Friday, April 22, 2011

what are you reading? (if anything)

As of late I have been reading a lot of comics. I noticed some of you are into comics as well. It's cheap and they're fun! Kinda. Well, I've always enjoyed a good comic and have always read them from time to time. Lately though it has gotten a little more serious.

Allow me to explain.

Way back in 1992, my family and I were driving home from the beach. We had a house down there and frequented the area in the summer. One fine (probably a Sunday) afternoon on our way home, we passed a small comic shop. I begged my father to turn around so we could check it out. He did. Now, when I say small, I mean SMALL. Think a 20x20 foot area and you have the idea. Size was not the issue though, he crammed as much in there as he could. Tons of comics, sports cards and non-sports cards everywhere. To my 10 year old eyes, it was a dream. This was actually the first comic/card store I had ever been to, so it was quite the treat for me. My cousin had spoke of these "Marvel cards", and I wanted to see if I could get my hands on some. I picked up a few packs of Marvel Universe series 3. They look like this:

See? You remember them, no? I certainly do. I built that 200 card set over what seemed like forever. I still have that set right now. One of the few things I've managed to keep over the years. I was missing one card (that very X-Factor card) to finish and finally got it in a pack (and there was much rejoycing).

Anyway. I used to go to the shop all the time. It helped greatly that it wasn't far from my house. I was hooked. Comics. Cards. You name it, I wanted it. With an allowance that I got weekly, much, if not all of it, went to him and his little shop. This carried on until around 1994, when he decided to move downtown. Still not too far from my house, but not as close. Didn't stop me though. I was there just as often, if not more due to me picking up a new hobby; Magic: the Gathering in about 1995. Those unfamiliar with the game let me sum it up for you: Take one 52 card deck of playing cards, add some fantasy elements like Dungeons and Dragons, make the rules fun, simple and collecting addicting, and you've got a hit on your hands. I met most of my friends through that game. I played on and off until about 6 years ago. Way before then though, around 1999, I ended up getting a job at this very same comic store. I knew the owner and he knew me and he needed some help so I said I'm good to go.

I worked there for about a year then moved on to a 'real job', at a local Hess (it was awesome, don't let the silliness of a gas station get you wrong). As the years passed, I slowly scaled back my visits to the shop but still made it there at least once a week. It had become a hang out for me and my friends, hence the frequency. Then come 2006, he had sold the store to one of his customers, and the new guy changed the name, and made a refocus on comics. About a month ago, the owner announced a sale on all comics and I had tried to make a note to stop in to see what I could find. I went in on a Sunday and sadly, the owner informed me that it was his final day of business. After 21 years, a piece of my childhood had been shut for the final time. I did manage to pick up a few books though, namely some trade paper backs I had been meaning to get around to.

This led to something though. I wanted to finish certain runs of comics and stories that I had missed through the years. The death of that store is what got me back into comics, ironically enough. I wanted the complete runs for Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Fantastic Four. I would like to read Ultimate X-Men someday too. I get a few monthly comics at the other comic shop in town (I think they opened in 2005...). I've never gotten monthly books. I always liked waiting for the TPB to come out so I can catch the whole story. Right now, I get these on a monthly basis:

Amazing Spider-man (which is bi-weekly now)
Batman: The Dark Knight (the only Batman book that has Bruce Wayne as Batman)
Ultimate Spider-Man

I'm also catching the 'Fear Itself' story line, which is this years 'event', by Marvel. Batman will always be my favorite and Spider-man isn't too far behind. I have plenty of Batman books though, collected throughout the years, so now it's time to give Marvel a try. The company I stuck with as an awestruck kid in that comic shop for the first time.

So if you've stayed with me up to this point, thanks and I apologize for the lengthy post here about anything except baseball cards. My question is: What do you read? For those into comics, what do you get on a monthly basis? What are some of your favorites? I'm curious to see what some of you say.


  1. I learned how to read from comics. I've also learned plenty about art, science, literature, language, and, well, life by way of them. I'd wager that I probably learned more from comic books than I did from public schools, but my public school experience wasn't the best, to put it mildly.

    I don't buy many these days, mostly back issues because keeping up with monthlies and/or trades can be tough on my budget, but I still love comics, and always will.

    Some of my favorite stuff:

    "pre-Crisis" DC super-hero stuff, particularly anything that was based on Earth-2 (where the 1940s heroes, Justice Society and whatnot, were based), but I love the Fawcett characters like Captain Marvel and the Quality Comics characters like Phantom Lady, The Ray and The Human Bomb that they incorporated into the DC books after buying or licensing those characters as well.

    Anything Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, George Perez, Alan Moore and John Ostrander have ever worked on.

    To be slightly more specific in Ditko's case, his '60s super-hero run at Charlton (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and The Question) which Alan Moore later used as a template for Watchmen.

    A bunch of the early-to-mid-'80s independent books (Mage, Nexus, Elementals and so forth) that helped usher in the age of comics for adult audiences. There were a lot of brilliantly done books back then, plenty of them relegated to obscurity nowadays because the comics market was flooded with books as soon as a few indie books were successful.

    Characters that don't fall into any of these other categories: I love The Thing, Flash (the Barry Allen Flash, particularly, again, pre-Crisis), Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Moon Knight, Green Arrow and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (who've been revived recently in a way that bears little resemblance to the original series).

    I've actually given some thought to doing my own comics, pecked at a story here and there, still do. Not sure if anything will come of it, but it's fun.

    As for comic cards, which got you revved up in the first place, I've got a complete Marvel series 1 set, love it to death. Don't have all the holograms, but I do have all the base cards. That last Captain America card was a pain to get ahold of, took me months, if not years, and finding a dealer that actually had singles.

  2. I used to read Captain America, Avengers, Avengers West Coast, Fantastic 4 on a monthly basis or every other week depending on the comic. When I quit collecting I had the entire run of Captain America expect for about 25 issues in the #120-#170 range. I sold all my comics last month when I moved out here. It hurt. (not to mention I didn't get much for them as I gave for them)

    Right now I'm reading The Land Of Painted Caves by Jean Auel. (book 6 from Clan of the Cavebear series) Next on my list to read is The Jungle by Clive Cussler and then Devil Colony by James Rollins. Once I pick it up I will read Empire of Gold by Andy McDermott.

  3. I've been reading comics for a long time (again), but due to rising costs of the books amongst other things I'm having to cut out just about all of my monthly books. I'll miss them, but it's better than going broke!

  4. I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I read the novels and the comics. Like you, I usually try to wait for the trade paperbacks so you can get the whole story. There's so much to read in the Star Wars universe (and I have sure read alot of it) that I'm still catching up, so I'm not waiting for the new stuff.