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 other humour titles did anything for me though, I think I was spoiled for life by OiNK. It’s certainly the main source (of blame) for my sense of humour.
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 the earliest editions of each that I still own, and touch upon just a few of the countless others I bought just one or two issues of with pocket money. There are also a couple of drawings I was able to get printed at the time, and I’ll finish with the comics I’m collecting today. Yes, believe it or not I do collect some modern comics.
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 its preview was given away with the last OiNK but criminally didn’t last beyond 12 issues. My favourite comic of all time had passed the torch to my next obsession, only for it to be cancelled too. This was something that would happen quite a bit to the titles I chose to collect.
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 a festive Transformers Winter Special. Already enjoying the cartoon and as a huge fan of Christmas I loved it! So much so that I wanted to start collecting the weekly (a few of my friends had already been doing so for a long time). So it was really my mum’s fault, that one, haha. I began with #192 and carried all the way through to the finale in 1992.
As individual 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 quite a long time.
I adored my comics back then and sent in many letters and drawings, two of which actually saw print! I can remember upon seeing my drawing of Gordon, Percy and Thomas I let out such a loud scream my parents thought I’d hurt myself in the next room. 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 (hence the limit) but with my pocket money I’d always be patrolling the shelves looking for more. Sometimes I’d try 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 comics over those years.
A lot fell victim to my youthful attention span, such as Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers, both of which I loved their first issue but by the time a month had gone by my fickle nature had moved on to something else, and I only had a small amount of pocket money to use. When I’d find these comics amongst my collection months or years later I’d regret not collection them, but I’ve made up for it nowadays with complete runs of both.
I wasn’t even 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 1988. (Strangely, they bought me it again the following year too.) 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 videogame 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 a dedicated comic shop.
Fast forward to the present and I’m buying some new series, although not as many as a couple of years back (which included IDW’s now-cancelled Transformers and G.I. Joe series). 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 I enjoy the most.
My favourite writer of just about any medium, J. Michael Straczynski‘s brand new shared 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 few years. The idea was to create a brand new comics universe from scratch, beginning with a worldwide pandemic that resulted in many people being given superpowers. A few series have been produced so far and I’m here for the duration.
Beginning with Panini UK’s now-cancelled reprint series, I’m fully entrenched in the world of Batman after rediscovering the Gotham TV show. Also, sometimes it’s great to see a series you always wanted to read get a reboot you can jump into from #1 and that’s what’s happened with Marvel‘s new Alien and Ghost Rider series, the latter I began after reading the 90s version of the anti-hero in Havoc for the blog.
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 those old comics in real time, enjoying them just as I did decades ago, classing many of the creators as friends, which has been a very pleasant and surprising outcome of all this. 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.
It’s ignited my passion for writing too and for this I’m eternally grateful to the medium of comics. My parents never complained about how many I collected, they really helped develop my reading at a young age, and now they’re as much a part of me as any formative part of my life. So thank you Patrick Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband, it’s all down to you.