For all the time that I’ve spent pondering the intricacies of aging in the past few weeks — and, given that I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, that’s an upsettingly large amount of time, I have to shamefacedly admit — there’s one element of that whole “growing older” thing that had, until recently, seemingly evaded me: the recognition that, as it turns out, everyone else gets older at the same rate as I do.
Okay, that’s maybe a little too simplistic — but, sadly, not entirely offbase.
I was reading XX the other day, the new novel by graphic designer and comic book creator Rian Hughes, when the thought suddenly occurred to me: Rian Hughes is probably somewhere in his 50s now. It was something that, at once, seemed only logical and simultaneously impossible. After all, Hughes was a designer on a number of my favorite Britcomics and related titles back before I was really paying attention to graphic design: I can still remember his redesigns for Speakeasy and Deadline back in the day, and that was three decades or so ago. He has to be getting up there.
And yet, Rian Hughes is one of those figures who, in my head, doesn’t age past… late 30s at best…? It’s an imprecise art, but there are those people — not friends, friends age just like regular people — who are set at particular ages and don’t get to go past that, in my head. I can’t explain the logic, and I can’t pretend that there’s any kind of science at play here. It’s entirely arbitrary, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I simply have a lingering disbelief that Rian Hughes could possibly be as old as he actually is.
I like to think that this isn’t just me, and that everyone has artistic heroes that are forever stuck in a particular period that they have trouble shaking off. That could simply be my own neuroses shining through, though — a needy sense of please, let it be other people, not just me. Still. If I’m 46 now, there’s no practical way for those I looked up to in my teens and twenties suddenly to be younger than me anywhere other than my heart, sadly enough.
(Amusingly, I couldn’t track down a birth year for Hughes. Maybe this isn’t quite as unrealistic as I thought…)