I like Comic Books in Chunks

I started collecting comic books when I was around 12.  The first series I remember making a regular habit of were The Fury of Firestorm from DC and G.I. Joe from Marvel, but those habits didn’t last for many years.  In high school, I would occasionally pick up some Batman or X-Men or something similar, but I had drifted out of the hobby, mostly reading stuff over at a friends house every few months.  Just as high school was ending, a friend that worked at a local comic shop turned me on to a new series, Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN from DC.  Issue 2 had just hit, so I picked those first two issues up and they pulled me back into regular visits to the comic store.

A short time later, I started university, and one of my roommates was a regular collector.  The Wednesday visit to the comic store became routine, and I added Justice League International, Batman and others to my regular collection.  I started picking up back issues of stuff like The Shadow and Doc Savage and some cool books from Dark Horse that had come out.  That continued for a bunch of years, but I eventually stopped collecting again.

It seems, if I have something to pick up every Wednesday and make a regular habit of visiting the comic store, I’m happy to continue buying stuff every week.  But once I am unable to go for a prolonged period, or don’t have any books coming out for a few weeks, I quickly lose interest.

I’ve been pulled back in a few times over the years, mostly when work colleagues get interested in some big event and we begin making regular trips and discussing the latest issues.  I think it’s a matter of community and consistency for me.

It had been a year or more since I’d visited a comic book store when the NEW 52 from DC hit.  DC Comics, after years of continuity reboots and events, were re-launching their entire line from issue #1, including long-running books like Action Comics and Detective Comics.  I was intrigued and interested in some changes to the characters, so I checked it out… and was very underwhelmed.

At the time, I figured I’d just lost interest in the characters and superhero stories being told in that medium, and the new DC Comics just didn’t do it for me.  I wanted change and evolution, and it seems that the “New 52″ was really more of the same, except with minor re-designs on the costumes. Instead, I moved over to some other favourites and picked up a few volumes of Hellboy and BPRD and saw what comic books with evolving characters really looked like.

Nine months later, though, I think the real problems I had with the new DC Number 1 issues was that they were just too brief for my tastes.  While I do like Hellboy and BPRD, I think the thing I like most about those collections is that I’m getting huge chunks of story, with beginning – middle – and end.  A full tale.  Single issue comics just don’t appeal to me much any more.  I look at my shelves, and there’s a lot of stuff I like and revisit – and it’s all trade collections.

 

I think the only single issue of a comic I’ve picked up in the past year was Tales from The Wedding Present – a comic book about one of my favourite bands that I bought after a concert.

This past weekend I spent reading some books recommended to me by some friends, and finally picked up a few titles that I’d been hearing about for some time.  I also checked out some of the NEW 52 DC books that I’d passed on 9 months ago, and they weren’t bad – because I was able to read an entire arc, I found that I enjoyed them a bunch more.  They still weren’t exactly what I was looking for, and didn’t evolve or build the characters into anything different then they’d been for the past 15 years, but I enjoyed reading them.

And so: big chunks of comic books for me.  I’m interested in some currently running series, but I’ve become a trade-waiter.  I’d much rather pick up two 6-issue collections a year than 12 monthly books.  There is one exception to that, though – but that’s a topic for an upcoming post.

 

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