Thursday, August 23, 2007

Combat Plans for My Misery: How to Love Comics Again

Wonder Woman Mythos
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley

Wow. I got home tonight and read the comments on my last post. I am a bit teary and touched to see how much you all care, and I am really appreciative of all the great ideas. Your opinions and suggestions make great sense and I want to try and implement them. Here is what I am going to try.

1. Prune the tree. Obviously I am picking up too many books. Several of them are mediocre and/or late and it is making me very jaded. I am also suffering from crossover-itis. The sheer thought of picking up all those damn Countdown tie-ins pushed me over a very fragile edge. The solution is like you said: prune it back and start anew. If I miss out the first time, there is likely to be a trade in the future. Excellent idea!

2. Find the joy in back issues. Rather then dwelling on new books, go and explore the back issue bins. I need to make myself remember what has kept me so interested all these years. I also need to get out my old comics and re-read them. I have over 40 long boxes, and they are not current in their order. Also books have not been sorted in. It is a mess. Obviously I need to spend my time there instead of trying to keep up with the Jones's.

3. Pick up trade paperbacks and graphic novels. There is a lot of good stuff I missed out on, I am sure. I need to get my hands on the Diamond back catalog or just simply go to the local shop or make a road trip and pick up some new stuff. I love trades, and they are more instant gratification.

4. Quit living for Wednesday. This one is a problem because my retailer tends to misspull if Jim and I aren't right there. I don't know how to solve this one without missing several titles a week. I am torn by my longterm loyalty to them but am pretty upset at how my stuff gets missed. This is the toughest one for me to resolve.

5. Take a mini break. I am pondering this one pretty hard. There are still a few books I want to get like 100 Bullets and Y the Last Man. Both are finite, and I don't want to miss the end. I also can't imagine missing out on Wonder Woman. Besides that, I think I might be ready.

6. Try a new genre like Manga, or read books again. Confession: I have never been a fan of manga, but I don't know if it is because I don't know what to look for or if what I have picked up is for kids instead of for me. Help me with this one, please! I read constantly, and just got done re-reading the Harry Potter series, so I am also at the juncture of picking up a new book. What would be good there? I was thinking of picking up Warren Ellis' new novel. Has anyone read that?

Thank you so much for the caring and consideration. I feel a lot better tonight. My hubby also thanks you because you helped me climb off the ledge I was on. I think he was pretty sure I would still be perched there for a few more days. With your help, I feel a bit renewed and feel like I have a sense of purpose. I just need to implement it. The new Previews next week will be the test. I am already resolving to not read all the Countdown crossovers, but I really wanted to get the Kyle/Donna/Jason Todd one, so I am not helping myself. It is time to take a strong stance and pick a number of books to max out at that. "

Hello, my name is Heidi and I am a comic book addict."

Thank you again! You have made this crazy lady a much calmer one tonight!


ShellyS said...

I read your previous post too late, because you'd already posted this one. But I would have told you that if you genuinely enjoy comics, you shouldn't let the frustrations get to you. Your action plan sounds like a good one.

Comics can be fun. Many of them are a joy to read. I don't always get my comics on time, though rarely due to Diamond screw-ups, so I don't read blog reviews of the ones I get so I won't have them spoiled for me. Otherwise, I know I'll get them soon.

At least, if they come out on time, a day or two is no biggie. It's the ones that come out late that I've been waiting for that frustrate me. Like, it's nearly a year since WildCats 1 with no issue 2 listed.

But I have other things to read, and I'll survive.

Hang in there. :)

Nick said...

Hmm, books for a comic addict to read. Hmm...ok, I'll give you three off the top of my head:

Cat's Crade - Kurt Vonnegut
-For one it's not incredibly long, for two it's very weird, and for three, part of the book is about an insane/childlike scientist...what's not to like, lol.

Survivor - Chuck Palahnniuk
-Brutal and graphic the book is darkly humorous. Here's part of it: Tender Branson - last surviving member of the so-called "Creedish Death Cult" - is dictating his incredible life story into the flight recorder of Flight 2039, cruising on autopilot at 39,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Again this book isn't too long and it's out there, Chuck also writes in a way that makes the words flow.

The Long Walk -Richard Bachman/Stephen King

-I gotta recommend one thing dark and depressing come on now, lol. This is the story of a race, one in which the winner gains the ultimate prize. The winner? Who ever is the last one running. There is way more to it, and the ending is highly weird and depressing but...well yeah I dig it.

Honorable mentions:
-The Great Gatsby (if your a romantic sap like myself)

-Cyclops/Sahara/or Shock Wave by Clive Cussler. (Yes there was a movie made called Sahara...believe me, the book...WAYY better..title character is like James Bond only gruffer and American)

-World War Z (it's about zombies but...well it's done documentary after the fact/style, very cool)

-The Hobbit...just cause, even if you've already read it, it's good for a re-read, it nurtures our inner child, :). Plus between you and me, I find this an easier read then Fellowship of the Ring.

Graphic Novel suggestion: 30 Days of Night, any Fables trade, and Dan Slott's She Hulk trades. Giffen/DeMatteis JLI trades are a given

Oh oh and Fear Agent, the first trade of that is good.

Ok it's 2am....I need sleep and need to stop, lol. Hope you like one of those and glad your sticking around!

Swinebread said...

An action plan, a very good idea!

As for suggestions, Blankets still sits at the top of my list but beyond that…

When it comes to Manga the thing to remember is in Japan comics are for everybody and they are written for every group: Young, old, men, woman, girls and boys. Every possible genre is explored with comics on how to do your taxes to Sci-Fi fantasies and everything in-between. The reason most of the stuff seems like girly kid stuff is because that’s what is mostly being translated into English.

Right off the bat I’d recommend:
Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner, and Lady Snowblood. Very deep, very adult and very brutal, but amazingly well done. They give great insights into Japanese culture and human nature. In fact, I have a review of Lady Snowblood here. The only thing I would change from that review is that I had much more sympathy for the main character by the last book. These can get violent just so ya-know.

I would also highly recommend the horror title Uzumaki, which is published in 3 volumes by VIZ. Probably the best horror series I ever read.

Nausicaa: a fantastic sci-fi series on which the animated movie is based. The only problem is you may get lost in the art from time to time.

Black Jack: about a rogue Doctor that has amazing (almost supernatural) surgery skills. Not much of it is translated but what little has is golden.

Blade the Immortal might be up your ally too.

I also have only read one volume of it, but for some reason I have this feeling that you’d like The Legend of Mother Sarah as well.

Other Random collections:

If you’ve read Promethea then you must read From Hell. It’s the male negative other half of Moore’s magic.

Love and Rockets, It’s a long series but man once you get into it, wow. The best indy out there! The characters have aged since they first appeared in the early 80s. These were the books I was gonna grab if my house was on fire until I realized that they would be easy to replace.

How about Elfquest? These stories are just pure magical fun. I’ve got the old giant sized books.

If you’ve never read Understanding Comics, it’s a must. It explains a lot of what is going in your head while you read comics.

Some books:
Slaughterhouse 5, see were many folks ripped their Kurt Vonnegut ideas from.

The Lathe of Heaven: Set in good old Portland Oregon.

Soon I Will Be Invincible: I have not read this new book, but it’s getting good reviews

Mists of Avalon: Every good girl (and bad) should read this.

I’d also like to recommend a documentary:
Comic Book Confidential, It came out in the late 80s but it will take you back to an amazing time in comics and also show you what you missed.

Eaglewing said...

Sounds like a solid plan. Nothing like pruning the tree to cure crossover-itis. And even tho you want to be loyal to your LCS, it's a business and your hard earned money is getting spent on an unreliable service, leading to frustration. Going a different route on buying your comics may get you back to enjoying them instead of dealing with the hassles just to get them. I may not have a pull list or ever did regular comic day Wednesday, but when I get a new box in from Amazon, it is a great day, and I am a happy camper indeed. Might not be the latest issue, but it's new to me cause I haven't read it yet. Lots of joy there, and no headaches.

I find most stuff is great in trade format, and I often go back, pull a book off the shelf, and read it again without having to unbox/unbag/unboard a comic. Trades and back issues, or just rereading what you have can be enjoyable all on its own - especially if you haven't read it in a while. I reread my trades of Punisher, Criminal, X-Men, Wolverine, Sin City, etc, anytime, whenever I feel like. A well written story can be appreciated even if you know the end. I also notice I appreciate the art more on subsequent readings after I know the story. I get my money's worth out of my trades for sure :)

As for suggestions, that's quite the lists above, but from a novel approach, ever tried the Rain series by Barry Eisler? "Rain Fall" is the first one. It's about a paid assassin, John Rain, getting mixed up in a situation that encroaches on his solitary life. The vivid Japan setting, quick pace, first person perspective, and brutal action make it a solid read. It's different of course, but if you like Punisher, it might not be a stretch that you'd like this.

Good luck on your new approach to comics. Maybe in a while you'll get back to the superhero comics again - everything's cyclical after all. In the mean time, enjoy other avenues of new trades and old issues and those 40 long boxes (!). There's certainly no shortage of good stuff out there to spend you time enjoying.

Lisa said...

I am glad you're not jumping off the ledge! As a store owner I always feel bad when a customer who was picking up a good number of comics every week suddenly disappears without a word - we figure that he or she just got too burned out or financially burdened. We would rather have them cut back than completely stop, if for no other reason than to stay in touch with the people we've come to know over the years.

As for the problem with your pulls, you definitely need to talk with them about that. I always want customers to tell us where we can improve or if we make a mistake, so we can do what is necessary to fix it. Let them know that if your pulls continue to be constantly wrong and get picked over if you're not there right away, you will have to shop elsewhere. Maybe suggest that they keep pulls in a short or long box behind the counter. We did that for a while until we found a nice file cabinet that does the trick. If the comics are kept away from prying eyes they should be fine. Even if they just put them in a short box or two on the counter with a lid on the box that should keep people's hands off of your pulls. It the store cannot manage pulls properly then they should just discontinue the service - in the long run they'll get fewer people frustrated by not doing it than doing it consistently poorly.

Another problem - if people need to raid the pull stacks on Wednesday or Thursday your retailer is not ordering enough comics. Comics should be ordered to last at LEAST a week or they're just loosing money from unsold sales. It is a common but extremely foolish mistake many comic book store owners make.

And, I will add that a good chunk of comics are available for reorder up to a few weeks after they come out. Marvel isn't good at this, but just about all other publishers are. So, if you come in and for some reason they are out of what you ordered, ask them to order it from Diamond so you can pick it up the next week. These are all simple things that every comic book retailer worth their salt should do. If they can't/won't then it might be time to reevaluate your shopping choice (we can do mail order *wink*)

There are LOTS of great things to read, but there is also a lot of crap. The key to enjoying comics is to find what you enjoy and just buy that. Avoid the noise and hype and cross-over-tie-in publisher tactics as much as possible so that you can focus on what YOU want to read, not on what THEY want you to read.

Buy DMZ in trade - it's good stuff!

Swinebread said...

typos argh…!

Now back to the important stuff.

Heidi Meeley said...

I am so overwhelmed with joy at your suggestions, that I am going to print them out and shop a bit. I have also spent some time in my basement rooting through back issues. It was really pretty fun! More to report soon!