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What COMIC BOOKS have you been reading?

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10 Dec 2012 23:19 - 10 Dec 2012 23:20 #139240 by OldHippy

SleightOfHand12 wrote: Thoughts: better to buy the complete Seven Soldiers as a set of individual issues, or as a two- (or four-) volume trade? I understand that the series can be read in the prescribed order or as a series of one-shots sandwiched between SS #00-01 (which'd be easier given individual issues), but is there any reason to read it in the latter order?


I'd do whichever is cheaper. I read them as they appeared on the newsstand and that was a weird ass order. I think it was 4 1's in a row and then finishing off those series and then the next four 1's in a row and finishing off those series followed by the last issue. Although I seem to recall that something was wrong with the Zantana issues, they were late of something...

By the end, when I read them the second time I just read each series and book ended them with the other two issues.
Last edit: 10 Dec 2012 23:20 by OldHippy.

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10 Dec 2012 23:40 #139241 by Michael Barnes
I read them in publication order, which I believe is the proscribed reading order for them although they're kind of in two waves- you don't get to Frankenstein or Mister Miracle until very late in it, and I think Shining Knight is wrapped up by then. I think you would be fine reading them in four issue sets, as long as you read the first and last bumper issues as applicable.

There are connections between each series, but there's not really a sense of direct continuity. I'm actually in the market for the two volume hardcover set myself.

Really, really awesome series. However you read it, it rules.

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10 Dec 2012 23:47 #139243 by dragonstout

SleightOfHand12 wrote: Thoughts: better to buy the complete Seven Soldiers as a set of individual issues, or as a two- (or four-) volume trade? I understand that the series can be read in the prescribed order or as a series of one-shots sandwiched between SS #00-01 (which'd be easier given individual issues), but is there any reason to read it in the latter order?

I've only read it once, and I read it via paperback in the paperback/hardcover order, which is the order they arrived on shelves, I think. Next time I read it, I'll definitely read it one mini-series at a time, though not because that's necessarily better, but because it's different than what I did before. Whether you go individual issues or paperbacks is totally about personal aesthetic; I can totally see the appeal of going for individual issues and putting them in a box and going all "Building Stories"-style, where you can read it in whatever order you want. It's pretty rare that I personally want floppies...

...but it's funny, the one case where I *do* like floppies, it's once again all about weird personal taste: for the old 50s EC Comics, I prefer having the 90s floppies. First of all, this is because the bound versions of those floppies look suck-ass. Second of all, every nice-looking bound version of those comics either has no color or awful computer color. But really, the main reasons? Those comics really really aren't meant to be read more than one at a time, or you OD pretty fast. And other than the Kurtzman comics, they were trashy as hell, and I like having them in a trashy-looking format. And they have awesome covers, which single issues highlight better than bound volumes.

So anyway, your own personal aesthetic is what it's about.

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11 Dec 2012 16:24 #139263 by Shellhead

SleightOfHand12 wrote: Thoughts: better to buy the complete Seven Soldiers as a set of individual issues, or as a two- (or four-) volume trade? I understand that the series can be read in the prescribed order or as a series of one-shots sandwiched between SS #00-01 (which'd be easier given individual issues), but is there any reason to read it in the latter order?


Better to buy them in individual issues, imo. If you want to focus on specific character arcs, read each character's 4-issue mini-series before moving on to the next. If you want to read the series in chronological order, more or less, read in the order of publication, which is conveniently listed inside each issue, at least enough to point the way to the next issue to read. And just for laughs, try reading it all in some other sequence, as long as you read the bookends of #0 and #1 as the first and last issues of it all.

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11 Dec 2012 18:01 #139269 by Michael Barnes
Andy, it's funny that you pointed out that EC comics aren't meant to be read in bulk like that...because I'm sort of feeling that right now reading 70s Marvel. I tend to want to read everything in bulk, but pre-1980s (or maybe even pre-1990s) comics just don't read well when you're reading them one after another. One, two issues of Master of Kung Fu or Defenders- good stuff, fun, fairly light. Three, four issues and it starts to grind because the kind of storytelling and writing at the time simply wasn't intended for that kind of consumption, that whole "writing for the trade" concept.

Thing is, "writing for the trade" opened up a lot more opportunities for more sophisticated writing, IMO.

Thomas/Chaykin/Infantino Star Wars...man, I haven't read those since I was literally like five years old. I pulled up issue #15, with Han Solo in space shooting at space pirates in front of a Star Destroyer and nearly cried. I loved that issue when I was really little.

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11 Dec 2012 19:02 #139275 by Shellhead
Good point about pacing yourself while reading silver age comics. They tended to cram more story in each issue, so trying to read through a big stack of silver age comics can be taxing. When I get one of those black and white reprint volumes, either DC Showcase or Marvel Essentials, I tend to hit a burnout point about 2/3 of the way through if I'm trying to read it all in one sitting.

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11 Dec 2012 20:24 - 11 Dec 2012 20:25 #139279 by dragonstout

Michael Barnes wrote: Andy, it's funny that you pointed out that EC comics aren't meant to be read in bulk like that...because I'm sort of feeling that right now reading 70s Marvel. I tend to want to read everything in bulk, but pre-1980s (or maybe even pre-1990s) comics just don't read well when you're reading them one after another. One, two issues of Master of Kung Fu or Defenders- good stuff, fun, fairly light. Three, four issues and it starts to grind because the kind of storytelling and writing at the time simply wasn't intended for that kind of consumption, that whole "writing for the trade" concept.

Oh man, couldn't agree with you more. Almost every old comic I can think of, I have to set up strict reading schedules or I get cranky as hell really fast. I really really love Kirby, but feel like vomiting if I read 6 Kirby issues in a row. When I read the complete Kirby FF, I stuck to one issue a day. With Kirby it's because it's so dense that it's exhausting reading a large chunk.

*EC digression ahead, skip if you don't care*
With the ECs, it's because they're so damn repetitive: with the sci-fi comics, for example, every issue they'd so something like one time travel story, one robot story, one alien story, one nuclear war story, always the same artists for the stories with the same subjects & tones. There's a new series of EC reprints coming out that my dad's doing an intro for, and at least it's a different way of reprinting them but: the idea is that they're doing books by artist, say, a book of all the Jack Davis horror stories, a book of all the Al Williamson sci-fi stories, etc., all in black-and-white. Those sound wonderful as reference books for an artist to look at; all mainstream comics fans should take a look at the art in these books, because for pure technique at doing the "realistic", detailed style that's mostly been favored in mainstream comics for the last 40 years: these guys have literally never been bettered, don't look remotely dated, and have very very distinct styles. But they sound like absolute hell to READ: by grouping by artist, they've made sure that the same formula will be read back-to-back-to-back ad nauseam, instead of spread out over months with other types of stories in between and in the same comic.
*EC digression over*

In fact, in general I prefer to read serialized comics one issue per day, not only because the pacing feels all wrong when you read them in a big chunk, but also because I like to preserve the cliffhanger feeling. I still remember seeing Tulip shot in the head in Preacher on the last page and what a devastating cliffhanger that was...that is now obliterated by showing what happened to her literally like 3 pages later.

I also read a LOT of old comic strips, and there my preferred reading rate is one week of strips per day. The humor strips ESPECIALLY suffer from reading even a week at a time, to be honest.

For more modern things (say 80s/90s+), I find that the trades really help with coherency in my mind, and I get a better grasp on multi-issue storylines when reading it in a trade; a better feel for starts and ends. When I first read Morrison's Doom Patrol, it was with a big stack of issues, and I think that made it much less coherent to me. Dividing things into chunks is important. This, in addition to the unwieldiness, is why I really dislike gigantic omnibus books: it's too monolithic a slab, I like having the natural pausing points that a sequence of trades creates.

Michael Barnes wrote: Thing is, "writing for the trade" opened up a lot more opportunities for more sophisticated writing, IMO.

Sure, just like the novel has greater range and ability for depth than the short story; overall I'd say it's a big positive. But there are many virtues of the short story as well, and with the rise of the graphic novel, the art of the short story is being forgotten: when even Crumb is essentially forced into doing long-form work due to the market (Book of Genesis), something which he's not that well-suited for, then there's a bit of a problem. Even Will Eisner, sometimes called the inventor of the graphic novel (certainly the inventor of the term), worked much much better with short stories than with graphic novels:. He just was not a deep thinker, that's not where his strengths lay; his strengths lay in clever experiments, light entertainment, and fun twists, so his Spirit comics are 10x better than his graphic novels IMHO.

It's also made it so that whenever I pick up a floppy comic, I end up feeling really unsatisfied by it, because they're not really written for that format anymore.
Last edit: 11 Dec 2012 20:25 by dragonstout.

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11 Dec 2012 21:12 - 11 Dec 2012 21:20 #139280 by dragonstout
I finished the Batman: Court of Owls book, forget it, I regret saying that I might buy the next book. Issue #6 was not good, IMHO, from the Batman dialogue in the maze that felt out of character (what was with that "you moved the camera" quip, and then his rants to the Court?), to the terrible, terrible bit where he is *brought back to life* by some random-ass teenager that literally seems there to deliver the line "Epic bat-fail." And I am *always* pissed off when a comic features someone getting blatantly killed on-screen (in this case, he is stabbed through the gut to the point where the knife comes way the hell out the other side) as a cliffhanger, and then ends up surviving with basically no explanation. I mean, whatever, the book definitely had good parts, I don't want to rant against it, I'm just not interested in reading the rest.

After that I got back to Building Stories. I read the giant newspaper-sized book, the one that starts with the jog around the neighborhood.

That...was probably my favorite comic I've ever read. Devastated.
Last edit: 11 Dec 2012 21:20 by dragonstout.

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11 Dec 2012 21:40 - 11 Dec 2012 21:41 #139283 by OldHippy
I thought Court of Owls was good brainless fun in a classic Batman kind of way but it started strong and got weaker as it went along. Nothing like Morrisons run or even Wagners Monster Men series a few years before.. which I loved.



But to write about Court of Owls bit of ok and then mention Building Stories in the same post? There has to be some kind of law about that no? ... and you've made both of us break it!
Last edit: 11 Dec 2012 21:41 by OldHippy.

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12 Dec 2012 21:10 #139367 by metalface13
I put a few books on hold through the library including: Morrison's New X-Men Hardcover Vol. 1, Seven Soldiers Vol. 1 (since you're all talking about it), Metabarons Vol. 1 (no Incal) and Cinderalla: From Fabletown with Love. Looking forward to reading some comics, it's been a while.

Also checked out Morrison's Supergods book on Kindle, just because I'm not reading anything on there.

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12 Dec 2012 21:42 #139372 by Million Dollar Mimring
I've been reading The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. The comic mixes forms of popular narrative, mostly classic literature and child/teen fantasy novels, and appears to be mostly about the power of stories to shape the way everyone sees reality. One of the first questions is whether the protagonist Tommy Taylor is the same Tommy Taylor from the fictional novels, think Harry Potter. In this regard, Carey also uses examples of fans posting on the internet about the Tommy Taylor novels. Needless to say, it's all very meta.

I continue reading the series, I think Carey is a generally talented writer, but it feels as if Carey is treading on familiar ground laid out in Morrison's Animal Man. The Unwritten can feel a little too clever for its own good, but generally the story flows nicely enough. Carey easily gets an A for effort. For instance, the world building in The Unwritten is nicely constructed. You get a feel for the world of the Tommy Taylor novels without delving too much into the written text of the novels. Although, this could be in part to people's familiarity with the Harry Potter novels. Carey wants to convey the importance of these novels on the world of pop culture. I like the idea of a popular narrative being able to change our perception of the world, but it can also feel like the writer is patting himself on the back for how clever he is. One takeaway from the book appears to be how important writers, mostly fiction writers, are to the world.

The series is on its sixth trade. As it's by Vertigo, I'm sure you can find the series on Comixology and give it a shot.

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12 Dec 2012 22:15 #139373 by Michael Barnes
I've read the first two trades worth of Unwritten- I like it, but I agree that it's a little too clever. I didn't really think about the Animal Man connection, but yeah...that's definitely there in some ways.

The Tommy Taylor thing is TOO Harry Potter though, I dunno. I find it distracting. I don't know that it needs to be so obviously Harry Potter to work.

I just got the New X-Men Omnibus. Not as big as the Thor one, but DAMN. Come to find out, I somehow missed reading like ten issues between the first trade and the "Riot at Xavier's" storyline, including the Fantomex stuff. W-T-F!? No idea how I managed to do that.

Reading Morrison's New 52 Action Comics stuff, really liking it, more on it in my weekly digest tomorrow. Brilliant Grant Morrison idea #87953- this Anti-Superman army is inside a tesseract...that is inside a bullet...inside Superman's brain...fired from a teleport rifle...in the future. GAHHHHHHHH!

Oh, and then there's the shocking revelation that Braniac has a secret identity on earth. I won't spoil it, but suffice to say that he's probably well-versed in the planet's pornography.

Sometimes I get irritated at how much Grant Morrison I read...but he spoils you, you expect other comics to be at his level and have that particular kind of cracked genius, messy sense of scattershot concepts, and recurring motifs. But they don't.

I'm digging the new Valiant stuff...I find the 90s material pretty dated and not very easy to get into anymore, but the reboots are really well done. I was never a big fan of theirs, but they seem to have their shit together. Refreshing, ambitious, mostly new creators. Could be something in 2013.

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13 Dec 2012 00:43 #139383 by ZMan
What is Building Stories about and who is the author?

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13 Dec 2012 01:09 #139385 by OldHippy

ZMan wrote: What is Building Stories about and who is the author?


Building Stories is by Chris Ware and it's a fourteen book (they're not really all books, some are pamphlets or newspapers...) series that comes in one box set about a woman who lives on the top floor. Each story tells a part of her life in some way but also tells the story of other people in the building (or of the building itself). It's the kind of project that could never be done in any way other than the way that Ware has done it. In other words it could not be a tablet comic, it needs to be an actual item.

Ware is a brilliant comic artist but a little slow for many people looking for fun comics or action comics. It's serious and dry but can be hilarious if you're of the right temperament. I don't want to say much more about it yet but there are some great reviews on line. The Globe and Mail one I especially like.

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13 Dec 2012 06:38 - 13 Dec 2012 08:16 #139412 by dragonstout
Fuck, I took too long and it deleted my reply. That's probably good, though, because I have a tendency to ramble. So here's the short version:

Some people hate Chris Ware. He is my favorite cartoonist who ever lived. He is completely uninterested in writing escapism, and is most interested in the day-to-day details of life and the passage of time: recreating the rhythm of life is something his comics do spectacularly well, to the point where I get completely immersed in his comics insanely fast due to his incredible observational skills. As I said, many hate him: "nothing happens". He has a spectacular sense of humor, but this rarely shows in his long-form comics (for an example of the funny Ware, pick up the big red book titled "The ACME Novelty Library"). People are always saying his comics are depressing; I find them very uplifting.

Chris Ware's books have had a major impact on how I live my life.

Regardless of whether anyone likes or dislikes Ware, I think I'd go so far as to say that Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth was inarguably the most important comic of 2000-2009. And it was released in 2000; he's had a decade since to improve, and unlike Spiegelman's sad post-Maus career (I'd call him a one-hit wonder, but he did a lot of great stuff pre-Maus), improve he has.
Last edit: 13 Dec 2012 08:16 by dragonstout.
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