EC Come, EC Go.
(Column originally published in 2010 by Bleeding Cool. Obviously a few things are different now. Hence the revised edition that appears here.)
This one’s for Ned, in thanks for the Sunday story. And Pete Hogan. just because.
Anyhoo, on the way to meeting with cohorts on our new radio show (more on this later.) I was thinking what our logo ought to be. Something representing 50′sness, something old school, back when comic were fun, lurid things you read under the blanket with a torch in the middle of the night listening to the Cramps or The Jesus + Mary Chain or suchlike…
Ah! I thought, EC! Something like a wireless radio using a EC style font, that’d be cool. that’d invoke all the things I’m aming for the things for. I just need to mention things like Crypt of Terror or MAD! or something and we’ll be away. Then it struck me. They’re not going to know what I’m talking about. Why should they? Who under the age of 30 knows what EC is in 2010?
Before we get confused here, dear readers, I’m not lamenting the lack of knowledge amongst comic fans. Lord knows the other two hit me with comics I don’t know about all the time and I’m quite grateful for that. Helps me feel young, don’t you know? (Strokes moustache, coughs, adjusts flat cap and whippet, wheezes, reaches for woodbine and half a pint of mild.) It’s that, well, it makes me sad to realise how lucky I was as a kid.
You see, I used to live quite near West Hill Library. I’d bunk off the school to go in and read their huge collection of trades, GN’s or whatever we’re calling them this week. Back in the late 80′s/early 90′s, it was all a bit different then. West Hill had pretty much all of Titan’s output along with so many other things. So when my schoolmates were getting wound up and spending their lunch money on things like Spider-man 1, Youngblood or suchlike, I was buying a sandwich, wandering down to Wandsworth High Street and enjoying as wide a range of things you could possibly deal with at 14.
Good times are remembered reading (off the top of my head) Maus, Sandman, Love and Rockets, A-1, Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Tintin, Raw, Charley’s War , Slaine, Mr A, The Incal and rather a lot more. But a recent trip to my new local library showed that their trade section was…a bit lacking. Some Fables, a couple of Sin City books and a LOT of kids’ manga.All well and good, but if I were 14 today, I’d pop back home and download a game for my Xbox 360 instead. Costs the same, after all.
Now I’m not popping at the libraries of London. After all, they can only stock what’s in print. What’s unfortunate is what’s in print at the moment.
See, I get jealous of people who haven’t read all this stuff yet. I’d like to recommend all this stuff to the general public but for two reasons:
1) I don’t know about you, but I do most of my reading on the trains and buses. What i want to read is something the size of the Gemstone EC books issued in the 90′s. or the Harris Creepy reprints. At a push I’ll carry around a Showcase or an Essential, but have you seen the SIZE of the Eerie books Dark Horse put out? Or tried reading Lost Girls/Absolute Planetary on the 171 to the West End? You could do exercises with a Marvel Omnibus! I want something to read, not a bloody doorstop. And because of that..
2) They’re WAY too pricey. Sure, I imagine the people who remember things like Eerie or Shock Suspenstories can afford this stuff, but how do you reach new audiences for this material when it’s being aimed, price wise, at affulent middle-upper class people? Usually these books come shrinkwrapped as well, so there’s no way of looking at what you’re getting. I’m bloody curious about the Humbug box set that Fantagraphics put out as i’m a Kurtzmaniac, but a quick look at Amazon tells me that their cheapest selling price is $30. Or about £22 for a book I can’t look at first.
Now, the arguments I hear for this kind of thing are usually to do with ‘creating a handsome package’ ‘using top quality paper’ That kind of thing. Well, as a consumer of many, many funnybooks, I can tell you straight: I don’t care about ‘paper quality’. I don’t want a handsome package’ I don’t need something the size of a bloody laptop that only reprints 4 comics that I need to buy a new bookshelf for. i don’t want to hear about how much it costs for some kind of unique colouring process. I’m not buying your thing so people can come around to my house and tell me how fine my taste in comics is. What I want is a bunch of stories printed on some kind of paper that makes the whole thing readable. Stick in some sketches and scripts if you must, but don’t do unnecessary things to a book and then stick the cost of the thing on me..
Frankly, I’ll wait you out. I’ll find your book when it gets remaindered and pick it up then from a mart or something. There isn’t a special ‘comics budget’ I get to buy your works. Your book is competing with fags, food, rent, the other comics and trades on the shelf and all of the other things in the world. If my option is
A) £8.49 at Play.com or B) £43.55 at forbiddenplanet.com
What do you think wins? The thing that’s cheap and easy to lug around, or the expensive thing that runs a serious risk of inducing a hernia?
For me, something like the recent Titan versions of Love and Rockets or Gemstone’s 90′s reprints of the EC comics are pretty much perfect. Lots of quality story. No possible future back pain. Easy enough for anyone to get into.
Just a thought or two.
As I mentioned at the start, Me and some friends are doing a show for Total Rock called FunnyBook Frequency. More news to come although the 1st show should either be recording soon or be recorded by the time you read this. We’re really looking to hear from comic creators who want to pop to London and chat about stuff and also small press people are asked to send us their comics for consideration for the Small Press round up we’l be doing on the show. We’re also looking at doing a mag along the lines of Revolver or Blast that’ll feature, among other things, the Things We Like Happening in Small Press and The Like. (Name change possible.) It’ll probably be called FunnyBook Frequency. Because ‘Featuring NOTHING by Warren Ellis’ is too long.
Essentially, we want to be promoting things we like, so if we don’t like it, don’t worry, we aren’t going to spend twenty minutes expounding upon why your work is Satan’s arseclaggers.
Anyone wanting to get in touch, Say ‘Hello’
Oh, and anyone now intrigued by my blabbing about these cheap EC reprints are encouraged to pop along to the rather nice chaps at 30th Century Comics (18 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 JP 020 8 788 2052 ) They had loads of em at pretty decent prices last time I checked.