HAPPY 35TH COMiCS ANNiVERSARY!

On this date 35 years ago I bought my first ever comic. I had always loved reading, mainly The Railway Series books and the magazine and cassette series Story Teller, although I would take the occasional look at Calamity James in my brother’s Beano and the Knight Rider strips in my sister’s Look-In. But on Saturday 8th November 1986 something caught my eye on the newsagent’s shelves that I just had to read. That something was OiNK #14.

I was hooked. Initially just to the piggy publication but it wasn’t long before I was searching through the other comics out there. None of the humour ones did anything for me though, I think I was spoiled for life by OiNK! It’s certainly the main source of my sense of humour. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still up for debate amongst my friends.

The following year however, the hugely successful TV series based on those Railway Series books finally got its own comic three years after the show had debuted. I remember the excitement of discovering it and, even though at nine-years-of-age I was already a bit old for it, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends became my second reserved comic at the newsagent. Plus, it was my first ever Marvel comic!

Altogether, between 1986 and 1994 a total of a dozen comics were at various times reserved for me under ‘B45 Boyce’ in the box behind the till. To mark the occasion I thought I’d quickly show you the covers of them all and touch upon the others I bought one or two issues of, as well as a couple of drawings I was able to get printed at the time, finishing with the comics I’m collecting today. Yes, believe it or not I do collect some modern comics, although you’ll see they’re very much connected to these classics.

I collected Thomas for almost two years before I finally forced myself to move on because I was just far too old for it, The Real Ghostbusters was a firm favourite up to #150 at least and as for Wildcat, well at the time of writing this I’m in the middle of revisiting this particular comic in real time. Criminally cut short at 12 issues, its preview issue was given away free with the last OiNK. My favourite comic of all time had passed the torch to the new sci-fi epic (potential epic, anyway).

I also bought Big Comic Fortnightly for a couple of years. I don’t have any of the issues in my possession anymore, however in recent years I’ve been able to get a hold of all of the books. A wonderful collection. All of these comics lasted for varying lengths in my reservation box. I was only allowed a certain amount at once but I did push my luck whenever I could. When I was off sick from school in November 1988 my mum returned with the Transformers Winter Special below, so when I loved it so much and wanted to start collecting it (like a few of my friends had already been doing for a long time) it was really her fault, not mine! Haha. I began with #192 and carried all the way through to the finale in 1992.

As some comics were cancelled over time I was always on the lookout for another to replace them. Some of my very favourites were actually short-lived. Below, Ring Raiders, Havoc and Jurassic Park were all cut short but they remain in my collection today and I simply adore them. Funny Fortnightly didn’t last as long in my list as Big Comic and the other two below I bought for about a year or so before moving on, although both Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures and Thunderbirds The Comic were huge successes and lasted a long time.

Ring Raiders and Jurassic Park are also, like Wildcat, being covered on the blog at the moment and I’m looking out for the small but perfectly formed collection of Havoc to complete at some point so watch out for it in the future. What about the rest of these comics? Will any of them ever find their way on to the site and read in real time? Who knows. In the meantime, you can read a retrospective of The Real Ghostbusters, a review of its first issue, and one other comic above is still going today! I take a look at #800 of it and compared it (favourably, I might add) to the original. Which comic was it? You can find out here.

I adored my comics back then and even sent in letters and drawings. Two of these saw print! I can remember seeing the first (below, left) resulted in a scream from a very young me so loud my parents thought I’d hurt myself! As for Michelangelo, I drew him while babysitting my niece one night but a few months later I cancelled the comic’s regular order. By complete coincidence, some time later (I remember it was several months later) I bought an issue to read between exams at school and it contained my drawing!

The comics I had on order were all paid for by my parents but with my pocket money I’d buy lots of single issues of other titles. Sometimes I’d be trying out premiere issues to see if I’d want to collect them, sometimes they were just for something new to read, so my room was full of random issues over those years. A lot fell victim of my youthful attention span though, such as Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers, both of which I loved but by the time their second issues came out my fickle nature had moved on to something else. When I’d find these comics amongst my collection months to years later I’d regret not collection them, but I’ve made up for it nowadays with complete runs of both.

I wasn’t aware of a Visionaries comic until well after it had already been cancelled, but my fascination with the cartoon and toys was clear and so my parents bought me their annual for Christmas that year. Strangely, they bought me it again the following Christmas too. (You can now check out the read through of the whole series.) Other comics I enjoyed single issues of here and there included The Punisher, Marvel’s Bumper Comic, Whizzer & Chips, Super Naturals and umpteen others.

I moved on to computer and video game magazines for much of the 90s but in the new millennium I’d dabble with certain comics, especially when I found out Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was writing The Amazing Spider-Man, so that became the first American comic I ever bought from dedicated comics shops.

Fast forward to the present and I’m buying some new series, though not as many as a couple of years back. Back then I was collecting about a dozen a month, but losing a job at the start of the pandemic put an end to that. I’m glad it did though. It made me appreciate my standout favourites, so now I’m concentrating on those most important to me and using my new new job’s income to purchase graphic novel collections and back issues of these to add to the continuing new issues.

IDW‘s brand new Transformers (rebooted a couple of years ago) and their continuation of the original Marvel G.I. Joe stories are phenomenally good! I haven’t been a fan of the other iterations these franchises had over the years since the originals, but both of these are even better than those I loved reading back in the 80s (and still do on Instagram every week, again in real time).

Straczynski’s brand new comics universe The Resistance is about as timely as you could possibly get, despite being written before what’s taken place in the world these past two years. The idea was to create a brand new superhero kind of universe from scratch and it’s off to a stunning start. Finally, when I was visiting a local comic shop one title I loved was Batman, the only superhero I enjoyed as a kid. Now Panini Comics are collecting two issues together for only £2.99 a month so I’m fully on board with that instead. I’ve even started right back the beginning, which is a bit of a project to undertake!

So, 35 years ago this very day I sat in my house tittering and giggling at a silly comic about pigs, plops, poos and puns. Little was I to know what it would lead to. Now here I am writing a website where I’m revisiting all of these old comics in real time, enjoying them just as I did decades ago, classing many of the creators as friends. Chatting to them about their characters and stories, hearing them reminisce and bring the inner workings of these wonderful publications to life is one thing, but having them become regular readers of my own work is something I never could’ve imagined.

As a child I created my own comics and stories, then in my 20s I studied media and began writing because of those early comics. Unfortunately when I discovered the world of work and having a regular income it all fell by the wayside, but many (many) years later I rediscovered Uncle Pigg‘s passion project, which has led me right back again.

It’s ignited my passion for writing and from this I have my own passion project to come in 2022. So thank you Patrick Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband, it’s all thanks to you.

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