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Saturday, 8 August 2020

Scott's Beano and Warlord, please...

As some here know, I'm a comics fan. I wouldn't call myself a comics buff, or collector, but I really enjoyed comics as a child, and love the comics aimed at an older age group nowadays. 

I refound comics in 2015. I had had a really difficult start to that year, and was off work for a few months, and decided to re-engage with 2000AD, one of my old batch of comics I'd bought in the late seventies and early eighties. I don't think young people born from the early nineties onwards appreciate the impact comics had on us, and on society. They really were our "internet," some having facts as well as entertainment - war, science, amazing animals, car facts (in comics like, Bullet, Speed) etc. Analogue YouTube.

Some were "banned" by the Government (For example, Action Comic was phenomenal... Both my cousin Ian and I had the Hook Jaw teeshirt - free iron on transfers were all the rage! ) and the funnies were superb... Krazy comic and Cheeky Weekly being absolutely outstanding (and they have a group on a Facebook Monster Fun & Krazy Comic Fan Site) - my school mate Roy and I were big fans.

Discovering Forbidden Planet Glasgow in 2015, was a godsend. The staff there are superb... They offer advice on authors and series, and i discovered Lemire, Ennis (both) and Gaiman, amongst others, through them. Forbidden Planet was one of those mythical, cult like places you saw a little advert for in comics, when I was little. Friends who had been lucky to go to London and visit spoke of it as an Aladdins cave of wonders for comic lovers... And nowadays, this wonderful luxury is right on my doorstep (well, 3/4 on the bicycle, 25 mins in the car). 

Someone in a Facebook group asked tge grouo (a Warlord Comic Group) earlier, "did you read Warlord or Battle?" I read both. (in the same group, the amazing comic artist PJ Holden described them as the Tiswas/Swap Shop of the comic world - which is a great description. Or the Blue Peter/Magpie... references only fifty somethingsxwill get nowadays, I suppose!) I started with Warlord, though.  Warlord had that extra interactive dimension of code messages, and other friends, who were agents. Me and my mate Clark Davidson used to keep files on people (other  kids) in Banbridge, Co Down, and do training exercises, like jump off his garage roof, camp out and spy on people... We graduated to Bullet, a comic that was meant to be about a more up to date spy, with a pack you could send away forwith an up to date pendant... 
{modern, '70's Fireball (Bullet) secret agent} 

My mother was a cleaner in the local town hall, and I once caused an investigation after messages, both coded and uncoded were found in one of the offices... I had hid them behind town maps etc they had on the office walls Apparently they thought they might be terrorist related ...

"Scott's Beano and Warlord," were the original  order I got every week from Cheryls Shop on the, Newry Road, on my way home from school in the early-mid 70's, and later from Walshes in the town. Though the order evolved into a bundle including Krazy, Plug, Monster Fun, Cheeky Weekly, Battle, 2000AD, Action, Speed and "The War Papers," and many others. To afford this bundle, I went in to mum's work on a Tuesday and Friday evening and cleaned out the ashtrays, emptied the office bins, swept and mopped the downstairs floors and the stairs, and polished the tables and ashtrays. It was all worth it.
Comics were, and are, a brilliant escape. I hated school... I feared school, and I have memories of sitting on a stool in our kitchen devouring Warlord. I'd do a "quick read" at lunch time... A welcome break from the pressures of dodging bullies, adult and child, then Back to school, and then a more detailed read that evening.

I used to copy some of the art... Comics, were an art lesson as well as what brought on my reading. 

I now run a comic club in the Glasgow Primary School where I teach. Comic artist Rufus Dayglo and the publishers Rebellion Comics have helped me stock the shelves with graphic novels. I'm up for buying batches of comics (cheap... Condition isnt a big concern) to bind and to give the kids a flavour of what we had pre-internet. I'm hoping to give comic club members a Warlord style Comic Club wallet this year and membership booklet and badges they had a competition to design during lockdown (I have to source cheap wallets, and need to have a think of what I'll put in the little booklet). - For those who don't know, by decoding a message and sending a 25p postal order, you became a Warlord Secret Agent, receiving a badge, a plastic wallet, code book and ID card. It was great to discover a Warlord Facebook group earlier! 

I've already been teaching the children about codes during lockdown, and made little videos with coded messages at the end (we are back to school here next week, so I'll hopefully be met with decoded messages and I'll be giving out prizes). I'm on twitter as @clydewon... So any comic fans who'd like to help, please give us a follow!

Comics were what made me want to learn to read... I was a late learner.. Dick and Dora really didn't do it for me. Blocks of text, really don't suggest a hidden world to kids. Single page, non-challenging pics and little sentences, didn't do it for me. Little boxes showing naughtiness, and expressions of every emotion, made me want to enter their worlds. Wanting to know what Korky the Cat, Dennis, Roger the Dodger, Peter Flint, Union Jack Jackson etc were saying engaged me, and my reengagement with comics, and graphic novels were a way to re-interest me in reading in 2015...anxiety and depression, got in the way of my ability to concentrate on novels, or books of any kind for a few months. (Forty five years after they engaged me as a new reader , they helped to rebuilt a broken one)... And I really do see the difference the comic club has made to some of the children in our school.

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