Wednesday 17 December 2014

900th Blog - Mega City Kids

900th Blog - Mega City Kids

You know, I’ve been umming and ahhing for a few weeks now about what I was going to do for my 900th blog post. Normally, when I hit each 100 posts, I like to do an entry to mark the moment which is sometimes a picture or design I’ve created, sometimes a reminiscence about some things which have happened to me in the last year or, occasionally, a run down of what I am expecting to do more of over the next few months/year (which is sometimes wildly inaccurate as other things often take priority). This year, my latest 100 is coinciding with the run down to Christmas and I knew I wouldn’t have time to do any new images on top the other stuff I’ve got to get done before the end of the week even (let alone by the 25th)... so I wanted to touch upon something quick and simple.

On the other hand, I didn’t just want to throw the post away on a quickie so I figured... there must be some kind of worthy cause or person out there who is doing something to help people out as best they can and who I can give a shout out to on my blog. So I had a bit of a think about this and I realised the one person who I do have to bring to your attention is Wendy Kravetz of Mega City Comics in Camden Town... and this is why...

My most loyal readers may remember my comments on how I learned to read as a kid. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times but, in case you don’t remember or, more likely, haven’t read it, here’s the introduction to my Man Of Steel review from June 2013...

“When I was two or three years old, I was encouraged to read via Superman and Batman comics which my dad or my uncle would pick up from the stand, long gone I imagine, at the Angel, Edmonton in the very early seventies (1970 in fact, I suspect). These comics, along with Green Arrow/Green Lantern, World’s Finest, Shazam!, Justice League Of America, Daredevil, The Amazing Spider-Man and also the annual “Christmas Time” reprints in such tomes as The Batman Bumper Book, The Superman Bumper Book and, wait for it, The Superman and Batman Bumper Book, were pretty much how I learned to read and by the time I got to junior school I was already out-reading all the other kids in the class (and writing epic length tales of imaginary spaceway heroes in some lessons too, from what I can recall). I particularly remember the cover to one specific Superman comic I read which, unfortunately, was the only comic which didn’t survive my childhood because I just read it too much and it finally fell apart. But the cover was so good to a kid my age... Superman VS The Electronic Ghost of Metropolis. It would probably cost an inappropriate amount of money these days if I were to track it down in the chance I could read it again but that cover will always live on in my memory.”

I think that paragraph there pretty much sums up my thoughts on how I learned to read and how much of an advantage it gave me over all the other kids at the time. The reason for this is quite simple... the characters and situations depicted in the panels of a comic book or, as they tend to sometimes call them these days, a graphic novel (although they often mean trade paperback reprint), tell of wonders and action and places and people that are so compelling that, at a very young age you actually want to read this stuff. It captures your imagination and you find yourself quickly learning how to decode the words and find out what your new found friends and heroes are up to... be it Captain Marvel teaming up with Tawky Tawny The Talking Tiger or Casper The Friendly Ghost trying hard not to scare anybody. It grips the mind of a child (and also an adult’s imagination... but that’s not what I’m here to discuss) and doesn’t let go.

Of course, once the flood gates are open, all kinds of reading materials which were somehow a locked room become fair game. I remember the tales of Enid Blyton’s various creations, the adventures in Richmal Crompton’s William books and, my favourite, Anthony Buckeridge’s mis-adventures of Jennings. And once you’re there... it’s only a very small step to entering the worlds of Michael Moorcock, Ray Bradbury, Ian Fleming, Philip K Dick, Kenneth Robeson, William F. Nolan etc. The point is... by reading comics from an early age, you don’t restrict your kids imagination or blinker them in any way... you actually give their thoughts room to soar and the reading skills tend to catch up with that real quick. Why? Simply because you’re giving your kids something that they want to read because, lets face it, whatever their age... the adventures of Janet & John or Peter & Jane just aren’t going to cut it.

And that’s why Wendy Kravetz at Mega City Comics is important to people right now. She hasn’t asked me to write this post... in fact, until it’s actually live it’s probably going to be a surprise that I have... but I wanted to shout her out here because I think she’s doing a terrific job with something that more people ought to cotton on to. She’s recognised the good her comics can do herself and she’s in charge of a scheme/brand called Mega City Kids, which enables her to hand pick suitable comics for various age groups... in an era when “suitable” comics really are something you need to watch out for (it’s very different territory now from when you and I were young whippersnappers). The scheme isn’t a charity, as far as I’m aware, but these people are recognising that the four coloured panels of certain comic books are going to help your kids fly through reading... and not hobble their expectations like, it has to be said, some teachers might.

But don’t take my word for it... check out Wendy and Mega City Kids for yourself if you think you know someone who is struggling with their reading and you want to watch them plough through their lesson materials faster than a speeding bullet and be able to leap tall spelling obstacles in a single bound. Her twitter account is here for you to see what she’s up to and the Mega City Kids facebook page is here... And if, like me, you have a passion for comics and like hanging out in places like Forbidden Planet, Gosh! and Orbital... and you don’t know about Mega City Comics... well add them to your list of favourite wallet torturers. They are based a couple of minutes walk from Camden Town tube station on the London Underground Northern Line and their website can be found here... Look them up next time you’re passing or surfing. Especially at this time of year because, hey, everybody likes to get a good comic at Christmas.

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