I read comics. Mostly I read other people’s comics and trades, because it doesn’t bother me to be behind and I’m too disorganised to go every week and buy them. My local Forbidden Planet very sweetly but firmly banned me from trying to collect first-runs because I’m incompetent at it.
I got started a very long time ago on a Saturday morning.
I learned three things on Saturday mornings.
1 – if my cousins were still in bed when we got back from swimming, we were allowed to use all tactics available to get them up.
2 – if I jumped on my cousin Mark, comics happened.
3 – if I jumped on Mark enough, more comics happened.
I was six and already getting in trouble for reading under the desk in class. As far as I was concerned, Mark was the best magic trick ever.
The comics were mostly X-Men and Batman. I think I read large portions back to front and out of order before the boys realised I was actually reading them and started winnowing for me. Sometimes I was thoroughly checked for chocolate and my hands scrubbed before I got to read certain runs. Sometimes I was handed one and then had it snatched back on grounds of ‘Your mother would kill me. My mother would kill me’.
I fell crashingly hard in love with Wolverine and Storm. I watched the cartoons on CITV after school. I read and begged and borrowed and finally got to read Dark Knight when I was seventeen and could prove I wasn’t going to freak out. I was never allowed to read Sin City and have never even dared tell them I saw the movie. I found Vertigo all by myself and read Sandman backwards. I got to university and met Sinking Boy and discovered there were entire shops full of comics. I started reading Fell and got a standing ban on collecting first runs and a standing order for the trades.
I got a whole universe, several whole universes, to live in my head. Some of it makes no sense whatsoever. Some of it has been written and rewritten and turned on its head and diverged in a million directions. It doesn’t matter, because Saturday mornings taught me to carry eight different storylines in my head at once, and once you can do that, you can read anything, anywhere.
But the main thing was, nobody ever told me I couldn’t read comics. I was told I couldn’t read this comic now, not before lunch, not without washing your hands, not until you’re older. Comics were something that our boys were willing and eager to share with me. Something that the lads in Forbidden Planet will help me hunt through six boxes marked ‘Misc’ for and only be a tiny bit smart-arsed about. Something I pick up at Sinking Boy’s and disappear into or dissect for hours.
DC are shooting themselves in the foot a bit, I can’t help but think, if they don’t get that the boys they’re targetting have annoying little girls in their lives who can be placated with things to read. If they don’t give the annoying little girls room to find themselves in there too. If they forget that reading is shared.