Monday, 13 October 2008

Lost in comics

I'm on the south coast,tucked into a warren of lanes where little independent shops and cafes sit cheek by jowl with the sole purpose of satisfying your every need. From second hand books,designer household goods and juice bars to record shops, specialist art suppliers and collectors emporiums. In short,I am in heaven. Time as always is against me,the clock is ticking,and yet it is easy to forget that there is an outside, and that there is anything other than that issue of Swamp Thing from 1985, or that copy of Superman from 1970.I'm in a cramped annex at the back of the comic shop, bent double in a womb of cardboard storage boxes containing decades of back issues,from Batman to the Fantastic Four,from Spiderman to a growing list of failed Super heroes. In the background,between the periodic bursts of laughter coming from the resident Herring Gulls,I can hear the customers inquiring after eagerly awaited comics or obscure graphic novels and the shuffling of one weird character. He quietly moves across the shop floor,sorting and rearranging the lining of his nest,his sleepless eyes regard me from a pale sun starved complexion. At first I dismiss him as an eccentric comic geek,which ofcourse he is,but on further visits it becomes clear that he is the 'Gatekeeper',the 'Time lord',the key holder to this vast and fading plethora of pulp fiction. A completely unemployable individual outside of this cartoon world, a rare species with an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC and Marvel Universe. Ask this man anything and he will give you the assured answer of an enlightened Lama,in short his word is final. I eventually do manage to prize myself away,a bag of comics swinging merrily at my side, safe in the knowledge that some day soon I will be back for more.

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