Sunday, 20 October 2013

Personal Associations

I grew up in Penrith which is near Lake Ullswater and, since late 1973, have lived in Lancaster which is across Morecambe Bay from the Lake District hills.

In Penrith, I started to get the British comic paper, the Eagle, before being able to read it. From late 1960, I attended a boarding school near Dublin in Ireland where we had access to a few DC super hero comics of which my favorite was Green Lantern. This was early in the Silver Age, just before the Golden Age and Silver Age were synthesized in the DC multiverse.

In Lancaster, I got back into reading and collecting comics in the mid-1980's, just after the Crisis. I knew that there had been a recent important event called the Crisis on Infinite Earths but did not know what that was yet. Everything was a Crisis consequence. It was Green Lantern 200, the early Green Lantern Corps and John Byrne's Superman that really got me back into reading comics. Graffiti in familiar London streets in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing revealed that the Great British Miners' Strike of 1984-'85 had been part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It was good to know that comics had grown up with us and that we could now read Howard Chaykin's Blackhawk who was obviously the real guy behind earlier comic book versions. I remembered a Blackhawk cinema serial in Penrith in the early '50's, then Blackhawk comics from DC in the '60's. I no longer follow DC but do read anything written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman even, in Moore's case, when it was pornography.

An event like the Lakes International Comic Art Festival shows that comic books have become a powerful art form and medium, which we did not expect when we read them in the 1950's or '60's. Many super hero comics are merely self-referential but the best sequential art graphic fiction refers to and is embedded in other literature, culture and history.

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