Every Wednesday, I tune in to the Lost'n Comics live show. Chris and Oscar are two of the most down-to-earth guys I've seen talk about comics, and they've been very supportive of folks like me who are trying to get some skin in the game. They almost spend as much time promoting other folks, as they do themselves, which is awesome!
This past Wednesday, the theme was "5 Things we have learned about comics in quarantine." Their 5 points were amazing and there was some amazing insight from Chris Barcomb from the perspective of both a creator and a shop owner.
Everything is very interesting (you should watch the whole thing), but what stuck out to me was #2 on their list, "We don't need so many new comics." (the video is queued to start there). As they went through their own pull/sub lists, their goal was to get it to around 24/25 titles, and they both started with over 30 a piece. So, during their discussion, I decided to open up my pull list and count...HOLY CRAP, THERE ARE 116 TITLES ON MY PULL LIST!!!!!
So, inspired by the #lostncomicsfam, I have decided to "Marie Kondo" my pull list. The goal, is to get this down to 50 books or less (I'm writing this as I cull the herd).
Step 1: Make a Google Sheet of all of the items in my pull list.
Mostly everyone at school knows, for as disorganized of a hot mess I am most of the time, I dub myself the "Spreadsheet Queen West of the Mississippi." This was a simple job, no formulas needed, just throwing data into columns (all of my Marvel/DC titles won't fit on one screen:
Step 2: Remove the titles which are done (one shots, limited runs etc.), and it is evident I have not done this in a while...so here we go!
II was able to successfully eliminate 30 titles from the list, now bringing me down to 86, which teaches me one big thing...Once I know a title is done, I need to take it off immediately! I also don't know what "Dynamic Forces" is, but it was duplicates of other books which were also correctly listed under their correct publisher.
Step 3: Marking titles which are near the end of their runs in Yellow, as they will come off soon anyway! I'm also marking the two previews books as safe and taking them off of my count, because they're free books....This gets me down to 68 titles! 18 to go.....shouldn't be too difficult right?
I'm marking the two previews books as safe and taking them off of my count, because they're free books....This gets me down to 66 titles, 16 to go.....
Books that are locked-in:
At the start of this thought process is: Aftershock, Boom! and IDW are the safest, as there are few titles there, and I am for the most part enjoying what I have from them. Bang! might be on the near bottom of the pile though, so if there is a hard to make choice, then that'll go.
Also, all of the X-titles are safe, because I am really enjoying all of those books and I think I'm pretty pot-committed there.
RIP to These Titles
Amethyst-I enjoyed the first one, but the second was harder for me to stay committed to...it has to go.
HQ and the Birds of Prey-I can't remember if this was a one shot, a black label....but I have it, pretty sure I read it, but I don't remember it....so bye!
Pandemica-This story is really intriguing to me, but, once the world starts to resume some normalcy, I'm taking some time off of big books about disease...
Clock-For the same reason as pandemica....
Family Tree is disease-adjacent, but its Jeff Lemire, not cutting it off!
This is where it's going to get hard for me...
The Empyre Event--I liked the two books that have come out introducing the Empyre event (Incoming and Road to Empyre), but I think I might take everything off for now, and pick up the first one or two of the main story and see if all of the spin-off titles are worth it...so Empyre Avengers, F4 and the Handbook...all gone now!
Marvels, Marvels X, Marvels Voices--All gone, these are iteresting, but they are all re-treads...Marvels might come back on because I like seeing new artists draw new-to-them characters.
Outlawed--I dont know if this was a 1 shot or not, but I know I am reading virtually none of the other titles it spins-off into, so buh bye!
Punisher (main)-I've been playing catch up on this run since go, but I can't count this as a deletion, because I'm going to replace it with Punisher: Barracuda.
Strange Academy-This one is hard. I like seeing the x-men model of magic users coming together, I love Skottie Young's art, but I think this is expendable to me
Uncanny X-Men: From my understanding, this is not necessarially a new run, but its variants on old Uncanny titles? Sadly, this will be the X-book which will sacrifice itself for the rest....
So, I've cut 13...which gets me to 53....Crap....3 more have to die.....
This one breaks my heart. Captain America....I love Ta-Nehisi Coates so much, but I started from way behind on this run, and its never the top of the stack....so maybe I'll wait to catch the rest of this run during a sale?
Invaders--Yeah, I think its done after googling, although Zdarsky is hoping to do more in the future....SAD
New Mutants, War Children--I missed this was a one shot!
ASM--Nick Spencer's current run is torture to me, some issues stick the landing, but this arc just seems like a fumbled mess. Same note on Captain America, I'll go sale diving to play catch up on the run if it gets demonstrably better....
I did it! From 116 books to 48! I'm happy I did that, and thank you to Chris and Oscar for the idea! Here are some final notes I'll make:
1. I know what kind of books/stories I like now, and I need to stop going to the buffet (because being fat didn't teach me any lessons about buffets) and draining my wallet, or forcing myself to read so many new books (when life returns to normal) because I don't wan't my hobby to feel like work.
2. I now need to treat my pull list like it's the club: One title in, one title out.
3. I will still allow myself to grab a few new books off of the "new this week" pile each week, but if I am thinking about adding it to the pull, see rule #3.
4. Eventually, I will probably cut down some more since I still plan on making purchases from Ashcan Comics Pub. (via patreon), TKO/Black Mask, (adding source point after I read some of their titles) and backing Kickstarter projects.
This journey was a pleasant one, and I hope to keep myself honest each day.
Thanks for stopping by!
So someone asked me via twitter a couple of days ago, why I do not write negative reviews of books on my blog. I think I have a couple of explanations as to why:
1. Pull List Control: My pull list for the most part screens out books I do not like. I had been reading books for a couple of months before I started taking the notion of writing reviews consistently, seriously. I found several things that I did not like, and I simply took it off my list.
2. It's bad vs It's not for me: I don't think all comics are written for all people. Just like each author of any type of medium, or any artist has a voice or style which is tailored in the direction of a particular fan base, I do not see why comics is any different. There have been a couple of books, where I've ended the review, by simply stating that the book is just not for me (like Star Wars books).
3. Don't be that guy: I'm evolving as I age (maybe getting softer...) but even when my students do something I don't like, I don't berate them consistently about how bad it is, I find a way to morph it productively. As I don't have the influence to look at a comic creator and go "here's how you get better..." there's no use going on a rant about how much I hate something on the internet...we all know that person, are annoyed by that person, may be that person in private...but it's not how I want to project myself online.
4. No Balls? Maybe I just don't have the balls to tell someone I hate their stuff, but why waste my time screaming into the void, if there is probably someone who equally likes something how much I dislike it.
5. I googled shit about my zodiac sign: I'm a Taurus, and we apparently hide our emotions to make sure no one can use them against us, so maybe "my sign" prevents me from doing it?
That's about it, I'm doing the weekly cooking for my family, and this was bouncing around in my brain as I was moving between recipes!
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
One of the things I have struggled with as a new or returning reader is trying to remember who happened to what, when and in which universe for a lot of the big Marvel or DC titles. It's not a task that I dislike, or am surprised by, but, it is definitely one of the reasons I was deterred from getting back into reading comic books, and felt safer just watching Movies, Cartoons or TV shows to get my fix. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of re-discovery of what has happened to several of my favorites like the Punisher, anyone in the X-Men universe, and Thor, most of my delight has come from simpler stories put out by mostly the smaller publishers.
And then, over Christmas break, I saw this on Twitter.
James Tynion IV to me wrote what is probably my favorite book of the year in Something is Killing the Children. That book has a very interesting premise, and from release to release I am able to jump back in with ease. The same is true with several of my other favorite releases from the past year. Books like:
All have that in common. An interesting premise that is simple and strange. Easy to read, easy to remember, easy to explain. Don't get me wrong, I loved reading House/Powers of X or whatever new happened with the Punisher, Venom, and Carnage this year, but sometimes with each new issue of the big-box titles, I feel like I need to go back and check my notes on what happened 2-3 issues before (don't get me started on what feels like the 50000000000 active Spider-Man titles).
I am interested in seeing what Tynion does with his turn at Batman, will it stay true to his philosophy of simple and strange, or will he be tied to the decades of lore/canon of the Batman universe?
With all that being said, it was refreshing to see one of my authors-of-the-year who works with a variety of story styles say what I have had in my mind since July, and I hope more creative teams adopt this thought process.
Nothing like angry small children and weather continuing to mess up my plans to post things when I want to...
My "New Years Resolution" for 2020 is to focus on content-creation on my website. In the past few months of writing occasional reviews and/or participating on the Chop Shop podcast, I feel like I have at least become comfortable in finding my "voice" in regards to speaking/writing about comics. In looking at other blogs, bigger press mediums on comics, and podcasts, I feel like several things are lacking for readers like me, the folks who feel like they are playing constant catch-up in the world of long-storied multiverse franchises. In order to carve out a space in the marketplace of ideas, my goal in 2020 is to attempt to do the following, with a higher degree of consistency than in 2019:
With all of these in mind, the plan is to transition from using this blog as a sole mode of catharsis and stress relief (which it still will be, regardless) but attempting to create a broader readership or to find ways to interact with other folks like myself in the twitter-verse, and see what other folks would like to see covered which may not exist in other outlets.
Will I succeed with these five goals and create the website of my dreams? Probably not....but that doesn't mean I'm not going to spend a hell of a lot of time trying, because my journey back into the medium of comics in 2019 was something I loved a lot, so this will be a love of labor and other things.
First review and thought piece will come this week as we are facing an ice-pocalypse at home!
About a year ago, I started following a new comic book store in my area on Twitter. Every week or so, I'd see them promoting a book online, and I'd think to my self "hey, that looks cool, I think I should go get that book and start reading comics again."
When I was younger, I hit all of the self proclaimed nerd nails on the head. I had a massive Magic the Gathering collection, I watched the 90's run of the X-Men cartoons religiously, and I had a modest collection of comic books. However, the transition from middle to high school brought a desire to shed some of my nerdy skin as it was not yet chic to be a geek. Work, sports, school and other activities consumed my time, and I didn't have the money or the freedom to keep my passion for comics alive.
Fast forward to July 2019, and I found myself staring at a book being actively promoted on Twitter by my local shop and Marvel....House of X. The hype for this book (which is well deserved) was something that pushed me to actually visit the local shop. However, stepping into the doorway was terrifying. Fanboy/girl culture is something that is notably toxic at times. In my mind, every comic book shop had to be filled with any of the following stereotypical clerks:
As someone who tried to jump into a couple of nerdy worlds post-college (like World of Warcraft), I had run into people who just treated me like shit because I was a foreigner to their world, or someone who would walk in for a short period of time, and disappear so I was not worthy of their time. This is how I felt as I crossed the threshold to what is now my weekly spot.
Walking in, I tried to look like I should be there, thumbing through new stuff, looking for titles that seemed familiar, and then I saw two copies of House of X, and I asked the dumbass question "are these the same book, just with different covers..." and then I was outed, the idiot who clearly didn't know what a variant cover is. However, I wasn't hit in the face by the Comic Book Guy, Steve Dave, or Walt Flannigan...I was met with some kindness, which made me feel comfortable in the shop.
Needless to say, I bounced back from that moment of stupidity, and have been in each week, adding new things to my pull list, finding new titles outside of my Marvel/DC comfort zone. But this begs a different question. Just because I can buy comics, why the hell should I write about it.
To be honest, I'm not sure. However, In doing some research on new titles going to shops outside of my local store, or trying to buy stuff online, it still feels like elements of old-school fanboyisms exclude the novice reader from understanding backstories etc. In pushing some students I work with to explore their passions for an hour a week, I plan on doing the same thing, sitting and writing about a book every couple of days or so that I loved or hated, in a way that doesn't require a PHD in any of the ongoing comic book universes.
And really, if no one else reads this but me, at least it will be a nice bit of cathartic writing from time to time that probably has some benefit.
In the next post, I won't be writing about House of X...yet...there is too much going on for me to wrap my head around, however, I will be talking about the storyline that was relatively new to me that got me back to the store immediately, to pick up all of the back issues of. The first book/series review I'll take on is Chip Zdarsky's helming of the Invaders. (edit--this is coming later, I decided to review a NEW book first...)
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...