Something for the Weakened

Archive for January, 2005

A History of Collecting – Part Seventeen (a) – Growing Pained (slight return)

January 30th, 2005 by

Mah friends, mah friends. Please accept my apologies, but at this time I appear to be coming down with some sort of horrific contagion. In response to this, I am going to attempt to bang out this episode of A History of Collecting as quickly as possible. This will probably lead to a number of factual inaccuracies and general inconsistencies caused by my fevered brain trying not to shut itself down entirely. I only hope that you can bring yourself to forgive me. God bless your weary souls. Anyway, it continues on from the last one anyway.

I arrived home with the copy of Strip that fateful Sunday morning and swiftly ensconced myself in my room to read it. Leafing through, I was astounded. Rude words? Pictures of ladies in a state of undress? Surely this wasn’t allowed in a British comic, let alone one published by Marvel. This baptism of fire was from reprints of Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill ((with two Ls, oddly, but we will be hearing more about these two later)’s Marshal Law. The Death’s Head tale I was hoping to be reading wasn’t actually slated to start running until issue twelve and until then, it was the good Marshall who was the lead strip.

I spent a little while deliberating over what to do with this strange anomaly in my collection. Should I show it to my Mother, who was quite libel to just chuck it out. But wouldn’t it be more likely that I’d end up getting a spanking if either of my parents found it lurking anywhere in my comic’s boxes? I couldn’t take it back to the shop, due to the potential embarrassment of trying to return something to anyone quite as surly as that particular newsagent’s staff. In the end I decided to risk the possibility of a spanking and keep it. The spanking never came I’m glad to say, but whole new doors were opening for me.

Satydy

January 29th, 2005 by

Hello, my pretties. Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were a lovely lady (this quote only works if you’ve heard the source material; but The Mighty Boosh CDs this instant). Well, the weekend is upon me once again, though almost certainly not upon you. My imperators inform me no one actually comes here on the weekend. I assume you’re all just skiving at work, that or you actually have lives and things to do with your Saturdays, unlike some of us (sigh). Spent most of this morning organizing some of my new acquisitions, listening to the radio and eating soup. For no good reason, I’m finding the mundanity of it all particularly amusing. Not that an average Saturday morning is ever particularly extraordinary for me. Maybe it’s the inevitable fall out from Monday supposedly being the most depressing day of the year – a story made light of in most news stories relating to it. Though the equation made for it does seem slightly amusing, I did read something about it a week earlier claiming that it would also be the year’s high point for suicides , which every other news source wholly missed out upon, preferring the “And finally,” approach. Or maybe it’s just that it’s the first Saturday in an age when I’ve woken up without any sort of hangover. Which reminds me!

UPDATE: Some of you may remember a week or so ago my stating some sort of plan to knock drinking on the head for a bit. Anyone wondering how that was going will be pleased to learn that shortly after writing that column I completely forgot about it. Two or three nights later I was back in my natural environment, roaming free like a booze addled pig. The only reason for my sobriety last night was the pain racking my stomach from the blitzkrieg of a jalfrezi I’d made earlier that night. Speaking of which, must dash.

Postscript. I am currently NOT Eric Morecambe. Please be assured if I do become him once again you will be the first to know. Thank you.

Gen(ii)us

January 28th, 2005 by

So, I’ve been being Eric Morecambe for the past week now, which isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Obviously relocating to Luton was a bit of a bind and his widow wasn’t exactly chuffed to bits about me moving in, but we got over that. But overall it’s been surprisingly enjoyable. Putting my glasses on at a slightly skewed angle, catching invisible things in brown paper bags, the constant shouts of “Wahey”. All oddly fun. I was a bit apprehensive about sleeping with Ernie Wise at first, but even that was okay once I’d got used to the smell. It would almost seem like a shame to go back to being me again, particularly as Vanessa Redgrave is coming over with Peter Cushing to have a look at a play what Ern wrote tomorrow. It seems like a shame to leave it all behind.

Maybe I’ll be Tommy Cooper next week.

But remember, until then I AM Eric Morecambe.

Gen(i)us

January 25th, 2005 by

Mary had a little lamb,
It had a touch of colic.
She gave it whiskey twice a day,
And now it’s alcoholic.

I AM Eric Morecambe! You better believe it.

A History of Collecting – Part Seventeen – Growing Pained

January 23rd, 2005 by

Welcome back one and all, to my continuing catharsis. I can’t imagine that any of you have no idea as to what this is. Anyone unsure is referred to previous episodes in the archive. Anyone who can’t be bothered to look should. Anyone expecting something about bikes will have to wait a bit. That comes later. Onward.

I must have been around twelve or thirteen when the U.K. was hit by a wave of adult oriented comics. I actually happened upon it by accident. This was undoubtedly brought about from the 1988 successes of works such as Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns. The high profiles of these comics in even (shock, horror!) the mainstream press, led to a number of companies trying to exploit the new market that had supposedly come out of nowhere. Of course, 2000AD had been going in this direction for many years and was now almost entirely unsuitable for kids of the age it was originally designed for. It was about the only title to survive this five-year boom. But strangely it wasn’t the comic that first introduced me to this niche of the industry.

Allow me to elaborate. At this time I was still reading Transformers quite religiously. By this point it had become quite apparent to me which strips were home grown and which were merely reprints of old American comics. This was most abundantly obvious by the fact that all of the British stories were written by one man (Simon Furman) and drawn by a core of three or four artists (Lee Sullivan, Andy Wildman and Geoff Senior being those who instantly spring to mind). By this time I was becoming quite familiar with various names in credit boxes, not to mention artists signatures in the humour titles I was still buying. I knew which creators I enjoyed and started to become intrigued about what else they maybe up too.

This became especially apparent in the case of Messrs Furman and Senior. Theirs, in my opinion at the time, were the most sublime Robots in Disguise stories that ran in the periodical. On top of that, they had also created a thoroughly enjoyable supporting character in Death’s Head. Introduced in one of the many convoluted time travel stories the magazine produced, Death’s Head was an intergalactic robotic bounty hunter, with the irritating tendency to say “yes?” at the end of every sentence. This habit was enough to pass for character to my tweeny mind at the time. I was sold, as were many other readers. So much so, that in spite of the Transformers being licensed characters, Marvel UK decided to spin the character off into their own universe. Thus a Death’s Head comic was launched. Drawn by Bryan Hitch (yes, THAT Bryan Hitch! Oh, you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about), the series lasted for ten issues before folding. Published in an American format (smaller sized, single story) it didn’t hold my interest particularly. I bought the first couple of issues, but then found that nowhere in the local area was stocking it any more. Non-plussed, I carried on about my business.

As I say, around this time the first boom in graphic novels (how I loathe the term) was beginning to gain momentum. I had sort of heard about these things, but only vaguely. The mainstream press articles completely passed me by, as I wasn’t reading anything in the mainstream press. The only part of a newspaper I was reading was the Sunday kid’s supplement in the daily mail (they don’t warrant capital letters, the fascist scum). I never even saw Alan Moore’s appearance on The Tube, due to my complete lack of interest in music and my parents general refusal to watch Channel 4, certainly when the news was on! Nevertheless, news had filtered down to me somehow that these new book sized stories were available out there somewhere. And then I happened upon the announcement.

It was probably on one of the introductory pages Transformers had in each issue. These would generally have very little to say of interest, more often than not plugging what was happening in the comic you had already bought or something that would be happening in a couple of weeks time. This time though it contained mention of a Death’s Head graphic novel. This was fascinating to me, but was something I initially considered entirely out of my price range. At the time, most of these were selling for well over a fiver or so, within my price range if I saved up, but at the same time I would have been able to buy at least half a dozen comics with the money. Why would I blow that amount on a single forty-eight page story when I could spend the same and get many more in my various anthologies? Then I noticed the mention of it’s serialisation in a new comic called Strip. I had heard of it, but had never seen an issue on the shelves. As far as I could make out, it didn’t contain any Marvel characters I knew the names of, or any licensed properties for that matter, so hadn’t really piqued my interest. But now that there was a reason to hunt it down and hunt I did.

Lo, it came to pass that I was out on one of my Sunday morning bike rides (ah, I’d forgotten about that. The bike thing had started, but not properly at this point. A more in depth analysis will follow, I promise) I arrived at one of Witney’s many newsagents. It’s name escapes me now, and it has long since closed, but I will always remember it as the one my parents didn’t like as they found the staff needlessly abrasive. There, sitting on the shelf was a copy of Strip issue nine. I had been out on the ride looking for something else, again I forget what (and again, the rides will be explained in detail at a later date) but my searching had been fruitless. Figuring I had nothing to lose and with the prospect of Furman and Senior (for they were the creative team) on a solo Death’s Head tale I went ahead and handed over my ninety-five pence. It may seem like a pittance now, but back then that was a hell of a lot to be paying for a single issue of anything – Transformers being barely fifty pee a shot for example. I rode home, slightly narked at being unable to find what I really wanted, but still quite pleased with my acquisition. Little did I know what new roads it would lead me down.

miscellany

January 19th, 2005 by

Hoo! Hah! Hi chums, just a quickie today. Meant to do something yesterday, but was overcome by various levels of melancholia. As the past month seems to have revolved around my own self-loathing and hatred of all mankind (don’t worry, I certainly don’t consider you to be a member of that unpleasant group). So I decided I probably ought to cheer up. Oddly it’s worked. Go figure. Anyway, here are some pointless pieces of information about the past couple of days.

Best lyric – “Throw the spade at the child” from the Amon Tobin/ Chris Morris collaboration ‘Bad Sex’

Hypochondria of the week – A toss up between some sort of ulcer or dysentery. I have been making my own curries again.

Creativity – negligible.

Date for reappearance of A History of Collecting – Soon. Just have to work out what comes next. I think it involves bicycles.

Plans for some kind of web comic – Pending.

Relevance of any of this to you – None at all. Now leave me alone.

Disturbing fun, for one and all!

January 17th, 2005 by

Sup G? It’s ages since I’ve put an utterly pointless link up, so here’s one. Don’t be scared, it is work safe. At first it almost looks obscene, then you realise it isn’t. Then you realise who it is and it almost becomes obscene again. Have a look!

Antics

January 15th, 2005 by

Hey Baby. Hmmm, you looking mighty fine. And so on. I’ve been seeing ants around recently. Not in strange hallucinations or in films or anything. Real, actual ants. And it’s January! Shouldn’t they all be dead, hibernating or whatever peculiar winter habits ants get up too? Certainly not brazenly wandering about, parading their antiness for all to see. It’s simply not right I tell you. Admittedly they’ve all been in doors, but I still can’t recall ever having seen any this early in the year before, in or out. I like to think I have a vague interest in environmental issues, but I’ve yet to see any studies about ant hibernation patterns breaking big news yet, when obviously it should be. Well, I’d be interested a bit anyway. Backs up the documentary about global dimming I saw a few nights ago; for those of you who don’t know, pollution in clouds is reflecting sunlight back into space, thereby causing fewer of the suns rays to hit the earth. Apparently the industrialised world has been getting progressively darker over the past century or so. Neither you nor I have ever known a truly sunny day and we probably never shall. Probably a good thing really, you’d only start whinging about how bloody bright it was and can we go back inside again. Cow. Thinking about the ant though, perhaps it is that. I’ve only seen one ant at a time, so perhaps it is just one super ant. While all his brethren were killed off in a cold snap (have we actually had one yet?), he was huddling by a radiator scoffing jam. Come spring he might lead an ant revolution, depose the Queen and start an incredible new ant patriarchy, the likes of which have never seen before in all the world’s hive minds. Or perhaps I did put that plate down on top of him. Time might tell.

Boozeless

January 13th, 2005 by

Hi kids. Sorry, but my idleness knows no bounds at the minute. Regular updates will recommence soon, honest they will! Somehow I’ve been drinking quite heavily while simultaneously running out of money, which does rather beg the question of how I’m going to survive the week or two before I’m paid again. I’m toying with the idea of giving up booze for a while. It’s not something I’ve done since I was, what, seventeen. Today’s hangover was particularly punishing (must stop drinking on empty stomachs . . . maybe if I start drinking out of them) so is probably the major influence on the decision. But I’m not one of those people who say “Never again” after every night out, so this is a genuinely unusual thought to pass through my mind. It would be interesting to see if I can manage it, but knowing my will power (refer to one of my smoking posts for examples) it would probably last until the next time I walk past a pub. Or off licence. Or tramp. Oh well, Friday tomorrow and who goes out on Fridays?

Light up my life

January 9th, 2005 by

Afternoon all. As you can see, I’m still not a hundred percent back into the swing of getting this up on a daily basis, but hopefully that will resolve itself over the next couple of weeks. I’m expecting next week to be truly horrific in the way that only five-day weeks can, as my body clock is yet to return to proper working hours. At the moment sleep comes as a luxury, rather than an option. I don’t seem able to tire until gone two in the morning, which though pleasant on a Friday or Saturday, doesn’t really help on a school night. On top of that, my ability to lie in at weekends seems to have been compromised by my waking up around eightish almost without fail. Will I ever live in a room that doesn’t get the bloody sunrise every morning? I’m sure it can be very pretty, but I’m not a morning person and both my curtains and eyelids are wafer thin (I believe I made some references to these in a number of earlier columns, if you’re interested), so when the big orb floats into view, I’m unable to kip through it’s warming presence. Oh, I’m just whinging now. Perhaps I’ll staple a duvet over the window. Or my face.