Childhood Favourites

We all have them. Songs, comics, films. Things you can wrap around you like a warm and comforting blanket, a time machine that can instantly transport you to a different place and time.

This blog is about mine.

Come with me on a journey, fellow Viners, to 1996. To some of us, it feels like yesterday - although I know that for several people here, I'm talking about before you were born. On the radio, you can expect to hear Alanis Morrissette, Tori Amos, Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Eels, Smashing Pumpkins, The Prodigy, and No Doubt (and, on a horrifying note, "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit" by Gina G. The horror). In the cinemas, Jumanji, Toy Story, Seven, 12 Monkeys, Independence Day and From Dusk Till Dawn. It is a leap year and, come summer, the weather is wonderful.

I am eleven years old, and I am SO awkward! It is the year I start "big school", and the first year that I start to become a grown up, both physically and mentally. We've all been there! We're talking greasy hair, glasses, bodily changes - a real catch, basically! But there's something else, and this is the part which makes this blog relevant: other than The Beano, Dandy and Buster, I have never read a comic book before.

It's my dad who introduced me to comics. One day, I came home from school to find a comic in a little see-through plastic wrap. My dad tells me he saw it at one of the little comics stalls in town (at the time of writing this, there are NO comics shops in my hometown anymore), and it looked like it might be worth a look.

The moment I see it, I am transfixed. It is like nothing I have ever seen before.

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In 1996, very few people looked like Scream Queen.

On the surface, I can see how this might seem like just another comic. Some throwaway, unsuccessful title (comparatively speaking) about a teenage rock band who can barely even play their instruments. But at eleven years old, reading about the teenage misfits while on the cusp of becoming a teen myself, it was everything. Everything.

So what's the big deal? How can something so small be so significant?

Let me explain. Even as an adult, Scream Queen is my hero. She was back then, too. You see, I was a very awkward and strange girl growing up. I only had a few friends, all of whom had varying degrees of difficulty in fitting in, just like me. And yet here was his cool girl, who went out of her way not to fit in, who didn't care what anybody thought of what she did, or what she wore. Scream Queen is always herself, has nothing to prove, and offers no explanation. Take me or leave me, she seemed to say on every page, I couldn't care less.

But admire her - hell, worship her - as I did, I couldn't relate to Nina. At eleven years old, that kind of self-confidence seemed like some unattainable dream.

The character I could relate to was Jimmy.


Jimmy - or Slither - spoke to young BumpyBoo in a way that few characters ever have. You see, Jimmy is a lizard boy, but he used to be a normal human being, until his dad's experiments inadvertently turned him into a monster. In every issue of Scare Tactics, he struggles to deal with the changes his body is going through. These changes are so unpredictable and frightening to him that he feels like a stranger even to himself. He feels painfully self-conscious everywhere he goes, not only because he looks different but because he never knows when his mood will change, turning a normally laid-back young man into someone violent and unpredictable. And reading this, I felt normal. Amid all the raging hormones, social anxieties and general hideousness I was going through at the time, Jimmy really hit a nerve.

A small minority of you will already know how much I love this title. After all, I have reviewed it, spent hours on Wiki edits (with so much left to do!), and bring it up on the forums whenever I can. But a blog is different. In a review, you still have to be objective. A review that simply says "This comic is awesome! Ooh I could just EAT it!" may be honest, but it doesn't help anyone. In a blog, you can give the real reason you love a book so much, and this is mine. I love Scare Tactics so much because for a short time every month, it was okay to be the weird kid. It was okay to be different.

So, do you have a childhood favourite you still read today?