I don't know what I expected, really. There was never a long term plan, it was just a case of putting a few thoughts into words, an extension of the monthly comic book discussions held at Paradox Comics in Poole. We had so much fun yakking about comics that I decided - perhaps arrogantly - that there may be others out there who'd want to 'hear' what we have to say (oh, and I've steadfastly avoided going down the podcast route, and I'm not changing my mind now before anyone says anything!).
Turns out there were a few folks who were willing to give our words a shot, and came back for more on a weekly basis. Not in their thousands maybe, but enough to get us thinking that this could be a meaningful endeavour, worth pursuing. And so here we are, 10 years to the day after I published the first post under the moniker 'Paradox Comics Group' (the abbreviation should have happened sooner!), and we're showing no signs of stopping just yet.
Well, the comics scene may look a little different than it did in 2007 (there was no Marvel Cinematic Universe yet, the creator-owned scene had yet to really explode, Comixology hadn't even begun to make any waves) but the medium still draws me in like nothing else, the unique mix of words and pictures remaining beguiling, surprising and inspiring. My tastes may have shifted across the decade but my thirst for discovery hasn't diminished, and if new concepts or new spins on old concepts keep exciting me, then I'll be sticking around for a long time to come.
But it's not just the comics themselves that make me want to keep this thing afloat: it's the people who help me put it all together, taking time out of their lives to provide some words of their own that I can use, meaning we get a variety of voices on here rather than just me (and I couldn't do this on my own). Basically, while the love of comics remains, it's the support of my friends that keeps the PCG alive, and it's the fact that there are people out there (ie. YOU!) who want to hear what we have to say (whether you agree with it or not).
So thank you to everyone who's written, read, tweeted, or said something nice about the PCG. Without all of you, this hobby would be a lonely place to be.
James R: 10 years! 10 years? When Matt announced we were coming up to the tenth anniversary of the PCG, I couldn't believe it. Before I talk about the PCG though, I want to start off a little further back. In the early years of this century, the establishing members of what would become the PCG attended the Bristol Comics Convention (back then it was virtually the only comics event in the UK - imagine that, teenagers!) and in one of the panels, I distinctly remember a comics professional saying "This industry will be dead in ten years!" The feeling was that comics were all but played out - a dying art form, with a dwindling readership, and that technology would soon mean that what we knew as 'comics' would only be read in a digital form.
Now in 2017, that statement seems insane, but I don't think anyone in the room that day would have anticipated just how mainstream comics culture has become. The success of the Marvel movies and The Walking Dead TV show now mean that comics have become outliers for cultural trends, and that shows no sign of letting up; over the last year we've seen Netflix invest heavily in Millarworld along with the announcement of both the Deadly Class and Lazarus TV adaptations. The industry seems to be pretty robust too - we may never get back to the million-selling issue days, but every bookshop I go into now tends to have dedicated shelving drops to 'graphic novels', whereas in years past these would have been relegated to the odd embarrassed shelf at the end of the science fiction section.
I have been a part of the PCG since day one, and contributing here continues to be a source of huge pride for me - I would happily be writing reviews even if I thought just three people were reading them - but to know that so many people have picked things up on my recommendations is amazing. So primarily, thanks to all of you readers, wherever you may be - even if you've disagreed with me vehemently, it's an ongoing kick to be involved in such a diverse and vibrant culture. I hooked up with the original PCG because I couldn't deny that I loved this medium - now I feel like I'm flagging up things that might be the next zeitgeist-defining event, and that's really exciting. A special thanks to Matt C for his sterling work as the editor in chief; he's equal parts motivator, organiser and guardian when needed (though I think my record of annoying one creator in a decade isn't that bad!) Huge credit is also due to Andy H - as Paradox's proprietor, he fights the good fight unstintingly, and I've never seen anyone make the seemingly inscrutable world of comics so accessible to new readers who venture into the shop.
My last thanks go firstly to all the contributors here through the years - every voice has made it richer, and I've loved the social side of getting to know you all. And finally, thanks to everyone I've got to know through the social media connected to the PCG - for all the faults of the internet, it is a fantastic way to meet people with a shared passion for comics (and often a very similar sense of humour!)
Ten years then, and it's been countless reviews, conventions, panel appearances (Comics In Just A Minute will return!), pub visits, cinema trips, drunken arguments, Paradoscars, and my endless fight not to over-use the words 'compelling' and 'eponymous' in my reviews - it's all been fantastic. I'm well up for another ten years - onward, True Believers!
Jo S: Squashing down my Imposter Syndrome symptoms to a point where I can write something in celebration of ten years of something I've only been properly involved with for fewer than ten months has been a push, I'll admit, but if there's one thing that's surprised me more than anything else, it's that comics are totally inclusive and that here there truly is a place for everyone, no matter how tame or tawdry, mainstream or niche, gigglesome or gruesome, artistic, anarchic or anachronistic your tastes may be - and no matter if you've been a dedicated collector since the '70s or haven't a clue and need it all explained (I still have to check after 10 months: "Is that the Joker? Or the Riddler?" and I don't think Andy will ever completely forgive me for calling Green Arrow 'this little Robin Hood guy').
The PCG 2017 team are a motley crew - it's been fascinating getting to know them all in person having only heard about them second hand previously. The caricatures that James painted before introducing them all are still apt and it delights me to see how each brings something special and unique to the team. I'm absolutely honoured to be a small part of something with so rich a history, and where there's so much warmth, experience and knowledge, and I hope they'll let me stick around for another 10 months - maybe even a little longer?