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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eagle Annual, The Best of the 1960s Comic. Daniel Tatarsky (Editor). Orion Books (2009)


This is an extraordinary and potent time capsule, it brought me back to my years in national school reading Treasure, Look & Learn and borrowing where I could Hotspur and Valiant. This selection, brilliantly complied by Daniel Tatarsky plunged me back to my early schooldays as effectively as any time machine. As a school boy the 1960s were not a tumultuous decade at all, the social, political upheavals were unseen, it was a very formal decade with the divisions between boys and girls, men and women very apparent and strictly maintained.
Eagle comic with its mixture of education and entertainment for boys captures the flavour of the decade with precision. It had to, its audience was one of the most conservative in the world, young and early teen boys. One of the most evocative aspects to this book are the ads, the mixture of talking down and talking to than was exactly the normal tone of adult discourse. The letters to the editor are the other place where the true voice of the 1960s can be heard, boys wanting to speak as men did.
I never was a fan of the Eagle, I wanted my comic unadulterated by any non-fiction elements, I wanted the pure thrill of action stories. Reading the excerpts in this annual I am struck by the way class distinctions were so central to the stories. It makes them hard to read now, the action is is not fast enough to speed the reader over the bumps. Overall the range of the content, the frequently breathtaking art work, the fascinating view of what is truly a bygone era make this a delightful and for me, very pleasantly, nostalgic read. I would not like to return there, a visit is lovely.

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