Hello again, my foolish friends. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been. Again.
Well, I could bore you with excuses about lack of time, but I won’t.* No instead, I want to address the issue of my frequent extended absences from your computer screens from a slightly different angle, to whit:
“Regie, given that you clearly don’t have the time to do this properly anymore, why don’t you just give it up?”
Because it’s a good question. Like many – if not most – people, as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed what I suppose I have to call a life. Not what I would have called a life back when I was in my twenties, when I thought having a life was basically about being able to do lots of stuff, but what a “life” turns out to be, which apparently is in fact “having lots of people needing you to do things which have to be done RIGHT NOW! Regardless of what you’d rather be doing.
I suspect that rather a lot of the people reading this know exactly what I mean.
Which is all very well of course, but doesn’t actually answer the question. Well, bear with me, because I’m getting there.
You see, if you look beneath all that new found responsibility what you find is basically the same person who first picked up a copy of 2000AD #528 back in June 1987. I was fifteen years old, bored, and, as I passed 28p over the counter to Mr Aziz who ran the Newsagent’s on East Laithe Gate in Doncaster, totally unaware that I was taking the first step on a path that was to inform and entertain the rest of my life.
I say basically the same, because there have, of course been some changes in the last twenty three years. I’m fatter, for a start, although my head is a good deal lighter because it used to have a hell of a lot more hair on it. The most obvious changes however, are perhaps inside my head. Back in the eighties, like most teenagers, I thought entirely in terms of black and white. My world view simply didn’t register shades of grey and the world broke down into two broad groups – the things I approved of** and the things that I didn’t****.
Truth be told, I was something of an intolerant reactionary jerk with no social skills and very little interest in anything that happened outside the confines of my own head.***** My accidental discovery of comics opened a little window in my head and showed me some new ways of looking at the world – my world view has I think been pretty comprehensively shaped by the comics I have read.****** It may sound like a bold claim, but I think it’s fair to say that comics have played a disproportionately large part in making me the person that I am today.
But comics did something far more important than that for me. Comics gave me a sense of community and made me a part of something bigger than myself. They gave me a quiet little corner that I could hide in – and I could always find when I needed it. You know what? They still do. For well over half my life comics have provided me with a rock, an escape and a means of self expression. They’ve been the very bedrock of my world.
Now, there are some people who would regard this as monumentally sad*******, but that doesn’t make it less true, and besides, everyone needs something to rely on and what can I say? Religion and Politics don’t do it for me in quite the same way. Seems to me that comics are not only more entertaining, but they start significantly fewer wars. ******** Once again, what’s not to love?
Comics then, are in my life to stay.
What about this column?
Failing to read an ever growing pile of comics over a period of a couple of months before finally clearing an entire weekend and indulging in a massive binge of graphic narrative is one thing*********, that doesn’t annoy or inconvenience anyone but me**********. Week after week of “dead air” on the internet? That’s quite another. I really ought to call it a day.
But, this foolish little corner of cyber-space has been my little stomping ground for ten whole years, and after rather a lot of thought, I’ve realised that I just can’t.
And since, against all probability, I haven’t yet been fired in spite of a posting record that makes Grant Morrison look punctual, I reckon what I need to do is get my head down an get on with it. Batman has, after all, been “dead” for nearly two years, and yet he’s making a comeback. This is comics after all, you’re never really gone. If DC are to be believed, all I have to do is break back into the current space/time continuum whilst avoiding causing a catastrophic anomaly which would destroy the very fabric of time and space itself.
Well? How hard can that be?
So. Here’s the plan.
First, I need to think of some things to talk about. That’s easy. There’s the ever expanding UK con scene (this time next week the Thoughtbubble festivities in Leeds will be wrapping up, for example) . There’s the previously mentioned phenomenon of “binge reading”, which has become such a feature of my comics reading life of late. There’s the steadfast – and by now somewhat irritating – refusal of Bruce Wayne to stay bloody well dead, the continuing renaissance of comic book movies***********, the growing phenomenon of comic sleaze and even the ever present phantom of intellectual respectability which has haunted graphic narrative fro as long as I can remember.
OK. Sorted. That was easier than I thought it would be.
Second? Well, second, I just need to get my arse in gear and get them written.
Well, what I’ve realised of late is that however full of responsibility my life might have become, my life continues to be based in comics. This is all too important to keep screwing up.
See you on Wednesday 17th November, when we get back on the rails and consider whether binge-reading is good for you.
Be here. I will.
*They’d be true, but they’d be dull and frankly they’d make me sound like a bit of a whiner, which really isn’t the image I’m going for here.
**Mostly music featuring electric guitars and people who shared my deep conviction that the world was going to hell in a handcart and it was all the fault of the idiots in charge, and that everything would be better if people would just listen to what I had to say because people just didn’t understand what a terrible mess they were making…***
***Mind you, had I suddenly found myself as the benevolent dictator of the world back then, my first decree would basically have been “Hey, everybody – stop behaving like dicks and just get on with each other”. I defy anyone to tell me that in essence, this would be a bad plan.
****Which was basically everything else.
*****I know what you’re thinking, and that’s a cheap shot…
******Well, them and the books of Terry Pratchett.
*******Although most of them are probably not reading this, I suspect.
********Mind you, I’ve seen the odd flame war on internet message boards that have gotten a bit nasty.
********Although the subject of binge comic reading is a subject worthy of further investigation.
**********Well, me and my long suffering wife who has to constantly climb over monumental piles of comics to get anywhere in our house.
***********Or, if you prefer, the shameless plundering of the creativity of comic book creators by an imaginatively bankrupt Hollywood machine, depending on your point of view…