Sunday, 7 February 2016
Growing up with comics in the sixties
The first memory of actually being given a comic of any sort was when my father brought home a copy of Wham! #1 which was back in 1964 when I was around six or seven. This wasn't the first comic I had or read but the beginning of an interest that I have pursued for most of my life (with a couple of inevitable gaps) until my late childhood as I approach 60.
As a child growing up in the sixties entertainment was somewhat limited. Only two TV channels until BBC 2 came on the scene and other than Saturday mornings/lunchtimes not much to watch there either and there was no Internet. Even the science fiction novels I began to read later on didn't even reference such a thing and the use of "video phones" was clearly in the world of fiction.
How little we knew then..
However there was one form of entertainment readily available in every newsagents in town.
There were lots of them too. I became a major fan of what eventually turned into the "Power Comics" line of which Wham! was just the first. Smash! and Pow! were soon to appear. But these were not the only comics either available or that I read.
One of my earliest interests were American comics which unlike British ones were in full colour and featured the adventures of Superman, Batman, Hawkman and many others that have over the years remained staple favourites.
There were also the early Marvel comics and I was introduced to them in the main through their great value reprint titles such as Marvel Collectors Item Classics and Marvel Tales. These contained the early adventures of the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and the Ditko drawn Spider-Man who in my opinion was the best artist old Spidey ever had.
DC published their 80 Page Giants and other publishers appeared in the spinning racks our newsagents use to have that attracted this young reader to the joys of The Fly and The Mighty Crusaders (Archie), Blue Beetle and Captain Atom (Charlton) and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents amongst others.
British comics were aplenty. I often purchased stalwarts such as Lion, Valiant and TV 21 but in those days there were far to many to choose from (we should be so lucky today!).
For a giggle The Beezer, Topper and Buster also joined the growing pile in my room. Sadly like so many others these did not stay with me after childhood. A common complaint of my generation.
As a kid I didn't realise how lucky we were in the UK. Not only did we get American comics we had our own. The variety on the market was fantastic. Every genre was covered from war (in those little pocket size editions that used to get passed around) to sports, not my cup of tea but highly popular with my mates.
Then there were the Summer Specials and Annuals which appeared during the summer holidays and Christmas respectively.
As you might expect Wham! and Smash! annuals were on my list to Santa every year.
My interest in comics waned in the early seventies but both Cor!! and Whizzer and Chips made their way into my hands.
For me and many others, the sixties this was a true golden age of comics.