We ask John Fellows to write a column, and what does he do? He decides to give up comics. Along with alcohol and cigarettes. We knew those other two wouldn't stick, but how long could he last without four-colour crack?
12 July 2004


I have many vices, but three are most pressing on my mind. Alcohol, cigarettes and comics. One will destroy my liver, one will destroy my lungs, and one will destroy my mind.

Two of them are viewed as "cool" (although arguably smoking is becoming more and more uncool), and one is viewed as mildly more fashionable than owning the entire run of STAR TREK on video in a limited edition box set. So I've made a commitment to quitting all three.

It's day one, and I've just been paid. There's money in my bank account and the weekend beckons. Normally my first stop would be the comic store to pick up my weekly shipment, but this week I'm forgoing the regular trudge round the stores to look for something to spark my interest. I'm doing fine, there's nothing out at the minute I really feel a strong pull towards.

There's few monthly titles I actually read and look forward to since DC WildStorm's Eye Of The Storm line self-destructed and Marvel decided to auto-retard it's entire line back to the simplistic silver age origins of the medium. I sit down and work out what I actually buy, and it doesn't seem too much of a bind to miss out on it.

It's day two and I wake up with a blinding hangover and the combined taste of battery acid and dead puppies in my mouth. I let my ex-girlfriend out of the flat and go for a pint to steady my nerves.

So I balked and went to the pub. So what? It was a momentary slip-up. Honest. No smoking, though. I'm doing well on that front.

'I work out what I buy, and it doesn't seem much of a bind to miss out on it.' I wander round town and check out the local comic store. I am tempted to purchase some independent stuff, so I go read some more interviews with Chuck Austen on the internet. He reminds me why I've given up, and why I was so right to do it. I continue reading Marvel's solicitations and am astounded that somebody decided both STARJAMMERS and ROGUE required their own ongoing titles. I laugh heartily to myself and head home.

Day three begins with a trip to the off-licence for cigarettes. I back out at the last minute and buy ten packs of Wrigleys chewing gum. I'm pretty much swapping permanent lung damage for a jaw that could crack steel if I have to sit and chew all this.

I hate Sundays. I'd much prefer a 48-hour Saturday. I'm bored, so I start to scan my shelves for a graphic novel to read. I realise what I'm doing and pack all the graphic novels into a box and stick it under a hoover in the cupboard. I'm not giving in so easily.

I contemplate going half-measures by catching a preview of SPIDER-MAN 2, but realise that I'm only cheating myself. Instead, I pick up a copy of a movie magazine and read about the upcoming UK releases of the CATWOMAN, CONSTANTINE and PUNISHER movies, and all thoughts of comics vanishes from my mind.


Day four greets me with a wake-up call for work and a state of semi-drunkenness. A quick game of pool turned into a longer game of pool, which led to shots of tequila, which led to a club and my first packet of cigarettes in three days. I crawl into work and try to take my mind off it with a scan of the comics websites.

Rich Johnston informs me that the men who make my comics are just men; greedy, disreputable and sometimes quite perverse. I scan over some old Title Bouts and realise just how much bilge this industry pumps out every week. My faith in my new lifestyle pays off. I am sent a link detailing the effects of cigarettes on arteries by a kindly friend. I reply with a host of links to bestial porn and then head off for a smoke.

'I'm tempted to buy some indie stuff, so I read some Chuck Austen interviews.' Day five, and I have to call in sick with a brain of cotton wool, a mouth of death-breath, and the churning guts of a washing machine. They'll get over it. I light up a cigarette and go for a wander once I've had the obligatory lie-in.

Tell ex-girlfriend over breakfast that I'm not going anywhere near a comic-store tonight. Make mental note to self that I must also add meeting ex-girlfriend for a drink to the list of things to give up. Go to the comic store anyway. Nothing takes my fancy. I flick through IDENTITY CRISIS and realise that a lot of people have been really excited about the death of a D-List superhero's wife. Scan a copy of the new Ellis/Immomen ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR and realise that he really has had to subvert his lofty principles just to get ahead. I weep for the industry and head to the pub to steady my DTs.

Day six = sleep.

I can't remember a whole lot of day seven, as I end up at a friend's house for a party until four in the morning and pass out on kitchen floor. Wake up at one in the afternoon and stumble into work for two. Nobody bats an eye-lid.

Why is it so difficult to quit drinking? Doesn't the idea of potential liver-damage, a shortening of my lifespan and possible mental defects scare me enough? I mean, the rewards aren't even that big to justify the expense. I justify it as social lubricant, and say that I'll grow out of it eventually. Then I realise that I have been buying comics until the age of 25, and my entire thread of logic disappears up its own backside.

Day eight is the last day of the week and I am finally given justification for a drink. I am also given justification for a visit to the comic store as the new releases come out. I don't even stop to take a glance on my way home. Go out, come home at three in the morning (without ex-girlfriend - programme seems to have been vaguely successful) and start to drunkenly read some old copies of STARMAN. Can't focus on the many, many captions and end up throwing it down in disgust. Have smoke out window and play HOPE OF THE STATES very loudly on CD player to annoy neighbours. Pass out on sofa.


It's the weekend and I am physically ill. I slump in the local pub with a glass of coke (the last refuge of an alcoholic) and politely make conversation whilst focusing on not pebble-dashing my flat-mates.

Boredom kicks in around the same time as my hangover fades away, and I start surfing Ebay for comics to finish off collections. I find a couple of pieces I need and am about to buy them when I realise the bank won't give me a credit card. I walk around local marts, but am unable to find anything I need.

I realise how much better comics have got over the last couple of years despite my complaints. I flick through old copies of YOUNGBLOOD and find a couple of crappy DC comics from the 70s. Find myself amazed at how such an industry produced such great titles as SLEEPER, THE FILTH and QUEEN & COUNTRY. I go home uncertain.

I watch TV and realise how much utter bilge is produced every day. I wonder how comics could ever let somebody like Grant Morrison write the most popular series in American comics, yet the most popular thing on TV is Big Brother.

Day ten arrives, and it's the end of my programme. I wake up feeling surprisingly pleasant. as I have had a relaxing Saturday night without alcohol. Finish last cigarette and head into town. Hear news of more SEAGUY, read advance preview of Bendis and Finch's AVENGERS revamp, and get interested in DC's BLOODHOUND after hearing comparisons to Ennis and McCrea's HITMAN.

Am invited to pub, but find myself in the library scanning the film section for anything interesting. I realise they have a graphic novel section that's quite well stocked, and before I realise it I'm walking out with 2024 by Ted Rall and Brubaker's CATWOMAN.

I enjoy these with cup of warm tea and BRITISH SEA POWER on the stereo. I forget to go to the off-license for cigarettes before it closes, and tuck myself up in bed with old back-issues of PLANETARY.

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