Thursday, April 16, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Comics That Shaped Me (Part 4)


Okay, I have a confession. I'd given up on comics. Early 80's, I started playing D&D and the other RPGs with the group and didn't really have time for comics any more. My standing order for 2000AD was cancelled, and I was just really gaming. I drew comics, and I bought a load of MAD Magazine which was seriously influencing my drawing style. I wasn't drawing anything huge or majorly serious, it was just a stupid three panel comic of our adventures in the Star Frontiers game we were playing, with the characters looking more like us as players.

A lot of it was heavily influenced by the glorious comic strip that used to appear in White Dwarf called The Travellers (do a search for it, it's amazing and was a comedy parody of Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, and more...)

My art wasn't great, though there was a time when I nearly got it printed in the Hull Daily Mail - though I don't think they understood it and suggested I submitted something different.

And then the group slowed down with the gaming as half of them vanished off to university and I concentrated on writing RPG stuff for Ghostbusters hoping to break into the games industry. But it was during this time that John, our GM for Call of Cthulhu and Dr Who, said that comics were suddenly getting dark and cool again. I really should check out the Batman comic - The Dark Knight Returns.

I used to read Batman way back in my childhood, but everything I read was in those Superman & Batman annuals from the mid 70's, so it was all heavily influenced by the 60's TV show or really old classic strips. But John insisted that I give it a go, and showed me the four issues he'd bought of Dark Knight Returns.

This was suddenly cool. Batman was old, far too old to be leaping around in a costume. Superman hadn't aged as much but he was more like some unearthly god. There were hints that something bad had happened to Robin, and a new character (Carrie Kelley) had taken up the suit much to the grumbling and grumpy Bruce Wayne's complaints.

The Joker wasn't just some stupid clown any more, he was genuinely scary.

It was awesome.

Of course it wasn't very long afterwards that John said, "If you liked that, you'll love Watchmen"...

And Watchmen was amazing too.

Which lead me to checking out all sorts of cool graphic novels and comic collections featuring art and styles I'd never seen before.

Every week my parents used to drive up the coast to Bridlington to do the weekly grocery shopping. I wasn't working at the time, this was before I started working in Nature Conservation and Archaeology, so I used to go along and check out the records in Woolworths, and go up along the Promenade to a little newsagents that used to have a couple of boxes of new graphic novels for sale.

It was here that I bought my own copies of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. I also bought volumes of American Flagg! because I remembered Howard Chaykin's art from the Star Wars adaptation, the amazing Love and Rockets collections after Pete recommended I checked out Jaime Hernandez's style - god, I love that artwork. And the visually stunning and brilliant Elektra: Assassin which will lead me nicely into tomorrow's post...

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