Friday, 31 March 2017

SO WHY DID 'BEN' CALL IT A 'DAY'? I 'SMELL' A STORY...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'm probably a product of my time.  The word 'proba-
bly' in that sentence is really only to provide alliteration, as
there's not much (if any) doubt about it.  We're all products
of our time you see, being shaped by what we experience as
we grow up to become curmudgeonly old farts, of which I
am now one.  If you're past middle-age, you are too.


Comics don't seem like comics to me anymore.  I was in
my local FORBIDDEN PLANET store a few weeks back,
and on the row upon row of shelves of periodicals staring back
at me, I saw only one that had a speech balloon on the cover.  It
was like they were declaring themselves to be respectable, gen-
uine magazines now, not mere comics  As if to prove their point,
they were all printed on glossy magazine-style paper, with su-
perior, multi-hued colouring, not the cheap newsprint with
Ben-Day dot colours that comics had back in my day.


However much I may enjoy reading some of the new
titles around today, I don't get the same feeling I do as
when I read a comic from the 1960s, '70s or '80s.  There's a
scent that emanates from comics of those times that is almost
like a drug, taunting, teasing, and caressing my olfactory organs
with an aroma that is truly tantalising.  Today's comics no longer
have a splash page, instead featuring a boring page of expository
text, to facilitate the inevitable collected edition several months
down the line.  See?  Comics aren't even the 'real deal' now-
adays, being no more than a dry run for the trade paper-
backs or deluxe hardcover volumes that follow.


It's arguable whether today's comicbooks are better,
worse, or just the same as they ever were when it comes
to storytelling techniques or artistic ability, but to me, one
thing is certain - they're simply not as satisfying, as encom-
passing a sensory 'experience' (involving not only sight, but
touch and tang as well) as they used to be back when they
weren't striving so hard to be anything other than what they
were.  Namely, a half-hour's pleasantly entertaining diver-
sion from the everyday problems and irritations that
beset us all in this crazy game called life.

  And hey - didn't they smell great while doing so?   

12 comments:

Colin Jones said...

We didn't have the internet in the '60s, '70s and '80s either. Time moves on and things change.

Kid said...

H'mm, not really a comparable equation, CJ. Your 'logic' often lacks a sense of sophistication, it seems to me. Things do indeed change, but not always for the 'better'. Comics nowadays have (here's that word again) better paper, better printing, sometimes even better art, but the 'experience' of reading them is not necessarily 'better' for all that (even if they're a better read). Perching on the porcelain with a glossy comicbook of today, doesn't provide the same overall sense-shattering sensation that older comics do. The paper is shinier, the colours are in better register, but darker, bleaker, duller, than a 1960s or '70s comic, which is brighter, has a better texture, and caresses one's nostrils in a far more seductive way. Yes, you're right - I'm a perv!

Mike said...

Absolutely. I would rather have non-computer driven art and cheap paper, with that distinctive smell, any day. No we are not being old codgers. Well that is American slang for old farts, FYI. Current books are not nearly as interesting, art driven or even follow good sequential art format. After reading comics for 55 years I have to struggle to figure out what is happening panel to panel and even page to page. Ugh.

Kid said...

And of course, M, even the occasional book that IS as good as one of the old ones, doesn't satisfy ALL the senses in the way that an older comic used to, because of the so-called 'improvements' in printing and paper. A comic used to be a far more encompassing experience.

baab said...

I received some DC 1st issue specials this morning to replace my tatty or lost copies.
I will be smelling them when I open the packaging. Before I read them.

Dingbats of Danger Street,Atlas and The Manhunter,in case you are curious.

Kid said...

Funnily enough, Baab, my house was burgled last week, and all that was stolen was my DC 1st Issue Specials of Dingbats of Danger Street, Atlas, and The Manhunter. I wonder if there's a connection? Tell you what - send them back to me and we'll say no more about it.

baab said...

Well.You foolishly posted a ton of pictures and memories,giving me the ideal opportunity to case the joint.
I have one wall in my lair dedicated to you,with lines drawn and connecting various photos and interior and exterior shots,printouts of reminiscing moving house, which were easily configured to reveal your location.

Yer Treasury Editions are next!

Kid said...

Gasp! No - not my Treasury Editions! (Faints!)

Warren JB said...

"...being no more than a dry run for the trade paper-backs or deluxe hardcover volumes that follow."

You forgot 'movie/TV scripts'. ;)

Kid said...

I've referred to that aspect so many times before 'though, WJB, that I assumed it was a 'given'.

paul Mcscotty said...

I miss the splash page, covers that reflect the story, comics printed on newsprint paper and the panel borders around the page.

Probably a difficult one to decide if comics really are not as good now as in the past as a lot of this will be down to the age we were when you first got into comics. But I do really think they were better in the 60s – 1976 ish period due to the way they were produced, the printing the accessibility of them and the price – not to mention there was a lot of (then) fresh talent on the scene that learned their skills in other areas such as advertising, animation etc whereas a lot of today’s talent (some who are excellent technical artists) are fan boys that despite their abilities are just copying the “greats” that came before and are missing how to do sequential art the way the old guard had mastered (I also can’t count the times I have lost tack on a story from page to page and even in some occassions on the same page).


It’s not just new comics that for me (at least) that lost the ”magic” I wasn’t a fan of a lot of DC, Marvels etc comics from around 1977 – 1988 etc as for me a lot of the art and characters were a bit bland then and I hated the 1980s Baxter paper– but then again I bet someone like Colin looks at the 80s as a high point in comics as he was a kid hen (and I was about 19 in 1980 ).

Kid said...

Yeah, I'd agree with pretty much all of that, PM. The Baxter paper wasn't the main fault 'though, it was that 'dayglo' colouring they suddenly switched to which ruined the look of the art. I've also lost track with modern comics in the exact way you describe; funny how that never happened reading a comic illustrated by John Romita or any of the other greats, eh?

As for CJ, I'm not always sure how he looks at things - it doesn't seem to be in quite the same way as the rest of us.

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