Warning, this is probably the geekiest blog I’ve ever written. If you have this constant image of me as hella cool and badass, which I know most of you do, then turn away. I’m sure many of you style your hair like the Tiernan flick and constantly ask yourself ‘What Would Douieb Do?’ and I wouldn’t want this to detract from any of that. If you like, read it in a sarcastic voice and then pretend at the end the ever cool me flushes geek me’s head down a loo or something. Brace yourselves. Or your trousers may fall down.
I’m one of those people that’s always collected something. The first few items I ever collected were pretty dull. There was a very brief spell of stamp collecting – this was thrust upon me by family members thinking I might be at all interested in collecting something which has the sole purpose of being used to send letters, and sticking it into a book that using its collective postage could be sent round the world three times over but ultimately sits on a shelf until someone appropriate turns up to be bored by it. Then coins, until at a very young age I realised that collecting and spending money on money you can’t spend was hugely pointless. There were of course the obligatory Star Wars toys, Beanos, Dandys and whatever else a boy aged 6-11 was generally into and this need to have a collection of something has continued way into my adult life. Its been somewhat curbed over the last few years due to expenditure, but I still keep adding to my vast amount of CDs like there is no tomorrow. I maintain that while they take up space in my room that I could use for other more important things or even piece of mind, I can’t just live on mp3s as I enjoy the tangibility of a CD. The booklet, the case, the artwork. I can’t help but feel the digital era is destroying an element of the full enjoyment of an album. Similarly the day I walk into a library where instead of rifling through old books of a bygone time, I am instead subjected to either a kindle or an iPad, I will shed a tear. Though not too near the equipment incase they take away my membership card.
Aside from CDs, most of my old collections, once my interest had waned, were swiftly dumped, handed on, or confined to a cupboard or attic in my parents house for someone to discover many years later and use detective like skills to discover I was a really boring human being. The one thing I miss though and will always harbour a desire for is comic books. From the ages of 11 to about 17 I avidly collected thousands of comics ranging from mostly Marvel and 2000AD to the odd independent and DC when it was something special. I would spend hours looking at the artwork, indulging myself in the stories and generally acting like a complete geek at Forbidden Planet on a weekend. I had special hologram covers, full limited edition series and some really old collectors books that I’d managed to get my often greasy mitts on. I could lecture people for hours, mostly against their will, about the entire lifespan of Peter Parker or the varying team of the X-Men. There are probably several of you reading this already pitying me. You needn’t do such a thing. I happily balanced this with having friends – most of them real ones – and eventually as I bought less and less, I decided to sell the lot in order to save money for my eventual university life. Without too much of a thought I took the whole lot to a comic shop in Seven Sisters Rd and pocketed about £800 for everything which ended up in my savings till a year later it would be almost entirely wasted on beer at Kent University. Did I care that all those years of collecting, of escapism into other worlds, of absorbing the inking and artwork that I longed to be able to draw, was suddenly discarded in place of a substance that more often than not left me with no memories let alone good ones? Well at the time, no.
Then lately its started to bother me. I’ve always found it hard to walk past a comic book store without peeking in and rifling through pages of old favourites, no with no clue of where they are and what’s going on. But this week, on a whim, I bought the graphic novels 1-4 of The Walking Dead and it reminded me just why I was such a fan. The Walking Dead is up there with some of my favourite zombie fiction I’ve ever had the pleasure to read or see. As all good zombie horror should, it doesn’t focus on the evils of the undead and instead on how humans react and behave when put under extreme circumstances. The odd needs, desire and impulses that go against all moral codes of a normal existence. Its nothing less than amazing, even if it has got me back in the mindset I had when over indulging in zombie fiction for my ’09 Edinburgh show, where I am constantly reassessing whether or not the building I’m in can be made undead proof. Two hours yesterday disappeared as I got through vol 3-4 and I enjoyed it more than most films I’ve seen recently. It reminded me of all my favourite comic book stories and of amazing graphic novels such as Watchmen or Kid Koala’s Nufonia Must Fall – a story of a robot who lives his life through headphones until a young girl persuades him to hear the music of the natural world. Not only is it a beautiful book, but it comes with a CD with each track indicating what point in the book to listen to it. Amazing. Comics don’t have restrictions like TV shows, they don’t end like books. They just keep going and that character can be followed until, and only when, you stop reading.
I’ll probably never collect comic books again but I like to imagine that if I came into a lot of wealth I’d start getting just a few of my favourite and spend a few days re-reading Judge Dredd’s time traversing the Cursed Earth or the X-Men’s Age Of Apocalypse storyline. Then I’ll go to my vault of CDs which could all by that pint feasibly be contained in a micro-peanut or an iPea or something that they’ll have made and the tickets from the live gigs I saw them at will fall out of the sleeves. I’ll sit there and my son Tiernan and daughter Tiernanette will tell me they want to collect electronic stamps. I’ll gaze at them adoringly and tell them no way in hell will my kids be such huge fucking losers before demanding they go outside and play with their ninja knives.
Annnnnd….back to cool Tiernan. I’m gonna go put on a leather jacket and ride a motorbike somewhere before having a cigarette.