Mr. Henthorn on comics: #1 Why am I crazy about them?

(Part 1)

11.01.2021 | Written by Mr Hethorn

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I will always remember the day that Mrs Kenworthy paid a visit to the upper primary class of my school. It was way back in 1977 - a time when most things were much bigger than they are nowadays: computers, for example, were as big as buses and you were only allowed to use them if your brain was as big as a watermelon.

Telephones were so big and potentially dangerous that they had to be tied to the wall of your house in case your sister got angry with you listening to her break-up conversation with “Kevin” and she tried to throw it at you. All teenage boys had massive hair and gigantic flared jeans and they were all called “Kevin”.

At school we did not have smartboards or projectors - we had blackboards, powered by chalk energy, and a huge, square television in a solid wooden cabinet on wheels. It was so densely heavy that it took five Kevins to move it out of the way to make room for the wonderous things that Mrs Kenworthy brought to school that day. Things that would change my life forever.

Mrs Kenworthy was the mother of a boy in Year 4 called Kevin who, like all the others, was named after Kevin Keegan, the Greatest Footballer in the World! (If you did not count any of the better footballers who were not born in England).

Just like the beloved Keegan, Kevin Kenworthy had big, curly hair, a cleft chin, rarely wore anything but football boots upon his feet and drenched himself in Brut. Brut (pronounce “Brute”) Was an appallingly cheap and corrosive aftershave that Keegan, as Britain’s premier sportsman, was paid a fortune to promote. It was widely “splashed all over” (see YouTube) by boys much too young to shave and, following the chemical scorching that Brut delivered to their pre-pubescent faces, probably would never have to do so.

Just like Kevin Keegan, Kenworthy was always one of the first to be picked in the ritual choosing before the break-time football match. This was a mystery to us older students because, unlike the original, Brut-flogging Kevin, Kevin Kenworthy sucked at soccer!

The mystery was solved on the day of his mother’s visit. You see, Mrs Kenworthy worked for a publishing company. A company that specialized in producing a wide range of comic books. She had asked the headteacher if she could give a presentation, and perhaps interest the children, in a weekly subscription to one of their “magazines for young readers”. At first the head teacher was wary. He had the opinion that comic books were not “real” books. He felt that there was something inferior and common when he saw their garishly coloured pages, filled with drawings and speech bubbles. He felt that they would stifle a child’s imagination.

Then one day he observed the break-time football match. He saw how Kevin Kenworthy was first to be chosen. Then he saw how Kevin played. He got the connection. “My God!” he said to himself, “It seems that Mrs Kenworthy’s comics are already encouraging the children to imagine that young Kenworthy can play football. Maybe there is more to comics than I have been led to believe.”

Mrs Kenworthy was invited in.

To be continued ...