Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Anxiety Comics

Let me start with an apology.

If you have been a regular reader of this blog then you may be surprised to see it return. I know some of you have been waiting for more. Thank you for your faith, Extremely Creamy.

My series reviewing The Beano through the decades was abandoned, I posted only one "real" blog in 2019, plus the Christmas round-up. I wrote an obituary for Stan Lee in 2018 but failed to finish it. I promised to return in 2020 but here we are over half-way through it and this is the first thing.

Truth is: I have not been taking care of my mental health.

I have been suffering from an anxiety disorder for most of my adult life. 

I thought I was dealing with it but it was getting worse.

I thought it was due to the things in my life that were going wrong, making every day stressful, but I was neglecting the childhood traumas that were the root cause of all this.

Anyway, all of this is not some "poor me" post, I'm doing this because I think it's only fair for me to give you, reader, an explanation but also because I believe it's important to be open and honest about mental health.

I'm getting help. I'm getting better. The lockdown has meant I've been receiving counselling over the phone but it has helped. A lot.

Some of you might be struggling. You may not even realise that you have a problem. Remember: there's nothing wrong with asking for help.

My anxiety had reached the point where it was preventing me doing anything I did not have to do. So this blog went waaaaaay down the priorities list.

So let's try to redress that. 

I have many ideas for blog posts going forward (I'll be starting with one on virus outbreaks you may want to avoid if the current state of the world is too much for you). I have things I want to tell you about Popeye and The Addams Family and Li'l Abner as well as analysing forgotten UK comics, creators and characters.

But as we have established a theme here, let's talk anxiety.

As a child I was drawn to characters who were unhappy.

Peter Parker was a sad sack for whom things never went right.

Batman's whole raison d'etre is due to childhood trauma.
And Bloom County's Binkley had a whole closet for his anxieties.
And they could get creative.
He did, eventually learn to deal with them, mind.

But the one character above all who fits the pattern for anxiety is this guy.

Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

Everything you need to know about Charlie Brown and Peanuts is in that first strip from 1950.

Charlie Brown is just happily going about his day while another kid (Shermy) talks about hating him.

The world hates Charlie Brown. For no real reason. It's just how his world is. He won't win a ball game or a spelling bee. He won't kick that football.

He won't get a Valentine card or anything but rocks on Hallowe'en.

The tree will always eat his kite and the little red-haired girl will never speak to him.
Charlie Brown you are truly my spirit animal.

We will return to a regular blog, covering comics history and unearthing comics oddities.

And if you are suffering, don't suffer in silence. If you feel there's no-one you can talk to you can see your GP who can give you advice.

We can all get better

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Sixth Annual Christmas Roundup 2019


I'll admit it's been the slowest year here (sorry, life stuff) but things will happen in 2020, I promise.

So lets kick off our annual Holiday Roundup with a trip to Beanotown with the Beano Christmas Special 2019.

Nice to see that year Minnie tied Father Christmas up is still canon.

The regular Beano had plenty of Christmas cheer too:

Lovely to get a bit of Hunt Emerson in there.

This year's Dandy Annual had the format of an old Cheeky annual in that followed the characters over the course of a year. Christmas sees Desperate Dan forced to play Santa which gave us a glimpse of some neglected past Dandy characters:
From the wholesome to the filthy with a Viz roundup from issue 291.

On to some festive cartoons from Private Eye, issue 1512.

American Mythology have been putting out reprints of classic licenced properties plus occasional new stories based on them (stick to the reprints, please!). They put out a reprint of Casper the Friendly Ghost stories as Casper's Classic Christmas #1, in which Casper meets a fake Santa who has taken over the North Pole and has to rescue the real one!
The My Little Pony Holiday Special 2019 introduced us the Equestria Hearthswarming equivalent of Krampus, Krumple Horn.
And on the evidence of this panel, quite possibly Mr Hanky, too.

Meanwhile Rarity discovers the true meaning of the season.
The Doctor, like Casper confronts a fake Santa in Titan's Doctor Who The Thirteenth Doctor Holiday Special #1-2.
And, like the ponies, the villain turns out to be Krumple Horn Krampus.
Krampus also turns up to administer his now traditional thrashing to Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose (#119).
That Jim Balent knows what he likes.
You be you, Jim. I'm not judging.

Another new tradition is the annual Klaus book by Grant Morrison Dan Mora and this year's (Klaus and the Life and Times of Joe Christmas) was a delightful series of 25 almost wordless two-page images impossible to summarise here.
DC's seasonal special was New Years Evil #1and less Christmassy than usual. It featured Toyman attacking with some 90s throwback action figures. 
There's a Poison Ivy story set at New Year which I'm only including here because it featured Orca the Whale Woman. 
I try to include any other holidays from other faiths/cultures but the only one I found this year was in a Wonder Woman story which features Ares lamenting the fact that Poseidonia has been forgotten. I don't think this was ever a real thing but let me know if I'm wrong. 
Harley Quinn #68 had an adventure is a Christmas theme park. 
And there was a welcome Umbrella Academy special about everyone's favourite time-travelling assassins in Hazel and Cha Cha Save Christmas. 
Having only read Umbrella Academy for the first time this year this was a pleasant addition.

Lew Stringer gave us a Davros Christmas Carol in Doctor Who Magazine #546. 
And 2000AD prog 2162 gave us Droid Christmas movies, 
some seasonal Mega-City One carnage 
and a (vampire's) kiss under the mistletoe for Durham Red.

And thus ends the decade. Onwards to the 2020s!