Comics Update 2018, Part 1 of 5: A Prologue Pondering Prodigious Piles of Printed Pulp

Comics 2018!

Nearly all the single issues I bought in 2018, sorted into alphabetical piles for better boxing, from Action Comics #1000 to X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis #2.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My comics-judging criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences. Whenever the larger companies need to save a buck, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s really the best possible place for me to talk about comics unharmed, albeit all to myself. Whee.

During this past year I did come to one sad realization: I need to own fewer comics. Our home’s designated library room is running out of storage space and we have no interest in paying for additional square footage just to enable more hoarding. I also have no interest in spending hours per night eBay-ing my collection, which would equal a second full-time job unto itself. I’m unenthusiastic about the idea of seeing if any local fans might be interested in buying multiple longboxes’ worth from me all at once. I’m not sure hospitals, charities, or Goodwill would care to have me drop several thousand floppies on their doorsteps dumptruck-style. After forty years the drawbacks of my hobby are finally beginning to vex me.

I’m also reaching that age where I find myself wondering: when I pass away, how much complete-lack-of-fun will it be for my loved ones to find themselves faced with a parting gift of tens of thousands of funnybooks that mean absolutely nothing to them?

For now, offhand I’m looking at two viable options: (1) unloading at least half of those dozens of pounds of readable paper goods into our nearest recycling bins so that one or more community organizations might profit off the physical substance of my stockpile, if not their aesthetic content, and (2) getting far more finicky about the new titles I pick up every Wednesday at my local comic shop.

Full disclosure: Option 2 isn’t working well for me yet because good writers keep sneaking into the field and creating new concepts — or revitalizing old ones — that distinguish themselves from the mediocre morass and keep luring my bucks out of my wallet. From an art-appreciation perspective, it’s encouraging to know comics are still alive and kicking on the printed page. From a homeowner perspective, it’s super annoying and will graduate into an embarrassment if I can’t get it under control within the next few years.

And before you throw the word “digital” at me as if I’ve never heard of it and you think you’re about to save the day and/or blow my mind: the answer is no because I’m old and stubborn and frequently hypocritical in ways I refuse to renounce. So, preemptively, there. I’m not 100% convinced I would make the leap even if print comics go extinct, all our comic shops die, and the medium becomes an online-only entity as easily ignored as Newsweek or FAO Schwarz.

I would’ve preferred to have this posted as a year-end recap, but my letting it slide for two months has compromised that notion. Longtime MCC readers may or may not have noticed I tend to procrastinate entries that I know might turn out epic-length, and once again that prophecy was fulfilled. However, rather than drop it all at once as a single super-sized entry-bomb as usual (for reference, last year’s done-in-one report was nearly 5100 words), this time I’m pacing myself over the course of the next four entries, in which I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

Our lead photo gives you an idea of the volume and variety we’re about to cover — enough to fill a single longbox with two inches of space to spare. It helps that I haven’t bagged or boarded any comics since 1986, so I gain a little extra breathing room by not forestalling their decomposition. Those stacks include a few dozen Free Comic Book Day giveaways previously covered in their own 2900-word mega-entry that won’t be rehashed here. Their addition to the photo balances out one excluded special class: a considerable number of Star Wars titles, which we store separately for fan-related reasons. The total series and miniseries I collected or sampled in 2018 break down by publisher as follows:

Marvel Comics: 33
Image Comics: 26
DC Comics: 19
Dark Horse Comics: 8
Dynamite Entertainment: 5
Aftershock Comics: 2
IDW Publishing: 2
BOOM! Studios: 1
Valiant Comics: 1

For those interested in extra-credit reading, trade paperbacks and original graphic novels were covered in my year-end book-readin’ trilogy over here and over there and then also that-a-way. One of my dozens of flaws as a comics fan is that my budget is focused so much on single issues that I rarely keep up on new releases designed for bookshelves. Most of what I read in those formats were either purchased directly from the creators at conventions or borrowed from our local library. This effectively means I miss out on tons of potentially worthy material from the likes of Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly, and other companies who have long given up on singles, or who never bothered to include them in their publishing plans in the first place. I admit it’s my loss and throw myself on the mercy of Comics Court.

Also, for value-added stats trivia before we begin, we send a special shout-out to the following series I collected that managed at least twelve full issues in one calendar year, which used to be the norm for monthly titles rather than the exception:

Star Wars – 18
Star Wars: Darth Vader – 15
Deathstroke – 12
Runaways – 12
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – 12

…with honorable mentions to Exiles, Marvel 2 in One, and Ms. Marvel for hitting 11 issues each. So very close!

And! AND! Super extra-special shout-out to Brian K. Morris, Friend of MCC, who ran one of the only two Kickstarters I contributed to in 2018. I’d sworn off their site for several years (looooong story) but finally saw my terms sufficiently met (end of looooong story, eight chapters five years in the making) to call off my moratorium last March. The esteemed Mr. Morris and associates resurrected a forgotten oldie called Spencer Spook, created new material, dusted off some old bits, and assembled a fun package beneath an exclusive variant cover by Ty Templeton. I encourage you to offer him money in exchange for words and to seek him out at any number of Midwest shows. Cheers!

(Disclaimer: I don’t do Amazon Affiliate links, so please feel free to click that link knowing it profits me nary a penny.)

To be continued!

Spencer Spook!

Please keep in mind that there are indeed comics I do like before proceeding to the next four chapters wherein some things will be disparaged and disdained. Cheers!

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