Thursday 12 October 2017

Comfort food comics

I think comfort food reading (and viewing and listening) get a bad rap these days. I read this post once about a romance novel where the author decided to “challenge” their readers with a sad ending where one of the protagonists dies. Now that's bullshit, isn't it? Because if someone bought one of those thin romance books with the PG yet somehow lurid cover I flat out guarantee they did not pay for a downer ending.

This isn't to say a challenging read can't be good, more that its good manners to let the audience in on the fact that's what they're getting. Or that if you have to challenge, at least do it in a way that the audience still gets what they paid for. Take Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (the film, we're talking about here) which absolutely eviscerates the sort of romcom it looks like its going to be but in the end Scott and Ramona walk off together having grown up a bit, got over some of their baggage and ready for something like a happy ending.

And sometimes people just want escapism. Is that really so hard to understand? The world is monumentally horrible right now. I live in a country with a political leader who is still in a job only because she keeps fucking up so badly that no one wants to be in No.10 when the consequences come calling; the half of the US that isn't underwater right now is on fire; any day now the Spanish government is going to go all out and hire a necromancer to bring back Franco; and some day historians are going to have to explain how internet manbabies complaining about video game journalism led to a revival of Nazism across the western world.

If someone wants to sit in a bubble bath with a romance novel and enjoy the glow of a predictable yet satisfying happy ending, let 'em.

So, anyway, Sonic The Hedgehog and Transformers comics: my comfort food reading of many years. Both are modern day successors to series of my childhood: Marvel UK's Transformers series (which also ran Marvel New Universe material as back-up strips and thus explains my unnatural desire for a Spitfire and the Troubleshooters revival) and Fleetway's Sonic The Comic, an anthology title of Sonic and other Sega properties. Both these series, of course, died long ago but being licensed properties they've come back in other forms.

At the moment IDW are publishing the Transformers comics and the one that gives me the most joy is Lost Light (formerly Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye) the story of a mission led by Hot Rod to find the mythical creators of the Transformers and “Cyberutopia”. Its funny, often bizarre and has a fantastic cast of characters knocking about the confines of a ship with more than a few secrets of its own. Its not particularly deep and not particularly challenging (unless you're of the conservative persuasion as various characters identify as transgender and/or homoromantic in interesting robot-y ways).

Then there's Sonic. For the last many, many years that license has been held by Archie Comics but following various problems involving a disgruntled ex-writer who wanted his rights back (and depriving me of some of my favourite characters in the process) Archie decided to let the license lapse and now its gone to IDW who plan to start their own series next year.

Of course it'll be different even with longtime Archie scribe Ian Flynn on writing duties. Those beloved side characters I miss will still be absent (no Secret Freedom Fighters, no Julie-Su, etc,. Etc,.) and dollars to donuts the Freedom Fighters of the old TV show probably won't be making the transition either. Sally, maybe, as she comes from other sources but I doubt the rights to Bunnie and Antoine are so clear cut.

I could certainly do with more light, fun series without gritty pretensions. I'm also absolutely in love with Lumberjanes at the moment and tearing my way through collected editions like there's no tomorrow which is ironic considering that series' attitude towards the passage of time. Even with the notoriously angst-dependent DC my favourite series right now are the gorgeously optimistic Bombshells and the stream of consciousness madness of Dark Nights: Metal which acts all gruff and gritty but has Batman riding a velociraptor at one point so how dark can it really be?

I guess I'm just getting too old for the whole business of wanting everything I enjoy to look super serious all the time, especially on the days when all I want is to relax with something warm and familiar. 

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