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.