I recently re-bought these two books ('Asterix and the Roman Agent' (1970) and 'Tintin - The Black Island' (1938/1966)) as I have decided to slowly convert my wilting paperback collection of Asterix and Tintin books to hardback albums. The Roman Agent is one of the earliest comic books I owned. It was a Christmas present from my mum in about 1974 or 75. Every year she'd buy me either an Asterix or a Tintin book. The Black Island was my first Tintin adventure, and I think I received that the following year, maybe a couple of years later.
I still have my original copy of The Roman Agent - the figure of Tortuous Convolvulus has been cut out and lost, and there are various numbers in circles and triangles written on in biro - some kind of long-forgotten 'favourites' marking system. The rest is just about hanging together. I re-read a few Asterix books recently and this one really stands out as one of the best in terms of artwork and script.
Throughout most of my childhood, Asterix retained top position in my favourites, and although I also loved Tintin, it wasn't until my early twenties that Hergé's creation took the lead in my affections and I had the money to complete my collection of his adventures. The detail in the modern version of the Black Island is fantastic, and its Britishness may be part of the reason that particular volume attached itself to me so closely. It has an interesting publishing history, the subject of an article I wrote here.
Because I read these comics at such an impressionable age, and I re-read them again and again throughout my childhood and adolescence, they have stamped themselves indelibly on my mind - a particular feature comics have anyway, being so graphically strong. Unlike a film image, a comic panel can be stared and wondered at for many minutes, and returned to at any time. It has coloured my taste in comics ever since, and I am always immediately drawn to European album format comics, with their simple page layouts, clean colours and larger size. That's why when I discovered the work of Edgar P. Jacobs and Yves Chaland much later on, they already had a channel directly into my heart. It extends to my recent enjoyment of Trondheim's 'Dungeon' series too, and not to mention the direction my own comic creations have taken in the past few years (these books may even be the reason I work as an illustrator today). I know I'm not alone in having my strongest attachments to comics that etched their mark on me in my formative years, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if that's what keeps the comic industry going to some degree.