7 Days of Stack Week – Part V: It’s All Stacks, Everwhere

It's that time of year again. In what's become an annual tradition here at iFanboy we have our version of Shark Week on Discovery. It's STACK WEEK! 

What exactly is STACK WEEK?  Well my lucky friend, it's the time of year where we take stock of the stack of books in our "To Read" pile and highlight some of the delightful comics that lie ahead for us in upcoming days, weeks, months and for some, years.


It's not supposed to be like this. We buy comics to read them, not to squirrel them in nooks and crannies and drawers and bags and shelves. In the best world, the one I think about when I am showering and driving (don't ask; it's when I get my best thinking about the best things done), my article for stack week would be short, simple and to the point: Dear iFanbase: I have one stack, the stack of this week's comics. That is all. Go read about someone else's vertical collections of comic book intentions.


I mean, what I would't do for a single stack, you know?  But, as I am sure the other writers are realizing, a single stack is both embarrassing, hard to manage, and if you have small children or animals, almost dangerous to have around.  (For long stacks, the best thing to do is alternate the bindings every 20 or so issues, yes, I know this.)

Whenever Stack Week comes around, I plummet into this mildly embarrassed pool of self analysis, wondering, what am I doing with all these comics? And why do I keep finding them in all these crazy places? But it is interesting–the comic stack locations, the makeup of each stack, and the various excuses I make for many of the actual books…I guess it's necessary to take a step back and really look at things.


My first article for iFanboy was an ode to unread books, and things haven't changed much since then–the bedside table is still the primary landowner for most of my stacks, though I've been able to sneak other stacks in a variety of places, the most recent one is my Shaolin Cowboy stack.  This is actually a very rare (for me) Pre-Bagged Stack, because it contains issues 3-7 of Shaolin Cowboy, which is a ridiculously beautiful and amazing book. Like, seriously, you know how when you read a book and are like, "Why am I just seeing this now??"  It's that book.  Of course, I don't have the first two issues and have been told they are gonna be difficult to find. Which is fine, right?–I should be fine with skipping the first few issues, especially when the issues I do have look amazing unto themselves and probably chock-full of fantastic happiness. I loved that guy from Hard-Boiled! His art is crazy! And while I admire Secret Headquarters for providing a pre-bagged set for folks like me, isn't it a bit evil to not include the first two issues? Doesn't that just make one feel a bit worse, somehow?


But I'm not. Seriously. if there was a theme with my stacks it's that I am a complete and total completist, to the point that I will, apparently, just wait until I have all of the (recent) issues that I can before even reading the book!  My stacks are littered with kind of thing, most notably being Hellblazer: City of Demons. Like, why can't I find the first issue anywhere?  Right, okay, yes, I should go online–I will check–but none of the stores in LA have it and I keep waiting, waiting until I get the first issue before I can finish the series! I have all of the other books–what gives? But it's the first issue, how can I start a story when I can't start the story at the beginning? It's an issue, this Stack of Lost Beginnings, but I will have to deal with it later. 


Gotta let that go, I know. But still.  Then I have another stack, the Collect But Never Read stack.  Astonishing Thor, that's my current guilt monger. I keep trying to open the first one but it just looks so important and precious that I just finding myself putting it off. I had a similar problem with Thor: For Asgard, which I started but..well, it's a lot Thor to process all at once. Best to spread it out a bit.  This Thor Mess stack has been bolstered by the Why Do I Insist On Buying The Annuals stack.  


Look, I am sure that there have been some good annuals. For whatever reason, I have been buying just really boring ones.  I haven't finished the Action, Batman and Detective Annuals, and, for some reason, that blockage for Action extends to the ongoing series. I doubt it has anything to do with the ongoing books–but maybe it does!–but I haven't checked and now Action is just on pause. Even though I hear it's good. 


I have mobile stacks, of course, which is a good idea if you remember to take these mobile stacks (aka, "bags") of comics out of your backpack or whatever at the end of the day.  I forgot to do this a few weeks ago and I had forgotten completely about those comics, brought a new bag to that backpack and wham! – I've got two mobile stacks to juggle.  Until today, I was still juggling.


Yes, I am happy to report that I kicked both of my mobile stacks' asses this past weekend.  I pretty much read all of the comics I had queued up, including Conan and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, both books which brought me great joy for totally different reasons. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents had actually been in a very important (and rare) stack, the Rumor Is This Is Awesome stack, a stack usually created by the folks at iFanboy, with their "recommendations."


Then there is the total opposite of that stack. The Haven't Read – Probably Never Will stack.  The worst one, the utter misfires. Attempts to connect with the book have been made…but not always. Just a glance inside and you're like, "Howard the Duck? I'm not that cool; I do not understand this at all." Or, I'm like that.  (I know it's probably good and I may read it. I promise.) That's a sad stack, a purgatory of creative hopes, a limbo (though there's always hope) of creative intents and lack of curiosity. 


And, of course, there's the nirvana, the shavasana of stacks, the Read stack.  It starts as a stack, hangs out as a stack, then a box.  (There are the truly evil books that belong in the "I hated reading that book and got nothing out of it at all" stack, but let us talk of such things in mixed company.)  But things always change, and there's a good chance even the cherished Read stack my someday be a Shared/Given Away To Be Anothers Unread stack…the wheel turns again.

As I think about all of these stacks, I realize they not only served as platforms for the works of talented creators, they represent a good amount of work and effort to build, not to mention maintain, this whole comic book thing.  The stacks are built from comic book stores all over town, relics from Silverlake, artifacts from Sherman Oaks.  Thought it might take awhile, it might take months, but their time will come, helping us enjoy the results from a good hunch a few months ago or an instinct that paid off. 


There may be a time when these stacks will only get smaller, whether it be fewer books or more virtual versions, so I put up with this issue with some amount of humor and a sense of gratitude. These are good problems to have and I am very grateful to even jokingly complain of these things. Though I really need to take those comics out of the coat closet. Or, at least, hide it better.


But the stack does indeed say a lot about what kinds of stories we value and how we choose to engage a story.  It was fun and scary to take those pictures. I'll just hope, for all of our sakes, that I don't find another place to stack my comics by the time we discuss this particular issue again.


Mike Romo is an actor in LA and needs to get a few longboxes. Contact him via Email and Twitter!


  1. I’d go crazy if I had a “Collect but never read stack“.  Crazy.

  2. I had something fall into the “I’ve owned this too long and haven’t read it” stack. The result at the end of the day was said item was sold on Ebay.

  3. What you really need is a “Give away to deserving people called steve” stack…

    Yours truly


  4. Mike, I relate so much to your article. Gosh I have so many issues lying around and in Boxes that I have not read or want to go back to. I have started taking them to the gym and reading on the bike or eliptical machine. It’s kind of hard, but worth it.

  5. It is so totally appropriate that Mike has all these varied and specifically named stacks.

  6. I didn’t know this was stack week and I coincidentally knocked out all of my stacks last week and organized all my boxes this morning. GOOD FEELING.

  7. Here’s my stack (in the unlikely event anyone is interested):

  8. @boosebaster  I have starman Omniboo on my stack too.

  9. I have 3 and 4 sitting here too in the pile of “things scattered around my room that I haven’t yet got round to adding to the stack”…

    Oh, forgot the Bone One Volume too!

  10. Well I just typed up the massive list that is my stack only to accidently leave the page before posting. I’m reviewing and such on twitter (@trainingmontage) with the tag #stackweek if anyone wants to join. In the mean time, here’s my stack:


  11. @boosebaster  Luv Starlin ! Get to work boyo! (let me know how that Death of the New Gods turns out, I’ve been tempted to get that one!)—also, You have Starman Omnibus Vol. 1 & 2 ? don’t you feel alittle remorse getting vol 2 when you didn’t tackle 1? or was it a gift/sale type thing?

  12. @Mike: I was missing the first two issues of Shaolin Cowboy, too, but it’s still a highly enjoyable read without them. I did eventually pick them up from Geoff Darrow himself at SDCC, which he signed and drew a little sketch in to boot (for free no less). He and Mike Mignola usually share a booth at SDCC, so just stop by and you might be able to pick up those issues. If you’re not attending SDCC, then get one of the iFanboys to pick them up for you. Unfortunately, I can’t guarentee if he will have copies this year.

  13. Hellblazer: City of Demons i bought one issue liked it and made a note to buy the trade NO ISSUES WILL BE MISSED! same with Choker thank the lord im not buy THAT in issues! My Stack while big , maybe four feet tall,is 98% trades WHOLE STORIES people!  yes im a little smug sorry.

  14. @boosebaster  Yeah, I have the Starman omnibus’ in my stack as weel, at least I know I am not alone 🙂

  15. I confess of Book Hoarding, too.

  16. @Jesse1125 I actually read Death of the New Gods a while ago when I borrowed it from the library. At the time I knew very little about DC continuity and it’s quite…involved…but somehow I followed it and found it a totally riveting read.