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COVID & Comics #4

Marc explores the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on comics readers, writers and comic store owners through a series of new interviews.

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Comics & Covid

The pandemic has forced us into new ways of living. From queueing for the supermarket to working from home to the dreaded lockdowns. All of these have one thing in common – social isolation. A survey conducted in Staffordshire reported that 80% of the near 4000 asked thought that not being able to see friends and family wis the hardest thing about the pandemic, and I agree. It has been over a year since I have seen Neil Vagg in the flesh, and we work for the same organisation outside of GYCO! And due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to meet Dave Jones in person since he joined GYCO. Neil is the co-founder and editor in chief of the GYCO website. He writes great reviews on comics, TV and movies. Dave is relatively new to the GYCO family, and his fresh views make excellent reading. I could not wait to get their COVID & Comics experiences. Enjoy!  

How have you been during the pandemic?

NEIL: It’s been an interesting 14 months. Work has been everything from quiet to manic and that includes being seconded to a different job for most of Summer 2021. Then with GYCO on top of that we went in to lockdown #1 thinking we’d never survive given the lack of content which was available but actually we’ve done the opposite and taken over the world!

DAVE: Working through pretty much, launched a gaming blog and started writing for GYCO – so pretty awesome really

Can you tell us your “comic origin”? How you got into comics, your first comic, what you like to read etc.

NEIL: First adult comic I remember owning is a London Editions Magazines reprint Batman from, I think, 1991. It features a main story called The Fear and a backup classic tale called I Vampire and some other random stories.

I grew up reading some kid friendly Batman books from the BTAS franchise. Also used to read some Star Trek comics as well. Stopped reading in my early teens and then picked it back up again around 16/17 and never looked back.

I’ve always put Batman and Bat-Family books as my number one. I prefer vigilante type heroes to anything too superpowered. Most of my books come from DC, BOOM! And Image. I also like a lot of Dark Horse titles.

DAVE: I started by in my younger years (maybe 8 or 9) going to the local market to the comic stall and getting the American Simpsons comics with my pocket money. My first graphic style from memory would be Samurai Penguin.

How has the pandemic affected your comic reading? Are you reading more – if so, what of? Are you reading less – again, if so what of?

  • Has the pandemic effected any other aspect of your comic life? E.g. moving to digital from paper
  • How have you adapted your comic reading, buying etc?

NEIL: At the beginning of the pandemic everything seemed to stop. I had presumed it wouldn’t impact me too much because the majority of what I read is digital but actually all of it stopped. I mean why would they continue to publish digital comics allowing them to go months ahead of paper? It just isn’t a good business decision. So for a while things stopped.

But that actually allowed me to catch up on something ridiculous like 90 books I had bought and never read. Every time there was a ComiXology sale on something I liked I had gone back to older storylines and bought them cheaply but never read them. So through lockdown #1 I cleared the backlog and started afresh.

DAVE: Having only recently got back into comics and thanks to the opportunities from GYCO I’ve been able to explore loads of great new titles and that in turn has brought back my love of comics. I read mainly digital but that’s purely for convenience, I do prefer physical media.

What has been getting you through the pandemic and lockdowns? Comics, TV, movies etc.

NEIL: Definitely comics. Also re-watching some of my favourite shows. Have completed re-watches of The Walking Dead, Fringe, Buffy, Angel and a bunch of the DC series like Titans, Doom Patrol etc. Almost at the end of a complete Alias re-watch as well.

Then Shudder has also gotten me through. I re-discovered my love of horror back in 2019 when Brightburn was released by Sony. So I’ve been catching up on horror I’ve missed and I’ve built up a great relationship with the team at Shudder so they have been keeping me busy with all their original releases of late.

DAVE: Gaming lots, awesome films and TV series. Haven’t spent much time off as I could still work.

What are your top comics of 2020? Top 3, 5 or 10!

NEIL: Top comics recently have been…. In no particular order:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BOOM! Studios)
  • Batman (DC Comics)
  • Nightwing (DC Comics)
  • Wynd (BOOM! Studios)
  • Spawn (Image Comics)

DAVE: I only really started reading again this year so can only give my favourites this year :

  • Home Sick Pilots
  • Crossover
  • Power Rangers
  • BRZRKR
  • Magic

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

NEIL: THE SUICIDE SQUAD! The anticipation is real for this one to finally be released. Then we’ll be rolling in to The Batman in March 2022. There’s so many huge movies coming out. Whilst it’s terrible we had to wait until May for cinemas to reopen it’s meant that summer through to the end of 2021 is overloaded with some really awesome films.

DAVE: In terms of comics, I’m most looking forward to the next issues of Home Sick Pilots and Crossover

It was great learning about how these two got into comics and how comics, video games and TV helped them throughout the pandemic. It is something I haven’t really discussed with people in person, but I hope to meet up with these two and have a chat oer a pint someday soon! You can catch Neil’s articles here and Dave’s here.


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