Monday, 30 June 2014

Comics Unmasked


Comic books for adults is a complete contradiction in terms, as anyone who reads comics is not an adult and should have their voting rights removed ASAP.

I don't know how anyone can get bored of comics. It's sad that people lose interest. It mostly tends to be people who don't keep an open mind and don't stay curious about it. And perhaps stay in a certain comfort zone for whom comics are a nice bit of light refreshment or recreation, but they're not something they want to work at or think about. 


I measure time in notebooks.   

There’s an opinion that we become different people every seven years as a result of all those cells replacing themselves, but that’s obviously nonsense.  It’s much more sensible to keep track of who you think you are at any given moment by associating blocks of time with something arbitrary (where you live, what t-shirts still fit you, how much it costs to get to work, who you’re married to at the moment, things like that).  It’s all an illusion, so a notebook’s as valid as anything else.  It's taken two years but I’m about to start a new one. 

A couple of Christmases ago I got a lovely Dennis the Menace1 themed notebook from one of my best friends.  It’s officially licensed through D. C. Thompson and everything.  The first thing I wrote in it was just before a Judge Minty screening and since then it’s traveled all over the country with me, attended gigs, films, rehearsals, special occasions, wakes and, unlike digital technology, hasn’t once let me down.   

The notebook represents an eventful chunk of my life.  It’s a physical artifact of the last two years.  It exists.  This is the, very personal, tale of its final public appearance.


I’ve loved comics since I could blink.  Recently, when hacking my way through some of the more distant caverns of a nostalgia mine, I came across stacks of the very first comic I was subscribed to, a pink-hued printed hug named after its canine star, Toby.  The copies are NM to F2 because, being not much more than an escaped foetus when the issues started piling up, I doubt that I ever actually read them.  Toby first crops up in my memory as a ready-made stack, glimpsed out of the corner of an eye while flicking through something Disney or - more likely - Hogarth.  That's Burne rather than William, although Bill’ll be making an appearance later on when he’s got his wig straight. 

As I got older the comics stayed weekly but the titles changed.  There was a healthy mix of home-grown mixed in with franchised reprints of US superheroes.  Hulk and Godzilla bumped into the worlds of Doctor Who and Star Wars.  Tiger and Speed gave it their best shot but failed to make me love sport.  For a while I adored Buddy, the relaunched Eagle was a joy; Whizzer and Chips, School Fun, Buster, Shiver and Shake all carried their own easy diversions, and every Christmas Beano and Dandy annuals would turn up to be devoured.  Strangely, I never really got into the weekly editions.  I was dimly aware of 2000 AD from sasquatch-glimpses on the newsagent's racks and wet playtimes, trapped with crayons in a steam-fogged classroomFor years I used comics as landmarks.  I can still remember specific occasions - holidays, junior rugby tours and the like - because of what comic I was reading at the time.3   

In my teens I started collecting seriously.  I wrote to creators, produced a couple of fanzines and drew a bit.  Mostly I just read and read and read, books as well as comics.  It didn’t matter what I was reading if it was interesting, entertaining and made my brain sit up and dance.  

This was my second trip to London this year.  If we take it as read that the journey was just as hellish this time then I can skip most of the details. 

We landed at Victoria.  I followed Mr Finch2, buffeted through strange crowds, looking out for colonial werewolves while totally losing all sense of direction, until I surfaced at King’s Cross.  London’s streets are concrete jungle trails.  The British Library rears out of the foliage like a lost city made of sticklebricks.  The giant Blake swipe disguised as an Isaac is a nice touch.  Somehow, I was early.

I’d spent a lot of the journey listening to Radio Four’s coverage of the European elections.  The reception was garbled and confused, filtered through some sort of cosmic radiation.  I seemed to have shifted to a parallel world where UKIP were winners.  Obviously that's an hallucination, otherwise I’d have to say something heartfelt about how important free speech is and be massively offensive about messiah figures with DVDs to sell taking advantage of that.     

That observation nearly leads into the exhibition proper, but first-

BurlettaD├ętournementWitzelsucht! 
Is it finally time to dust down ‘strikhedonia’ or are the quidnuncs at Front Row as ultracrepidarian as the Funday Times?2 

Ludicrous, isn’t it?  It’d be the height of sub-editing laziness to scumble out a headline like that, all lipstick-deep research mixed with assumptions only there to prod the hind-brain without any tedious faffing around with the grey stuff at the front.

Luckily, I know that you’re intelligent and discerning readers (you’re still here, aren’t you?) so you’re aware how cognitive dissonance is a wonderful thing.  You’re also fully aware of how confirmation bias works.  Consequently, I’m going to place two things here and let you do whatever you like with them.  You can choose to read both, one, or neither.  Up to you.

A
B

Right, let’s get on with it.  We enter through the gift shop. 


You step into the exhibition through what at first appears to be a wonky window.  Opposite you hangs a banner made up of three discrete sections – different stages of the same picture create a dizzying 3D effect.  It’s made twice as dizzying when you remember the world itself’s in 3D.  Viewmaster discs?  Just me then.   

A comic strip projection/process shifts and morphs in a ribbon stretched below the ceiling.  The pictures change from mind to hand to eye to hand to eye and mind again, which is, of course, the whole cycle a comic goes through from writer to artist to reader.  As above, so below.  Marvelously subtle and, though I’ve still not seen anyone mention it, it’s definitely what’s going on.  We’ll come back to this.

The first section is dedicated to Mr Punch.  Portraits of the eternal trickster nestle next to original models made by artistic director Dave McKean for The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch, written by Neil Gaiman.  It’s a thrill to see these originals and, for a moment, I’m also reminded of John Hicklenton’s mates, never averse to using Mr Punch imagery themselves.  Or mentioning Marvel Comics.  Or Crowley. 

For a while, Punch appeared in a publication called Toby, named after his dog…

Comics Unmasked's co-curator Paul Gravett was involved with Escape Magazine during the 1980s.  I’d often see copies of it on the more forbidding shelves of Forever People (a comic shop clinging desperately to Bristle’s vertiginous Park Street).  Although I befriended some of its offspring – Violent Cases, I’m looking at you – it took a long while to appreciate the European sophistication of the parent mag.  My loss.     

Next there’s some original Ken Reid ‘Jonah’ artwork from a 1959 Beano.  Glorious slabs of colour that smell like Christmas.  Forever People often had original artwork displayed on the stairs, the block blacks fading faster than the linework.   

There’s a tiny 1849 almanack – a copy of the Illustrated London News – delicate pages and fairy-wing fragile penmanship.  Beautiful relics from a less-civilised age.

1470 and a guest appearance from that perennial favourite, the book of Revelation - Biblia pauperium – made from woodcuts.  I should really explain where the word ‘comic’ comes from.  No time though. 

It’s the infamous Tales From the Crypt #2 – squarebound, who’d have thought?  Strangely, the information says the artist’s ‘Unknown’, but it’s clearly credited to ‘Jack Davis’.  This is where I should reminisce about the Gorbals Vampire, Martin Barker, the NUT witch-hunt, George Pumphrey and then rattle on about Video Nasties and the joy of having to sign out Mary Whitehouse's memoirs from the Forbidden Knowledge section of a library.  Maybe later. 

On the subject of forbidden joy, we’ve reached the Action section.  Hookjaw, finally captured and displayed under glass.  Martin Barker wrote a book about Action that’s become harder to get hold of than anything by Crowley.  I’d heard there was a copy in Edinburgh; the only other edition used to be in the Glasgow School of Art.  Strangely, the obviously Carlos Esquerra cover on display – yes, it’s that one - is credited to Mike White.  What is it with Mikes being made to mimic Esquerra?2

Preacher was a series that kicked your legs away.  Illustrated throughout by the first comic artist I fanned over, and with covers painted consistently by the genius who took the time to answer my forwarded letters and provide an exclusive cover for my second fanzine.  Exhilarating.

I started reading From Hell in Taboo around the same time I was failing A-Level Theatre Studies.  I was the only student in my year which made the compulsory group module tricky.4  I picked up various issues of From Hell from various publishers in various cities over various years.  There’s a contemporary copy of The Illustrated Police News in the same case as the Eddie Campbell Comics collected edition.  Both sit silently, like evidence.  All that remains of the Ripper's murder sites are a few cobbles.  History’s wiped the rest away under a mixture of progress and continually diluted solutions. 

We finish with 100 Months, as did the much-missed John Hicklenton.  For years I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of this primal glory but nowhere seems to stock it.  This is where I should explain why he was so much better than Bisley, rather than just mention Killing Joke and start banging on about Crowley again.


Ah, Ally Sloper.  1890s cross-platform ne’er-do-well media transplant, appearing tonight as the same ventriloquist dummy that's in the illustrative Victorian photographs.  That’s time-travel for you.  The current one’s got blood on his trousers.   

Speaking of platforms, I seem to misremember that Ally kicked off his career about the same time that W.H. Smiths were railway platform kiosks.  Rather than a vacuum-formed piece of licensed plastic tat, readers would get free life insurance with every issue Ally appeared in.  If you were clutching a copy when your body was dragged from the tangle of trashed train then your surviving relatives would receive a cash prize. 

The Glasgow Looking Glass is, almost certainly, the first comic, so take that, Yellow Kid!  This is where I would explain the joke about how Glasgow invented everything (except Edinburgh) but there just isn’t time.  I’m hunched over, writing notes in a scribbled frenzy and trying to get through everything chronologically.  It’s impossible.  Apart from being conscious that I’m looking like a lunatic, the exhibition’s really busy.

It’s the ‘Bumpkin Billionaires’!  Oh, I used to love Whoopee!  And here’s Oor Wullie, produced by Dundonian genius Dudley Watkins (actually an Englishman and another excuse to mention the Glasgow School of Art).  Watkins lives on in Frank Quitely.    I’ve only been to Dundee twice.  One time I got to walk through Scott’s ship, wondering whether Shackleton had sat on that seat.  Had Oates?  That’s an obsession for another day.

Hwyl!  Welsh and I’d never heard of it.  Then there’s Mabinogi by Mike Collins - another generous contributor to my second fanzine – described as the first graphic novel in Welsh.  I’m guessing Asterix and Tintin translations don’t count.

We stroll through more titles, some familiar, some not.  It’s weirdly nostalgic to see Al Davison’s superlative Spiral Cage again.  More pertinent than anything by Morpugo, this has haunted me since I was remaking shattered GCSEs.  

1951.  Enid Blyton’s casually racist strip, Mandy, Mops and Cubby and the Whitewash is a particularly grim echo of a dead time.  

Nemesis: Deathbringer by Pat Mills and John Hicklenton was an important strip for me, though I’d be hard-pressed to properly articulate exactly why just now.  I’ve got a dastardly coach to catch, so let's up the pace.

Crisis’ Third World War comes with a strange assortment of memories.  Spinning off idealistically from 2000 AD, this led to my being more aware of politics, albeit reluctantly.  I was busy rebelling against everything at the time.  Some of my teachers were comic readers (I still remember chuckling when one teacher, with a sly grin, slipped the term ‘global village’ into an otherwise dry as plastic assembly) but most of them weren’t.  For every inspiring teacher willing to discuss Watchmen, Slaine, Dark Knight, Maus, Robert Graves and poetry with me, there were, well, the rest.  I’m sure they meant well but they went about it the wrong way.

Superheroes.  Superheroes, the Beano and newspaper strips.  That’s all comics were when you were in a position of authority.  The elderly seemed to associate comics with laughing at the antics of alcoholic wife-beater Andy Capp, to paraphrase Homer (Simpson).  Stupid Flo.  Innocent pleasures.  Childish.

I sometimes lived in a house on top of a hill, next to a park, but even there comics were frowned on.  The Gambols would appear along with Rupert in the delivered paper.  Sometimes a Thelwell collection would also arrive – kudos to Dave Sim for the appropriation of the ferocious grandmother.2

We’ll come back to school in a while.


Without any windows it soon becomes hard to keep track of which direction you’re heading in.  The exhibition’s laid out in such a way that even the map in the A5 exhibition guide resembles a puzzle.  It’s like a haunted hall of mirrors hidden in a funhouse maze.   

On top of that, there’re the multiplying Vs.

As you step through the initial portal you’re met by a couple of shop window Autons dressed up all youth and sporting Anonymous masks – y’know, from that film?  Further into the sequential headspace labyrinth you turn a corner and there’s another bunch: dead-faced, no-eyed, disconcerting smiles.  It’s every walk to the shops that turned into a panic safari because you automatically apply paranoia to any pack of strangers recreated in a library.  Nowhere's safe, eh?

Politics, power and the people – the responsibilities of institutions and individuals; the terrible power of the imagination; the horrifying anonymity of crowds: it’s all here.  Each section builds on the last and echoes what's ahead.  Racing through the moments from a purely personal point of view is best...

Dave ("Argh! It’s ‘im!") McKean’s cover for Hellblazer #3 is important for many reasons other than just Thatcher.  Blu-tacked next to the reprographics room featured in The Payphone Story was a poster made up of affectionately bootlegged slivers of this cover.  Some of us were talking to each other using a secret language so occult that most teachers weren’t aware any conversation was happening; the ones that could read it were sworn to secrecy, so that was fine too.  Occasionally there’d be a stumble.  Pages would be torn down and destroyed.  Maggie was too obvious and too powerful a symbol to be left unmentioned.   

I got into trouble for different reasons.  I would clip tiny sections from innocuous adverts in You (the Mail on Sunday’s wipe-clean colour supplement) and then enlarge them to gig-advertising-poster size.  Suddenly they became Matters for the Headteacher.  We bring our own baggage to pictures after all.  Bloody Heisenberg.

There’s some lovely original Steve Yeowell art from The New Adventures of Hitler. Milligan, McCarthy and Swain’s Skin still shouts in furious colours that can almost be misheard as ‘This is England’ if you hold your breath.  And close your eyes.  Crisis, the starting point for both of these stories, deserves a definite reassessment.  Especially for smuggling subversive ideas into South Africa.    

Britton and Coulthart’s Lord Horror was something you just didn’t talk about.  Let’s not try and connect Hawkwind, Alan (no relation to Steve) Moore, Lovecraft, Crowley and Coil either – that’d be obscene.  People would get hurt and porridge has never been any fun.  

Raymond Briggs’ When the Wind Blows still chills.  Protect and Survive as a love story.  Bowie crooned the film’s theme and Melinda Gebbie helped make it move.  Mix in some Threads and you’ll find yourself on the bridge with Munch, the abyss staring right on back.  AARGH!  Strange days.  Frightening days.  You kids today, with your Anonymous masks and your hashtweets, you don’t know you’re born.  If… only 

Amongst the bellowing there’s satire, savage and far from simple.  Glorious d├ętournement nudges up against a Judge Dredd strip that’s against the law to read.  Other cases to be heard include the naughty OZ schoolboys.  Wizard!

There’s a piece of David Lloyd’s original V for Vendetta artwork on the wall.  If you lean in close it almost becomes a collage.  The layers are glorious.  Pencil lines, ink lines, photocopied music.  All there under the reflected gaze of an ominous crowd of the Anonymous.  They don’t know they’re born.  Opposite the artwork is Alan (no relation to Steve) Moore’s original typewritten script: for David Lloyd’s art; for Warrior’s printers; for DC’s reprinters; for Hollywood’s greed-driven compromise machine; for the uniformed individuality of a thousand idealised dreams.  This section is a frozen moment of time: a recursive occlusion.  

It’s a time machine and it’s real. 

Don’t touch.


When I was young and not riding dinosaurs to school, I used to love Oliver Frey’s Dan Dare artwork in the relaunched Eagle.  His back-cover DIY poster for Scream! was lovely too.

Moving on.


The section that deals with the area of comics that an awful lot of comics fans confuse with being all comics, starts with an artist’s desk.  Enough of the pseudo-intellectual typing, this is where the real work takes place.  The Artist’s got a reclusive, almost monastic job, turning words into images – the intangible into the physical.  One damn line at a time. 

There’s an allowance for audience participation here.  Dozens of sheets of paper litter a desk, a wonderfully untidy visitor’s book.  Expecting to have my collar felt by a Security Librarian at any moment I draw a grinning Chubble and thank everyone for having me.  The whole comics creation recipe is shown again: same process, different explanation.  There’s a lot of original art pinned to a wall.  A film plays all the while but we’re in a rush now.

Thank Grud, here’s the 2000 AD section.  Karl Urban’s helmet from Dredd floats next to some of Bisley’s original Horned God illuminations.  Ian Gibson’s divine original Halo Jones cover art next.  If you look close enough you can see the soul in the strokes, including all the bits edited out for the book’s logo.  These original pieces are the raw ingredients of mechanical reproduction: we’re in the dream factory for real now.    

Tank Girl artwork by Jamie Hewlett is embedded on the same DC artboard as the piece of Mark Buckingham M*****man work I’ve got on the wall behind me.  I once read that because the Company owned the boards they, obviously, owned any artwork subsequently added to said boards.  You thought the M*****man legal wall of brambles was already impenetrable?  Wait until the Distinguished Competition wade in for their cut, True Believer. 

Aha, it’s the anti-hero!  All very British, of course.  Original Eagles.  Innocent?  Imperialistic?  Of their time?   

Alien figures appear on a research bookshelf, staring down a battle-damaged Dalek and other purchased ideas that’ve been firmly copyrighted into plastic.  Ambered mosquitoes.  Out of the packaging these mass-produced rarities are financially valueless but it’s the only way they’ll increase in nostalgic value.  Cruel to be mined.  The whole section’s designed to provoke interaction rather than just a purchase.  It’s very British.

More Yeowell, this time some original Zenith artwork, and then– 

Oh wow!  Jim Baikie New Statesman art!  Crisis again.  Back when my personal fossil record was moving from the Secondary to the Delinquent, my first band and I spent the run-up to Christmas in a Bristle recording studio.  During the moments that I wasn’t required, I schlepped off and wandered through the city centre buying presents for myself, one of which was the trade paperback of New Statesmen.  It wasn’t quite Watchmen but it did the trick.  During that session the band recorded a track called Black Orchid, which covers two of my obsessions in three long-lost minutes.

Kick Ass?  Yeah, let’s not go there. 

Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s brutal Marshal Law’s up next.  I used to write increasingly over-familiar letters to half of the creators of this.  I didn’t know I was born and was, as are all young men, fearless, invincible and correct about everything.  Two out of three ain’t bad, especially if you’re Daredevil.

Bit of ‘ush now, it’s the Watchmen section. 

There’s a page of script (photocopied from the Absolute Edition).  The ink’s still glistening on the original Gibbons artwork. 

I can’t begin to explain how important Watchmen was to me, both then and now.  There was a buzz surrounding Watchmen long before the first issue came out.  Even now I can tell you where I bought each of the twelve issues.  I won’t, but I can.  Although I’d followed Dave Gibbons from Doctor Who Weekly via 2000 AD and all the everything you’d imagine to DC, Alan (no relation to Steve) Moore was the more influential of the two. You see, as well as teaching me how to read comics, I think it's fair to say that Alan Moore taught me how to read.3

Each issue of Watchmen was a landmark in my life, another step forward.  I was at the age when every sense was operating at its peak – I was a gymnast and an athlete too, so I was in terrific physical shape – and, like an elephant sensing a natural disaster in advance of humanity's most advanced technological instruments
(which they don’t) I felt something fundamental and huge shifting, not only in comics, but in the whole world.  The sudden outbreak of acne was entirely coincidental.

Shortly after the original run was finished I managed to persuade my English teacher to read Watchmen.  He wasn’t hugely impressed but did allow me to submit a lengthy essay on the collected edition as part of my English Literature GCSE coursework, which he then savaged.  It was torn apart with so much red ink that even dental records were only a best guess.  Parents were summoned for Emergency Talks.  Cynicism was mentioned more than once. 

And I stood there. 

And I took it.2 

I failed my English Literature GCSE and got back to the serious business of spiraling out of control with heroic enthusiasm.4



This is the section where I’m supposed to pull all the threads together until the rug’s gone from under your feet.   

Yeah, you.

The final section starts with the pages of the thirty-second issue of Promethea displayed as the poster it was always intended to be.  (I thought it was double-sided?  Isn’t that twice as impressive?)

Crowley’s chatting away in cheerful Enochian (echoing from a one-way telephone handset).  I came onstage for the final time to a snippet from the same recording.  “Bury me in a nameless grave.”  Easier to find than Lord Horror, that’s for sure.

Dreams of the Victorian age.  Opium cough remedies.  Cobbles glint.  Red then, rain now. 

More time machines.  Here’s Dr. Dee’s diary.  The actual initial strokes of Enochian; here’s the birth of a language.  Shakespeare snores as Dee transcribes Kelley’s scryped interviews with proper celebrities.  Rituals and invocation and an eye for detail in a black mirror.  scryPad?

Here’s Crowley’s notebook – looks like my lecture notes: same colour choice certainly.  These are the most guarded secrets of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn of course.  It’s not like you’re going to find a link to Yeats here.  What?

And now.  It's...

Crowley’s original Diary of a Drug Fiend manuscript – as dictated to exquisite, doomed, dead soul Leah Hirsig.  It’s still wrapped in her hair bands. 

Then H.P. Lovecraft books.  Piled deep.  Very deep.  EldritchNameless.  Sandpaper, unpleasant ungulate razors and endless, endless bloody maths.

Artwork.  The Frieda Harris Thoth tarot originals  – larger and lovelier than you’d imagine.  Thoth being Nemesis’ son means nothing.  Oi!  Down at the back.

Near the end now, we reach the revolving 3D display that doesn’t.  Misty, Hellblazer, Father Shandor, Judge Anderson and the original Luther Arkwright as published by pssst!.  The rumour was that all of these volumes were bound in explosive glue, so I’m astounded this exists.  It looks real.  Once upon a time, during the Valkyrie Press years, I walked around Forever People with Bryan Talbot while he picked his signing fee out of the racks.  I didn’t know I was born.  I’d manipulated an accidental foothold in the door that led to the wonderful world of comics but, through some spectacular self-sabotage, still managed to lock myself out. 

The Sandman breaks down in panels.  She Lives! faces Jamie Hewlett’s endlessly repeating Gorillaz animation, every frame forever writing a cheque that the music will never quite be able to cash.      

Austin Osman Spare pops up care of Savage Pencil, giving me the chance to namedrop Coil again.  It’s the end - the iPads and the visuals and the webcomics - there just isn’t time.

It concludes, as any work of magick does, with creation.  The bringing forth of something that wasn’t there before.  You make something. 


I didn't just believe that anyone over the age of 15 who read comics should have their voting rights removed (even if they didn't have them yet); I also believed that they shouldn't be allowed access to further education or to adopt small children. But thankfully, I have become a lot more open-minded in my old age…

One of the biggest mistakes it’s possible to make with comics is to confuse medium and genre.  Comics are a medium with its own rules and conventions.  Like poetry.  Or film.  Or opera.  After a certain age and a certain amount of experience, we can cross a road without becoming a statistic.  Sometimes, it’s possible to do it without traffic lights.  At no point during the crossing do we stop and think about the hugely complicated mathematical processes taking place with each step – and thank splink for that, eh?2  Comics Unmasked is an unparalleled success and a wonderful representation of an artistic medium.

No? 

How about this, then: Comics Unmasked is an entirely new form of comic in which the exhibits are the panels.  No, you can’t read the whole thing.  You’re not supposed to.  Tch. 

From the entry panel disguised as a window5 that you can choose to step through, the exhibition’s a physical representation of an abstract concept: it’s a field-trip through a mental process; the map and the terrain are the same thing.  The story is unique to everyone who ‘reads’ it.  You’ll see a different exhibition to the one I did, because, to put it at its most basic, you aren’t me.  Any suitably advanced piece of psychohistory is indistinguishable from magick, that’s the trick.

Comics Unmasked concludes with creation.  Some visitors won’t understand the language and, as a result, they’ll dismiss an entire medium out of hand.  Some visitors will have a lovely afternoon out.  Some visitors will write huge pieces of incomprehensible self-promotion based on a flawed reading.  Some visitors, after they’ve exited the exhibition into the bright glare of a modern temple, will go home and make something themselves.  They’ll make something exist in the world that wasn’t there before.

And that’s magick. 

That’s comics. 



At some point we’re going to have some sort of shift, it’s already happening.  It won’t be seismic but it is already happening in a series of tipping points - the dominoes are falling - where we will go, “Why did we ever think that comics were… inferior… or encouraged delinquency or illiteracy or, somehow, not the right mixture of art and writing?  That they were somehow just to be ignored or put down?”
Because…  We’ve been wrong.   
Culturally, we’ve been wrong about so many things. 
We can look back now and we can see – yeah – actually, people that were pro-slavery, people who were sexist, racist, y’know, whatever you want to say.  All the things that we know we got wrong.  We know that – We know that religion’s got plenty of things wrong over its – over the years.  We can now - we continually, strugglingly getting things right – and looking back and correcting.  And I think comics and their…  their position, is one of those that’s going to eventually get readjusted, corrected just to be seen as something important.  Actually, something rich.  As important as any other expressive art form.
- Paul Gravett – The Virtual Memories Show

I had teachers say that to me. "Well, you’re very talented, you’re very smart, you have a real talent for writing, why are you reading this garbage? Why are you writing this garbage? Why do you like this crap about Superman and Batman?" However, I’ve seen in my lifetime – I’m sixty-five years old – I’ve seen that change. The prejudice is much less than it was.


Dedicated to everyone who’s ever loved a comic.

1.  The one with the dog called Gnasher, just in case anyone’s confused. 

2.  Don’t worry if you don’t get that. 

3.  I know that's all over the place chronologically speaking, but you’ll just have to live with that.  This is supposed to be truthful rather than factual. 

4.  The teacher in question had the very best of intentions and was genuinely concerned about me, so I won’t mention my degree here.  But I will say... this. 

5.  Yes, yes it is.

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