Monday, May 20, 2013

This was Too Good to Last

I've been feeling nostalgic about the comic-buying days of my childhood and early teens recently. Every Thursday, I would buy Eagle comic (war and science-fiction and fantasy) and The Transformers (Optimus Prime and company). I would buy them while out shopping with my mother and I would actually read them while walking around the supermarket.

I very vaguely remember Scream!, a British comic devoted to horror which ran for only fifteen issues in 1984. Then it ceased publication, and was absorbed by The Eagle. Nobody knows why it was cancelled, though some think it might have been just too gruesome for kids-- there was quite a lot of controversy about it, and this was the era of the "video nasty" panic and of Mary Whitehouse.

Now, I am a belated admirer of Mary Whitehouse, who I think must have been very courageous and who was pilloried by the liberal intelligentsia and "alternative" (i.e., unfunny) comedians-- a good enough reason to admire anybody, methinks. (Readers from America and elsewhere might not know who she was-- she was a crusading housewife who led a campaign to "clean up television" in the eighties.) I've even flicked through her autobiography.

But I do think it's a pity Scream! fell victim to this reaction. (If it did, that is; it might simply have not sold very well. There is a lot of speculation on the internet on this subject, which makes me wonder why nobody ever just asked the publishers. Come on, it was 1984, not 1884). I think the ghoulishness of horror-- vampires and skeletons and ghosts and zombies all the rest-- are an entirely healthy and natural part of childhood, and not at all of the same order as graphic violence or explicit sex or drug references.

Like the lady on the billboard in Philip Larkin's wonderful poem "Sunny Prestatyn", Scream! was too good for this life.

But fear not, you can read the whole thing on this website, for free! I just read a few stories and they were pretty good-- but only if you can remember what it was like to be thirteen (and I pity you if you can't).

(So why should readers of a blog by an Irish Catholic layman be expected to be interested in a British horror comic from 1984? Oh, well. I just go for it at this stage-- I'm often surprised by what does interest people who come to this blog.)

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