Floppy Fatigue

The timing couldn’t be worse, of course. On Sunday, (the Sunday before Comic-Con, mind you) I went by the store to pick up my books. I spent about $20, which is downright reasonable when compared to previous weeks. Then, that evening, I sat down to read the latest copy of, uhm, whatever it was and after the first few pages, I just put it down. I just didn’t feel like reading the comic at all.

Then, that night, as is the case with pretty much every night, I pulled a book out the new comic book bag that my wife Whit bought me (see below), Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1, and started reading, and then it happened again. I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t like the art, even though technically the art was kind of interesting. I couldn’t get into characters or care about the story, even though it was Geoff Johns writing, and I’m a huge fan.

I just didn’t care.

Now, I admit, I have had had a long week. I had several old friends in town, I had been out late throughout the week and I had spent most of Sunday helping my friend deal with his computers. The only thing I really wanted to do was to shake up a nice margarita, sit down and relax, doing what I wanted to do. Okay, there was some pressure to get caught up on all my books given the fact that Comic-Con is this week, sure, but that’s a good thing, right? Having to read comics? I mean, it’s better than doing the dishes or doing laundry? Well, if that’s the case, why did I do both and not read any comics?

Now everything ebbs and flows. Life happens and we have to shift priorities and juggle responsibilities and activities. But this was kind of different and even though the timing could not be worse, I was wondering what I was going to write about, so…

Comics: More Work That Meets The Eye

Some might argue that reading a regular book or magazine article bereft of pictures is easier to read than comics. I don’t know if I agree with that. When I come home with 6-10 comic books, I know that I am in for a few challenges that can lead to a general comic malaise:

1) Different artists telling a variety of stories with varying success.

Some artists are better than others at sequential art. With the very best art, your eye just flows and the story comes to you, almost like osmosis. Other artists you find yourself sometimes wondering which panel falls next, etc. I mean, okay, this is not a big deal, but I mean, if you are already kinda burning out, you might be likely to just put it down and “read it later.”

2) Comics that don’t have the “story so far” page so sometimes, especially with irregularly scheduled books, it can take awhile to figure out just what is happening.

Oftentimes, I will have to dig into my nightstand to find the last issue and turn to the last page to kick start my feeble brain into remembering what happened. Other times I will actually pull out the entire last issue and go through it before reading the new one. It’s even more frustrating when you can’t find the previous book — I’ll spend 5-10 minutes looking for the previous issue, then get distracted by other filing issues, and then, WHAM, it’s 40 minutes later and I just have enough time/energy to read the issue I already read before I fall asleep.

3 ) Issues that just seem to go nowhere, or, in the case of some of the recent Avengers comics, tell the backstory of the events and characters in the Secret Invasion event story line. 

This is great and everything, but I can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a copout. Like, The Mighty Avengers #23, with the whole Elektra fight. Yes, it’s cool but, I mean, she’s not even IN the Avengers. I think one of the reasons I am feeling burnt out is that I am finding myself having to slog through more issues than normal, where I am getting some good story points, but I just have to trudge through so many pages to get to those points that it just becomes irritating. And, of course, they don’t tell you on the cover: “This is just a backstory issue that you don’t really need to read!” Nothing worse than reading a comic and wondering… did I just waste both time and money?

4) The sheer volume of issues that one contends with.

Sure, I had light week this week, but I still paid $20. This week is going to cost more and hauling around a bunch of comics is a lot more of a pain than carrying a paperback. A small complaint, sure, but you roll it up with everything else, you can see the fatigue starting to set in. If it gets really bad you start thinking about all the things you could do with the money you would be saving by not buying comics, but let’s not go into that now–we’re not there yet.

Is It Really So Bad?

All relationships have their ups and downs. I mean, even the greatest significant other you’ve ever been with is going to bore you once in awhile. Same thing with comics. I can almost imagine it…


MIKE walks into his bedroom. BAG OF COMICS is sitting by his bedside. Bag has obviously been up for awhile. There are wads of tissue paper around Bag; someone’s been crying.

Oh, hey, I didn’t think you’d be up.

I couldn’t sleep. I…

Look, I think we need to talk, you might have noticed that…


Well, I know I have been distant and I just wanted to apologize.

I just don’t know what’s wrong, I’ve been…

No, no, no — it’s not you. I’ve just been, like, I’ve been stressed. Work’s been crazy and getting ready for Comic-Con’s been taking up a lot of my time.

OH, right. (sighs) Comic-Con. Lots of new comics there, I suppose?

Well, sure…it’s, I mean, it’s, I dunno, there will be comics AND books and art, you know, all kinds of stuff…

New comics?

Well, sure, but–

Because I have lots of new comics, comics you haven’t even read. Comics that are even mentioned in that podcast you listen to.

No, I mean, yes — I know. I just… I’m just… Look: I’m just not… you know? I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just… it’s hard for me to care about them.

You don’t care about comics? How about me? I’m your… (sobs)

And — I know, I know — you will always be my bag..please, please don’t cry, that Final Crisis tie-in hasn’t been taped and I don’t–

Nevermind. Just… just… do what you need to do.

Mike sits down next to bag, checking a few issues, all unread.

I mean, your great, you know? I mean, Guardians of the Galaxy–I started #1, I did, and it looked good, I just, there are two more to read and I just haven’t had any time…

Well, why did you BUY them then? If it’s so HARD for you!

I WILL read them, I promise — look, I am TRYING here… I — I have to go. I need to, oh wait…

Mike grabs a Minx book from bag.

Mike (cont.)
Okay. I’ll be back, okay?

I’ll be here, I guess. Have…fun.

Mike moves toward the door and looks back. He opens his mouth to say something, glances down at his Minx book and turns away, closing the door behind him. Bag sighs and settles on the bookshelf.


Well, maybe it would go that way if my bag could talk. But I think this feeling is good, it’s helping me wean myself from titles that I’ve just kinda lost interest in, like The Twelve. Perhaps this is just the way of things, you know?

Thankfully, I’m not really tired of comics, I just think that it’s easier to get overwhelmed by comics sometimes, especially when there are events. Comics should be a treat, something to look forward to, and not a chore, right? If anything, my graphic novel fatigue has helped me focus on the books that I am really interested in, and helped me get rid of the books that I was just getting to “stay in the loop” or out of some hope that the book might improve. This has happened to me before, with Amazons Attack! but for some reason I kept with it and, oh man… what a mess. This time I am learning — if I don’t feel like reading a book once in awhile, fine. But if I keep putting reading a book off month after month, there’s a problem — and a solution: just stop buying the damn book. No one should be forced to live a lie, you know?

But how about you? Do you sometimes just wanna take a few nights off and just read more magazines and books? I know there are several books that I have put off reading because I needed to catch up on a few comics. It should be really interesting when the next George R.R. Martin book comes out — those books tend to rule my life until I finish them up. What do you do when you just get overextended with your reading? Do you keep buying the titles in the hope that when you start getting back into them you’ll be ready to catch up with a complete line, or do you stop buying the title altogether? Do you find yourself dropping comics for other reasons? I haven’t even mentioned about how the economy is making my drive to the comic book store as expensive as a single issue (give or take a few pages).

With Comic-Con starting up tomorrow, maybe this was my subconscious telling me to not go so crazy with the buying of trades and that kind of thing (still haven’t read my Starman Omnibus). Who knows–I’ll let you know how it goes.


Mike Romo is an actor in Los Angeles who apparently talks to inanimate objects. He will be be all a-twitter during Comic-Con here.  He can be reached at mike@ifanboy.com.



  1. Sometimes, the wind just leaves the sails. I know for my part, I was really deflated when I was getting my comics by mail order. By removing the Wednesday ritual, I dissipated some of the magic and joy from the habit more than I would have expected.

  2. Just – Effing – Brilliant! An awesome piece for sure, Mike, your best so far.

    I can heavily relate to the floppy fatigue (did I just admit that in public? On the internet, no less?), and I only average between 5-8 books a week. When I get my new books home I’m always really stoked to read them, and sometimes I’ll read them straight away, if I can. Other times, I just glance at the covers for a bit and the excitement slowly dwindles, so they go on the desk, or the bed, or the table in front of the TV – ALWAYS somewhere where I can’t help but notice them, almost like leaving myself a post-it… ‘Remember you’ve got these to read!’.

    Sometimes I’m just too damn tired, and I hate reading when I’m tired because I just know I won’t take it in or remember it, or even – dare I say – enjoy it.

    And yes, I totally agree that with so many different stories by so many different writers, I too am guilty of sometimes starting a new book, reading 3 pages, thinking ‘whaat?’ and then digging out the last issue. With some books I don’t even bother starting the new one until I’ve refreshed myself of what happened last month (Young Liars, I’m looking at you!).

    But most of the time, if I leave it a few days, I’ll then have a massive binge and read everything in one sitting. Often even that’s not enough, as I’ll finish the issues and jump straight into a trade I’ve been putting off for months. And it’s fantastic! Makes me remember why I love issues and gets me psyched for the next week!

    PS: I think the iFanbase deserve to read the whole screenplay of Mike & Bag! 

  3. Trades are your friend. My weekly pull is always in the single digits and I average maybe 3. If I miss out on something, I can always go back in trades.

  4. I had the floppies myself this past week and as a result still haven’t read 4 of the 8 books I picked up.  I am going to combat this with dropping a huge portion of my subs and move over to trades/hardcovers.  The main reason for this though is I am just tired of buying things twice, but the secondary reason is I just don’t have the time to do other things when getting 15-20 books a week.  I haven’t read a "real" book in months and I just can’t stand the idea that the new George RR Martin or Neal Stephenson book will fall by the wayside just so I can keep up with my comics.  So, I am cutting back and I am sure some lowly comic creator will become homeless because of it.

  5. Great article Mike…and another great idea for iFanboy Theater!

    I suffer the same problems and i’m noticing more and more with floppies that i tend to, as Augie, would put it: ‘self trade’….saving the mini series until complete and then *try* to read it in one sitting…and then i ask myself why do i do this? why don’t i wait for the trade…heck, if it goes south i might not even buy it altogether and would save moolah. I am slowly learning or rather unlearning the *habit* of floppy buying for the sake of floppy buying. I try to continue to support the indie presses because i’m afraid it won’t make it to trade, but the big three-four companies: i think i’m going to go the trade route more and more. Buy not buying floppies sometimes i feel like i am missing out or will be behind on something…BUT if i buy it and don’t read it anyway, what’s the point!

    BTW: has your agent contacted you about optioning the Adventures of Mike & Bag? Casting call! Who would play Mike? and hmmm…a Target sack as "Bag"…or perhaps a Louis Vitton number…or Harvey Keitel as "Bag"…LOL

  6. So….do you and the bag have relationship problems or what? I got kinda freaked out on that aspect. lol

  7. @target242 – Christian Bale or Robert Downey, Jr as Mike (they’re in everything else right now), and Kristy Swanson as Bag (she needs the work).

  8. Here’s my advice. And note that everyone at Around Comics had to deal with this. The grind of keeping up with everything and doing a twice weekly show became too much and sapped the fun out of the hobby we love. Comics should never be a job. (remember this when you think about how much work Josh, Ron and Conor put into iFanboy).

    Take a break for a bit. Even if it’s two weeks or a full month away from the comics. They will be there when you come back, and you’ll enjoy them even more. It shoed me what books I actually liked, and let me cut ties with stuff that I was only reading so I felt "in the loop" on what was going on. Taking a break and recharging is sometimes the best way to find your passion renewed. That’s what I did, and I’m having more fun than ever.

  9. Since I’ve been buying books weekly for the last year or two I’ve never really felt fatigue about reading my comics, but for me, comics are my little treat in life.  With getting married soon and having a full time job, my hobbies are the little parts that I still get to myself, so I always look forward to reading my weekly books.  Now, there are times where I get fatigued at the amount of TPBs that I read, but I’m ok for those to sit on the shelf unread for awhile.  That’s why I have them.

    Comics have really cut into my prose reading, but I’ve been trying to remedy that by reading a chapter in a book every night before I go to bed.  It’s been nice doing this instead of reading comics.

    I think I enjoy reading comics because it’s become associated with beer drinking.  I crack open a cold one, kick my feet up, and read my books.  That really helps with not getting burned out.

  10. Whine whine whine.

    The soap opera scene was funny.

  11. Sometimes this happens to me too. i usely just read the rest of the comic then take a brake (maybe read something or watch tv or movie or whatever.) then i come back read the rest of my stack.

  12. It happens to all of us.  It’s a cyclical event.  Just step away for a short bit but when you come back… grab something you normally wouldn’t read.  It’s poosible that the change of pace + content may get the sparkplugs firing again.  🙂


    the Tiki 

  13. I know exactly how you feel about the comics without a story so far page.  I feel defeated when I can’t remember what happened in the last issue and then I shut down like a robot.

  14. Here’s a small piece of advice for ya, Mike — if you can read the first few pages of a book & not be hooked (like you said about the Rogues book) drop it. If a book doesn’t grab you, you are wasting time "working" to read it. It should be entertaining — not work. Maybe try switching it up too, read different types of stories, genres, styles etc. And if you have no time, buy less comics & catch up on the good shit in trades.

    The Mike vs Bag fight was funny as hell.


  15. Everything you said in this post I completely agree with.  I have no advice for you because I am in the same boat.  It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way, though.  thanks for the great post Mike

  16. I agree with zachtastic4, whine, bloody whine.

     Take a brake, eat an orange, put a drop of lavender oil in your bath, who cares? this is not the most serious problem in the world.

    but having said that, you’re a funny man , romo, keep it up, yeah?

  17. @edward – Clearly there are worse problems in the world.  If that were the standard by which we measure the value of conversation we would have nothing to say about comic books.

  18. it can be real easy to get carried away around here, trying to keep up with the jones’s and such. i have assured myself a substantial reduction when event season ends. i hope to have no more than 15 books on my list come Christmas. narrowing the list down gets easier all the time with so many books consistently sucking – i’m lookin’ at you Hulk (oh how that pains me). these things are only accumulating to so much junk as time wears on and i’ve got far too much junk around here already.

    TBS, i’m on a good stride with books i enjoy, but, damn, the ones i don’t: DAMN YOU MIGHTY AVENGERS #16! Secret Invasion’s really pissin’ me off… stop me if you’ve heard this one 🙂 

  19. I can remember getting to this point at a few different points of my life when I used to read issues.  Now that I have switched to reading everything in trades only it is not quite so bad.  I am usually able to feel out through feedback and a little research how much I will probably like a title before checking it out.  And it also helps me to know overall where the story may go so that even if at first it doesn’t excite me I can know that there is something down the road that I heard about that will make me enjoy it.

    I know that wouldn’t work for everyone because there are times I miss reading single issues.  But at this point in my life, the TPB route is the best option for me to enjoy comics.

  20. Yeah, I haven’t quite been where you’ve been as far as reading goes, but I’ve definitely put comics to the side in the past and wondered if I was just wasting time/money/whatever. It can be rough. Still, that’s the good thing about single issues; they’re bite-sized pieces of story that don’t require a big commitment of time. You can read just one comic and go to bed or go out or whatever.

    What’s your store, anyway? I’ve been to a bunch of comic shops in L.A. and I’m always checking out others on my neverending hunt for odd back-issues.