Out From Under the Covers: A Desperate Quest to Be Current, Part One
Here is a new column from a neat writer I enjoy, Melissa. Enjoy! – Brian
My friend Dario and I used to work together at our local comic shop. We were the Saturday crew, armed with hardcore geekery and sarcasm, with whom our customers could discuss Marvel’s latest event (you know, the one that just started before the last one ended), or debate the
demerits of the New 52. While I no longer man that counter as often anymore, Dario and I still like to text each other with random comics-related stuff every now and then, whether it’s his thoughts on the latest solicit, or a photo manip of Christopher Reeve in Wonder Woman’s costume.
My last text from Dario, though, was a photo of my overflowing sub box.
“Your comics miss you.”
The one thing you really need to know about me right now is this: I am WOEFULLY behind on my comics. In fact, if you dare click this link, you will see just how staggeringly and unjustifiably behind I am, and it’s likely to make you die a little inside. I’m truly sorry—it’s killing me, too, I assure you. The reasons for how and why I’ve fallen so far off track are numerous and, frankly, boring. But I’ve made my bed, and for too long I have been lying under its many, many covers.
It’s time to dig out.
Tonight, I decided I was going to sit down, break out the hard cider, and get to reading. The first thing I wanted to catch up on was Journey into Mystery. I started picking up this title unexpectedly, having fallen hard for Kid Loki in The Mighty Thor and decided to continue to follow his shenanigans elsewhere. It didn’t let me down. I’d loved what I’d read from JiM’s restart at #622 through issue #630 and was addicted, so where or why exactly I’d fallen off the wagon in reading it is beyond me. With Kieron Gillen’s run having just ended, and particularly with the knowledge that the book would shift its focus to Sif under Kathryn Immonen (yay!), I took up my backlog and got ready to dive in.
At least, until I realized I was missing three issues.
I’m on my couch and I have a glorious, if not intimidating, pile of comics in front of me. Somehow things have gone from “I’m going to read this” to “I’m going to argue with my fiancé about this.” The discussion is heated, and I am scolded for not only my lack of staying on top of my reading, but further for what Fiancé sees as a gross disregard of my sub box.
“How long has it been since you’ve been to the comic shop?” he asks.
“Uhh … August? September? I’ve been busy…”
“Are you serious? You’re going to have like $200 worth of stuff in there.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic.”
“I’ve noticed something about you,” Fiancé tells me. “You have these two stacks of comics, where you separate the ones you want to read right away and the ones that, for whatever reason—probably because they aren’t that good—you say you’re going to read later. Except that after you read the stuff you want to read, you never return to the other stack. It just sits there, and it keeps getting bigger.”
The odd thing is that while I am fully aware that what he says is true, it still hits me like some kind of grotesque epiphany.
“That stack is never going to get any smaller if you don’t drop some stuff. WHY are you still buying all of this?” he asks, dumbfounded as he looks at the mountain in front of me and the separate stacks still waiting on the shelf.
I’m not sure I have an answer. “Uh … because I guess the thought is that I will eventually get to it?” I’m pointing to my laptop and the fact that I’m all tucked into the couch, trying to get some work done.
This is met with an exasperated look. I feel like a child being reprimanded by a parent.
“You need to get a realistic handle on what you can read and what you can’t read,” he urges. “There’s no point in buying stuff that you’re perpetually putting off to the side.”
“Okay, OKAY! I get it! I have a problem!” I confess, about twenty minutes later. Fiancé’s response is encouraging. The first step to getting better, he tells me, is admitting that I have a problem. I’m on the right track.
“We’ll go to the comic shop tomorrow. You can finally pick up everything in your box, and while we’re there, you should go over your sub list. I’m not saying you should drop something you’ve been collecting for a long time, like X-Men, that goes through ups and downs—just the stuff you know you haven’t enjoyed for a while and you aren’t going to read.”
We are polar opposites when it comes to comics—me, the (currently) lax-in-reading but hardcore-in-passion fangirl, and him, the less emphatic but still diligent, collared shirt representative of our comics store. While I could probably name you everything Terry Moore has ever worked on off the top of my head, you’d be lucky if Fiancé could name just the current writer for the Spider-Man title he’s been collecting the last 20 years.*
A part of me wants to keep arguing that I am going to eventually read everything I have, but as I stare at the books, I realize I can’t continue to do that without coming across as a crazy person. My mind has already conceded that he’s right—that I can’t, nor do I really want to, carry on like this. My literary life is suffering for it.
I agree to his terms.
I neglect to point out his hypocrisy in continuing to buy video games despite having shelves worth of unplayed titles.
I decide I’ll save that card for later, should I relapse.
Next week: Sub list editing, the agony and the ecstacy
*[Spontaneous Experiment I Just Decided to Do–
Me: Hey? Who’s the writer for Amazing Spider-Man right now?
Fiancé: … I have no fucking clue.]