Cerebus December 21

Rediscovering Old Friends

Last week we had the Punch Christmas party and the theme was defining the Punch DNA. In the run up to the event I’d asked everyone about some of their favourite music, which I bought

and turned into the soundtrack for the day and also a book that they had always wanted to read and never quite managed to – which they then received at the event.

I am back to reading quite heavily again – I think I’ve read more this year than in the last four or so, now the kids are a little older than babies – so rather than a book for myself, I opted for a comic.

Having read comics pretty much all my life, including the tricky period as an adolescent when it’s deeply uncool and potentially even a matter of some derision, I have more than a few. In fact, if I’m honest, I probably have several thousand, ranging from old Hulk and Silver Surfer comics to more edgy titles, such as Pete Bagge’s Hate and Dan Clowes’ Eightball, through to less well known outside the comic hardcore, such as the amazing Cerebus.

Recently I cleared out my office and brought in a bunch of old graphic novels to create a comic library.

Whilst I’m pretty comfortable these days with the fact that I know my Plastic Forks from my Stray Toasters (both superb), I thought about a couple of big series that had passed me along the way. Of all of them, I can only think of two (that I know of) – the first, arguably career defining, work by Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. Also, although I have a couple of the graphic novels and have this year read both Neverwhere and American Gods novels, I’ve never managed to read Neil Gaiman’s much acclaimed Sandman from beginning to end.

So, the book that I’ve always meant to read but never have was ‘Preludes & Nocturnes’, the first book of the Sandman series. I have books two and three, along with five and ten – and think I’ve only read books 2 (Dolls House), as I understood it to be something of a stand alone. So, in the last few days I’ve finally managed to read book one. It’s a little weird – I sort of wish Sam Keith had made it as artist beyond issue 3 as I’m a big fan of his style and he would have given it a completely different feel but at the end of issue 8, I found that it had won me over. So, I’m now going to revisit Dolls House, then read Dream Country and I have this morning picked up Season of Mists (book 4).

I have the small matter of Christmas and a re-read of the first eight Walking Dead graphic novels to get through first – but then I’m going to revisit Alan Moore’s Miracleman, which I have in original comic form somewhere up to about issue 25, and then see if I can track down the Moore/Bisette Swamp Thing books in the new year, which are currently a little scarce

Whatever the case, as I sit in my newly tidied office, with kids pictures, old surf photos and now a wall of comics ranging from Joe Sacco’s works to Garth Ennis’ Preacher staring me in the face, I have to say that I’m pretty happy to be able to quickly rediscover some of these old comics when I have a spare moment, rather than have them all locked away in boxes somewhere.