Saturday, 5 March 2016

KID KLASSICS: WATCHING THE CLOUDS DRIFT BY...


Image copyright DC COMICS

I'm not 100% sure exactly what year it was - maybe 1969 or '70 -
when the above comicbook first came into my possession, but some of
the stories stuck in my mind from that point on.  It was a fellow by the name
of GRAHAM BROWN, whose family lived in the house across the back lane
from ours, who gave it to me along with some others - none of which I now
recall, strange as it may seem.  (At least, not in relation to that particular
day.)  What was it about this comic which etched itself in my memory?
Who can tell after all this time?  Certainly not me.

I remember the day was a sunny one.  I was sitting on a small
rug on the path in my back garden, leaning against the door of the cellar
in which I often sat when it rained, listening to drops pattering off the roof.
Not today 'though.  Today the sun shone brightly overhead, and on the far
horizon I could see a famous Scottish mountain, purple against the blue sky,
and white clouds drifting lazily by in the distance.  A faint hint of a balmy
breeze gently blew on my face and hair, and it felt good merely to
be alive without a care in the world.

My garden cellar.  'Twas the door on the right against which I sat

As I sat there, out came Graham with a pile of U.S. comicbooks and
dropped them into my lap.  I can no longer recall if the comics were a gift
freely given or exchanged for a heavily discounted monetary consideration.
Graham was a friend of my brother, so wouldn't have wanted to be seen ex-
ploiting his pal's younger sibling.  In fact, let's be charitable - let's just say
he gave them to me because he'd read and was done with them.  That's
more than likely the case.  And thus the day passed into history.

When I bought SUPERMAN From The '30s To The '70s in
late 1972, I instantly recognised three stories from the 80 page giant:
The CASE Of The FUNNY PAPER CRIMES, The MYSTERIOUS
Mr. MXYZPTLK, and SUPERMAN, CARTOON HERO.  However, when
I obtained a replacement copy of this issue a couple or so years ago, one ad-
venture I didn't recall at all - WHEN SUPERMAN LOST HIS POWERS.
Some aspects from another tale, The EYE Of METROPOLIS, seemed
vaguely familiar - but had I not seen it again first, I doubt the sugges-
tion of memory would ever have occurred unprompted.

The very mountain in the distance - Ben Lomond

So why did I seemingly forget those two tales as opposed to the
other three?  Was it because their splash pages weren't featured on
the cover and therefore made less of an impression on me?  Or could it
be that, not having appeared in the '72 Superman book, their previous
association wasn't reinforced in my memory like the other strips were?
Perhaps it's simply the case that the stories weren't particularly mem-
orable.  Guess I'll never really know for sure, but it's unlike me
to forget two stories in one comic.

A picture, 'tis said, is worth a thousand words - it can also be worth
many memories.  I only have to look at that cover and I'm once again
a boy sitting out in my back garden, reading comics and occasion-
ally watching the clouds drift by.  Oh, to be a lad again.

******

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of life's decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer-day.

From "Solitude" by Lewis Carroll.  March 16th, 1853.

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