A friend of mine recently regaled me with the tale of his attempts to procure a birthday present for his fourteen year old nephew. It wasn't as easy as it might seem as he thought he ought to run the ideas he had past the wee lad's mum.
Eventually they settled on the idea of a computer magazine, but even here doubts arose when he reported back that the magazines in question had a 15 certificate. The problem being that nowadays computer games magazines review products such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Zombies from Hell" (OK I made that last one up but you get my drift) which are rated 15.
I don't know exactly what it was that eventually they decided upon as an appropriate present but it wasn't an easy decision to come to.
Now it might appear that this is taking levels of anxiety regarding tipping children into a variety of personality disorders and even juvenile delinquency as a result of unsuitable stimuli, to an absurd level. However I think that it's a part of human nature that is always with us. There was in the 1950's an epidemic of teenage gun crime in both this country and the U.S. in fact the figures for shootings and the coverage that they were given in the UK media was on a par with the recent rise in knife crime. Scapegoats were needed and in both the U.S. and U.K. there was an outbreak of national hysteria over the prevalence of so called "Horror Comics" on newstands.
Nowadays it's computer games, thirty years ago it was "video nasties", it's a sop for the ever anxious middle classes who just need something they can comprehend as being the root cause for their children kicking off from time to time. And to back up their anxieties they've got constant counselling from the media who's increasing tendency to treat their audiences like a mentally frail herd of sheep is evidenced by announcements such as "viewers may find some of the scenes contained within this report distressing" inevitably followed by "we'll be running a helpline after this report so that viewers affected by these issues can talk to one of our advisors".
So censoring your kids entertainment is not that unusual I suspect, but around the age of thirteen children's brains are in a state of hyper-drive as they go through a process of re-wiring. They are seriously exploring the limits of their boundaries and yes they definitely need to know what the limits of those boundaries are. But a lot of the help they get in assessing those boundaries is not just from mum and dad but it's from their own imaginations. Venturing into the darker regions of fantasy is a natural and important progression for them, without that they are heading for dullsville. It's no accident that film directors such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino soaked up horror comics, Hammer films and anything else that their parent's generation would have regarded as being entirely unsuitable.
My journey into all this stuff occurred at around the age of thirteen, when a schoolfriend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of "The Pan Book of Horror Stories" series. For kids my age these things were fantastic reading and after that we were dabbing modelling floc, a kind of weird fine brown stuff that looked in a poor light almost like stubble, onto our baby faces and trying to pass ourselves as 16 year olds so we could get into our local flea pit to see "Dracula Prince of Darkness" and "Plague of the Zombies".
Halcyon days indeed!
Right now that we're on a horror theme - here's the contest:
The picture below is the first published artwork by a then sixteen year old who was destined to achieve great things in the field of horror and fantasy comics and illustration. The magazine that it appeared in published the artwork in their fan section and several years later the artist concerned was producing some of his greatest work for that magazine.
So I want you to tell me who the artist is.
Lucky first correct response (post it in the comments section so I can see who's first) gets to appear in Cloud 109 with a partner of their choice - could be an S/O or someone either real or fictional you would fancy hanging out with for a panel or two.
Colin Dexter cover gallery
39 minutes ago