Friday, 14 April 2017

LET'S TALK COMICS...



I
f you have any statuettes or ornaments in your
home, you probably look at them more often than you
actually touch them.  However, there's something about
having the actual physical articles to indulge yourself when
you feel like being more tactile with your cherished items.
If I were to offer to buy them and give you a few photos
so that you could still see them whenever you wanted,
it wouldn't quite be the same, would it?

To me, it's the same with comics.  I don't just
want to read a comic, I want to own it, touch it, smell
it, linger within its pages (oh, steady, that's a bit steamy),
because a comic is an experience beyond the mere read-
ing of its contents.  That's because I love comics - the ac-
tual 'physical' embodiment of a comic, and not just the
comic strip material it contains.  It's the carton as
well as the content that does it for me.

Book lovers are the same.  To them it's not just
about reading the story, it's about turning the pages,
the feel of the cover, the smell of the book, the taking it
down from, and putting it back up on the shelf.  If you're
only interested in the tale it contains, then you can read it
on an iPad or Tablet or whatever, but to a lover of books,
that's a second-best experience at least.  To perch on the
porcelain - or anywhere else - with a book or comic in
your hands is a magical thing that true lovers of
the format are loath to relinquish.

That's why the comics 'industry' is, essentially,
 dead ('though it's being kept going on 'life-support').
It's unlikely that the comic strip industry will ever ex-
pire, as that can take the form of books, albums, and exist
in a digital format.  However, to the comics lover (the actual
physical manifestation of a comic that is), such incarnations
fail to satisfy.  Ironically, although I've sometimes been ac-
cused (by a few cretins) of illegally downloading comics, I
never read digital comics - I'm simply not interested in
them.  Any digital images I might have (old, out-of-
print strips) are stopgaps 'til I can track down
and acquire the actual published item.

So if you like comic strips, you can read them in
various forms, and those who earn their living from
writing and drawing them probably aren't too bothered
about what form their work takes just as long as folk get
to see it and (more importantly) they continue to be paid
for it.  However, if like me (and thousands more) you rec-
ognise the exclusive thrill that comes from reading and
handling an actual, paper periodical, you'll lament the
fact that the traditional British comics industry
seems to have breathed its last.

I've got loads of books that collect comic strips
of the past and I think they're great.  I love books,
but to be honest, where possible, I'd prefer to have the
original comics.  That's because books and comics are dif-
ferent, and tickle the senses in different ways.  Even when
the content is the same in both formats, if I had to make a
choice, I'd probably opt for the original presentation.  Case
in point:  I once bought the OMNIBUS volume of MAR-
VEL's SILVER SURFER, even 'though I've got all 18
original issues.  I examined every page, savouring the
near-perfect reproduction - then I put it aside and
dug out my original issues and read them.

Some folk won't understand that.  To them,
the content is the important thing.  And of course
it is important.  However, to lovers of traditional pub-
lished comics as they've been for decades, the carton is
equally as important.  However great a present may be, it
always seems far better if it's wrapped up and presented in
pretty paper, ribbons and bows, etc.  Without that, it can
sometimes seem less than it actually is.  So the old comics
industry is dead, but the comic strip industry will go on.
However, despite a strong resemblance due to the
fact they're related, they're not quite the same
thing.  In my view anyway.

How about you?

15 comments:

Mike said...

I get it. I have maybe five thousand digital comics I got from www.ioffer.com over the years to replace the several thousand paper comics I had the the gaps in between some. I had ALL the Marvels from 1961 on, yeah Amazing Fantasy #15 too, but no longer. I tell you, I still pull out my very few paper comics I kept much more than I sit at my iMac and look at an old Timely war comic in digital form. Just not the same. Sigh.

Kid said...

You said in four words, M, what it took me a whole post to say - "Just not the same." All too true, alas.

Colin Jones said...

I've just downloaded the latest volume of Guardians Of The Galaxy to my tablet which I could then read in comfort. My nearest Forbidden Planet is 20 miles away so it was a lot easier (and cheaper) to get the downloaded graphic novel rather than the individual issues. But I'm not a collector so owning the physical copies doesn't matter to me.

moonmando said...

I remember as a young boy cutting out the daily four/five panel comic strip from my dads daily record newspaper,and then pasting them together in sequence onto a blank A4 notepad type jotter,thus creating my own personalised comic.
I'm racking my brains as to what the story was,as it was back in the mid sixties.
Unfortunately I don't have you excellent sense of recall Kid,but I do remember that feeling of creativity and fun,and the whole tactile experience in creating my own little publication.
Anyone else do that?

Kid said...

If it works for you, CJ, then I suppose that's all that matters, but I can't help feel you're missing out on something not handling the actual comics. Ah, well...

******

Was it Angus Og, Moony? That's the only one I recall from the '60s. Aside, that is, from Scooby Doo, in response to HB saying they weren't going to do another series. Cue the Daily Record to start a petition to save Scooby, and also adapt one of the TV stories into a daily cartoon strip. It was a bit odd, because the cops were drawn as Glasgow Bobbies. That appeared in '69 or '70, I think. Can't remember if I was still at primary school or had started secondary by then. (So much for that excellent sense of recall, eh?) I cut out that strip, but never kept it. I still cut out strips I enjoy today, like Calvin & Hobbes.

moonmando said...

I think it was Scooby Doo,come to think of it. I'm sure they done it in colour,thus enhancing its appeal.

Kid said...

I remember it being b&w, but if it was, maybe it was in colour in the Saturday editions.

Phil S said...

The price of collectible comics has forced me to read reprint collections. I'm getting used to it as I can always get a new copy of the reprint and don't have to worry about tearing a page. Also the printing is better, no more color bleeds and over prints. But I do miss the old ads. And you lose some of the effect of the cover when it's stuck in the page of a book. But I'll be darned if I'm going to dig through all my boxes to read one comic when the same story is on the shelf. I think I'm getting lazier the older I'm getting . In short- I'm getting used to reprints but I love my old comics. The thrill of owning an actual comic .

Kid said...

Reprint collections are fine if you just want to READ a comic strip, PS. However, if you want to EXPERIENCE a comic, then nothing beats an original, faults and all.

Philip Crawley said...

I think that you nailed it there Kid with your last response - it is an experience. Fortunately my originals are about as far away from where I sit as the collected ones on the shelf. Easier to pull a book off the shelf though than open an archive box and carefully slide the original comic out of its plastic sleeve. I agree - you can get lazier as you get older!, or maybe you realize that you have less time so take the more direct route to things. Also, as you have mentioned many times and I have agreed with as many - there is that time travel effect of perusing the original comic taking you back to the time and place of its purchase. Having said that I also like the completeness and compactness of having remastered versiosn all there in collected volumes. Though I also have a horde of digital editions I find that I look at those less than I do the actuals or collections. Just me maybe.

Kid said...

I think if I never had a run of old comics to begin with, a collected edition suits me fine, PC, 'though sometimes it's convenient to have a collected edition of comics I DID (or do) have, rather than dig out individual issues (as you say). I have loads of Masterworks, Omnibus and Epic collections, and reading them can be an experience in themselves, but reading an actual original comic is hard to beat. Today's American comics are a slightly different affair because they're printed on glossy paper, and the only thing they share with their predecessors is the approximate size and shape of a comic book. When it comes to digital comics, I find I have no interest in reading them because it's a whole other 'experience'. Today's kids might enjoy them, but they're settling for second-best I think. Ach, bring back the '60s is what I say.

TC said...

moonmando, I did that in the late 1960's. That is, I cut out some daily newspaper strips (The Phantom) and collected them in an album. So I had two make-shift, homemade trade paperbacks or archive editions, each with one complete story.

And, yes, digital is just not the same as actually having the book or magazine itself. But that's for our generation. Today's kids never got into comic books, so, fifty years from now, their nostalgia will be for laptops and smart phones. Which, by then, will seem quaint, having been replaced by then with even more advanced technology.

Kid said...

You still got those homemade albums, TC? Today's kids may not have got into comicbooks, but I feel they've missed out on something 'better' than what they have.

TC said...

The homemade albums, alas, are long gone. Like Stevie Nicks sang, "And a memory's all that's left for you now..."

Nostalgia Press did reprint albums of 1930's Phantom strips, but I've never seen any reprints of the 1960's stuff.

And, yeah, today's kids missed out on something, but they don't know the difference. You don't miss what you never had.

Kid said...

True, TC, but they're still impoverished despite that. Incidentally, Moony's away for the weekend and will at present be lying in an alcohol-induced stupor in his luxury caravan. No doubt he'll get around to replying to you when he sobers up.

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