There’s no comic review this week, because my comic order is trapped somewhere in the icy wasteland that is central Scotland. Hopefully they’ll be defrosted in time for next week.
So, in place of my normal review, I thought I’d recall some of the comics of my childhood, inspired by a conversation I had at my friend Sarah’s birthday party.
As mentioned above, when I first started reading comics (circa 1980) I thought the Beano was vulgar.
No, my first comic was TV Comic, which had comic strips featuring the Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry and the like, but nothing memorable, except for me wondering why all of these previously mute characters had got so chatty in their comic forms.
Eventually (about 1983), I started reading other comics. And back then there were a lot of British comics. A flick through “The Ultimate Book of British Comics” by Graham Kibble-White, shows that while the comics were past their mid-70’s zenith, there were still an awful lot of them.
They fell into two main stables – DC Thomson and IPC.
With names like dialogue from a PG Wodehouse novel, it’s no surprise that these were titles that had been going for a long time (the Dandy started in 1937). I read them all, and liked them (even the Beano, which was rather more anarchic than its stablemates.)
IPC was newer, brasher and had a wide range of titles. One brilliant concept was Whizzer and Chips, which was two comics in one, with the characters of each subcomic in constant conflict with the inhabitants of the other subcomic.
Later still, there were adventure/war comics, like Battle and the Victor (featuring Alf Tupper, “the Tough of the Track”, whose athletic prowess was from his diet of fish suppers).
But it was also around this time that I discovered American comics.
Marvel Comics had set up a British outpost in the mid 70s (whose employees had initially included Neil Tennant), and the reprints of their US titles had been going strong.
I bought the Spider-man reprints eagerly, even though I missed some issues, which made things confusing (particularly as each British comic only contained half of the original American story).
Finally, after much prodding of my parents, I got a real American comic.
It was much smaller in dimensions than its British counterparts, but it was full colour on every page, while British comics only had four or eight colour pages.
I’ve long since lost the comic and have never got round to getting a replacement copy (although thanks to the wonder of the internet, I know it was Marvel Team Up #125.)
I didn’t regularly buy American comics until many years afterward, but this was where it all started.
There’s quite a bit more to be said about my early comic reading, but I’ll leave that until the next time my comic order gets frozen…