What This Book Was Supposed To Be Just to make it absolutely crystal clear: the Topic books were supposed to be for serious work. Like the other subjects we studied, we were supposed to do something like an hour or two each week. We didn’t have a timetable as such, so the exact day and time we did these things might change according to the whims of Mr Geraghty (and/or practicality), but generally speaking, at some point every week, we’d be told it was time to do Topic, at which point we would get out our Topic books and start learning. What this ‘learning’ actually involved was different for every child. Just like the History and Geography lessons, we were basically supposed to just copy things out of books. But what we copied was basically up to us - at least within the confines of what was on offer. With all three of these subjects, we were asked to pick a book from the bookshelf and copy it out - both writing and pictures - into our Topic books. Unlike History and Geography, however, Topic wasn’t constrained by having to be about either time or space. We could copy out a book about anything we liked. Providing it was on the shelf. And that’s where it all falls down. Topic 1 is the ideal Topic book. I chose a book about dinosaurs from the shelf and copied out as much of the book as I could fit into my exercise book, telling a consistent, coherent story with a beginning, middle and end. No other topics polluted the story at any point. Which basically means that, every time we were told it was Topic time, the dinosaur book was always available for me to copy from. Most of the time, that just wasn’t possible. There were only so many books, and usually only one copy of each. In my History book, I start off telling the story of Nelson, then abandon it halfway through to concentrate on Columbus. Then he gets booted out in favour of Napoleon. Maybe I just found them boring - I don’t know - but most likely, one day the book just wasn’t there any more, so I switched to a different subject. My Geography books are even worse, lurching from subject to subject, often to things you could barely describe as Geography at all. You’d think, with a class of just twenty-odd kids in four different school years, there’d be some kind of system in place to prevent it happening. But there wasn’t. Then there’s this. If things had gone to plan, Topic 2 should have been as consistent as the first one. I’d have picked a special subject - space travel, maybe - and each time I picked up my Topic book, the space book would be there too, waiting for me to copy it out in my own best handwriting. But that didn’t happen. I started with dinosaurs, then suddenly it’s space travel, then some infantile rubbish about boats. Then sport, of all things, before ricocheting right back to dinosaurs again. It’s tempting to think I just couldn’t make my mind up. But most likely, the right book was never there. And it was probably never going to be. Why Things Changed It was all the supply teacher’s fault. Mrs Stoker, I think her name was - she’d fill in for Mr Geraghty every now and again. No idea what work we were doing, but whatever it was, I finished early (as I often did) and found myself with the prospect of either sitting there getting bored (which tended to happen a lot) or having a go at something else instead. Now, I don’t remember if it was her or me (probably me) who suggested I should draw something to pass the time, but it was definitely me who decided I would draw a comic strip. And definitely her who authorised me to draw it on the big posh drawing paper from the big posh drawing paper drawer. When Mr Geraghty returned the next day, he was a little uneasy about this liberal use of the school’s best paper. But for some reason I’ll never quite understand or appreciate - maybe it was kindness, or maybe he just thought it would get me out of his hair - he saw the wisdom in my suggestion that I should be allowed to draw more comic strips. Not instead of my other work, naturally. But if I finished my other work ahead of time (as I often did), then it would be far better to keep me occupied with something I enjoyed doing. Who knows? Maybe one day I’d even write something good. But not on the school’s best paper! Maybe it would be slightly less expensive if I did it in my Topic book. And that’s how it started. From here on, Topic no longer meant ‘random subject matter I copied out of a book from the shelf over there, if it’s available’. It meant pure, raw creativity. Comic strips, pictures, jokes, stories, crossword puzzles, optical illusions - basically, whatever I felt like doing, until I ran out of time or no longer felt like doing it. It’s not always good or pleasant - in fact, it’s very rarely good or pleasant at all - but it’s real, it’s tangible and it’s completely batshit crazy. I used to do stuff like this at home all the time. Draw pictures, make little home-made comics, scribble down daft ideas and half-finished stories. Later on, I even learned to keep some of them. But what I didn’t do was keep them all in the same book - at least not when I was eight years old. That’s why I kept this, when the stuff I did at home got thrown away. This only exists now because it was in a school exercise book. Most of it’s utter rubbish. I’m uploading it all here because I think it benefits from being seen in its totality, but most of it’s garbage. Bad pictures of Marvel superheroes. Half-arsed, unfinished adaptations of comic strips I was reading. Scrappy lists of terrible ideas, badly implemented in crappy biro and blunt pencil. It really is amazingly, unflinchingly bad. But it’s important to me, because without this, I don’t know if I’d really be me at all. Bear with me though. I can’t upload this all at once, only a page at a time. To do it all is going to take months. And the first parts will be slow, as I cover the first few boring pages, uncovering exactly why something had to change. But I promise you - it will definitely change… One More Thing If you click on the cover image above and move forward to Page 2, you’ll see the inside cover where, at some point (presumably just after writing Men in Space), I decided to write a list of contents. Considering I also made an attempt at an index on the inside back cover as well, this is very interesting, because it means I wasn’t particularly happy with it all just being a random, meaningless load of rubbish. Or rather, I was aware it was a random, meaningless load of rubbish but I was keen to stamp some semblance of order on it. An index and a list of contents might have made it seem like a real book, like it was planned, like it was always intended to be this way. What’s weird is that I then obviously changed my mind, decided a Contents page was a bad idea after all and decided to erase it. Even though two of the entries had been written in biro and couldn’t actually be erased. Obviously I don’t remember any of my eight-year-old thought processes from the time, but it’s a brilliant demonstration of how sometimes, in spite of everything, I really was quite mind-blowingly stupid.
January - May 1980
Topic 2
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Apr 1980
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Captain Carnivore Gary Shepherd is hunted down by a deadly flying meteor
Optical Illusion Time Amazing visual tricks that will boggle your mind!
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
The Hulk Puny humans won’t be able to resist this amazing pin-up!
More Puzzlers A trio of ‘Make You Very Crosswords’ to make you slightly cross
Fury Falls Evel Knievel in a scary waterfall adventure with Split Sam!
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
Puzzlemaster Help Puzzlemaster escape the clutches of the Martian spacelords!
Captain Starlight Know your Starlight superheroes with this amazing fact file!
The Yellyog Gang Meet my latest hideous bunch of nutty nightmare fuellers
Lazer Lash An exciting criminal spy adventure in a world made of lasers!
Woman Line Which of these five squiggly lines leads to the woman?
The Human Maze Meet Whirlwind, the man whose face is an impossible maze!
Topic 2
January - May 1980
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
What This Book Was Supposed To Be Just to make it absolutely crystal clear: the Topic books were supposed to be for serious work. Like the other subjects we studied, we were supposed to do something like an hour or two each week. We didn’t have a timetable as such, so the exact day and time we did these things might change according to the whims of Mr Geraghty (and/or practicality), but generally speaking, at some point every week, we’d be told it was time to do Topic, at which point we would get out our Topic books and start learning. What this ‘learning’ actually involved was different for every child. Just like the History and Geography lessons, we were basically supposed to just copy things out of books. But what we copied was basically up to us - at least within the confines of what was on offer. With all three of these subjects, we were asked to pick a book from the bookshelf and copy it out - both writing and pictures - into our Topic books. Unlike History and Geography, however, Topic wasn’t constrained by having to be about either time or space. We could copy out a book about anything we liked. Providing it was on the shelf. And that’s where it all falls down. Topic 1 is the ideal Topic book. I chose a book about dinosaurs from the shelf and copied out as much of the book as I could fit into my esercise book, telling a consistent, coherent story with a beginning, middle and end. No other topics polluted the story at any point. Which basically means that, every time we were told it was Topic time, the dinosaur book was always available for me to copy from. Most of the time, that just wasn’t possible. There were only so many books, and usually only one copy of each. In my History book, I start off telling the story of Nelson, then abandon it halfway through to concentrate on Columbus. Then he gets booted out in favour of Napoleon. Maybe I just found them boring - I don’t know - but most likely, one day the book just wasn’t there any more, so I switched to a different subject. My Geography books are even worse, lurching from subject to subject, often to things you could barely describe as Geography at all. You’d think, with a class of just twenty-odd kids in four different school years, there’d be some kind of system in place to prevent it happening. But there wasn’t. Then there’s this. If things had gone to plan, Topic 2 should have been as consistent as the first one. I’d have picked a special subject - space travel, maybe - and each time I picked up my Topic book, the space book would be there too, waiting for me to copy it out in my own best handwriting. But that didn’t happen. I started with dinosaurs, then suddenly it’s space travel, then some infantile rubbish about boats. Then sport, of all things, before ricocheting right back to dinosaurs again. It’s tempting to think I just couldn’t make my mind up. But most likely, the right book was never there. And it was probably never going to be. Why Things Changed It was all the supply teacher’s fault. Mrs Stoker, I think her name was - she’d fill in for Mr Geraghty every now and again. No idea what work we were doing, but whatever it was, I finished early (as I often did) and found myself with the prospect of either sitting there getting bored (which tended to happen a lot) or having a go at something else instead. Now, I don’t remember if it was her or me (probably me) who suggested I should draw something to pass the time, but it was definitely me who decided I would draw a comic strip. And definitely her who authorised me to draw it on the big posh drawing paper from the big posh drawing paper drawer. When Mr Geraghty returned the next day, he was a little uneasy about this liberal use of the school’s best paper. But for some reason I’ll never quite understand or appreciate - maybe it was kindness, or maybe he just thought it would get me out of his hair - he saw the wisdom in my suggestion that I should be allowed to draw more comic strips. Not instead of my other work, naturally. But if I finished my other work ahead of time (as I often did), then it would be far better to keep me occupied with something I enjoyed doing. Who knows? Maybe one day I’d even write something good. But not on the school’s best paper! Maybe it would be slightly less expensive if I did it in my Topic book. And that’s how it started. From here on, Topic no longer meant ‘random subject matter I copied out of a book from the shelf over there, if it’s available’. It meant pure, raw creativity. Comic strips, pictures, jokes, stories, crossword puzzles, optical illusions - basically, whatever I felt like doing, until I ran out of time or no longer felt like doing it. It’s not always good or pleasant - in fact, it’s very rarely good or pleasant at all - but it’s real, it’s tangible and it’s completely batshit crazy. I used to do stuff like this at home all the time. Draw pictures, make little home-made comics, scribble down daft ideas and half-finished stories. Later on, I even learned to keep some of them. But what I didn’t do was keep them all in the same book - at least not when I was eight years old. That’s why I kept this, when the stuff I did at home got thrown away. This only exists now because it was in a school exercise book. Most of it’s utter rubbish. I’m uploading it all here because I think it benefits from being seen in its totality, but most of it’s garbage. Bad pictures of Marvel superheroes. Half-arsed, unfinished adaptations of comic strips I was reading. Scrappy lists of terrible ideas, badly implemented in crappy biro and blunt pencil. It really is amazingly, unflinchingly bad. But it’s important to me, because without this, I don’t know if I’d really be me at all. Bear with me though. I can’t upload this all at once, only a page at a time. To do it all is going to take months. And the first parts will be slow, as I cover the first few boring pages, uncovering exactly why something had to change. But I promise you - it will definitely change… One More Thing If you click on the cover image above and move forward to Page 2, you’ll see the inside cover where, at some point (presumably just after writing Men in Space), I decided to write a list of contents. Considering I also made an attempt at an index on the inside back cover as well, this is very interesting, because it means I wasn’t particularly happy with it all just being a random, meaningless load of rubbish. Or rather, I was aware it was a random, meaningless load of rubbish but I was keen to stamp some semblance of order on it. An index and a list of contents might have made it seem like a real book, like it was planned, like it was always intended to be this way. What’s weird is that I then obviously changed my mind, decided a Contents page was a bad idea after all and decided to erase it. Even though two of the entries had been written in biro and couldn’t actually be erased. Obviously I don’t remember any of my eight-year-old thought processes from the time, but it’s a brilliant demonstration of how sometimes, in spite of everything, I really was quite mind-blowingly stupid.
Captain Carnivore Gary Shepherd is hunted down by a deadly flying meteor
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
The Origin of Electro Waen Shepherd, TV Star, turns evil and drains the city!
Optical Illusion Time Amazing visual tricks that will boggle your mind!
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
Lazer Lash An exciting criminal spy adventure in a world made of lasers!
Woman Line Which of these five squiggly lines leads to the woman?