Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Comic book guy

I bought a lot of American comics when I was a kid.  A lot!  I would walk to the local newsagent on my estate and buy whatever he had.  It was a frustrating business because I was completely at the mercy of his somewhat random ordering choices.

I would buy Ghost Rider every week for three weeks and then he would decide to buy something else in.  I would get a run of Mister Miracle and then I'd never see him again.  I got used to missing weeks of storyline and simply catching up.  In any case, for me, it was the artwork as much as the story.

There were artists I sought out - Jack Kirby clearly being one of them, for those of you who know his work.  I like John Buscema's work on Conan and Thor too.  Gene Colan was great - I particularly liked his Dracula comics.  Neil Adam's beautiful figure drawing on Batman.  I could very easily go on...

I have a big box of comics and my son is going to archive them for me in special bags and boxes we bought from Forbidden Planet (oh, how I wish such a place had existed in my teens!).  The comics have real sentimental value and astonishingly, I find that if I open one, I can remember almost every panel - even though I probably last opened them forty years ago.  It is like falling back through time and landing on my teenage bed, Bowie on the turntable.

But they are more than that.  They were a big part of me becoming an illustrator - I spent years copying comics.  They shaped me as a writer too, without question.  I am absolutely sure that I would not see my stories the way I do if it were not for years of reading comics.  I am also sure that I would not have the same sensibility that I have.

Or did that come first?  Hmmm.

One thing I do know is that my rekindled interest in short stories and my love of comics is going to bear some kind of fruit one day.  I have been threatening to do a graphic novel for years.  Maybe now is the time!


  1. Great post! Our writing as adults is indeed shapedd by what we read as kids. I wasn't allowed comics but I made up for it when I moved to the UK, ha ha. I love the Gold Key retellings of television series and legends.

  2. Thanks Saviour. Yes - more and more I realise that what I read in my teens and early twenties was the stuff that really moulded me as a writer (and as a person probably). Low art can often be the most lasting and resonant. Its not either/or is it? You can enjoy Shakespeare and Batman.

  3. Batman and Shakespeare, now there's a team up