Something for the Weakened

Archive for October, 2004

A History of Collecting – Part Twelve – Unadulterated

October 31st, 2004 by

At least I think we’re up to twelve. Can’t quite remember, as I haven’t got any of this stored at home. If only the sight had an archive . . . sigh. Anyhoo, just to let anyone who might misguidedly care know, the following is a serialised ongoing memoir/life inventory. Patched together with almost minutes thought before hand, using an unreliable memory and, er, nothing else really. Many things have happened in previous episodes, though I can’t specifically remember what. If only the site had an archive . . . sigh. Anyway, new readers need not worry, all you need to know is that I’ve been collecting comics. A LOT of comics.

Like many lovers of graphic narratives in these here isles, I spent quite a lengthy period collecting 2000AD. Sadly in recent years I tired of it rather and probably haven’t really picked up a copy in the past two or three. But the beginning of my decade with the title fits in to the timeline later and is a story for another day. My first contact took place much earlier in the grand scheme of things. It was at a time when I was attempting to acquire at least one issue of every comic on the shelves. Of course I maintained my usual weekly obsessions, but these were extra fripperies if and when I could afford them. This scattershot reading tendency worked quite well with all of the self-contained humour anthologies available at the time. It was less successful when trying out a more dramatic anthology with ongoing story lines – even those with a brief recap kicking off each new chapter. And so it was that one day I presented a copy of 2000AD to my Mother for purchase (I was terrified of many things back then. Giving people money at tills was one of them. Not keen on it to this day).

Ordinarily this would have been vetoed and I would have been sent back to choose something else. She was quite careful in monitoring my reading habits, so anything that could have upset my delicate sensibilities was generally unacceptable. It’s also probably the same reason that she wouldn’t buy me the Iron Maiden t-shirts with Eddie’s head exploding on them. I’d never heard the music, but wearing something with an exploding head on it was enormously appealing to my filthy little mind. But I digress. For some reason this week, the veto did not come into effect. Perhaps it was the cover (an Ian Gibson drawing of Halo Jones – one of the strips inside), maybe she didn’t notice the title, possibly there were other things on her mind. Whatever, it was purchased from Centre News and away we went home.

This was classic period 2000AD. Though it hadn’t reached point where it was entirely aimed at adults, and thus allowed swearing and nakedness, it had reached a level of maturity that no other mainstream title in the UK had (well, except Warrior, but I didn’t get hold of an issue of that until I was well into my twenties). Writers who had been with the title since it’s inception ten years previously were really hitting creative peaks. John Wagner, Pat Mills and Alan Grant were producing some of the best works of their careers. Meanwhile new blood was seeping in, with new writers such as Pete Milligan, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore starting to get published within these hallowed pages. Stories that were innovative and inspiring were turning up on a weekly basis, often with some incredible art delineating the whole thing. The comic was still almost entirely black and white at this point, before the glut of stodgy painted art that was almost it’s downfall in the mid nineties. But these were halcyon days for the line artist. Kevin O’Neill, Bryan Talbot, Ian Gibson and many others were firing on all cylinders as they churned out half a dozen or more beautiful pages per week.

Prior to this point, the closest I had come to anything resembling a mature comic had been through the medium of smut. Though there was undoubtedly some of this going on in Battle and other places, these were still marketed towards a solely juvenile audience. When I was this age, I had only seen a couple of things using the medium of comics marketed to an adult audience. The first was what I now recognise to have been old underground comics I happened upon in the back of a second-hand bookshop up north. I realised they were for adults because they had boobs in them. The other was in Neill with two L’s garage, where his father failed utterly to hide his collection of pornography. In the back of some of these rhythm publications (Mayfair I seem to recall), ran some two page, dialogue free comic strips. These would involve a hapless heroine whose name escapes me, getting into a peculiar situation that would inevitably leave her naked by the end of it. They were fairly uninspiring; (in any way) though I have subsequently discovered they were drawn by one of the nations foremost artists of the medium. Unfortunately I can’t quite remember whom. Either Don Lawrence or Ron Emberton I think, though I can’t be sure.

Anyway, back to the plot. Arriving home I launched into that weeks reading extravaganza, devouring the six or so strips inside. And do you know what? It completely went over my head. The majority of the tales were half way through a run and had little to no information on what had gone on before. I seem to recall that the Halo Jones story (by Alan Moore, a man I would later discover to be the greatest living writer on the planet) was set entirely in a bar. And nothing happened except for some talking and drinking. Not even a fight!? It never occurred to me that I was too young to appreciate any of this. Instead I arrived at a far more logical conclusion – that 2000AD was rubbish and I wasn’t going to buy it again. If only I could have seen five years down the line . . .

Pardon

October 29th, 2004 by

Well kids, due to my frenetic uncompromising lifestyle as an International Playboy and worldwide jetsetter, once again A History of Collecting has ended up being bumped. With any luck I should be able to get something up here tomorrow, though if not definitely Sunday. I feel bad about depriving you all of your weekly fix of inane details from my past, but with a supermodel hanging off each arm (and another dangling from something else), Manuel feeding me peeled grapes, cruising our way across the Atlantic, I simply ran out of time again. Hopefully it’ll be done before next Thursday. Only time will tell. And as I watch the sun setting across the waves, I shall think of you all, with your squalid little lives and petty concerns. And I shall wonder about when I’ll make the post about YOU CAN GET FREE STUFF. But that will be another day. Adieu, adieu.

 

 

Oh alright, I was in the pub. Happy now?

Apologia

October 28th, 2004 by

Hi mammals! I could blame the absence of columns over the past couple of days on many things. Illness, a death in the family, my arrest. But if I were to do so my pants would catch fire almost instantaneously. A heady mixture of socialising, booze (obviously) and general idleness on my part are the real reasons. And mighty fine reasons they are too, I’m sure you’ll all agree. The mixture has also precluded any attempts to write A History of Collecting today (combined with the fact that I spent most of the morning convinced it was Wednesday). With any luck I should be able to free up some time tomorrow and knock it out then, but don’t hold me to that. There’s also a short piece I’ve been meaning to write for a week or so, explaining how YOU CAN ALL GET FREE STUFF! This might appear on the weekend, as I appear to be able to go online at home after all (yay!). Oh, and in case anyone hadn’t guessed, I have started smoking again. Just thought you ought to know. Listening to Zoomer by Schneider TM. They’re German you know.

Kneel Before Zod!

October 25th, 2004 by

Lee Majors. Best known for his roles as the Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. Not someone you’d imagine I have a lot in common with, eh. Well, there’s a faint possibility that there might be. If memory serves me, Lee was a stuntman before he went full time in the acting bit. Unsurprisingly, doing these stunts involved an awful lot of jumping off things. Big jumps, small jumps, some as big as your head. At the time, all was going well in the Majors household. But now, in spite of his legs being bent on impact, the cartilage in Lee’s knees is now knackered. And that my friends is my hypochondria of the week. I too have spent a surprising amount of time jumping off things, but I foolishly lacked the foresight to always bend when I hit the ground. Is there actually anything wrong with my legs? Apart from the loud cracking sounds every time I climb stairs, not noticeably. But for me paranoia is all, so I fully expect them both to fall off within the next five hours. Let this be a lesson to you all – treat your legs right, or else they might turn round and kick you in the arse. Assuming they can still bend at the knee.

October 22nd, 2004 by

I’m bored with faces.

I’m sure we can come up with something better.

Any suggestions?

A History of Collecting – Part Eleven – Trans Continental

October 21st, 2004 by

Time Without Nicotine;- 1 Minute (approx.) It doesn’t count though!

Hello all and welcome back to A History of Collecting after it’s month or so sabbatical. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a documentation of the many things I’ve been obsessively acquiring throughout my life in the vague hope that they will bring me happiness, no matter how momentarily (Actually it’s an excuse for me to blather on about all the comics I’ve bought in my sad and geeky life. That and an opportunity to display the encyclopaedic knowledge I possess about said medium. I have too much time on my hands). If you have the patience, enjoy.

If memory serves me, the events related herein began just before a lengthy car journey. It may have been on the way to Bedfordshire, but I’m frankly uncertain. The detail is frankly superfluous and need not be dwelt upon. Anyway, it was one of those occasions I found myself in Toon Town with my family again. It was merely a fleeting visit, so fleeting that I don’t believe that we were even there long enough to even visit glorious toyshop Giles’. I’m not sure I even left the car. But at least one of my parents did go to a newsagent. I assume it must have been a weekend, as I had bestowed upon them the mission to pick up one of my weekly comics (possibly Battle).

A digression for the regular reader who may be puzzled by this if his or her memory stretches back that far (not that it would need to if someone would put an archive up, eh Master Church). If you recall, I stopped acquiring Battle, then known as Battle Action Force, when it lost the licence for the Action Force aspect of the title. Henceforth it was known simply as Battle (for obvious reasons). But after a couple of months or so of running the title with just the war stories that ran throughout the rest of the title, it added a couple of new tales. These involved an all-new action team called Storm Force. Now, though the name was a fairly obvious rip off of the AF, the actual ideas behind the team itself was quite different, as were the stories about them. The team was comprised of only eight or nine different members and the comics dealt with their struggles against an evil terrorist organisation whose name escapes me. Rather than Cobra, the nemeses of AF, the theme for these baddies was spiders. Similar again you would think, but whilst Cobra were just nasty men with guns, these villains were actually half man half spider, with big pointy teeth and everything! The stories differed from the rest of the Battle’s content in that they were set in the modern age and the special vehicles and abilities of Storm Force gave everything a vague science fiction edge. At this point the war stories which took up the vast majority of the comic held no real interest for me. I think I flicked through a copy two or three months after the Storm Force stories started running (probably drawn in by the use of the word ‘Force’ on the cover) and became quickly hooked. The major bonus was the fact that the same two artists, the brilliant John Cooper and the mysterious Vanyo, who had drawn all the Action Force stories previously, were now doing the Storm Force ones instead. It became yet another weekly fixture for me.

Digression over, you’ll remember I was in the car, waiting for at least one parent to return, probably with my next Storm Force fix. Return they did, but not with what I had asked for. Instead of my usual A4 pamphlet I was presented with something approximately two-thirds the size and an apology that the shop didn’t stock Battle. It transpired that what I now held in my hands was an issue of Power Pack. It was produced by Marvel, but not their UK off shoot. This was my first experience of a true American comic. Marvel UK’s output at the time consisted of a lot of reprints of US material, but it was always reformatted to fit into the traditional UK magazine size that would actually fit unobtrusively onto British newsagents shelves. This though, was the real deal. A single story running about twenty-four pages (no anthologies across the pond), not to mention the fact that it was part of a larger arc. With no ‘Story so far . . .’ part. Of course I was baffled, yet simultaneously intrigued by this peculiar foreign artefact.

The reason behind its appearance was not as exciting as I had hoped. Up until around about five or six years ago, comics that were destined for American newsstands (that’s what they have instead on newsagents so I’m told) were also shipped over to the UK. Unlike the stuff you will find in comic shops today, these were shipped over in boats rather than the costly airmail they now use. This had been going on since shortly after World War Two, and worked out well for everyone involved. The kid’s buying them over here weren’t bothered that they were getting a comic dated from a month or two back. They were just getting some spicy Yanqui entertainment! These imports were what actually led to the rise of comic shops themselves. You see, the shipments themselves could be rather haphazard. Though a retailer would probably receive the same number of comics in a bundle every week, there was no guarantee that they would be receiving the same titles every time. An element of potluck was involved. Thus, some enterprising young lad (I think I’m on safe ground guessing it wasn’t a lass) came up with the idea of flogging off old comics which hadn’t been distributed as widely at greatly inflated prices to poor saps with the Collecting gene. And lo, the Collectors Market was born. How we wept.

Flicking through my Power Pack when we arrived wherever we were going (I got very travel sick as a kid, so reading in transit was a bad idea), I was fascinated. No black and white pages. Weird adverts for sweets I’d never heard of, X-Ray Spex and so forth. It was a revelation. But not one that I was fully ready for. Only one story in a comic? A concept so foreign to me that I couldn’t really deal with it. Being brought up with tales lasting only a page or two, before graduating up to maybe eight to twelve, the leap up to almost thirty was too far me to go at that time. I put it to one side and forgot about the intriguing world of imported comics. For a while . . .

Status Update

October 20th, 2004 by

Time Without Nicotine;- 110.25 hours (approx.)

Mental State;- Peevish to Narky, with Occasional bouts of Melancholia

Physical Side Effects;- Colon feels like a French Owned Atoll in the South Pacific (probably caused by Accidental Curry Consumption)

Temptation;- Enormous during Pub Quiz, but Resistance Maintained

Will Power;- Bolstered by Previous Night’s Triumph, at a High Ebb

Further updates to foloh fuck this, it’s getting really boring now. I’ll let you all know when I start again. Tomorrow, the inauspicious return of A History of Collecting!

Status Update

October 19th, 2004 by

Time Without Nicotine;- 86.5 hours (approx.)

Mental State;- Improving, Still a bit arsey

Physical Side Effects;- Large Hole in Right Shoe (possibly unrelated)

Financial Benefits Thus Far;- Negligible. Not enough to afford new shoes

Will Power;- Strengthening of Resolve is Proportional to Craving, though it’s Uncertain how Favourable a Ratio Exists at Current

Further updates to follow.

Status Update

October 18th, 2004 by

Time Without Nicotine;- 63.5 hours (approx.)

Mental State;- Patchy, Deteriorating

Physical Side Effects;- Tobacco induced constipation ceased – “Shitting like a shark.”

Cold Turkey Period;- Two days effectively spent in bed, first with monumental hangover (as planned). Brief excursion into smoky environment Saturday night – temptation to steal fags out of punters hands resisted.

Will Power;- Sufficient . . . perhaps

Further updates to follow.

Up the Quitter

October 15th, 2004 by

Right, apologies for poor spelling and grammar – I’m writing this without the aid of Word and in a hurry, so anything could happen. It’s all a bit frantic you see. The thing is that I’ve earmarked this weekend to give up smoking. Again. I might have mentioned my method in a previous entry, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself. It’s quite simple really – find a couple of days when you aren’t working, get absolutely wrecked the night before (and smoke far too much) then allow the subsequent hangover to work it’s magic at putting you off fags. It is also imperative that you finish or redistribute all tobacco products you possess during the debauched night, so as to remove temptation during the two days. After the two days, most of the nicotene should have left the system, and then it’s just down to personal willpower. Which is where I always fall down. Maybe this time, eh. Written with some trepidation whilst listening to Replicant Rhumba Rockers by Atom TM.