As a kid I used to read a lot of comics.
For my seven and eight year old self comics meant, the Beano, the Dandy and an occasional dip into Roy of the Rovers. At maybe, twelve, the focus had shifted to Judge Dredd, Batman and an occasional dip into Roy of the Rovers. And then I stopped reading them. For nearly thirty years. Until last year.
This year, my 41st to be precise (Hey, age is just a number. As I started saying after I hit thirty), I ventured back into the long forgotten realm of the comic book and was instantly daunted by what I found there. The landscape had certainly shifted from what I remembered. It felt as though the writing, the art, and the general tone had aged alongside me. The enormous wealth of comics available and the adult themes blew me away. I had a picture of superheroes and cartoon characters dancing in my head when opening the door to Comic Book Towers, but instantly I was floored by the new scale and reach of what greeted me.
My return to this medium, this art form, came on the back of my, now defunct, old website approaching an idea light-bulbed in writer, Trevor Coelho’s head. He thought that we should approach some comic book publishers to potentially begin reviewing their wares on the site. The response from the publishers was positive and my journey began anew.
The first two stops for myself, and the point at which I knew this wasn’t the place I remembered leaving behind, were, Tim Ginger and Long Walk to Valhalla. Both equally mesmerising in their own way. But it was here that I also realised the enormity of the task before me if I was to get back in time with a world that had spun long and fast in my absence.
I was unaware of any of the writers out there. Oblivious to any long running series that hadn’t aired on TV already. Now, as an adult attempting to review these works of art, I had no history to sit back on, no knowledge of the past works of these world builders and storytellers, and no idea of the interlinking nature of certain series. And it makes you feel a little bit like the kid in class who can’t quite get their head around the problem while others are flying along.
It has made the first steps in this journey interesting to say the least. At times I’ve floundered, there’s no doubting that. I’ve written reviews I’ve hated. Written ones I’ve loved. Struggled to find the words at times and found too many at others. I’ve been consistently overwhelmed by the diversity on offer and often floored by the talent. The steady flow of weekly releases also never ceases to amaze, with comics there is always something new to explore, and I love it! When you come from a background of writing about video games the comic world is a refreshing place to dwell.
My return after three decades has proved daunting, but more than that it’s proved rewarding. I’ve encountered people, places and tales I would otherwise have missed. Stories that demand to be heard and should have a worldwide audience are commonplace I’ve learnt. And I’m still learning, still finding my feet, understanding the jargon, the abbreviations, but for now at least I’m just happy I now get to read these stories again, and for that alone it’s so good to be back.