Saturday, 20 December 2014

WHAT IF? PAST PONDERINGS...



was gazing at a framed picture of the cover to FANTASTIC
FOUR #1 on my wall the other day and it got me to thinking.  The
comic came out in 1961, but I was too young to know about it then
and didn't discover the FF until '66, when their adventures were
reprinted in the pages of British weekly, WHAM!

Back then, of course, U.S. monthly magazines were stacked in
spinner-racks over in a corner somewhere, while U.K. weekly titles
were usually displayed on newsagents' counters right next to the daily
papers.  That probably accounts for why I was largely unaware
of MARVEL and DC comics 'til around the mid 1960s.

Know what 'though?  I'd love to be able to go back into the
past and observe my younger self buying whatever comics I bought
at the time - just to see what monthly superhero mags, unobserved by
myself, were on sale in the same shop while I was making my purchase.
Imagine being able to see yourself as a kid, standing a few feet away
from classic first (and subsequent early) issues of FF, THOR,
HULKSPIDEY, etc., but totally oblivious to them.

Well, okay - not just to see, now that I think about it.  Obviously
I'd take back some old currency to buy and bring them back to the
present with me, all in absolute pristine condition.  I could also buy a
few spare issues to sell to modern day collectors  for astronomical
sums, thereby ensuring a comfortable old age for myself.

I find it fascinating to ponder the many goodies I may have
stood next or near to in my youth and simply never noticed what
'treasures' perhaps lay only a few feet away.  Hitherto, I've always
sort of assumed that if I didn't see or know about some item at the
time, then it was likely never available in my neck of the woods,
but that's too simplistic an assumption when I think about it.

Anyone else ever nurture such nutty notions?  Do tell!

******

Incidentally, I do the same thing with people.  When I attended
a new school in a new neighbourhood back in '65, it transpired that
the boy sat at the desk behind me used to live just around the corner
from my previous home.  We'd never met before, even 'though I used
to go by his house every day on my way to my old school.  I later found
myself wondering if we'd ever passed in the street or waited in the same
bus shelter, or perhaps stood next to one another in the same queue
in our local newsagent's - without ever noticing (or remembering).
 Of course, it doesn't matter a whit to the price of cheese, but
such things fascinate me for some strange reason.

8 comments:

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Good one again Kid - I was aware of US comics (but perhaps not the spinner racks in UK newsagents) via my older brother from an early age, and believe it or not via our local sweet van!. We had a wee van that sold sweets where I used to live as a kid (Halfway for those local) and he used to park outside our (maisonette) flats for a few hours at the weekend,He sold mostly sweets, cigarettes , tobacco bread, milk and ... US comics (and gum cards etc as well) in fact he was a mini "Forbidden Planet" shop on wheels - He had a strange pricing system, whilst new comics (US) were cover price he also sold second hand US comics for 1/2 price and you could buy a new comic half price by giving him an old comic as well (depending on the title - he had a list ie a second hand Superman comic (in decent nick) would get you a new US comic 1/2 price - but it took 2 US War comics to get a new US comic half price etc...") anyway based on that I recall several early issues of Superman, Batman, JLA (with Adams cover etc) being given away in return for a 1/2 price new comic and If you wanted to buy a US comic he handed you a big bundle of about 20 shiny comics (that changed every week) and d into 2nd hand books. I must have seen some of the classics in that list and I do recall an early Spider-man (issue 4 cover rings a bell) but was only into Superman then so ignored it and all others and would buy the first Superman title I saw . It would be great to go back just to see the old Newsagents from the early /mid 60s they were very different "animal" to what have now with the plethora of UK comics and newspapers (especially in Scotland as we has loads of UK and Scottish edition papers) laid out on massive counters -Saturday morning was always a special time, going out with my dad to pick up the papers and our comics. Sigh!

Kid said...

Wow, that's the first time I've heard of actual vans selling comics, McScotty. We used to have a grocery van that came around our way in the '60s; you stepped up through the doors at the back to face a counter from which you told the guy what you wanted. Boxes of sweets stood on each end of the counter, if I recall correctly, but I don't remember ever seeing any comics or newspapers. One old newsagent's I'd love to be able to go back and see again is Johnny's in Rutherglen - what a great shop. I'd also like to see the many newsagent's that used to exist in my home town - back when such shops had 'atmosphere'.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Yeah I recall those vans as well where you entered via the back doors,there's still one like that where I live that sells veg etc - The Van that sold comics was one with the sliding windows like today's ice cream vans - was "talking" to an old pal on this subject a few years ago on "Friends Reunited " wish I had kept the conversation as he had photos etc. Oh "Johnny's" was a legendary shop to those that knew it- I used to live in Rutherglen and just loved that shop it had the coolest toys, model kits, sweets, and comics I was really sad when it closed - I think newsagents are really bland now I used to get the Saturday "Glasgow Evening Times" paper (for the football scores - this is prior to the internet and cable TV) and there was always a good mix of folk and we all spoke about everything (not just footy) waiting for the paper to arrive (usually very late) it also gave me time to peruse the comics - now these places are so sterile especially W H Smiths I used to love visiting this shop (and John Menzies its predecessor or whatever) but it is just so boring now (despite being well stocked) and the staff have no idea of the content of their shops (well not in East Kilbride of Hamilton branches at any rate)

John Pitt said...

I have this ongoing fantasy which I sometimes go into, where I go back in tiime with an unending supply of readies and with the aid of my time machine I am able to visit every single shop at opening time every single morning from 1950 onwards and purchase a prestine copy of one of every single UK and US comics! - But I tell you what, it's SO bloody time-consuming! I would need to have to live another lifetime all over again in order to pull this off. Until I can solve that problem I'm not going to bother making a Tardis. I have mentioned this to the missus, but all she says is, " You are SO sad! "

Colin Jones said...

I've often thought it was strange that I was completely unaware of Marvel UK for the first 2 years of their existence and it was only because of the Planet Of The Apes weekly that I discovered Marvel and even then I managed to miss the first 4 issues of POTA despite being a massive fan of the TV show which was on at the same time. I know you didn't have the POTA TV show on STV and I wonder what if that had been the same for me - I bought POTA No.5 precisely because I thought it was about the TV show (I'd never heard of the apes movies) so if I'd never seen the TV show it's very unlikely I'd have started reading the comic and so might never have discovered Marvel comics. I can't imagine my childhood years without Marvel but it could so easily have happened. Another strange thing, Kid, is that I probably read one of your letters never imagining I'd be communicating with you decades in the future !!

Kid said...

Mention of the Evening Times reminds me of the Evening Citizen, which was the paper my dad got before its demise, whereupon he started getting the Evening Times. There used to be a strip in the Citizen about a dog called Chipper, which disappeared with the paper. Imagine my surprise (and joy) when I discovered in the early '80s that Chipper was appearing in the Portsmouth News (I was living in Southsea at the time). The paper made me (at the age of 25) an honorary member of the Chipper Club, which had an age limit of 15. As far as I know, I'm still the only 'adult' (allegedly) member.

******

Women! They just don't understand, eh, JP? You do realise that if either of us were rich enough to invent a time machine, we wouldn't need to go into the past. We could simply pay the extravagant prices that some of these comics demand now. (Although we'd be none the wiser about what comics we stood in close proximity to as kids without ever knowing.)

******

A childhood without Marvel - doesn't bear thinking about, eh, CJ? Imagine if you'd remembered one of my letters 'though, but not my name - then there'd be that 'link' without either of us ever realising it. I once received a letter (in response to an enquiry) from Look & Learn, signed by Bart Bartholomew (of Alf, Bart & Cos fame) and it wasn't until a good number of years later that the penny finally dropped who he was.

Colin Jones said...

Actually Kid, when I said I "probably" read one of your letters I know I must have read one - the one in POTA No.8. That was one of the handful of POTA issues I didn't get at the time but I acquired it by mail order in about 1981 and I always liked reading the letters page. Having finally got my hands on POTA No.8 though I didn't keep it for long. It's a strange coincidence you should have had a letter in that particular issue.

Kid said...

Maybe you were dumbfounded by the eloquence, wit, and sheer magnificence of my letter, CJ (now where have I read that before?), which is why you didn't keep that issue for long. Having said that, neither did I. I think I gave it to my pal Moonmando - got a replacement not too long back, as you know.

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