Have set up a Comics group just to have Comics related conversations and the like. Please pop by should you want
And with that Pilot Era is done and dusted.
Well it’s been a week internet people.
After a pretty good weekend, full of lounging around, cuddles and laughter, I started the working week. I managed to get to 9:14 before I regretted it. Tuesday wasn’t much better, with all this furlough pay business making my day more than a little problematic before I stopped being able to process reports around 2:45pm. I spent Wednesday morning sorting that out and went home for lunch. I had french toast (bread dipped in whisked egg with a little mustard and black pepper) and despite the back pain, which is a lovely new addition to my day, made it back to the office.
Then s**t got weird.
I had some kind of allergic reaction. It started with intense indigestion, then every inch of my body was itching, my throat closed up, I couldn’t swallow. My body produced more mucus in that hour, than it had all year. I spent the best part of an hour lying fetal, spluttering. After some off the shelf anti-histamines and water, my reaction calmed down.
I don’t know why I reacted like that, I am not allergic to eggs, mustard or black pepper, so it was a mystery. It was also a terrifying moment in the midst of a terrifying time.
Still I handled it and all returned to ‘normal’ but that was something of a scare.
Been thinking about eras recently. As a comic fan, I am less and less invested in the big two and I am less financially capable of deep diving into another publisher’s stuff, with the exception of comixology sales, so my ongoing comic reading seems destined to be back issues and gems to be discovered/re-discovered. So I am in a different stage in my comic reading life and this has left me questioning do these things have phases/ages?
Maybe I could look at these things in the same way comics themselves are looked. Maybe there’s Golden, Silver and Bronze ages of my comics fandom? It’s an idea that I have seen online before, but have never felt the need to apply it to myself. Why would I? After a point, I never stopped reading comics, so there’s little to act as demarcation. But the more I thought about it, the more there is actually distinct phases that my comics reading has gone through.
The Golden Age: April 1983 to June 1991
In one of my earlier posts 5 Comics that changed my life I mentioned Original X-Men 1
This was a UK comic that reprint US comics that came out 20 years earlier and was my first exposure to comics in general and the X-Men in particular after being given this issue by my mother. A world came open to me from that point. Since it was the mid 1980’s there were saturday morning cartoons and I was introduced to Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, showing me the all-new all different X-Men, Thor, Doctor Strange, Namor and other new characters that I could love. There was also Superman: The Movie as well as the 1970’s Spider-Man series and the earlier 80’s Hulk show as well as the mid-80’s Hulk cartoon (still my favourite animated version) and so my love for comic characters grew. By this point I was back living in Liverpool after 18 months in Yorkshire and moved into the house I would spend the next 20 years in and two streets across from the top of the road was a newsagents called JayCee’s. It had newspapers, sweets, magazines and on the bottom shelf underneath the TV magazines and it got almost weekly deliveries of imported US comics. I got loads from there, early issues of New Warriors, Web of Spider-Man, Avengers West Coast, Avengers Spotlight and my first B-list team, the Guardians of the Galaxy who in 1990 managed to get their own series after nearly a decade in limbo. This was a series that no one knew about, no one cared about, but I loved dearly. I have re-read the series several times and still love it, one of the team now adorns my right arm and that was the point where I was probably irrevocably lost. In Garston, half way between home and school was another newsagent, this one had DC comics, some Detective Comics, Justice League Europe and another B/C-lister Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. Most of those comics are gone now, mistaken for rubbish and thrown out, but that love of comics was now very much a part of who I was and as I found myself more and more alone in school and life, an important one. Comics were a big thing and I just needed to get my hands on more of them.
Comic Highlights: Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League Europe, Alex Saviuk on Web of Spider-Man, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt
The Silver Age: July 1991 to February 2000
I found out about a comic-mart, a sort of car-boot sale thing in the Blue Coat chambers in Liverpool’s City Centre. I headed there with some pocket money and a bit of curiousity. I will be honest with you Internet People, I don’t remember how I heard about it, or who told me, I just remember going and finding all these back issues, but on one table were new comics. One of them was X-Men 1. It was a Jim Lee cover and it sat next to a sign telling me about a comic shop that was about 5 minutes away. I bought X-Men 1 and 2 and headed over to this shop, which was called Worlds Apart. There I saw more new comics, X-Men 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 17, X-Factor 70 and so many more, there were different publishers I had never heard of and comic fans all around, it was a place for me. I was there most weekends and in 1993 when I had dropped out of college it was where I spent my first paycheque. Got a bit of a telling off over that one I remember.
I wasn’t a casual reader anymore buying whatever came out, I was a collector now. More new comics came, the return of the JSA, the Death of Superman, there was also Image Comics, Marvel’s 2099 imprint and then I found a second store in 1994.
I spent the next 6 or so years in Liverpool Comic Co, as a customer and then for a time as a shop assistant, working Saturday’s for the princely sum of all the comics I would have bought anyway. I first read Dark Knight Returns there, V for Vendetta and Watchmen. I made friends there, recommended comics to people and felt very much that I had arrived. I felt very much part of the comics world, even met a couple of artists, but all good things do come to an end and I stepped away from there as problems that I can no longer remember became bigger than my being there and then I had to start paying for comics again.
Comic Highlights 90’s X-Men,Transmetropolitan, the Authority, Grant Morrison’s X-Men, George Perez on Avengers, Marvels, Kingdom Come
The Bronze Age 2000 to 2013
Something of a lost period for me, still buying comics moving between DC and Marvel enjoying the events that kept coming. It was a period of change for me more personally than anything else. I went from being single man with no money living with his mum and dad to a husband and father and the comics weren’t the most important thing, as always they were a backdrop to the rest of life, a bit of background. It was a long period with a definite end point.
The Modern Age 2013 to Present
Something happened to me, something I have spoken about many times and it changed my relationship with comics, comic fandom and entertainment in general. Fearing my own thoughts, I turned to podcasts to battle the demons that lived there. Through podcasts I got to more online fandom via facebook and that led to my blogging as part of my recovery.
Now my comics are more digital than ever, not even back issues now thanks to the recent lockdown and I no longer buy new comics on a regular basis and the closest I get to new comics now is the sales on Comixology. Whilst buying the least amount of comics since the early 90’s, it’s also the most comic heavy time, with so many comic related properties hitting TV and cinema and a large part of my collection being digital, I am reading more.
What I have realised is that I have given a lot to comics, invested a lot in comics and so now, I really just want to read what I like. I don’t follow the trends, don’t want to buy into the current versions of Marvel or DC, I just want to read and enjoy my comics. I have so many that if I never buy another, I will still never want for a comic to read. They are my stories, I read them, I talk about them, I share them and even now, still love them.
Comic Highlights, all of the above.
I just had some thoughts in my head, just wanted to get them out, before I went to bed.
I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t, at least not as I used to.
The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.
A big part of my online fandom has been comic-related podcasts and a big part of my collecting was the 90’s and when I look back at the era, I can reappraise the comics of the era a bit more dispassionately, but with a sprinkle of nostalgia. Knowing that the era was thought ill of for a reason, but recognise that I still liked a whole lot of it. It was my era.
One of the more divisive figures of that era was Rob Liefeld.
Getting a big break on the Hawk & Dove miniseries in the late 80’s, Rob Liefeld went on to make his name on New Mutants, pushing out writer Louise Simonson to get himself into more of the writing side and took the book from the mid-card to something of a heavy-hitter. He followed this up with the to-date 2nd best selling comic of all time, X-Force 1. He then left Marve, co-founded Image comics, then left Image comics and took part in half of the at times fairly maligned Heroes Reborn comics event. All this before he was 30. This is a man who has lived the comics experience, had ups and downs and really has an intersting story.
Now I have been on many sides of the argument with this guy, he’s been very successful and a great cheerleader for comics, but he’s also done some bad comics and his command of anatomy is as bad as his consistency in panel to panel art, which is to say bad. His stuff isn’t technically good, but it is exciting and chock-full of energy. He’s been something of a divisive figure and this makes him someone worth listening to.
I fell back into finding his podcast, which can be found here and started listening as a change to what I was listening to. You know what, it’s actually fun. Rob talks about comics with an abiding love, coupled with knowledge and the perspective of a more artist leaning fan. I don’t always agree with what he says, but it’s a perspective issue and I can hear something and disagree, no one is harmed, nothing is lessened.
He also talks about his career and who he’s met and worked with and it’s a very inside baseball look at the industry. It’s a little self-revisionist, but who’s history isn’t? Are you the badguy in your story when you tell it? It’s not high-art, but what it is, is a look at comics from a fan turned pro, who never lost his fanboy status. I don’t think any more of his art than I ever did, but I am a little more forgiving. He is a friendly and positive guy talking about comics with love and knowledge and it’s been both fun and informative. If you are a comic fan, it’s worth checking out, if you are not and know someone who is, it does give you insight into that kind of guy.
Well that’s me for a bit, take care everyone.
I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t, not compared to how I used to.
The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.
Now as someone who has read this blog before may know, I am an avid listener of podcasts (a topic for another post perhaps) and when dog-walking, walking to and from work and during my lunchtime walk to and from home. But recently I branched out into audio-books. My wife, the MIGHTY Rosie and my boy SuperSam have made good use of Audible of recent months, so since I get the e-mails for the account and they kept recommending the Sandman audio-book/audio-drama.
For those who may not know, Sandman was a critically acclaimed comic written by Neil Gaiman. It was an epic work that pretty much launched Vertigo and cemented Gaiman’s name as a legend in the field of comics. I missed out on the comic originally. Sandman was a late 80’s comic and my collected days started in the early 90’s so, you can see how I missed that boat. I read it years later of course, but for me, the art never stood up to the writing. The character designs were good, but I never enjoyed the visual storytelling enough to keep up with it.
Back to the present and the audio-book idea intrigued me and the advertising for it was ubiquitous, so since I had credits to spare I downloaded it. I listened to it over the the space of a week or so and… it was good.
The basis of the story is that Dream of the Endless, one of several beings that represent concepts such as death, desire, destiny and despair is captured on the earthly plane by a sorcerer in 1916 and for something like 70 years is trapped, cut off from the Dreaming, the plane we visit when we dream. He escapes and the story continues into his reclaiming his tools and then his kingdom. He encounters DC universe characters like The Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onnz, Mister Miracle, John Constantine, Lucifer, JLA Villain Doctor Destiny and his older sister Death. There are also other denizens of the Dreaming, creatures of the Faerie and even a nightmare or two.
The story is broken down into 20 chapters, the overall book is over 10 hours in length and this allows several arcs and stories to be told as part of the whole book’s narrative organically. The art is replaced by narration and the voices are given form by an impressive cast including James McEvoy as Morpheus/Dream, Kat Dennings as Death and the ever capable Martin Sheen as Lucifer. McEvoy is in particular excellent as Dream, offering a measured performance of someone who is beyond the regality of a king and above the confidence of a mere man. He fits the character’s voice in the way that Kevin Conroy fits Batman.
It’s an ambitious project that does it’s best to give Gaiman’s opus an adaptation with wider appeal and it sticks the landing. I have recommended it already and hope that this leads to more of these DC audible productions because this one was great.
If you have the opportunity, download the audible app, the service has the 30 day free trial thing and by the you will have listened to the whole thing.
I was unsure about this when I started listening, but by the end I wanted more.