British readers will no doubt be familiar with the national institution that is Desert Island Discs, which the Internet tells me is the world's second longest-running radio show. But, for those not in the know, each week a well-known guest's invited in to talk about their life and choose eight songs they'd most like to have with them if stranded on a desert island.
Well, I'm not going to talk about my life here. I fear such Lovecraftian terror would chill the soul of even the hardiest explorer in the land of Blog. I am however going to risk choosing eight comics I'd want to have with me if the world finally sees sense and banishes me to a desert island.
Given the zillions of comics that've been published over the last century, this is no easy task but that's not going to stop me trying.
Origins of Marvel Comics.
I know it gets stick because of Stan Lee's tendency to fill it with anecdotes about how he single-handedly thought of everything while the likes of Jack Kirby could only sit and gawp, in no-doubt slack-jawed awe, at his limitless creativity but I don't care. The thing features the first appearances of the first round of Marvel's Silver Age heroes - and even flings in samples of their later appearances too.
Not only that but, unlike the Essentials, it's all in colour.
Spider-Man Comics Weekly #1.
I never had Mighty World of Marvel #1 but I did have Spidey's equivalent Marvel UK issue - and the free red paper bag that tried to pass itself off as a Spider-Man mask.
I have no memory whatsoever of what the Spider-Man story was in that fateful issue but I know it introduced us to Thor and the Stone Men from Saturn, so that's good enough for me.
Not only that but it revealed at last the startling secret of FOOM!
Conan the Barbarian #24.
Barry Smith's last issue, as Conan and Red Sonja decide to go stealing things that aren't rightfully theirs.
I first read this in Marvel UK's weekly Avengers comic, which meant I got to see it reproduced on a larger scale than the original. Having read a reprint in the Essential Conan, I know Smith's detailed art suffers when seen on the smaller page but that can't take away from the lusciousness of it all.
Marvel's Greatest Comics #34.
A comic that certainly lived up to its title for me, as the mag reprints the Fantastic Four's first ever meeting with the Inhumans. It's still arguably my favourite Fantastic Four story of them all, even though it doesn't make much sense.
And dig that Gil Kane cover. He's doing that visual depth thing again.
While the original X-Men never appealed to me at all - even when drawn by the likes of Steranko and Adams - there's a whole bucket-load of tales to treasure from the Dave Cockrum/John Byrne era.
Personally I preferred the Cockrum run to Byrne's, as his art was less cartoony, but the Byrne stuff was all pretty fab too.
For my favourite, I have to choose the one where poor old Phoenix, having turned evil, gets to pop her clogs, by order of Jim Shooter.
Of course, some might argue the whole thing was made redundant by Marvel later bringing Jean Grey back to life in typically unlikely fashion, but I still remember how great it was at the time.
Marvel Spotlight #12.
I don't have a clue just what it is about the Son of Satan's first appearance that grabs me so much. Maybe it's just because I'm a corny old horror fan or maybe it's just the melodrama of Herb Trimpe's tortured-looking pencils but it still has a strange allure for me after all these years.
The Mighty Thor #130.
Thor and Hercules team up to take on Pluto and the hordes of Hades. What more needs be said? It's all epic stuff and I love Vince Colletta's inks on the title.
Silver Surfer #3.
I can't deny I've never been a Surfer fan - all that hanging around whingeing and whining about everything - but I love this tale.
My Satan fixation's clearly taking me over again, as the Surfer finds himself tackling the Devil while doing his usual pining for Shalla Bal.
Mephisto's a cut above the usual super-villain, and what kind of madman could fail to be grabbed by John Buscema's art on this issue?
Lees Hall, Gleadless.
6 months ago