Foreword To SuperFogeys
I was asked to write a foreword to the upcoming first volume of Superfogeys, by Brock Heasley, the online strip about superheroes in a care home.
Here you go…
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – TS Eliot
Superheroes are the young. Superman is 29, Batman the same. Spider-Man is 16 going on 17. Oh they all age over time but something, someone always pulls them back to the golden age. They are not just about power, anyone can have that, but about bravado, the bombast of youth, impetuous, making mistakes so that they can learn and grow. Except they never really do. Older superheroes are more measured, considered, slower, less prone to error, more inclined to work things out. Boring.
No wonder creators and publishers keep trying to keep their superheroes young.
But Superfogeys finds something else. The second childhood. The age when the impestuousness of youth returns because, hey, with a permanent death on the way, the kind you don't just come back from next issue, you might as well do as you please.
And this is how the Superfogeys act – like children. They not only dare to eat peaches but they throw them in each other faces laughing. They've seen enough horrors in their life, they can act however they
please, why not? What have they got to lose?
Plenty, it seems. Because Superfogeys won't let us be lost in the moment and There. Are. Consequences. To. Their. Actions. It seems strange that in a book set in a nursing home, the miasma of death ever prescence, that a death seems surprising. It's because of their very "kidness", that death seems a stranger. Almost unthinkable.
And it's that eery juxtaposition that makes Superfogeys more than just gags about elderly superheroes. It's a book about life and death, of seizing the day even in the most restrictive circumstances, and finding a way to grow, to be, to be better if given the chance. And make bedpan jokes while you're doing it. Hell why not, that's what bedpans are for, surely? Because death is round the corner the moment you stop.
And the mermaids are singing.
Rich Johnston, London, September 2009.
I like these foreword things, they're fun.
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