Monday, September 17, 2012

Back from the UK: A full catalogue of extreme dorkitude

Being the full, frank and fairly embarrassing accounting of the printed entertainments purchased by Mr Bob Temuka during a three-week trip around the UK, a shopping fever of such extravagance that it pushed the idea of a baggage weight limit on international flights to the very extreme.

They were heavy as hell by the end of it all, but it was, as always, totally fucking worth it.


Two (2) short novels by Kim Newman – the expected Hound of the D’Ubervilles, with Colonel Sebastian Moran’s hatred of all humanity proving consistently hilarious, and Time and Relative, the novelette that kicked off the short-lived Telos series of Doctor Who books. It was bought in a store that was only a couple of miles from the exact spot they were filming the new series, but Time and Relative is set right before the beginning, almost five full decades ago. And it turned out to be unexpectedly moving, especially when the Doctor decides that meddling in the affairs of the universe is a good thing.

Four (4) short graphic novels by idiosyncratic (though thoroughly appealing) creators. I got Joe Matt’s The Poor Bastard in Oxford, a signed copy of the Originals by Dave Gibbons at Orbital in London, The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell at Gosh in London and Kyle Baker’s Special Forces in Coventry. All of them were as cheap as chips, and they’re all lovely and complete slices of a particular artistic vision. Campbell’s book was, unsurprisingly, the funniest, and I chuckled happily away as I read it all in my hotel room before the flight home.

Fourteen (a bloody shitload) ridiculously cheap Silver and Bronze Age comics. Most comic shops don’t really make a huge effort on back issues, and who can blame them? They take up too much valuable real estate for too little reward, and when all the really good stuff has been reprinted over and over, there isn’t much need for mouldy old stacks. But it also means that while back issues older than a couple of years ago can now be harder to find, they can be a lot cheaper when finally found. And it’s impossible to ignore those kind of deals, like when you find a bloody shitload of Silver and Bronze Age comics in a comic shop in Bath. All of the store’s back issues were a pound-fifty each, and I gorged on Bronze Age Teen Titans, Star-Spangled War Stories, Legion of Super-Heroes and World’s Finest, pre-Kirby Jimmy Olsen and issues of Inferior Five and Prez and Shazam and one of the Justice League comics Kev was talking about, all for the equivalent of my three colonial dollars. And there were some real gems – the first Guardians of the Galaxy comic by Drake and Colan, and the first issues of Omega The Unknown and the Secret Society of Super Villains, which were both in their own ways None More Seventies, and Justice League America #45, with some terrific Shaggy Man action. Apart from vital gap fillers, I didn’t really bother with much back issues on this trip, but I did go a little crazy that Tuesday afternoon in Bath.

Three (3) recent Marvel annuals by Alan Davis. I wouldn’t have bothered with the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine annuals this year, until I realised they were really a clandestine ClanDestine comic, and I’m always up for some ClanDestine.
Thirteen (another bloody shitload) vital gap fillers. There are holes in any decent comic collection, missed issues and unfortunate gaps. I’m always on the look-out for those last issues I need to complete a run, or bring that goal a little closer. This time I found a Ronin, some Jonah Hex and Lobo comics, four issues of Garth Ennis’ excellent Fury comics, the last Rasl I’ve been after (couldn’t find number four anywhere), the usual Cerebus, and a double dose of Bagge brilliance - the last trade paperback collection of Hate - Buddy Bites the Bullet – that I’ve been after for a decade and a half and the one issue of Reset that I somehow missed. Good times!

One (1) issue of Zarjaz. It’s the first issue of the 2000ad fanzine I’d ever read, and it was surprisingly slick. Some inevitable clumsiness, but also some talent that is really going places.

One (1) hardcover edition of Strange Tales II. I already had two-thirds of it, but it was four pounds in a shop in the Lake District.

Four (4!) recent 2000ads I bought the 2000ads with the last Nikolai Dante story and the end of the latest Dredd mega-epic in them within 24 hours of arriving of Britain, and had read them within 24 hours and 15 minutes. Unexpectedly abrupt. Bit conflicted, but overall impressed. More on this soon.

Ten (10) older 2000ad products. Same deal with the gap fillers. Older issues of the mothership mag, and the Megazine, and the second-last Starlord I’m after and a Crisis I didn’t know I needed that had the last part of John Smith and Sean Phillip’s Straitgate, which is awesomely terrible. Gooder times!

One (and only 1) Art of Bryan Talbot book I didn’t even know this 2007 book from NBM publishing existed until I saw it in an Edinburgh comic shop, but I didn’t buy it and it took me two more hours to realise that I was being a bloody mug and I loved Bryan Talbot and I was kinda blaming him for getting lost outside Sunderland the night before, so I went back to the shop but it was closed so it wasn’t meant to be because I’d never seen another copy of that book anywhere, but the very next day I was in another comic shop in Inverness and they also had a copy, so it WAS meant to be.

Two (2) old British comics reprinting even older Marvel stories. There is something gleefully disposable about foreign reprints of well-known superhero follies, and while I used to think reprint comics were inherently worthless when compared to the American originals, I now find them charming relics of days gone by. On this trip I found the second issue of Spider-Man weekly from 1973, full of Ditko Spiderman and Kirby Thor in blazing single colours on the cheapest possible paper, and a Captain Britain weekly comic from 1977, which has a lead story by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe that literally makes no sense, and some groovy Steranko Nick Fury, and they’re both still terrific reads, with timeless stories in the cheapest of formats. They’re still doing that sort of thing today in the UK, packaging dozens of pages of Hulk or Deadpool or Justice League comics into reasonably thick volumes and selling them in the major retailers. But with slicker paper and production values and less inspiring material from just a couple of years ago, I ended up passing on the present stuff.

One (1) cheaparse UK comic fanzine from the mid-nineties. We’ve all got blogs and Facebook and twitter now, so we don’t need to fart about with fanzines anymore, but they remain fascinating historical documents, even if they’re barely more than a decade old. Besides interesting snippets of old and forgotten news and long-lost interviews, I also have a huge affection for the unleashed enthusiasm of a good (or even bad) fanzine and even enjoy it when somebody goes after a scared cow in comics as if nobody has ever done this before.

One (1) issue of The Dark Side: It’s a UK horror magazine that I used to get every issue of when I left school and was getting paid for the first time. This was the first issue I’ve bought since 1994, mainly because it’s full of Hammer goodness.

Two (2) issues of Empire: In contrast, Empire is the only magazine I’ve been buying non-stop since 1994, and I still got a tingly feeling buying it in Brit newsagents. Especially since these were the last issues I might ever buy off the shelf, as I just got a proper subscription to the magazine, the first time I’ve ever had a subscription to anything.

Two (2-3-4!) issues of the NME: I usually only buy one issue of the NME every year, just to get a fair idea of what’s going on, but this year we went to the Reading Festival, so we wanted to have a better idea of all the hip, new stuff. Failed miserably at keeping up with all the New, but still had a marvellous time at the show.

One (of two dozen, most of which are post-2005) Radio Times with a Doctor Who cover. Bought from a Cardiff Newsagents the day after I went through the Doctor Who Experience, where I actually had a little cry when I saw the 1980s TARDIS console. The new series started while I was trapped at Heathrow Airport, which was, as ever, impeccably bad timing.

One (1) copy of Art Spiegleman’s Breakdowns. It’s a huge book that actually warped the shape of my luggage, but it was only two quid, and I’m waaay too cheap to pass up that kind of deal.

One (1) copy of the Beano. For a mate’s kid, obviously.

Also: More than a dozen DVDs, mostly British, but ranging in size from single disc movies to full season box sets; two Judge Dredd tee-shirts, and one nasty ear infection from the beach at Dubai that felt like somebody was sticking a needle into my ear drum every day for a week after coming home.It's the best of times!


Thanks to the guest bloggers who filled the spaces here for the past month, normal service resumes this week with yet another goddamn post about Love and Rockets, followed by the usual twice-weekly nonsense.


Islington Comic Forum said...

Nice to have you back Bob! Sorry to hear about your ear infection tho - hope that clears up soon....

What did you think of Kyle Baker’s Special Forces? Have you got round to reading it? Tam recommended it to me - so I got Islington to buy a copy - and am very glad I did! It's like Frank Miller if hadn't turned into a crazy person!

Janean Patience said...

Okay, this is fucked up. I just began a new job in Coventry. When I came for the interview in July, I went to Forbidden Planet. I checked out the sale comics in the back. I picked up, and put down, a bargain copy of Kyle Baker's Special Forces. Three months later, you pick it up...