As mornings go, this one has been a little different. I have been given strict instructions to acquire a collectable comic for my 7 year-old with his remaining birthday money. Now that he has discovered Spider-Man, he is suddenly a Marvel Comic connoisseur. This newfound hobby just so happens to coincide with a former colleague launching the first issue of his own comic, the dark, fantastical, exquisitely illustrated and wholly-inappropriate-for-7-year-olds “No Place Like Home.”
I am a comic book virgin of sorts. My very limited experience to date is adequately covered by a handful of Beano comics purchased by my father and a cursory glance at an old Eagle annual handed down by some distant relative. The Beano comics in no time at all became landfill. The Eagle annual remained on my bookcase, gathering dust until such time that I finally appreciated the merits of the genre.
This discovery of comics – aside from being attributable to parenthood, also stems from having worked for a time for a TV production company amongst artists, self-confessed geeks and creative types. A few lasting friendships were formed at this company and we are all now hitting that difficult age where we are bidding goodbye to our youth and staring down the barrel of impending middle age. But we are not going down without a fight. This has been non more evident than in recent birthday and Christmas presents I have received, which have included DVDs I would hitherto not have elected to watch, but now relish, including Kick-Ass and X-Men. In short, I am not so much revisiting my youth as reinventing it.
So, intent on bagging a first “investment” issue to stash in my loft (not to read by torchlight under the duvet like a guilty teen, you understand), I decided to further investigate the Spider-Man stories. It’s a minefield out there! I have never seen so many variations on a theme. There are enough villains to ensure the simultaneous running of several world wars. Also, aside from the copious volumes on Spider-Man, there is “The Amazing Spider-Girl.” There are Spider-Man “Revelations,” and stories where he teams up with other Marvel heroes, such as Wolverine. I’m sure a lot of you are reading this and wondering whether I have been living under a rock for years, but it has opened up a whole new world to me.
I eventually opted for Spider-Man: Origin of Species and feel very proud of myself for becoming notably cooler. I know a little about these things now. I also know where to find them. OK, it’s a Southampton mega store, but it deals in cult entertainment. Cult, you see? There is a difference. Already I am sounding like a comic book nerd. Maybe I’ll be bitten by dust mites and will morph into some kind of leaping, flying super heroine, able to drain the blood of suburban baddies while they sleep. Watch this space.