Wednesday, 23 September 2015

THROUGH THE PAST VAGUELY...


I look at these pics, I'm in '66

Time for another reflective reminiscence from yours truly,
o panting Criv-ites, on the nature of memory and association.
"Oh not again!" do I hear you cry?  Don't be like that - if you had
anything more interesting to do, you wouldn't be here to start
with.  So let's get down to it before you bail out on me.

The year was 1966 and I was standing outside a depart-
ment store called HENDERSON'S of Sauchiehall Street
while my mother was engaged in conversation with a friend we'd
run into.  Before me was an oval-shaped fountain which, a couple or
so years later, would remind me of the one at the beginning of The
CHAMPIONS, although that one was on a far grander scale.  In
my hands I held that week's issue of SMASH!, which I'd just had
purchased for me in R.S. McCOLL's on the other side of the
pedestrianised street of my town's main shopping centre.

An aerial view of the fountain, emptied for cleaning

As my mother chatted away, I studied the second part
(the origin) of a new strip called The FANTASTIC FOUR.
I say "new", but the strip had first appeared in its own American
mag five years earlier, although most readers of the ODHAMS'
comic probably wouldn't have seen it back then so it was all new to
them.  Oddly, the strip was simultaneously published in WHAM!,
sister publication to Smash!, but I wasn't aware of that until
many years later, not that it matters much to my story.

Six years on, in late 1972, The MIGHTY WORLD Of 
MARVEL reprinted the story yet again.  I was off school on
Thursday 5th and Friday 6th October because I was ill, and on
the Thursday, I recall my mother bringing me a bowl of tomato
soup while I lay in bed re-reading the FF's origin for the ump-
teenth time that week.  (MWOM #1 had only come out on
Saturday 30th September, five days before, so the thrill
of the new comic hadn't yet worn off.)

From the early '60s, when the HENDERSON'S
side of the shops was still under construction

Anyway, as I perused the pages of the FF tale, my mind
wandered back to that day in '66 when I had first experienced
the strip, and familiar images of Henderson's, the fountain, and
R.S. McColl's, all of which then yet existed, resurfaced.  (Hender-
son's may have changed their name to BAIRDS by then, but
was still a HOUSE Of FRASER store.)  So what's all this
got to do with memory and association you ask.

Simply this.  When I look at this story today, often (but
not always), it's usually my 1972 experience of the strip that
my mind first returns to, but it depends on what page I'm look-
ing at, and whether it's in black and white or colour.  However,
even when I'm recalling that long ago Thursday, the memory of
my 1966 encounter isn't far away.  Curiously, although I can
access the '66 recollection via the one from '72, it's not
quite so easy to do the same thing in reverse.

When this page I view, I'm in '72 

Could it perhaps be that, because I'm mentally reliving that
moment  in '66 and (from that perspective) '72 hasn't yet hap-
pened, my mind finds it harder to make the jump forward?  It's
easier for the mind to jump backwards to a previous event, than
forward to one that, from a past point of view, is yet to occur -
even when one is recalling both instances from a future
point in time when the two are distant memories.

Anyway, no doubt I've expressed myself in my customary
vague and incoherent way and failed to fully convey what I was
trying to say.  Nevertheless, I think there's enough there for the
intellectuals among you to work with, and even if you don't reach
the finishing line I was pointing to, hopefully the journey itself
     will prove interesting, whatever your stopping point.   

8 comments:

moonmando said...

Medication review might be in order here! Hmmm...

Kid said...

You mean I should start taking some? I'll try some of yours. (Just admit it, Moony - it's too deep for you!)

Colin Jones said...

I was born in Feb '66 so too young for Odham's comics and I missed the first two years of Marvel UK so no MWOM #1 either. I first read the FF origin in The Complete FF No.1 and it takes me back to my first days in Secondary/Comprehensive school - I started in Secondary school on Wednesday, August 31st 1977 and the Complete FF #1 came out exactly three weeks later on Wednesday, September 21st 1977. And exactly three weeks after that on October 12th 'Rampage' #1 came out and it was also my father's 50th birthday on the same day - so the FF origin reminds me of all those things.

Kid said...

And just think, CJ - you're almost the same age as your father was back then. Interestingly, when I first read the FF's origin in The Complete Fantastic Four, I was reminded of both my previous exposures to the tale, so it was a trip down memory lane for me.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, it's strange to think that when I was reading the FF's origin in September 1977 it was only 16 years since the FF had first appeared - to me the FF's origin seemed like it came from the distant mists of time but it was only as far back as 1999 is now.

Kid said...

When I read the origin in '66, it was only 5 years old, but I didn't realize it was a reprint until later. In '72, the origin was only 11 years old, which, today, would seem like no time at all, but, to me back then, seemed like pre-history.

Colin Jones said...

By the way, Kid - when The Thing is ripping up that tree he's saying "How can you love that weakling when I'm here" and "I'll prove to you that you love the wrong man" but any idea of Ben being jealous of Reed and Sue was completely dropped after this origin story, wasn't it ? Or did it feature again, I can't remember.

Kid said...

In issue #3, Ben says to Reed "I want Sue to look at me the way she looks at you!" However, I suppose that could be interpreted as simply wanting her to look at him without disgust. Even saying that Reed is "the wrong man" wouldn't necessarily mean that he considers HIMSELF the right one, although "when I'm here" certainly suggests it. Anyway, like you, that's the way I took it when I first read it. It's interesting that when Alicia Masters first appeared in FF #8, the Puppet Master says that Sue "looks remarkably like you, Alica!" and gets his step-daughter to impersonate her. Did Ben fall in love with her because of her resemblance to Susie? I suppose that once Ben had his own girlfriend, there was no need to play up any interest he may have once had in Sue.

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