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My 2019 Reading Stacks #2

Form of a Question!

The thrill of victory in front of a celebrity and an audience of millions. Art by Kate Kasenow, Jenna Ayoub with Ilara Catalani, and Laura Langston.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

At the beginning of each year I spend weeks writing year-in-review entries that cover the gamut of my entertainment intake, including capsule reviews for all the books and graphic novels I’ve read. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it.

As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections I’ve read throughout the year in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will pop up here and there, albeit in a minority capacity for a few different reasons. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we’ve attended over the past few years.

And now:…it’s readin’ time. Again.

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My 2019 Reading Stacks #1

Anne's books!

So far this year’s list includes a few library books and two loaners from my wife, pictured above. Borrowed reading is still reading!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: at the beginning of each year I spend weeks writing year-in-review entries that cover the gamut of my entertainment intake, including capsule reviews for all the books and graphic novels I’ve read. Every book gets a full capsule summary apiece, because my now-canceled 29-year subscription to Entertainment Weekly got me addicted to the capsule format. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. 2000-word essays on old works tend to be in severely low demand by the fly-by-night search-engine users who are MCC’s largest visitor demographic.

Back in the day (December 2013 to January 2019) I would write my book/graphic-novel capsule reviews as I went, store them offsite, then dump them here on MCC all at once during entertainment year-in-review season. It was an inefficient system, but it was mine. This year I’m changing up my protocols. Effective here and now, the reading capsules are a recurring feature. As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. Seven months into 2019 I have some catch-up to do, so these initially won’t be listed in actual reading order.

Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will pop up here and there, albeit in a minority capacity for a few different reasons. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we’ve attended over the past few years.

And now:…it’s readin’ time.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2019 Results: The Best and the Least Best

Carnage!

I’ve never been a Carnage fan, but Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, and Frank Martin do make him look stylish.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 4th I once again had the pleasure of observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.

As they’d done last year, my local shops offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 53 Free Comic Book Day comics (according to their Facebook post) that their stores planned to order. They set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.

I spent the next three nights reading everything I was given and then tweeting my impressions after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, and (c) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 12:15 a.m Monday night to complete.

Careful observers will note the official FCBD site listed 51 titles in all. I’ve cataloged the following discrepancies:

  • Due apparently to oversight, the shop gave me two copies of Aftershock’s Animosity Tales.
  • Two titles listed on the FCBD site aren’t in my stack: DC’s oddly formatted Dear Justice League and Golden Apple Books’ Blastosaurus Annual. The shop probably skipped ordering one of these, but I’m not !00% sure which.
  • Three titles are in the stack they gave me but not on freecomicbookday.com: IDW’s Transformers/Ghostbusters (a 4-page ashcan they may not have counted as a comic, though the shopkeep did); The Overstreet Guide to Collecting 2019; and the 2019 edition of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Defend Comics.

…so that’s 53-1+2-3=51. Anyway:

This entry is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my presentation of the ten best books of the bunch (I’m not in the mood to rank them), followed by my five least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.

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Happy Free Comic Book Day 2019!

Free Comic Book Day 2019!

This year’s haul, part 1.

It’s that time of year again! Today marked the eighteenth Free Comic Book Day, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. It’s one of the best holidays ever for hobbyists like me who’ve been comics readers since the days when drugstores sold them for thirty-five cents each and comic book movies were sad, cheapskate abominations.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 5 of 5: And the Rest

Comics Finale!

Hey, kids! There’s more to comics life than Marvel or DC! Art by (clockwise from top left) Joe Quinones; David Aja,; Andy Clarke and Dan Brown; Jock; Geoff Shaw and Gabe Eltaeb; and Scott Wegener and Anthony Clark.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…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.

The miniseries concludes at last! I’m happier when my weekly reading pile covers a gamut of publishers, genres, and voices, not just Big Two superheroes. In some respects I wish this section were a little longer, but for now this’ll do.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 4 of 5: My Year in Image

Image Comics 2018!

Cool covers from the past 15 months. Art by (clockwise from top left) Bill Sienkiewicz; Jason Howard; Nick Pitarra and Michael Garland; Alex Ross; Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez; and Jeff Lemire.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…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.

Image Comics has come a long way since the days of the original seven founders. Though most of them don’t keep their hand in the medium on anything approaching a monthly basis anymore, other creators continue to flourish under their aegis, happy to have a publishing home that lets them prove there’s more to comics than superheroes and movies.

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