Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nostalgia for comics

IDW's comic mini-series "Countdown" to the new "Star Trek" movie has lots of fans reading comics for the first time in ages, or ever. Someone asked me today, "What's so special about comics?", as in why not just watch a movie or read a book?

For me, the magic of comics comes from nostalgia. My brothers and I were not bought comics as kids, although we did read the Sunday strips in the newspaper every week - including a wonderful, now-rare, newspaper introduction to the character of Batgirl, which ran during the weeks and months before Batgirl turned up on the third season of the wonderful "Batman" TV series in the 60s. And, if we were sick, Mum would buy us a few British comic books, "Beano", "Bunty" and "Sparky". And a "Phantom" comic was traditional in a Royal Easter Show showbag!

Then, perhaps every 18 months or so, we'd receive a brown paper grocery bag of comics, passed on from a cousin we hardly ever got to see. In that bag would be Disney and Harvey comics, plus the odd "Archie" or DC superhero comic. Once there was even... a "Teen Titans" comic! We would devour the whole pile over a week or so, often sitting in the tent belonging to the girls next door.

It was only many years later, when I'd see an interesting title on a newsstand, that I realised how expensive a single comic was, especially for the brief time involved in reading it. However, a beautifully drawn, well-written comic does withstand multiple readings, and even multiple casual browsings. So when I found Star Trek fandom in 1979, I rediscovered a few Gold Key "Star Trek" titles in second hand shops... and then Marvel's new post-TMP line. As bad as some of those were, the nostalgia was also strong. Different to watching the ST movie at the cinema, different to episodes on TV, and different to reading the Bantam novels, but better than Gold Key.

About the same time, I began to follow "New Titans", a revival/revamp of "Teen Titans" (again remembering that lone TT issue from my childhood) and the coming of Nightwing, when Dick Grayson abandoned his Robin persona. And then I rediscovered "The Fantastic Four", while researching their uniforms for a convention.

So, what's special about "Star Trek" comics? I dunno. They just are.

What I loved about the "Watchmen" movie two weeks ago: even though I barely new the original mini-series/graphic novel, and read the first four issues/chapters before seeing the film, it captured the nostalgia for days gone by that, for me, is intrinsically entwined with comics.


Petros said...

I really enjoyed Watchmen. It was as good as you were going to get, adapting the book.

Unrelated Quote:
"The new Star Trek movie will have its world premiere at the Sydney Opera House." (April 7 - a month before it opens proper)

I trust you will be there to report on the hopefully good news... :-)

Therin of Andor said...

Yes, I hadn't activated my post on that. I'm hoping I declared a "Sydney tastemaker" - see here.