I’m starting to feel like a stalker. We’ve been waiting in line for about an hour, hovering beside Phil Jimenez’s table, and I’ve been cradling this stack of trades in my hand for so long that my arm is beginning to stiffen and ache. But as the herd gathered by the surrounding tables begins to thin and I see the first of many incredible sketches Phil is doing for his fans, my resolve solidifies and I know the wait will be worth it.
Someone walks by and asks what he’s charging. “Free,” I say. They don’t believe me. I can’t really believe it either. A sketch from Phil is the only thing I really, desperately want from this year’s con. After missing opportunities for commissions last year with Phil Noto and Cliff Chiang, I’m determined to not let myself miss getting something from Phil, whose Wonder Woman I love. I had tweeted at him earlier in the week, asking if he was doing commissions. He replied that he usually doesn’t, but that he “might be convinced in Boston.” Hope! My husband—who is quite the trooper throughout the day as I rant endlessly about the artists I want to meet—drives us into the city early to make sure I’m one of the first few in line for Phil.
Well, we thought it was early.
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I am trying to get my sub list under control. In fact, I have been outright ordered to get my sub list under control, and it is a long, silent ride to the comic shop, because this shit is serious.
Greeting me at the counter upon my Sunday excursion are Dario and Mark. You’ve already heard a little bit about Dario. Mark—and this is every time I enter the store—never ceases to lovingly ridicule and feign shock at my appearance.
“WELL, WELL, WELL, WHO DO WE HAVE HERE?!” he shouts, always loud enough to gather the entire store’s attention. Mark is your quintessential comic book guy. “Lord Vertigo,” we call him, because I’m fairly certain that to this day he owns every issue of every Vertigo title so far published. He’s also like a big teddy bear that you just want to jump over the counter and hug—a boisterous, sarcastic teddy bear. And after making fun of you, Mark will always offer you a brownie/cookie/whatever treat of the day happens to be on the counter. Sundays at our store have a “morning crowd”—a group that comes in as soon as the store opens. A part of this crowd is one of the kindest gentlemen I know, named Ron. Ron likes to make us treats. Usually it’s some type of cookie or muffin, but once in a great while you’ll get a heaping bowl of homemade chili that you just can’t. Stop. Eating. Suffice it to say, everyone looks forward to Sundays. Today, our treat is a plate piled high with sugar cookies, and Mark eagerly motions for us to have our share.
The Fiancé has driven me here and led me face-to-face with my sub box. I am shocked if not impressed by the fact that the cubby hole marked with my name has not yet broken under its own weight. He pulls everything out for me and hands me the startlingly heavy stack, and I take them to a back table to wade through about 2-3 months’ worth of stuff. As I’m doing this, my subscription list gets printed for me before I can even make the request.
God help me, I have to actually cut things.
I go through the list, Fiancé peering over my shoulder like some watchful gargoyle. “Do it.”
I start with the easy stuff. Since Fiancé is already buying them and I can just read his copies, Batgirl, Justice League Dark, Ultimate Spider-Man, and The Walking Dead all get cut. Nonplayer, which hasn’t come out since the first issue debuted in 2011, is still on my sub for some reason. I have zero faith that I will ever see another issue of this mini, so that is emphatically cut.
“That’s it?” Fiancé asks.
“Well I’m going to drop Batwoman as soon as this arc with Wonder Woman in it is over,” I tell him. I’m finding that I want to like Batwoman a lot more than I actually do like Batwoman, and sacrifices must be made. Ed Brubaker is done with Winter Soldier, so I drop that too.
“Okay,” he says. “What about the rest of this?” My sub is two pages long.
After some deliberation, I wind up cutting:
Batman, Inc. I struggle to get through this title, and again, as much as I want to enjoy it, I have to admit that I really don’t.
Captain America I was buying this for Bucky, Natasha, Ed Brubaker, and Butch Guice. With the current incarnation and John Romita, Jr. on art, it’s kind of a huge buzzkill. I know this might be blasphemy, but my distaste for JR, Jr.’s artwork is unlike any other. It just does not work for me on any level, at all, ever.
Gambit The existence of this on my list is shocking in itself. I’ve always been kind of a Gambit hater, but lately have been a lot softer on the character. I read the first couple of issues of this title and didn’t mind them—I LOVE Clay Mann’s artwork and that alone had pretty much sold me. But then, there isn’t really any room on my list for things I just “don’t mind.” That said, I’ll definitely come back and pick up the issues that feature Rogue, because Rogue is my home girl and my love for her knows no bounds.
Sword of Sorcery I guess this just got cancelled anyway, so no big loss here.
Wonder Woman This one … oh, this one. This was … this was agonizing, guys. I could get into all the reasons why, but I would just wind up writing you a novel, so why don’t I take the lazy way out and let the incredible Kelly Thompson do all my talking for me. It really can’t be said any better than that.
X-Men Legacy Not a Legion fan. This title pretty much ruled my life back when Mike Carey was on it; these days, I’m apathetic.
I feel a sense of accomplishment. Fiancé looks at me expectantly.
“What?” I say, baffled. “MORE? No. No—I can’t.”
I explain that I’ve already cut more than I’d predicted and that I need baby steps. He relents, and we go up to the counter.
“Mark, can you delete the stuff I’ve crossed off, please?” He skims through my list and smirks, all too happy to get rid of what he sees as the garbage that’s permeating my pull list. “And, um … can you please add Young Avengers, Ame-Comi Girls, and FF?”
“What?!” Fiancé is upset.
I anticipated this.
I cut Supergirl in a meager attempt to make up for the additions (which, honestly, I’m thinking I might wind up re-adding later).
Mark starts grilling me on why I am purchasing FF. He, for some reason I cannot comprehend, hates it. The humor and the fantastic artwork, I thought, would make it right up his alley, but I am stupefyingly wrong. We get into a friendly argument. Dario comes to my defense. It’s a fun book, it features a team that’s 3/4 women (with SHE-HULK!), and it has beautiful, colorful, wonderful Mike Allred art. This is a fucking BUY, we say.
Mark concedes begrudgingly. I appreciate his attempt to be the guardian of my sub list. When he hands me the heavy brown bag packed-to-bursting with comics, I begin to understand his and Fiancé’s tyrannical approach to get me to cut things. Somehow, after all I’ve dropped, I’m still walking away with a ton of comics.
As we walk out, Fiancé informs me that this is far from over. “Read up. Catch up on what you have and decide what you do and don’t like. We’re doing this again in a couple of weeks.”
Titles Dropped: 14
Titles Added: 3
Exasperated Looks Thrown My Way: Too many to count
Comics Read Since Last Post: 54! GO ME!
Comics Accumulated Since Last Post: 76…ish? FAIL.
*Edit: I just realized that Thunderbolts and Captain Marvel are not on my sub. Also, Fearless Defenders came out this week. Also, Brian Wood’s X-Men and Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men are starting up soon. Feeeecccckkkkkkkkkk.
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.
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