A few months ago, I confessed that I was woefully ignorant of the realm of Magic : The Gathering. However, my attempt at educating myself in the ways of the Planeswalkers was actually a pleasant vacation from my real mission : to stop being such a comic book n00b. This project began last year at New York Comic Con, where I was forced to confess that the only comics that I’d read were a few of the Stephen King’s Gunslinger and The Stand adaptations and a few Batman trades. I was glared at and beaten (ok, not beaten) when I confessed to my fellow line-standers for the Locke &Key pilot screening that I hadn’t even known it was a comic by Joe Hill. Seriously, it was embarrassing. So, with the help of our very own Ladyvader, I began my quest of self-improvement.
My first plunge into the world of comics was, as I mentioned, just an extension of my Stephen King obsession. This obsession, however, proved not to be strong enough to encourage me to get my ass to the local shop every month and eventually I found myself hopelessly behind. Plus I stumbled upon the collected first volume and became completely unmotivated keep up with purchasing the singles. King and a few Batman paperbacks (Hush, the Long Halloween, The Killing Joke…etc) were all I knew from comics…until Sandman.
On a whim I ordered the first few of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman volumes off of Half.com for like 20 bucks. Little did I know that I had just planted the seeds for months of thrills, heartache, and intense attachment to the Endless and all of their adventures. From Preludes and Nocturnes to Death’s very special episodes, Sandman might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I LOVED the ever-changing artwork and colors paired with Gaiman’s web of words. Honestly, I could go on for days about my Delirium cosplay aspirations or the hours I have spent flipping through Neil Gaiman’s tumblr (he raises bees, guys. BEES). Instead, let me share with you the first thing that I learned from this noble comic endeavor:
1) This shit is expensive
Let’s just use Sandman as a case study. Now I bought a few volumes used or discounted online and a couple were donated by an anonymous benefactor, but if I had paid full price for the whole shebang (that’s ten volumes, Endless Nights, and the two Death stories at twenty American dollars each) I’d have ponied up over $250 bucks. This is a buttload of money for anyone, let alone a broke college student that has been eating fruit loops for the past 3 days. Singles average, what, three bucks a throw? I’m curious because I’ve yet to make a commitment to consistently picking up monthly titles, how much does the average comic enthusiast spend a week on their swag?
Like any person everywhere ever that finds herself or himself facing the reality of having to pay for stuff they don’t want to pay for, I attempted to look for a cheaper option. Naturally, I decided to download my next comic project: Preacher. Now, I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your seat to hear this n00bs reaction to this celebrated title, but you won’t because I don’t think I ever finished the first issue. This leads me to my next nugget of knowledge:
2)Reading Comics Digitally Blows Chunks.
Maybe it’s different if you’re reading work that was intended to be seen in a digital format, but on a whole, downloading .cbr files was a poor course of action. There’s just something about holding a book in your hand that makes the experience. I don’t care what kind of fancy computer you’re working with; the art is just never the same as it is in print. Besides, clicking through pages is annoying, inexplicably so. If you all you cared about was story and not art, wouldn’t reading the plot summaries on Wikipedia suffice because it’d certainly be cheaper?(this is actually how I handled Buffy Season 8, I’m ashamed to say)
After the digital route turned out to be a dead end, I was lucky enough to find myself writing for a site (this one) that became boxes and boxes of comics richer. I know that many of you have reaped some sweet free swag as well and thank the comic gods for their gifts. My particular blessing was an entire run of Catwoman. It took me forever to get through all 83 issues, but it was completely fun and I’ve become a total fan girl of the character and found a new villain to freak out over in Black Mask. Despite all the good times and cheap thrills, after it was over, Catwoman presented me with a big challenge:
3)Where the hell do I put all of this shit?
Ok, so now that you’ve robbed a liquor store to fund your comic habit, where do you intend to store all of your trades and single issues? Maybe if you act repentant, that same liquor store will let you rent out some space in the back because guess what? I sure don’t have space for it in my dorm room. My first gripe is that they’re so slippery. Every time I leave them stacked on my desk for want of a better solution, they end up slipping and sliding all over the place. Did some person in charge decide that the readers would really benefit from a near frictionless exterior? In addition to my growing single-issue conundrum, my 50+ paperbacks have set up camp in front of my closet in two heavy giant boxes, which I stub my toe on every other morning when I get dressed. First World Problems indeed.
You know, it’s been a while since I’ve actually looked at how many comics I have and how much I’ve actually read. It’s a lot, especially for the time frame in which I read the majority of what I have . For a long time I played it safe in the DC Universe because I thought myself more well versed in it and because all other publishers suffer from a severe case of no-Joker. Plus, I found a favorite writer in Judd Winick and I read Under the Red Hood basically every other week. Occasionally I’ve dabbled in Marvel and Image at the recommendation and urging of our own Ladyvader (the best hair award by far goes to Xmen: Age of the Apocalypse), but I’ve generally preferred to take my meals with the Bat-family and did it pretty well…that is until Final Crisis.
Let me just say, I speak English. I speak it well and I speak it often, but reading that book was like reading another fucking language. Now, I know that I’m not familiar with the entire DC Universe by any means, so maybe I have no right to gripe and maybe crossover events are just a tad beyond my capabilities at this moment in my comic education, but damn. It felt like every panel I was looking up something else on Wiki (ok, that’s not true because it would imply I had some initiative. I really just asked Leia to explain everything every five seconds). Honestly, I just flat out skipped Superman’s entire arc where he goes in some sort of multidimensional spaceship because that entire storyline looked like that Rugrat’s episode where they shrink down and enter Chuckie’s body to remove a watermelon seed (anyone?). In the end, Batman did some awesome shit for a few pages so I guess I got what I wanted all along with a bonus talking point:
4) Every comic book n00b needs a guru.
Ok, so in case it wasn’t clear, Leia, your Ladyvader, is my comic sire. My Yoda if it pleases you. It was because of her that I read Final Crisis in the first place because she said it was necessary after R.I.P. in the Bat-verse, and gosh darn it, I believed her. The relationship between master and apprentice is sacred (until one kills the other- I’m looking at you, Leia), and she was completely right. Anything I didn’t understand she was ready to explain in detail or knew enough to just tell me not to worry about it and move on. Suffering through Final Crisis was worth it because it meant I was ready for the amazingness that is What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader? and the less amazing but still good Battle for the Cowl. However, without her Princess Leiaship, I would be wandering in a sea of confusion, wondering why the fuck Kitty Pryde had a dragon and other such questions. If you’re new to comics, find a buddy who isn’t ignant to help you along, trust me.
Next up for me is a whole lot of Marvel that I’m really nervous to start because I think I’m going to be completely lost, but at least I’ll have the next bunch of monthlies to look forward to. Say what you will about the new 52, but they are a relief to new readers who want a place to start. Anyway, there be my nuggets of knowledge. Please comment and share, this can be like a support group for n00bs or something….or you can all leave me recommendations which will be infinitely more fun for me. Just for kicks, here’s a list of what I’ve read so far and initial reactions or just what I own and haven’t read:
- Batman: A Death in the Family *Meh, but twas necessary for Red Hood
- Batman: The Long Halloween
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Batman: Lovers and Madmen
- Batman:The Man Who Laughs
- Batman: Under the Red Hood *Loved
- Red Hood: The Lost Days
- Batman: Mad Love *cute
- Batman: Cacophony *sucked
- Batman and Son
- Batman: Black Glove
- Final Crisis
- Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader
- Batman: Battle for the Cowl
- Batman: New 52 #1-7
- All Star Batman and Robin #1-10 *you know how i feel
- Catwoman: #1-83 :D
- Catwoman: New 52 #1-7
- Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock jokes *kinda meh
- Harley and Ivy *so damn cute
- Suicide Squad: #1-8
- Sandman: Vol 1-10 *send me a death wig
- Sandman: Endless Nights
- Death: 1&2 *I need to become her
- Sin City: Vol1&3 *i think i got them on sale for some reason
- X-Men Origins: Vol 1-2 *some were better than others, and some were hard to follow
- X-men: Age of the Apocalypse Vol 1&2
- Astonishing X-Men: Vol 1-4 *really liked it but some parts were confusing such as “why does this bitch have a dragon?”
- X-Men: Magneto Testament *Meh, it was interesting but not very Xmen-y
- Wolverine: Old Man Logan
- Ultimate Xmen Vol 1
- Avengers: Disassembled
- House of M
- House of M: Civil War
- Decimation: Son of M
- Decimation: Generation M
- The Runaways: Vol 1-2 *more plz
- Y: the Last Man Vol 1-3 *man, (yuk yuk) this was fantastic
- Saga #1-2
- Fables: Vol 1 and 2 *i liked this lots
- Locke & Key: Vol 1-3
- Ender’s Game: Ultimate Collection *needed more Bean…but most things do
- Walking Dead: Vol 1
- Various Gunslinger and The Stand
- Scott Pilgrim: Vol 1-6
- Bride of the Water God *again, i think i got them for like a dollar
- Black Butler: Vol1 *Idk, it was good but it was exactly like the anime so if the other volumes arent different, what’s the point?