Comics and Memories

Recently (quite some time ago) the good people over at Comics Grid  asked me to review Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK at the British Library. I went along recently. Only to see what the layout is like. I want to plan ahead for next time. There’s a lot to take in all at once.

As a result I’ve started thinking about my memories of comics. Fungus the Bogeyman. I associate Fungus with secrecy. Stealing it from my brother’s bedroom. Reading it with a torch underneath my blanket. Curling my lip at the dripping, musty, filthy protagonist. Then feeling dreadfully, terribly sorry for him.

Raymond Briggs, Asterix,  The Far Side, Tintin, Carl Giles, Alan Moore, Craig ThompsonOink. Calvin and Hobbes. All of these names and more have shaped my life to some degree. They are attached to my memories. They provide succinct and clear paths to remembering parts of my life. I’ll never forget the afternoon I finished Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth on the tube and burst into tears.

With such vivid connections between my childhood memories and comics it is clear to me that they have taught me something. I believe the resourcefulness and adaptability of comics has an inherent part to play in our educational system.

We are taught from an early age that books with pictures are for children. Children’s books to all intents and purposes are comic books. Pictures and words. If we produce and use these tools to educate our young then why can’t that continue? These tools are designed to engage and develop memory. Why can’t that continue? Why can’t books have artwork in them? Why can’t an artist be creatively inspired by content and want to collaborate? Why can’t we make it easier for people to learn?

Stigma plays its part in this. So I wanted to do an experiment.

I want to hear from you what memories you associate with comics. I want you to talk about how those images and words have imprinted onto your memory. It doesn’t have to be a childhoood memory. My most recent one is reading Wild Children by Ales Kot after an interesting couple of days. As I read it I felt almost part of the comic itself.

Leave a comment below or tweet your memory to me at @dustandlove. When I’ve collected enough I’ll be writing about how comics can help our children to learn on their terms. Who wouldn’t want to be taught long division by Batman? I think I’d remember how to do it if he had done.

I’ve had a great response from Twitter so far and I’ll post examples as they come in. Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to reading your memories.

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7 thoughts on “Comics and Memories

  1. petersoeren says:

    As with music, and to a lesser extent films, I have had many “JFK moments” with comics. I remember where I was the first time I read this or that comic. Just like every CD/LP in my collection reminds of a certain moment in time.

    My love for the medium started when I was about 6 and my mother started buying me the Danish version of Donald Duck magazine every week. I loved the universe of Donald and his “friends”. Later I discovered the wonders of my local library. I must have been around 10. I would go there as often as I could to get all the books I could carry in my bag home. Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke, everything by Franquin and Garfield. Yes, I loved Garfield. Tintin and Asterix were amazing stories that I still get lost in today. The artwork of Franquin was amazing and I would stare at for hours.

    Then as I became a teenager I forgot about comics until I moved to England. After my break from comics I discovered Watchmen 10 years ago – and Alan Moore became my new God. I haven’t looked back and now the most important books in my book collection are by Joe Sacco, Guy Delisle, Craig Thompson and of course the biggest of them all – Chris Ware.

    I can’t wait to introduce the comics I used to love to my 5 year old son who already loves Spiderman, Batman, Scooby-doo, The Avengers and Transformers. Although, it’s not Tintin, I am sure he will grow up loving the medium as much I did and still do.

    We live in a visual age and comics are without doubt one of the most important art forms around. It’s been with us since the dawn of time and will continue long in to the future.

    Peter

  2. petersoeren says:

    Oh and Calvin and Hobbs. No list without those guys!!

  3. Edward Ian Kendrick says:

    Cool as always.

    Right, I’m thinking about those moments that define my long term relationship with the comic book medium. To start with I suppose I need to go back to the moment the young student from church opened up his comic book collection to us (me and my many brothers). Think of a cellar in London, dark and slightly dank and filled with black bags. Inside those black bags were thousands of comics, not bound in plastic cases, all clinical and anal, nope; Lose comics filling that cellar with the musty smell of ink and adventure. Magic!
    Next I have my many tangles with 2000AD. See I’m a Marvel, but I have a toe dipped in indie. What do I remember about 2000AD? I remember the death of Wulf Sternhammer, the injustice of his slaughter. I remember Chopper taking his final SkySurf and stopping just feet from the finishing line, the only skysurfer that got that far. I remember The Red Dragon standing up to Master Man in Zenith and that psycho Nazi burning him down to his skeleton in front of the Grant Morrison’s terrified rockstar/superhero.
    2000AD taught me that heroes take a stand and sometimes, even thought it’s unfair, they die, and what comes next can be even worse. Watching Johnny Alpha hunt down Wulf’s killers and systematically murder them was tough. I wanted to cheer, but how far the character went to take his vengeance was clearly too far. In the end all the bad guys were dead, but Alpha was never the same again…. and neither was I.
    A Death in the Family? The Dark Knight Returns? Watchmen? V for Vendetta? The conclusion to Star Brand, Dark Phoenix Saga, The Mutant Massacre? All of these stories showed me many things, about loss and death, heroism and darkness but that’s not all. The stuff in and around those events can be shaded by the laughs from Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis’ The Justice league, and from the colour and joy that personified Alan Davis’ Excalibur.
    The truth is that comics touch on all kinds of stories, moods and styles. From Maus (the story of the Holocaust told with the Jews as Mice and the Nazis as cats), to Groo The Wanderer and Cerebus the Earth Pig to The Punisher to Plastic Man, all these stories touch, inform, entertain and enlighten.
    Comics are a gift and as far as I’m concerned there are millions of people that simply don’t understand just what they are missing out on.

    • DustandLove says:

      Such a classic compendium of British talent is 2000AD. I like the mention of Johnny Alpha’s vengeance/hero inner battle. Thanks for commenting, really appreciated :)

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