Thursday, 12 April 2012

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 exploiting 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 adventure 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 suggestion 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 memorable.  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 occasionally 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.

4 comments:

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Oh, absolutely Kid, absolutely. My recollection of this comic is very specific as well.

I bought it brand new off the racks at the Woolworth's at the JCRS shopping center near my house. The weather was blue skies and a few scattered clouds. My mother was shopping at the fabric store, and I curled up somewhere with this comic and was transported. I had only read a few golden age stories at that time, mostly from Jules Feiffer's superhero book, and I was stunned to see an Elmer Fuddish Mr. Mxyzptlk, almost sweet and innocent. The story where the animated Superman feature was playing with Superman and Lois in the audience blew my mind. I went back and bought a second issue so that I could cut it up for my scrapbook of kool komic stuff.

I read and reread that comic a hundred times, and I still have the same intact copy I bought on that blue sky day.

Geez, you and I use the same time machine.

Kid said...

Thom, I'm impressed - the same copy from all those years ago? In fact, I'm jealous. Maybe we're the same person from different points in time, currently inhabiting the same time continuum - you know, like Doctor Doom and Pharaoh Rama-Tut?

Time for my reality pill.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

I traded off a lot of comics over the years, but I always kept key issues that triggered memories, such as this one.

I kept the first comic I ever bought off the spinner back in the '50s (Uncle Scrooge), my first 3 DC superhero comics circa 1961, and other sentimental stuff like that there.

My comment moderation words are tmenhisi essums, which I'm thinking is Latin for "throw your reality pills down the drain, life is stranger than we imagine.

Kid said...

Or, to put it another way - "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

All too true, Thom - all too true.