Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008, 12:38 PM

I'm not a big comic book fan. This is mostly to do with the fact that 99.99% of them are American superhero comics, which have never really interested me. How they have managed to sustain thousands of stories on the singular premise of "good guy defeats bad guy" for all this time I have no idea.

I was brought up on UK comics, firstly humour comics like Buster and Whizzer and Chips, and then I transitioned into the SF action comic 2000AD, where famous characters like Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, and Nemesis the Warlock resided. Not only was that so different to US superhero tripe in plot dynamics, it was also drawn differently, unique to each artist instead of cookie cutter clone hack work, the penciller was the inker, and there were episodic storylines of real quality. It's a great comic. It went downhill for a little while, and I stopped reading it, but apparently it's back on form again.

Since abandoning those comics, and despite sampling various others at times (such as a one-off Star Wars collection, or a glance through a Spirit or Cerebus the Aardvark) I have never really latched onto anything new; except for one single exception: Thieves and Kings. It's a fantasy adventure tale by Mark Oakley about a boy, Rubel, a "thief" who is central to events of great change in his home town, the kingdom of Oceansend. Wizards, time travel, shadow ladies, monsters, witches, princesses, and more, all converge and fly amongst Rubel's life, and he is the one who appears to be the key to it all. It's well drawn, with great characterisation and pacing, and with an interesting mix of art with swathes of text. A true epic in its scope, I've been reading it for about 12 years, and it's finally nearing completion.

But the other collection of comics that I have recently uncovered is one called Flight. It's a series of trade paperbacks that collect together comic strips in full colour, that originally were supposed to revolve around the theme of Flight in some way, though that seems to have been abandoned and sometimes the only connection is a "flight of fancy", i.e. just imagination.

The stories are quite beautiful and sweet, with a real sense of the joy of adventure that emanates from them. The colours especially really bring some of them to vivid life, which can make your heart soar. Even the sad stories have a side to them that make you take pleasure in reading them. (And I say "reading", but some have no or minimal dialogue)

They're a beautiful set of books, and I recommend them to one and all.

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