Thursday, 4 April 2013

Memory Lane Part 3: Pre-Collecting Part 3

Now in addition to those early Marvel UK and handful of US comics (I forgot to mention an issue of Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Blackhawk from the mid 70s but they didn't make much impression), I also have memories of a few other comics.

I never in my life bought anything like the Beano, Dandy or Whizzer & Chips (though my I used to read my sister's Buster each Saturday morning at my nan's) but for some reason I recall Disneyland. While only having vague memories of that, I do recall the Beagle Boys and this would have been early 78 (as it coincided with Star Wars weekly). I would have been 7 then, my sister only a few months old so God knows how they came onto my radar.

I also loved the Saturday morning repeats of the Ron Ely Tarzan series and I also recall some Tarzan strips but can't recall if this was a comic, special or annual. I know Dave Stevens did early work while assisting Russ manning in the 70s so I suspect I may have come across some of that work, though it remains very indistinct in my mind. I also had a late 70s Star Trek annual, reprinting two or three (unknown to me at the time) Gold Key issues from the 60s.

However, the big one was Look-In, the "Junior TV Times" from the 70s. (For some reason, I never counted this as a comic, much as I didn't the two Tintin and five Asterix albums I later picked up). However, I used to love this, picking up a new copy each Saturday when I visited my nan, some of my happiest childhood memories. I hated the sports star pinups and can't recall any feeling towards the pop star material but I loved the strips, two page serials based on the popular TV shows of the day. (Licencing today would make this an impossibility!)

When I started reading it, Benny Hill was the inside front cover strip but this was eventually usurped by the original Peyo Smurfs strips, which I loved at the time. This preceded the animated series and launched in the wake of those awful 70s records and the resulting fad for collectible Smurf figurines available from Jet garages (they must have been highly desirable for me at the time to recall that detail!) The main joy though was the adventure strips: I don't recall many now but know series such as Space: 1999, the Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, the Tomorrow People and Logan's Run all had strips. The one strip I do recall with clarity was Sapphire and Steel as it was drawn by what I considered to be Look-In's "good" artist: later I would recognise his work on IPC/Fleetway books and learn his name, Arthur Ranson. He drew a few strips and I loved any he drew, loving his accuracy and likenesses.

Once I began collecting my own comics and learning my own tastes, Look-In seemed less special, especially once the strip content started to drop. Eventually, my sister continued to get Buster each week but I choose to drop Look-In and have the money to buy my own comics instead.

For a late educational starter like me (I mix of anxiety and absence from school hampering my pace), the comics were a life changer. Without them, I probably would have struggled to read as well and may have suffered literacy problems later on. Instead, comics opened the written word for me and my class ranking grew higher each year. I was not at all academically minded (and I still struggle trying to focus on important but mind-numbing facts at work) so comics helped me learn to read and expand my knowledge.

I do recall consciously later starting to say "ain't" and getting told off for it ("Ain't ain't a word!" always confused me as a statement!) after reading the Thing say it all the time (it was cool to me then!), so comics weren't entirely a positive influence...


Rol said...

Ah yes, Look In, I remember it well. Not sure I ever bought it - I must have read someone else's!

Nige Lowrey said...

I remember the TV ad jingle "Lala lala la Look-in!" particularly for some reason