The Good, The Bad, And This Kid: “Coming Back With A Sword”
By Josh Stone
So, here we are at column number four. I hope everyone is enjoying themselves thus far, I know I am. It’s been a pretty surreal trip for me, I’ve always read different comic related columns online and thought, “I want one,” now here I am with a tiny little column of my own. Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with my little geek episode, so I’ll jump right into today’s topic. Growing up in the 80’s I was witness to some of the best cartoons known to man, my generation had ThunderCats, He-Man, Silver Hawks, Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, Transformers, the list goes a little further, but those are the ones that counted. Then, as time passed, so did these cartoons. That was until about a year ago, when a hand full of comic book publishers decided it was time to bring it on home, and so they did, in mass numbers. It all started with Transformers and GI Joe, then He-Man and ThunderCats, and life just got, oh so good. Then I started reading these books, and I just wanted it to stop so I could still retain my naïve childhood memories.
When it was first hinted that these books were coming back, I couldn’t believe it. I saw posters at the comic shop and saw press releases online and just wouldn’t shut up about it. I remember when I saw an ad at the local comic shop near me for ThunderCats, I was with my girlfriend and for the rest of the day I just ranted on and on about how excited I was that it was finally coming back. I was on the memory lane bandwagon and I wasn’t planning on getting off. At that time Transformers and GI Joe were already on the stands, but I was never a huge fan of those growing up, but since I was on the bandwagon I thought, “Why the hell not?”. I read one issue of Transformers and thought I was going insane, I remember never watching it too much as a kid, but I didn’t remember it being that terrible. GI Joe was a little better, the art was what really carried it though, I’ve picked up Joe a couple more times since then and the stories vary from pretty decent to, “can I get my money back?”. Back to the story at hand, the day finally came that the ThunderCats book hit the shops, and with the slightly bitter taste still in my mouth from the other 80’s revivals, I gave it a try. It was great, it was everything I remembered as a kid, then some. I was floored at how well the people over at Wildstorm did. It was at this time that I thought there was no looking back, that surely the others must meet this quality.
So, time passed a bit and ThunderCats remained the only new “cats” to come out, He-Man was on the way, and Cartoon Network announced they were going to be showing a new He-Man cartoon, which really upset me (I’m not cool enough to have the Cartoon Network yet, I have to go over to friends’ houses in order to see good cartoon entertainment). So, with all the hype around the new He-Man cartoon as well as a new He-Man comic, I couldn’t wait until the comic came out, so I went over to my friend’s house and watched a couple episodes, and I still regret that ill conceived decision. The cartoon was beyond awful, I’m not sure a word exists describing how I felt about this “new” He-Man, but nonetheless, I still bought the comic the week it came out. Unlike ThunderCats, this comic didn’t grab me right away and demand more of my hard earned cash, it more or less kicked me in the shin and said, “you know, if you’ve got some extra change why don’t you pick me up?” (not many people are aware of this, but comic books talk to me as I pass them on the shelves, it’s really quite off-putting). Suffice to say, I no longer bought the He-Man comic, so this was four of the revivals down, and only one of them I was buying after the first issue. This left only the Ninja Turtles on my “childhood nostalgia tour”, but it was still awhile before the new Turtles comic was going to be coming out.
Much like He-Man before them, the Turtles were given a new animated series, this time on Fox Kids. However, unlike He-Man, I was hell bent on not watching the new Turtles cartoon, the horrific He-Man episodes were still fresh in my mind, and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice (plus I worked when the Turtles cartoon is aired, and was too lazy to record it). So, the new Turtles cartoon was on and now, a few months later, the comic arrives in local comic shops. After being put off a bit by the cover of the new Turtles comic, I read it, in fact I read it twice to make sure I knew how I felt about the book (here is the review I did for it Ninja Turtles). I couldn’t believe it, my childhood cartoon idols were completely destroyed, save for one. I thought that my memories wouldn’t be able to repair the damage done by these new comics, but that has since been proven false. Sure, I dislike all but one (ThunderCats in case you scrolled down and are just now joining me on my rant) of the 80s revival comics, but for some reason I still defend the characters to my bitter end. However, I think I may have figured out why I still hold them up on a pedestal; merchandising.
Since the 80s were the merchandising era, it’s no surprise that with the sudden boom of re-launched 80s comics/cartoons, that there would be an even larger boom of merchandise relating to the 80s comics/cartoons. You’ve got everything from your Cobra T-shirt to your Ninja Turtles key chain. It’s absolutely strange, to be living in the year 2003 and see such mass 80s related paraphernalia. It’s not only limited to the “guy” cartoons either, in fact I think it all started with a surge of Care Bears stuffed animals, then from there it’s been a non-stop barrage of Strawberry Shortcake, GI Joe, My Little Pony, Transformers and so on and so forth, and we’re all being sucked in. A friend of mine, who grew up watching Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, has been endlessly collecting anything she can get her hands on that relates to these cartoons. Even I can’t resist some of the 80’s memorabilia, I recently purchased a ThunderCats steering wheel cover and bought my friend a Transformers one for his birthday. I fear that that purchase might have spawned a chain reaction, I am now on the hunt for a Skeletor shirt; or to be quite honest, anything with Skeletor on it. So, I guess there is no way out, as long as companies keep pushing products and comics and cartoons featuring characters I grew up on, I’m going to keep shelling out more and more money.
This is a new “section” I’m going to try to have at the end of my columns, it doesn’t really have a name, it’s just a place for me to promote projects I enjoy and/or projects by myself or friends. So, for the inaugural “issue” here’s a link to a web comic a friend of mine is doing: 1000 Cranes. I hope everyone enjoys it, I know I do (or why else would it be here?). Well, see you all in two weeks.
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