Thursday, October 03, 2013

Hey Kids, Comics!: True Life Tales from the Spinner rack

I got given a review copy of this book and so I shall talk about it.

Hey Kids is the brainchild of Rob Kelly, who I know as the founder of the Aquaman Shrine.  The book has been in development for a few years, and for the last couple of years Rob has been pulling together stories and getting publisher interest, culminating in the book being published earlier in September.  I will add here that I consider Rob an internet friend, so I guess I'm not completely impartial.

Anyway, what is the book?

It's a collection of 38 true life stories of how people found comic books - what got them hooked, where they found them, who they read, what they loved and the impact its had on their life so far.
Man, I've made it sound really dreary.  It's not.  It's a fabulous, thrilling peek into a huge variety of different lives, all with just one thing in common - glorious comic books.

There is one story from England, the rest are in the US.  There are a couple of women's stories in there.  All the stories are really well written, whether they are just a couple of pages or ten pages long.  All of them discuss the thrill of being thrust into new worlds where everything is Amazing! Fantastic! Marvellous!  Astonishing even ;)  There's the thrill that kids get reading books, where they just can't believe what they are reading - adventures seem mind boggling and the reader is overwhelmed with the immensity of it all.  They can do that?  People can fly?  He can throw a car over a building? She can do magic?  It's all a rush when you're a kid.

The first story is by Sholly Fisch and we find out that he loved comic books enough to get hit by a car on the way to the shop.
Chris Ryall talks about how he marks time through comic books - through new comic book day, through the specific titles he read, through big events.
James Kakalios writes about how he taught the physics of superheroes, to comic fans and non comic fans alike.  Is it realistic that Gwen Stacey's neck snapped when Spidey caught her in his webbing?  Answer - Yes.
Roxanna Meta talks about how comics got her cosplaying.
Ed Catto mentions the ethics that superheroes instilled in kids - he couldn't fathom why kids would steal a comic when the superhero genre is explicit that stealing that wrong.
John Zakour writes to Charles Schulz and asks to take over Peanuts... and gets a phone call from Schulz himself!
Jill Pantozzi comes to comics rather late, as an adult, but now tries to feed her nieces comics.

The comics code gets covered (of course) and the effects this had on reprinted Dick Tracey comics - all art and dialogue is left intact but the gun is taken out of the criminal's hand, leaving a gun shaped blob..

There's one very sad, very touching story by Tim Neenan, about why he doesn't read comics anymore, and it's because his brother was killed while serving in the army.  This story left me crying on the train.

There's stories of how comics helped get kids through difficult times, how Wonder Woman and Power Man were icons to girls and black kids, how parents threw whole collections out, how old Superman comics are about what a ten year old would do with Supes' powers, Spider-man musicals, collectors editions and number ones,  and more and more and more...

I'd have liked to have read more stories from British contributors, because we have a whole different comic scene over here.  We don't have spinner racks, we have magazine shelves.  We have the Beano and the Dandy and Bunty and Judy and all that stuff.  Not that any of those ever interested me.  Why would you read about school kids when you have superheroes?

There is so much stuff covered in this book and it's a joy to read.  It brought back memories of the comics I was obsessed with as a kid, and reminded me of my journey as a fan.  It's a really really great read and if you like comics, or comics history, or nostalgia, give it a look.

Here's a link to it on Amazon UK. I also talked about this book on Radio Bamf a couple of weeks back.

No comments: