Our Russell wonders what effects his ’ 70s superhero tops had on him.
Look at those photos. Cute, huh? Well, as you might have guessed, that little guy is me, back in that weird and wonderful decade known as the 1970s. And of course the one thing that these snaps have in common is that they feature me wearing t- shirts with a superhero on them. See, there’s Captain America, there’s Spider- Man ( my favourite), there’s the Hulk, and a DC interloper, Batman. I just loved those guys back in those days. The comics were the starting point, and back in the ’ 70s I’d buy the black and white British ones, which were reprints of the all- singing, all- dancing, all- colour US comic books, which I’d yet to realise even existed at that point.
But even if I hadn’t even read the comics I suspect I would have been wearing those t- shirts anyway because, let’s face it, it’s not unusual for little kids to be clad in superhero- branded clothing. They don’t all grow up to write for science fiction magazines, though, and edit a couple of SFX superhero specials.
So, that got me thinking: what was my degree of love for these tops? Was I just doing what other kids were doing, or was I indicating my future life path? I think my love was deep. Something primal even. Obviously bright colours appeal to youngsters – superhero creators know that, and that’s why they make them luminously garish.
Maybe because I loved such t- shirts when I was young, when I was older I’d associate images like these – bold, brash, colourful – with the happiness of childhood. And so that must be the reason I dislike washed- out, adult- orientated, dreary superhero stuff ! That’s why imagery from the likes of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice gets me down!
It’s funny to think, I was a walking art gallery; I was adorned with beautiful art that would later be seen in galleries and on expensive prints. Those polyester, easily stretched tees had imagery very much of their time, and they represent the sunny, the optimistic, the positive, before superhero comics went all gloomy and grown- up and PC. To me, they represent the absolute golden age of superhero comics.
I wonder whether the ultimate proof that we want things back from our childhood even though we can do nothing useful with them is that I really, really wish I still had these t- shirts.