Saturday, 25 February 2012

The reading of comics

was not banned in our house when I was a child but it was not encouraged either. I think my mother may have banned them altogether but my father could remember reading "Beano" and thought we should be allowed to read something of that sort.
He found the Eagle and Robin comics and, once or twice, the Girl. They all came from the same publisher. He did not buy them for us every week but they appeared in the house several times a year until I was ten. My brother and I devoured the adventures of Dan Dare in the Eagle and helped my younger sisters read about animals in the Robin. I cannot remember anything much about Girl because my mother disapproved of it or, at least, of me having it. My father must have given in to her over it.
On the rare occasions we visited houses with other children in them we devoured Rupert Bear and anything else which came to hand if we had the chance. We did not want to "play nicely". We wanted to read. People must have thought we were very unsociable children.
When we moved back to the country there was no question of getting a comic of any sort. The newspaper came on the train from Adelaide, a day's journey away. There were only two trains a week so my father would get the Saturday paper but get it on Tuesday. Most people did not bother to get a paper at all.
There were a small selection of comics in the local general store but we were not permitted to buy those. I remember my brother buying one once. My mother found it and made him feed it into the fire.
Then my father had to make a trip to Adelaide for some reason. I think he was going to a conference of some sort. While he was there he went into one of the two bookshops, now both closed, that sold books for schools. No doubt he had been given a small sum by the school committee to buy books for the school. He also came home with a present for us, a book.
It was "The Adventures of Tin Tin." With a wink at us he told our mother it was a "very high class comic book indeed, translated from the French". I think he enjoyed it as much as we did. My brother still has the book.
My nephews and their father are "Asterix" addicts. My father also thinks Asterix is very funny.  So do I.
Comics do get mentioned in books for children but it is rarely adults who are reading them. There is however a wonderful exception to this in Eileen Dunlop's book, "The house on the hill". In that Philip's great-aunt Jane, a feisty old woman who reads Advanced Nuclear Reactor Theory, tells him it is all his fault that their supper is not ready,
           "My fault?" said Philip, amazed, "How so?"
           "Well," said Jane, sloshing the beans hastily into a pan, and putting it on the stove, "I went upstairs at two o'clock to put in a clean towel for you , and spent most of the afternoon reading your Beanos. I don't know what happened to Eggo the Ostrich, but I'm relieved to see they still have Lord Snooty. It gives me a sense of security in a changing world. Lay the table for me, there's a good boy."
Yes, a sense of security in a changing world.


widdershins said...

I remember Rupert Bear fondly from the times I too managed to read him.

jeanfromcornwall said...

Gosh, memory lane!
I made sure my three offspring each had their choice of comic, regularly - they have to read some dross as well as the good stuff. I have a lovely picture in my memory of seven year old son, sitting up in bed, seedy with a cold, with the Beano in his hand, and Bach in the Walkman.

I had Girl regularly - the thing in that one I stil remember were the serialised lives of women who had achieved: Gladys Aylward, Florence Nightingale, etc. I also had Bunty for a spell - and learned lit. crit. - I very soon spotted the poor writing of the stories that took some destitute girl, put her through another hopeless situation every week, and then in the last episode, sorted it all out by introducing a rich benefactor/uncle who had not been signalled in any way. Most unsatisfying.

Anonymous said...

Oh memory lane all right! I loved Dan Dare..and Rupert...and the Beano. I only came across Tintin because the French teacher introduced it - in French. We loved reading a comic strip in school!
As for Asterix - I am devoted. Chris

catdownunder said...

Rupert Bear is still popular!
Jean, you obviously educated your children well - I love the idea of comics AND Bach!
Yes, Chris - well aware of your devotion to a certain Asterix! :-) (Great way to learn some French.)