My Wednesday

cass01.jpgI only buy the comics I like which, if I’m to understand many of my customers, my friends, and people on the internet, is something of a rarity. I can’t think of a comic I’ve bought in recent memory to either ‘continue a run’ or just to bitch about. Granted, I have the luxury of working at a comic store and the inherent try-before-you-by aspect of the job is one I take advantage of, but I honestly couldn’t imagine buying most comics… floppies I guess.

When I do buy something, it’s because it’s a challenging, exemplary, or compelling work. I buy All-Star Superman and Casanova, because those books are not only wonderful, but designed to be read an issue at a time. I pick up The Walking Dead and Ex Machina in collected form, because I have the luxury of doing so. It’s more-or-less the perfect way to buy comics, and it’s only very rarely that I get burned on a purchase; sometimes the books just don’t live up to my anticipation of them.

But what about the comics that I don’t buy? There are lots of them, and I find that I probably read 5-10 times as many comics as I actually take home. Part of it is because, as I mentioned, I work at a comic book store, and as a comic book store employee I have to be able to talk intelligently about comics; knowing what’s going on usually helps that a great deal in the selling of the comics. You’d be amazed how many times in a day you get asked of something is ‘good’… Part of it though, is because at 7:30 on a Wednesday night the doors are finally locked and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and being completely beaten like that is pretty-much the perfect way to enjoy the majority of comics being released on a monthly basis. That sort of euphoric, slightly-hungry, slightly light-headed frame of mind is absolutely essential in getting the most out of DC52, or Birds of Prey, or literally any Civil War tie-in. Hell, I even start to like some of them at that point.

I find I enjoy mainstream comics the most when I’m exhausted. After a long day at a convention I sat and read the first Superman/Batman trade paperback, ‘Public Enemies’, and what a thrill-ride that was! Characters changing costumes, revenge teams, Luthor in the SUPER POWERS suit, awesome! If I get really ambitious (or rather to tired to even sit on the floor at work reading comics) I’ll borrow 3 or 4 home for bed-time reading. Drifting off to dreamland is the perfect time to subject yourself to Zombies vs. Robots, because who cares if it doesn’t make sense, that the robots catch the zombie plague? It’s nap-time anyway and maybe it was all just a dream!

I guess what I’m saying here, with as much love and respect as I can muster, is that the Top 100 makes a lot more sense once your critical faculties have been significantly dulled by every day life. It’s coming around at the “I only want my comics to be entertainment!” argument from the other end: “I’m at the point where all I can read is things that don’t make me think too hard!” and by God, there are 40 of those fuckers every week. It’s kind of great, letting the Id and Ego of the (mostly) men who write brightly-coloured fiction wash over you in a blaze of 4-minute reads (seriously, the average mainstream comic takes me 4 minutes to read). Of course, that also makes you susceptable to things like eye-being-gouged-out-with-spoons or RAPECOMICS or darkness or whatever, and that can really harsh your mellow. Worse still, in that state really good comics make you cranky; they’re very difficult to read and make you feel dumb. No Ignatzes without a full night’s sleep first… It took me three tries before I figured out Casanova #1, and the third time I sat down in the middle of a brightly lit room at a table at noon and really read it. Casanova is not the kind of comic you can read sammich’d between Daredevil and Y The Last Man, that’s for sure.

So that’s what my Wednesday’s are usually like. They all sort of end up in a blissful wash of fantasy, which is a good way to end a long day at work, you know? Besides that, it helps me develop empathy for people who really love terrible comics, because on some level I can appreciate what they’re reading as well, or at least why they’re reading them. Well, most of them anyway. You poor bastards who love like Ms. Marvel or Hunter Killer or, God help you, comics adaptations of 80s toys? You’re on your own.

– Christopher
P.S.: Street Fighter is okay though. Totally 90s.

6 thoughts on “My Wednesday”

  1. I agree with what you’re saying, but I think I reached a point where I did feel cheated by these crap comics because I was paying for them, which is why I’ve given them up for the most part.

  2. Huh. On the one hand, suddenly a lot of things make a lot more sense to me; I think I knew that on some level, but some connection was missing … some little link didn’t quite *click*. Note to self: need to remember this to consider and discuss on one of my own blogs.

    Also, I assume you’re being a bit cheeky with the reference to “comics based on 1980’s toys,” but to some degree that still burns me; Superman and Spider-Man are no less commercial products originally intended for children than the Transformers, they just originated in a different medium in a different time. I’ve been reading and mostly ENJOYING Transformers comics for most of my life; how is that different from (or as you imply, WORSE THAN) people who keep on keepin’ on with the Marvel and DC super heroes? I don’t get it. After all, the drive that keeps both in print is basically identical: unbridled nostalgia. (That’s not exactly why *I* read Transformers, though it’s certainly a component, but it is the reality of the publishing situation … honestly, I genuinely think it’s well-written and also still enjoy the simple pleasure of giant robots shooting one another …)

  3. I remember one of those seminal moments back in 1993, even when I was buying a broad range of material akin to what Chris is discussing, when I’d have my reasonable large pile of comics to read sitting there waiting for me.

    I’d inevitably get to the Moon Knight, Sgt Fury and Dr. Strange titles that were going on at the time, and I literally could not bring myself to read them, so much so that they’d “stop the pile.” I’d torture myself and not read the good comics next in the pile until I read those 3 hopeless, generic titles to ensure I was getting my monies worth.

    Eventually I tortured myself so long that I gave up the kiddie addiction of being a completist, or buying a book because I had liked the character (or a run of the character) when I was younger.

    What a relief. Got my monies worth elsewhere.

    Same thing happened in 1996 with Vertigo or indie comics. If I bought issue one, I had to buy the remainder of the series. I never bought crap, but if hopes weren’t fulfilled and a new book turned out to be mediorce, I’d stay with it. Gave that up in 1996. Feel very good to be so free.

    Thanks,
    Blake

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