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CSBG Archive

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.


JiM IssuesI’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.

Story continues below

“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.]


[…] that’s the theory, anyway.  Head on over to the Comics Should Be Good blog at Comic Book Resources for some new material by yours truly.  And as always, thank you for […]

This is the problem with adulthood. When you’re a kid with limited resources you cherish everything that you get. But when you’re an adult you can afford to buy far more entertainment than you have time to enjoy. I myself also have a pile of unread books and comics, a pile of unplayed video games, and a few unwatched dvds.

I realized that there is so much good stuff out there that I probably don’t have enough time in my life to experience it all. This realization has made me pickier about entertainment. I quit watching a lot of TV shows that I didn’t really enjoy to free up time for stuff that I actually wanted to do.

Welcome to the crew, Melissa! I feel your pain… maybe it’s just that time of year for all of us…

I hate you all and am insanely jealous … I NEVER have a pile of comics to read. I just tear through them every time I buy them. I have, however, got a massive pile of unread comics waiting for me in my subs box, but that’sjust because I’m po’ and can’t afford to buy them like I used to.

I totally get where you’re coming from on the two piles of books things though. Pruning my list of the worthless comics that I’m still picking up out of habit has become something of a trial in self-awareness for me in recent years.

When I get my comics I sort them into a reading order. On a very basic level I put the ones I want to read the most at the back of the pile and the ones I want to read least at the front. There are variations whereby I pair things I think will read well after each other, but that’s just anal … wait, what was my point … right, so, if something is fairly regularly ending up at the front of the pile, it becomes apparent I just don’t like it that much. Then it needs to go.

I once bought 150 issues of Spawn out of habit. I think, in retrospect I liked the first 20. I have to be brutal.

Anyway, sorry for the diatribe, I don’t get out much, Bruce makes me do my homework in the cave and it’s rare I see the light of day … in fact, I think I hear Alfred bringing me dinner, I hope it’s not gross Vichyssoise again. BLECH!


The Boy Wonder

I’ve always liked her writing…

And this is exactly what I went through very recently.

I have a confession to make. I still have issue 3 onwards of Fatale to read….

I was meant to like it. It just never hit me.

I’m a bad comics reader.

Like any good prologue…I’m looking forward to the rest!

The Big 2 comics are all about creating the illusion of ‘current’ and creating a false need to keep up. But when you start cutting your sub, you begin to realize that nothing really matters and the recent fresh ‘new’ is already old and might be even rotten. Then you lose enthusiasm and stop caring. And you either leave comics for a couple of years to restart your brain or you limit yourself to only a couple of books.
Of course, it may be different for you, but I have gone through this process a number of times. It’s a vicious cycle.

I recently was able to catch up after a long time of constantly being behind. I was stuck about 6 months back in every title I was reading ( I read about 100 titles a month, so that’s a lot of books). The worst part is that I still like to go online and read the latest news, so I had pretty much given up all hope of avoiding spoilers. The best part I found out though, was that once you sit down and make a concerted effort to catch up, you get drawn in by the storyline, and any spoilers I had read previously really didn’t matter. I was surprised all over again. The only problem i have now is that once I’m finished an issue, I don’t immediatley have the next one available to read.

Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone.

@Josh – That’s particularly encouraging to hear. Perhaps there is hope for me yet.

Welcome aboard, Melissa!

The saving grace to being behind is that you can more easily avoid the books with toxic buzz (e.g. much of the New 52) or that many reviewers or commenters find disappointing (e.g. most of the New 52 that don’t have toxic buzz). I don’t miss being on top of the latest releases, and I can plan what I want to buy better. I’m not saying being behind is ideal, but it’s not all bad. Good luck getting caught up!

Just get more trades? Especially if you are waiting that long to read them anyways

A…a pile of UNREAD COMICS?

I…I am dumbfounded. I DO hope that you find the missing three issues of Journey Into Mystery, because that story is dynamite.

200+? That’s all? ;)

I have so many books where I should have just trade waited, but the nerd in me says that if I start with singles, I can very easily drop it and not pay as much as a trade would be.

But I get so far behind on everything and then my retailer’s already ordered them, so I feel guilty, and yadda yadda yadda, I’ve got a huge ass stack of stuff that I paid as much as the trades would be. And with variant cover books, I only got the one cover. Damn ’90s redux!

Another “problem” this year is that there have been so many great books coming out!

I hope Fiance shows up in the column regularly. I likes his nonchalance towards the creative team on his fave books.

And welcome to CSBG. Hope you survive the experience!!! (Oh, god, I had to add that. I’m such a nerd!)

Welcome to the club! I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

If it makes you feel any better, I’m even further behind in my “current” reading then you are. Like, a lot further behind. I went through the process of pruning my pull list as a result, but I’m insisting on reading whatever I have, so I’m still plowing through everything, desperate to get to the point where I cut back.

Thanks for the welcoming!

@Travis – Fiance will be thrilled to hear that he’s already getting requests for appearances. I will admit that my little experiment went somewhat further, but I couldn’t reveal all of it for fear of completely embarassing him. ;)

…I’m also way behind on my reading….partially because of difficulty keeping up and finding everything since the closure of my local comic shop 2 years ago ..I’m trying to focus on Image (Fatale, Saga, Morning Glories, etc) and other independents due to the strain of trying to keep up with the big 2 (e.g – I can’t read that yet because it ties in with Fear Itself…and I have to read Shadowlands first…and I first have to catch up on my Daredevils…Where in my piles are all my Daredevils?)

sorry it took so long for me to find this. Great job Melissa.


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