I watched the video below featuring some names which will be unfamiliar to around 95% (at least) of people reading comics today. It’s an often interesting, sometimes dull to be honest, chat about the early days of comic collecting but it is an amazingly crucial bit of comics history which could get lost in this age of cosplay and billion dollar ‘franchises’ which in the US, and the UK, has seen nothing of the appreciation that around the world has for the medium til fairly recently.Certainly back in the 60’s, the idea of collecting comics was like stamp collecting, trainspotting, coin collecting and wanking were childish things that would be put away upon entering adulthood, but as we know all these things are done by adults and seen as respectable.
Comics still were treated with contempt. Early comics fandom on both sides of the Atlantic tried to attach themselves to science fiction fandom but it was on the whole, treated with contempt for years which is why in the 60s comics fandom as an entirely different thing from SF fandom became a clear, identifiable thing.
The early history of British fandom sees this Cain and Abel relationship, and even after comics started having their own conventions 50 years ago in the UK, they still would often piggyback SF being it conventions or bookshops, andif you wanted to buy comics you’d have to scour cities to find them often in newsagents cum dirty old man bookshops of the type that no longer exists in the corporate worlds of the 21st century high street.
So I love the fact that this verbal history of early comic collecting exists as nature is taking its course and there’s not going to be much left of those generations up til the 80’s when comics finally became mainstream. Once we’re gone all these stories will be lost and I know for a fact I’m not the only person who thinks along these lines.In fact one of the attendees of the first British comic con in Birmingham in 1968 spoke to me on Facebook a while back about doing something to document the comics industry in the UK, and I need to get my arse in gear to help him with that.
History matters not only so the work of so many of us in building comics to where it is today goes recognised, but mainly to let fans of today know they’re just a small piece in an ongoing story that’ll never end. Sure things change, but they’re just having the torch passed on but we need to know where we came from otherwise people won’t know the history, and what it took to get us to the stage where we are today.