Thanks to everyone who's been commenting on my last post. Nice to see some new faces about too. Hello! Do say hi if you're popping by because I don't check my referrals very often. On a related thought, how can one room need so much paint? We've not even started with the gloss yet ...
So anyway, my new hobby. I've just started getting back into comics again for the first time in ages. Like so many of my peers, I was weaned on the Beano and the Dandy, with the occasional Topper and such. I read my friend's Marvel comics but they had no continuity. He was happy if there was a good fight in a comic. I wanted a story. Later on I didn't really have the pocket money for the graphic novels I desired. I always vowed that when I grew up and became free and rich (oh the folly) I'd buy all the comics I wanted. As happens on the route to adulthood, I took a wrong path and ended up believing that I should spend my hard earned on mortgages, utility bills and other infinitely boring things.
A couple of months back I had finished my book and didn't have a backup for the commute. Unable to face the 17 minutes on the train without anything to read I went to see what the newsagents had to offer and decided it was time to get back into comics. A few Spidey moments later and I was re-hooked. That night I hunted high and low for more comics and could find none. Most would have 'disappeared' mysteriously whilst I was at University along with other treasured childhood memories (and tons of junk, no doubt). I should still have some Moebius compilations and stuff but they were nowhere to be seen.
The following day, I scavenged the City in search of comics. Most of the bookshops have turned into Star~ucks and the ones that are left seem to hold pitiful comic and cartoon related stock. Mainly limited to Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, etc which I have all I need of already. So I got myself a subscription to the Astonishing Spider-Man series and the Essential X-Men. However these only turn up once a month and I was craving more. So I went and joined eBay. I've avoided eBay for ages as they are one of the devils who litter my screen with annoying pop-ups. Grr. (Arg.)
EBay proved the right place to go looking for entertainment though. There's stack of comics up for sale. I started by buying some of the more obvious Marvel titles: Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers and a little DC. On the way I got a few other bits and bobs that sounded like they might appeal. When paying for one order I chatted to the comic book guy about my desire to discover some different titles. I ended up buying a box of 100 random comics from Quicksilver. I have to say they did a fantastic job and are well deserving of a plug. Mission 1 accomplished: I had stuff to read. Now I was encountering a whole set of unexpected challenges.
When the comics started arriving, I was raring to start reading them. As mentioned before, I generally read whilst being transported about by Connex. I had anticipated that a bonus of comics would be that they were light and I could keep a spare in my bag for when a book came to an end. Several of the comics I'd purchased came in their own individual plastic bags. Some even had boards. This made them feel like collectibles. I felt I should handle them gingerly. This was an odd dilemma indeed. I reminded myself that preserving books or toys (rather than reading / playing with them) is plain wrong. I can think of exceptions, but not 50p comics. For now, I'm reading them where and when I like. I may investigate storage at a later date but then I may not.
Next up, I discovered that eBaying is fun. Bidding in the auctions is akin to gambling without the (non-human) random factors. I was surprised how exciting it was to win a bid. This means I've really acquired two new hobbies. Maybe that should that be one new hobby and one new addiction ;o). So currently I'm trying not to get hooked by the whole buying process itself. To start off with, I'm trying to be more focused on what I'm searching for. Which brings me nicely onto ...
... the most important challenge. What did I really want to buy? This is really very complicated. Can you imagine waking up tomorrow having not heard any music for a decade or two and thinking "what CD shall I buy"? At least in that instance you could turn on a radio and hear a few tunes. It's not so easy with comics, though I could try the library. On Spider-Man alone I have found myself buying the old black and white UK Marvel comics just to try and catch up on the story lines. I didn't really anticipate buying hundreds of Spider-Man comics though. Besides, they're probably at somewhat inflated prices following the movie. Not that that limits the field this year, with X-Men 2 out on May 2nd, the Hulk on June 20 and Daredevil already bringing the cash in.
[BTW If you're not in to comics, feel free to bail out any time ;o). I can go on you know ;o).]
The whole "what to buy" issue is even trickier thanks to the immense complexity of characters appearing in many different series at one time. Spider-Man even appears in the Beano these days! Also writers, editors and illustrators and painters change all the time. Unlike books it's not a matter of buying into one story or one author. This was one of the things that deterred me from getting into Marvel in the first place. I really don't want to be geeky about it. I just want to read some toons.
Given the sheer number of comics available I could really use any advice. So if there's any comic aficionados out there, please recommend your favourite titles, shops, writers, blogs, links or artists. I'm looking to expand my horizons and Iím open to any suggestions. Ideally I'm looking for a great series (both art & story) that is easily and affordably collectable. I'd probably lean towards the Sci-Fi and Fantasy rather than the Superheros if I knew what I was looking for. In case it helps, here are some mini reviews based on the few I've read so far:
- I liked the couple of episodes of 2099 X-Men I've got and will look for more of them.
- I have half a dozen copies of Marvel Super Heroes containing a variety of stories of varying quality. Whilst I enjoyed the seemingly dated Ms Marvel and Iron Man, others (like Speedball!) were distinctly below par.
- At first glance, I thought Black Widows might just be an exercise in drawing women in leather boots. I'm happy to report this does seem to be largely the case. However, I was very impressed by the colouring. The artwork was fantastic and had a superb feeling of movement and space. I found I really enjoyed it. I'm glad I got sent another 3 today.
- I love the sarcastic tongue-in-cheekedness of Spidey. The "less hero, more human" angle appeals as well.
- X-Factor 1-5 were promising but not overly inspiring. I'm not that interested in big guns but the social and genetic evolution aspects of the X-series always have possibilities. The current Essential X-Men series displays some of these qualities admirably.
- The Silver Surfer Parable two-parter was even better than I could have believed. Stan Lee's story and Moebius' artwork make for a fantastic combination. It's a shame about the terrible print quality of the time.
- Skeleton Warriors - too Greyskull for me but a decent script.
- Power Pack - ah bless.
- Just to show I haven't stuck exclusively to Marvel, I found the last DC Megazine to be quite a mixed bag. Judge Dredd is as he ever was, which is pretty good. Meanwhile there were some refreshingly different strips to be viewed. I was enjoying the Asian story, Black Siddha, until the later dream sequence and the one page Sinister Dexter gag made me laugh.
- The couple of Foxfire and Mantra comics I have are also, strictly speaking, not Marvel. However I believe Malibu is now a part of the Marvel and I can't help feeling these were just Marvelish story lines. Not that stimulating in all.
I'm currently considering buying some graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Garth Ennis. See the old wish list for more details. As soon as the central line is back up and running I'll nip into the West End and check out the comic shops. That should help my quest. Until then, make mine Marvel ... and DC, Malibu, Image, Dark Horse, Valiant ...
- Zot! a superb online comic;
- Free Comic Day;
- eBay Silver Era (1956-1970) comics - proper collectible stuff;
- eBay Modern (1970s+) comics;
- eBay Graphic Novels;
- Jon's opinions page
- Complete Spider-Man Comics Database cross-referenced in a number of different ways;
- Master Comic Store directory - sublinked to the London area;
- Marvel Directory - full directory on all characters (but slow);
- Comic Book Database - an impressive collection with nice search facilities;
- Comics UK Very UK based (Beano, Topper, ...).
[ posted at 12:02 AM | Permalink | ]