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The Wednesday Waffle - Issue Twenty: How did we end up here? An origin story.

A conversation with a customer the other day led to me thinking about how I came to discover comics, and made me realise that my story could be regarded as a it odd. (Which I'm sure shocks everyone...) So I figured I'd tell you how I got to where I am - I'd love to hear your stories too, which is why we have a comments section...

If you listen to our podcast The Geeks at the Gates you may recall that as a child comics were not allowed in my house, my parents viewing then as a distraction from "real" books. So I got the occasional Summer Special and Annual as treats on holidays, but comics didn't become a thing in my life until I was about ten, when long running UK comic The Beano hit its 2000th issue, a landmark which got me reading The Beano every week for the next couple of years.

American or Science Fiction comics - and especially Superheroes - remained off limits, so except for a few issues I borrowed off friends, comics remained largely off my radar.

The catalyst for change was unexpected - indeed it's only looking back now that the real trigger occurs to me.

Basically, when I was fifteen (around the time we had the Assembly I mentioned in last week's Waffle) everyone in my year at school had to go and do three weeks of work experience in the summer term. In theory we got to choose what sort of thging we went off and did, but in practice we sort of got what we were given and I ended up spending three weeks in a small independent sports shop in Doncaster.

Every day I got an hour for lunch, and because Junk Food was regarded about as highly as comics at home, I took the opportunity to go to the Wimpy (Doncaster did not have a McDonalds at that time, if you can believe such a thing...) buy my lunch and take it back to the shop.

But I have a very low boredom threshold, and sitting in the stockroom eating a burger wasn't nearly enough for my brain to do - so I took a book, and on that first lunchtime I learned a valuable lesson. The truth is that holding a book open with one hand while eating a quarter-pounder with the other is a recipe for intsense frustration. I don't know what it is about paperbacks, but they really, really want to be shut.

So after an enraging lunch hour of losing my page, dropping my book and getting special sauce on my tie I realised I needed a different strategy. The following lunchtime I called into the little newsagent next door to the sports shop and bought a copy of 2000 AD #527. I had friends who read it, I knew I liked Sci-Fi, so I figured I'd like it, and far more importantly I knew that when I opened it it would lie flat on the damn table.

And that was it. The obsession that became my career began becuase I didn't want to have to hold my book open during lunch. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if that issue of 2000 AD had been rubbish - but it wasn't. Back in 1987 'Tooth was at the very top of its game. But it was also weekly, not daily. So I had to find other comics for subsequent lunch hours.

And this was 1987. Comics distribution wasn't organised in any way at all that I could fathom. My Saturdays became a quest around the town's newsagents in search of whatever comics I could find - back then you couldn't be sure to find the next issue of a title, so I got used to having to fill in the blanks with my imagination, but I discovered a whole bunch of characters.

Mostly Marvel to start with, for some reason they were easier to find. Spider-Man, Moon-Knight, The Avengers, Iron Man, Cloak and Dagger so many more. I also found American reprints of old 2000 AD stories published by Eagle Comics and Quality Comics which served to give me some education in 2000 AD history.