I grew up on Asterix comics – couldn’t get enough of them. My brother and I would fight over each new one our parents bought, then spend hours trying to copy the drawings, and coming up with our own strips, and somehow learning about the Roman Empire in the process.
What does this teach me as an adult? That kids can learn through this medium. In fact it’s a really powerful tool for this. Asterix has been read by kids the world over for fifty years now and Horrible Histories is having the same effect for a new generation, but what about the educational effects of comics like Watchmen, Batman, The Matrix or Kick-Ass? One word: imagination. That’s what they develop in children, or anyone. Where would the creative industries be without its mega-comic-book-fan employees in every corner? And surprisingly, where would the creative industries be without its legion of classical music fans too? Not in a very good place because it it would be without most of its participants including yourself. Yes, you’re a classical music fan and for the simple reason of film. No classical music and no great film-scores:
Vertigo / Psycho (Bernard Hermann), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / Once Upon a Time in America (Ennio Morriconne), Chinatown / Star Trek (Jerry Goldsmith), Brazil / Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Michael Kamen), The Silence of the Lambs / The Lord of the Rings (Howard Shore), Braveheart / Troy (James Horner), The Dark Knight / Inception / Gladiator (Hans Zimmer), Batman / Hulk / Spiderman / Beetlejuice (Danny Elfman) and many, many more which doesn’t even include the use of existing classical music in films, for example 2001 and A Clockwork Orange (yes Stanley Kubrick probably did this best).
If you’re a fan of any of those films then you’re a fan of classical music. They couldn’t be what they are without it. And the connection from this to classical music and comics? Imagination. This is what I’m trying to develop in children (anyone) by linking the two together, and throwing in some bonkers comedy inspired by the likes of Asterix and Horrible Histories too to keep them hooked too.
You might be thinking, er, comics are read, music is listened to… But today we have DIGITAL COMICS and they’re the future. So sticking a soundtrack to your comic book is possible (you might want to think about what music you would stick on yours?) and thus we have an amazing, imagination-expanding medium for all who enter.
But there’s a glaring exception in my list of film composers: John Williams.
Jaws / E.T. / Superman / The Twilight Zone / Indiana Jones / Jurassic Park / Empire of the Sun / Harry Potter / Munich / Saving Private Ryan / Schindler’s List and many, many more again, not least STAR WARS, one of the biggest imagination workouts of all time.
Which leads me nicely onto the legendary BRIAN BLESSED (Boss Nass was one of the better characters of Episode 1). He loved putting his inimitable voice to my idea, was an absolute legend to work with, and according to the sound engineer, the loudest human being he’s ever had in his studio.
If you like comics, films and Brian Blessed then you’ve most likely got a very well developed imagination, and I suspect that classical music is therefore also for you. And your kids. If you don’t believe me try it out for yourself with my Kickstarter campaign and then tell me I’m wrong (see how I seamlessly led you into this):
I’ve still got the Asterix comics – they’re in the downstairs loo – and my brother and I still fight over them. Cue corny end tagline: imagination is worth fighting for!
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