Thursday, 18 December 2008

Capes, masks and tights.

My brain has been wiped, deleted, reformatted and is now permanently hooked up to an ever expanding world of fancy dress Superheroes, Elseworlds, cartoon characters and Aliens aplenty. Every one of my days is seen through super saturated gossamer, every conversation I have is drawn into smooth balloons of perfect letter forms. I plug myself in to hours of podcasts devoted to these 'other' worlds, I read other peoples rants, ravings and reviews in blogland, I check solicitations, keep tabs on upcoming releases and gladly open up my wallet when they are. In short, I read and collect comics. I doesn't seem to matter that I don't understand half of what is going on, in the Superhero Universe it does help if you've been reading for a couple of decades or more. For a newcomer there really is only one option when faced with shelf upon shelf of titles, and that is to dive straight in. All these characters caught up in cosmic battles, good vs evil, have been fighting personal ones as well as they struggle to understand themselves and their place in the Universe, as we struggle to understand and follow a multitude of weaving threads that tie together a bristling ball of story lines, pieced together by many artists and writers over decades into the vast intricate jigsaw known as 'continuity'.

Even long time readers need to read and re-read to understand half what is going on. Comic fan favourite writer, Grant Morrison, is known for his non linear story lines and immense knowledge of the medium, and for the newcomer his pen can scare you away, making you feel utterly confused. Other hurdles that need to be overcome are the overblown events that stretch out over an entire year in weekly issues, the use of pointless dialog where quite often none is needed, sometimes the artwork in the panels can be over busy when depicting action sequences when a simpler more sparing use of space would do. And lastly, if like me you are pushing the post forty year envelope, entering into a shop full of toys, cards and comics can feel a bit daunting. One day some pre-pubescent punk kid at the comic store is going to ask me if I want him to put my purchases into a brown paper bag. "There you go Sir, no one need ever know".

Moan, moan, moan. You would think that I didn't like comics, but like an Apple Mac obsessive that bitches on and on about the mother company, so it is for me with comics. I seem to be buying more and more every week! I mean where else would you find men in spandex and silly masks empathizing with each other in hero worthy heart to hearts. Where else would you find a Superhero dog with it's own cape, ready to serve and protect the citizens of Earth when his master is in need. Where else would you find a Silver Surfer of the spaceways, a tormented lonely figure soaring through the galaxies on an endless quest to save his home planet from Galactus, the destroyer of worlds. If you're more interested in small press comics and zines and Superheroes aren't your cup of tea, then the good news is that demand for underground comics is growing and so is the scene. In London there is an underground comic stall at Camden Market, a fair that can be found at Hand Made and Bound, and also coming out of London is the UK's only weekly radio show about comics, Strip!, which is on Resonance FM. There's no denying it, once you've got the bug the biggest problem that you will have to face is storage!

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