Friday, August 17, 2012
One of the highlights of the year for children like myself of the 70's was the Christmas annual, basically a super sized edition of the comic you had been reading for the past 52 weeks packed full of all your favourite characters, a few puzzles, games and of course it became your bedtime reading material for the next few days. It's difficult to relate to today's generation just how important comics were during the 60's and 70's, amusement came in small doses so a weekly injection of illustrated imagination, strong stories and characters that made you laugh made all the difference.
The only thing looking back through the annuals is the casual attitide to many things that would not feature in comics of today. For instance you wouldn't get many characters other than in Viz called Dirty Dick or Spunky and his Spider both taken from the annual pictured above. Neither would your stories feature a crippled sailor beating a cat up with his two wooden legs, or indeed many characters either puffing away on cigars and cigarettes whilst others get spanked by various members of the public. Not to mention a darts match that ends up with the characters throwing darts at each others backsides. Shame, not that we should have more crippled sailors beating people up and it's not that casual violence was funny it was just that we knew the difference between fact and fiction and it was delivered in a kid friendly fashion that encouraged imagination and reading. A little bit naughty, silly and we wouldn't dare do some of the things but it was in a comic so it we knew it was fiction. Simple.
So the demise of the Dandy takes another step forward as it falls to the digital age. I know it was only a comic but it was a halfway house to a book and books built Britain, comics are fuel for imagination and at a young age its exactly what we should be stimulating as a whole rather than dumbing down. You can never replicate the feeling of holding a classic comic, its rough pulp paper and its inevitable smell after being in storage just like you can never relive your childhood so I bid farewell to Britains oldest comic as it joins cassette tapes, LP's, Watch with Mother and a multitude of other yesteryear objects in digital memories.
On a brighter note because of the Internet reading skills have risen over the last twenty years, after all you need to read to use the net, but here's the problem, only to a point. The Internet requires you to read but the use of txt spk makes one tlk like this and ultimately skills suffer. Which is exactly why you see posts like this "How do you spell droor, like the thing you put things in."
Reading skills according to a recent report have estimated that in some areas 15% of eleven year olds have the reading skills of a seven year old, so they would even struggle with my Dandy book and I find that quite sad.
Maybe, just maybe, pulling the plug on the net for just a few hours a week and having an old school pile of comics to read may just be the answer, now we will never know.