C is for Comics! Pow!! Bif!!

I grew up on comics. My mother allowed my sister and I to read just about every girls’ comic going, in an attempt to encourage my sister to read. Of course, they were all British weekly anthology comics. Even then, in the 1960’s, there were no American style “comic books” for girls. But we would swap our girls’ comics for our boy cousins’ DC and Marvel comics. Eventually, Mum let us buy Spiderman, Superman, Batman and X-Men comics from the local paper shop.

There was a gap in my teenage years, largely because I was living in New Zealand then, and couldn’t find any shops that sold comics. But once we came back to the UK I discovered a new science fiction weekly anthology called “2000AD’. I started reading it when I was 17 and I still buy it every week today. It’s not aimed at 50-mumble women, but it has grown up from the black-and-white, printed on newsprint children’s comic it was in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. The readership has grown up with it. Most of the letters printed in the letters page are from men in their 30’s to late 40’s. There’s a certain amount of retconning of the old Judge Dredd sagas, especially, recently, of the Angel Gang, changing them from silly, pun-laden stories into serious SF.

I read a lot more comics in the 1980’s, once I had left home and gone to study in Birmingham, home of an SF bookshop and a big comics’ shop. I loved the Justice League, Avengers, Batman, and X-men, as well as the short-lived British anthology comics, Crisis and Warrior. I still have the full runs of those, which included V For Vendetta, somewhere in a box. I also got into Japanese shojo manga, which were at least aimed at girls.

So what caused me to give up buying comics? Well, to be honest, greed. Oh not mine! The greed of the likes of DC, who exploited their readers’ loyalty. Does anyone remember a little thing called “The Crisis On Infinite Earths”? It ran for a year and basically, it rewrote so many origins stories and killed off some characters. There were tie-ins in every title. That was when I lost my naivety. It looked like fun, getting comics fans to scurry around, collecting every possible permutation. But it was so obviously done to make a few extra bucks. I mean, of course, comics are sold to make money. I’m not that stupid. But there has always been a family-feeling, for want of a better word, in being a fan of DC comics. Whatever the reason was, comics were all over for me. As I said, I still read 2000AD every week, and the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine, but that’s it. I am done with DC and Marvel. The independent comics shops have almost all closed down, being taken over by Forbidden Planet. And they have largely given up seriously selling comics in favour of “action toys”.

Having said that, I will be breaking my habit of waiting for films to go to dvd before watching them, to see the second Avengers film. Well, I am a Loki fan and rumour has it, he’ll be in there, somewhere!

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