And? And here I am again, picking away at my oozing rash of immoderation.
I used to be a big comics fan, see. Growing up, I started out on Whizzer & Chips, Topper, Buster, Cheeky and Krazy, occasionally picking up a Beano and Dandy - but I was really an IPC/Fleetway boy. I'd particularly treasured the summer specials, reading them on the beach, or in the car en route to yet another caravan park.
Obviously, I was aware of the big Marvel and DC heroes during the 70s. I remember seeing the oversized Superman Versus The Amazing Spider-Man one-shot in my local newsagent's, and having my mind blown. I'd picked up various Marvel issues here and there over the years, mostly the Marvel UK reprints of the US stuff (as well as Marvel UK's Amazing Spider-Man, which featured an original story that saw Peter Parker moving to London).
I think I bought every issue of Marvel's Star Wars comic, and my mum's mum - who I subsequently referred to as Nanny Comic (my other grandmother was known as Nanny Money, because she gave me £1 every time I saw her) - bought me the weekly Marvel UK reprint of Secret Wars, a crossover which featured more or less every Marvel hero. Apart from Daredevil, for some reason.
It was 2000AD which really inspired me, though. I think I started with issue 3 of that - having been round my mate Jon's house, and seeing his copy of issue 2 (which came with "Biotronic stickers"). I badgered my mum to get me the next issue, which had a free code-breaking "survival wallet" taped to the cover. Not quite as much fun as the stickers sadly, but I was sold.
I didn't miss another issue for nigh on 30 years. In the early-90s, I even got within a hair's breadth of actually drawing Judge Dredd. Such is the story of my life; I've had more close shaves than a male stripper.
A family trip to London when I was 15 changed everything; my parents and I dropped into Forbidden Planet - then in its tiny Denmark Street incarnation.
It felt like stepping out into a much bigger world; the horizons of my imagination expanded exponentially. For the next few years, I was a regular customer.
One trip in particular stands out; I bought the entire 12-issue run of Watchmen, issue one of Pat Mills' and Kevin O'Neill's Marshal Law, Camelot 3000, and Mister X by the Hernandez Brothers. From that point onwards I was feeding an addiction.
I was particularly a sucker for good art - I picked up pretty much anything drawn by Brendan McCarthy, Brian Bolland, Philip Bond or Cam Kennedy. Simon Bisley was another favourite. Glenn Fabry, Bill Sienkiewicz, Steve Dillon, John Romita Jr, Frank Quietly... At least one of the artists I admired - Duncan Fegredo - even turned out to be a Digi fan. I followed the writing of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Garth Ennis. I was as much a fan of comics as it's possible to get.
And these days I barely read them.
I still visit Forbidden Planet whenever I'm in London, but I don't come away with a stack of books like I used to; I cherry-pick a few at a time - usually the Marvel Star Wars books, or IDW's Dredd and Doctor Who titles....
In fact, the only ongoing comic that I still read is The Walking Dead, and I'm not even sure how good that is.
NO PLACE FOR CHILDREN
It was about five years ago that I stopped being a regular comics reader.
2000AD was the first to go, when I realised that I was skipping most of the contents of each issue. Judge Dredd's co-creator John Wagner was writing the character less and less, and I'd started to find the non-Wagner Dredd strips less... important, I suppose.
I was always more a Marvel boy than a DC one, but piece by piece Marvel lost me too. The final straw came - ironically - with a series entitled Secret Wars (only loosely associated with the original series from the 1980s).
You might've read recently that Marvel has hit a sales slump. There has been talk of it being blamed on the company's recent push towards more diversity in its titles. Heck, the story even made it to Newsnight this week.
At a recent retailer summit hosted by Marvel, it was reported that retailers had requested fewer headlining female characters - and the company faced an online backlash when it appeared to be taking the requests seriously.
I can't speak for every former Marvel reader, but I can talk about what drove me away... and it had absolutely nothing to do with diversity. Well... not that sort of diversity.
I totally applaud Marvel for pushing diversity. Its comics need to reflect the real world, and speak to its readers; that has always been what it did best. Unfortunately, what it instead chose to do with its recent Secret Wars event was dick around with its core characters.
It wiped away the Marvel Universe as it was, and created a new one, made up of versions of Marvel characters from different realities. Continuity was out of the window. Characters were no longer who they'd been. It is - frankly - a bewildering mess.
Even my favourite Marvel title - Ultimate Spider-Man - was folded into this new Marvel universe, having previously existed in its own continuity. Prior to that, I'd begun to find its Avengers and Fantastic Four books pursuing impenetrably dour storytelling, which put big ideas over the grounded fun with which I'd always associated Marvel. Emotion was out, and cod-intellectualism was in.
Add to this the company pursuing a policy of rolling one massive line-spanning event into another - all of which require customers to read multiple books to get the whole story - and characterisation gets pushed out. The big events aren't earned.
In fact, the Marvel of old is best embodied these days in its movies.
Previously, Marvel stood out because its characters had to deal with regular domestic issues alongside the super-villains. It made them relatable.
With a handful of exceptions, Marvel characters weren't gods or aliens; they were empowered nerds, bullying victims, wracked with insecurities...
I don't want Spider-Man to be the CEO of a corporation. I don't want the X-Men to be knocking around with younger versions of themselves. It's weird and confusing, and needs a flowchart to keep track of. The Marvel Universe was always one step removed from our own. Now it's something else that I don't understand or recognise.
Again; diversity doesn't even factor into it. Simply put, I don't want Thor being replaced by a completely different character called Thor; it doesn't make a difference whether that character is female or not. The fact is... it's not the same character. They replaced the Bruce Banner Hulk with another male character, and I gave up with Hulk at that point too.
The bottom line is: I stopped reading Marvel Comics, like many others, because Marvel Comics became unrecognisable. Not just that... but unwelcoming.
The joy has gone from so many of its books. Everything has to be interconnected all of the time, so the moments when the characters do come together no longer feel special. The big events have become more important than the small ones, which had always been the foundation upon which the Marvel Universe was built.
I suppose I'm writing this because a) I'm angry that I've lost something which gave me so much pleasure over the course of my life, and b) I think it's a shame that diversity is being blamed for the position in which Marvel finds itself, and c) I'm worried that Marvel is going to reboot its universe and do away with much of the cultural diversity, without fixing the real issue.
Reflecting the real world and real life problems is what Marvel always did best, offering stories which were relatable and universal, mixing the light and the dark. Marvel gave you cause to care about its characters. It's not about whether they're male or female or black or white or Muslim.
It's about showing characters who are relatable who exist in a relatable world. Not one where a million realities collided, and now there's an old version of Wolverine running around, who might be from the future, or something, and Captain America is 90 years old... and he's a Nazi... and Reed Richards from The Fantastic Four is evil, or dead, or is he dead and evil?!
It's like... what?
For years now, Marvel has slipped away from that to a point where I no longer recognise it. The last footholds I had in the Marvel Universe were taken away from me. Frankly, I miss it, and I doubt I'm alone. I welcome the diversity of cultures, race and gender that Marvel pursued.
What I didn't want is Marvel diversifying from its sense of joy and relatability - or reflecting the real world by blaming minority groups for problems which are entirely of its own making...