that stocked these treasures, and it sucked up most of my holiday money the times we were there. Apart from the stories in the American comics, the adverts were things of wonder. I recall seeing adverts for boxes with 1,000’s of toy soldiers, amazing living seahorse creatures, miniature submarines, complete play fortresses, and instant muscle kits. How deprived we kids in the UK were!

Commando comics were available, but the endless war stories (amazingly) quickly bored me, and I was never a great fan. Funnily enough, of the UK material, it has proven the most enduring.

As an adult, I started rereading comics when I discovered the old London SF shop, Dark They Were And Golden Eyed. (That, plus the game shop in Hanway Street, and Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road, made trips to London memorable. To get the same fix today, I probably have to go to New York.) I tried several different comics, but Batman (especially the Dark Knight stuff) and Sin City were the main reads. Standalone stuff like the superb V for Vendetta and The Watchmen, came along every so often to revitalize my interest.

Unfortunately, it was difficult for an irregular comic reader like me to discern the quality hidden in the quantity. In other words, there was a lot of dross about. And some of the stuff that was touted and promoted as being of good quality, did not match the billing. Perhaps that explains why comics had less and less attraction. The result? It’s been a while since I actively sought out a comic to read.

That changed with a thoughtful piece at The Register by Ian Harrison: “What happened to comics for kids? Hell, what happened to COMICS?” The article sent me off to Aces Weekly, an online comic instigated by David Lloyd (of V for Vendetta fame). Aces Weekly is an interesting experiment. I subscribed and read the first volume. I received my money’s worth, and hope to see more. But I am skeptical whether there is a market for a purely electronic venture. I salute Lloyd’s brave gesture. We shall see if it can succeed.

I won’t be returning to hunt out other comics for the moment, but I have enjoyed the brief return. A quick glance at the bundle of comic annuals in my study adds to the nostalgia. Maybe I should reread them…