Welcome Gaiman fans.
Hello to anyone who came here from Neil Gaiman’s site. I hope you enjoyed the story I sent him about Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein Punch and Judy puppets. We moan (and laugh) about politically correct decisions made in the US but it embarasses me when it happens in England.
And I hope you have a quick look around my blog too. Its only a month old so don’t expect miracles ;) Its getting there though (although I must make the ‘previous entries’ button at the bottom of this blog much bigger).
But first maybe I should say a little about how I came to know the work of Neil Gaiman seeing as a few of you are probably fans of his.
I grew up reading comics. I think I started on Whizzer and Chips, Whoopie and Wow – good solid UK kids comics – for about 4 years. Then at a strange book shop on Green Street in Upton Park, East London, I stumbled on a comic called Nemesis The Warlock written by Pat Mills and drawn by Kevin O’Neil. The art was amazing and the story really shook this 10 year old kid – set in the future it involved the human race trying to wipe out every alien species. The hero was an alien – the deaths were gruesome. Green Street on a Saturday afternoon was always a dangerous place due to West Ham’s home matches but I must have had my head stuck in that comic as I walked back to my Nan’s block of flats past all the hooligans.
A few weeks later I picked up a second hand run of 2000ADs in Green Street Market. It was about 6 issues and then contained probably one of the most famous Judge Dredd Stories of all time, Judge Death Lives, written by John Wagner and drawn by Brian Bolland. It contained the classic Gaze Into The Fist of Dredd panel and I was hooked. I dont know what else was in those editions but I was now a big fan of 2000AD and soon started picking it up weekly at the local newsagents, starting with issue 375.
I soon realised that Nemesis the Warlock was a 2000AD strip when the Bryan Talbot drawn series started (book 3?) – that was a great surprise! And somewhere in my 11 year old mind I began to fall in love with the twisted comedy and horror and awe of these comic books. In fact I think that John Wagner and Pat Mills (along with the Comic Strip Presents) had a lot to do with my own particulary black shade of humour. Well I suppose any young boy would if he was reading Strontium Dog, ABC Warriors, Judge Dredd and Slaine every week.
We now flick forward past six years of 2000AD and we see a young boy in a newsagents in Margate pick up his first American comic. It was an X-Men comic with a cover by Jim Lee, around number 250 or something. Within two weeks I was reading McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-man, the Rob Liefeld New Mutants, Whilce Portacio on X-Factor and also Peter Milligan’s Shade The Changing Man. Little did I know that this would be one of the most exiting times in American comic book history.
Soon I found a comic shop. Its hard to explain here exactly how it feels to walk into a shop that sells nothing but comics for the first time. I just never know they existed. It was Forever Comics in Canterbury and it became my Mecca. Every two weeks I’d make the pilgrimage to Canterbury to stock up new titles. This was the time that all the X-titles got a reboot and Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 went on to become the biggest selling comic of all time.
But for every 2 fans a reboot brings, one will think its the time to stop and so I decided to read more interesting titles and drop most of the X-books. I continued to read Shade the Changing Man, all the Quality 2000AD reprints and a title that Manny, the shopkeeper, recommended called The Sandman. This was written by some guy called Neil Gaiman.
The first issue I got was Three Septembers and a January which was an amazing one-off story about the real Emperor of America, issue 30 perhaps. I liked the story, the art, and the stuff that went on in mind when I read it. On my next trip I bought up all the Sandman I could get. There wasn’t much though as Manny had sold out most of the back issues, but I think The Dolls House had been collected so I bought that. And that blew my mind. The Sandman was then on my standing order list.
Well then the Vertigo banner came along, I got into Alan Moore too, and the rest of my comic reading habits were pretty much fixed. Nowadays I dont actually buy the single issues, just graphic novels. I get most of the Alan Moore stuff, Daredevil, 100 Bullets and Planetary trade paperbacks when they come out but thats about it. And half of the comics are going on eBay soon. But every two years or so I dig out all the Sandman trades and give the series an entire read through and remember all the characters and fairy tales I’d forgotten about. And for a while I believe.