There’s very little in this world I love more than comics (I’m contractually obliged here to say ‘apart from my fiancée). Whether it’s individual issues, trades or digital; whether catching up on the adventures of years-old friends or immersing myself in a brand new world, my number one joy is sitting down with a cup of tea (hey, I’m English, don’t judge) and disappearing into a comic.
Now right off the bat I have to admit: I’m a Marvel zombie. My first real taste of superhero comics was Marvel – Specifically Marvel Heroes Reborn #2(a UK reprint of two US issues: Fantastic Four vol 2 #2 and Iron man vol 2 #2. Wow. Lot of 2’s there…) From the moment I laid my young eyes on the bombastic visuals of the FF battling the Mole Man in the first half of the book, to seeing Tony Stark being pummelled by an angry Hulk – is there any other kind?! – in the back half I was hooked. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was crazy; it was colourful; it was filled with snappy one-liners, frankly ridiculous body images (it was the nineties) and crazy amounts of action. It was nowhere near what I was used to. And it was brilliant.
My earliest memories involve comics. My mom and my aunts grew up reading Bunty and Mandy and Jackie – comic magazines for girls, with illustrated strips/agony aunt columns along with articles about things young ladies in the 70’s and 80’s wanted to read about (I dunno either). Every Christmas they’d get the annuals for each other and to make sure I wasn’t left out I got The Beano and sometimes The Dandy, both of which were full of short strips with characters like Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx. I guess they’re what Americans call the funny pages. Anyway I started collecting The Beano mostly and after a few years of weekly issues I had a stack nearly as high as I was and rising.
From there I’d grab any comics I could find or was handed down to me from cousins, mostly stuff based on things I’d seen on TV. There was Thunderbirds comics, The old Marvel Star Wars issues, Ghostbusters, Sonic the Hedgehog (not the Archie ones, these were a lot darker I remember, but then I was younger back then). I’m a bit disappointed that I never picked up a single issue of 2000AD, being English and all, and especially since a hell of a lot of my favourite artists and writers came from such illustrious beginnings I’m doubly disappointed, but I’ve made up for that in the years since. I even tried my hand at writing and drawing my own strips. They were about a guy called Freddy Frazzle and, I can say this objectively, they were the greatest comics ever to be created by a 10 year old in that house I lived in.
Once I picked up that issue of Marvel Heroes Reborn though everything changed. Which is a very weird thing to say seeing as those issues really haven’t stood the test of time. In fact the whole Heroes Reborn storyline has not been treated kindly by history has it? Meh, I don’t care, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart (apart from Captain America vol 2. I mean. Jesus). After that issue I bought anything and everything I could that helped me explore this strange new world that was the Marvel 616 (and beyond). Once I branched out from the Fantastic Four and Iron Man I fell in love with new characters seemingly every issue – Daredevil, The X-Men, The Avengers, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, Dr Strange, the Silver Surfer, and my personal all-time favourite; the Amazing Spider-man.
Yes I’ll always call Marvel my home, but don’t get me wrong; I’ve dabbled in DC – I have a healthy shelf of Batman which count themselves among some of my favourite stories – and there are innumerable indies that I love and could spend hours talking about (and will! In this very blog in fact). Over the years I’ve explored as many universes and characters and lives and worlds that this beautiful, rich medium can provide, and I know there are still hundreds more that I’ve yet to delve into. I still have that first issue though; it’s nestled snugly at the back of one of the many many long boxes that have sprouted up in the 16 years since that very first comic, picked up from a Tescos in Torquay.