Home for the Holi-Trades

And suddenly, without (too much) warning, it's my last article for 2010.  Incredible. As I sit here surrounded by wrapping paper, an XBox controller, some comics (Wolverine: The Best There Is #1 is waiting, impatiently, to be read), my suitcase, some clean laundry inside the dirty laundry bin and a liquid refreshment of boubon with a splash of Coca Cola, I find myself a harried, but, somehow, a bit reflective. 

I'm on my way to Columbus, Ohio, tomorrow morning, and I can't help but be reminded that the last time I flew out there, I had 26 hours of delays, which, in turn, makes me wonder…"What trades should I bring?"


Yes, it's the winter, and it's in the winter when I find myself having the time to finally, finally read those trades that I was so hell bent on getting to at some point in my life.  And, much to my chagrin, many of these must-have trades are hardcovers and, well, heavy. And, if I could get a tad more chagrin into the mix (just a dollop) many of these trades are just collections of comics that I've already read!


But I get the trades anyway. I get them for winters and for very cool friends who I know won't mess them up (I have paperbacks for the others).  I get them for mystical grandchildren, made even more mystical because I don't have actual children, to bestow upon them like a family watch or something. I get them because I want them around, from pretty much here on out.


(Glancing at clock, realizing the time.)


So, let's take a look to our left, where all the books are (click on the photo on the right, below, to get all six cubes–I'll wait– and yes, I know the Scott Pilgrim books are upside down, I let a friend borrow one and was being sloppy)?  There's a whole other cube for my Absolute Editions and another cube that's just the six hardcover Walking Dead books, but, for the most part, that's most of my trade collection. Not overly large, but what is in there is good.  My favorite stuff.


To Chicago, I am going to bring Criminal: The Deluxe Edition. This…is this is a bold move. That's a white cover. That's white cover that will get smudges on it, and the cover image is so striking…I think I may wrap it in a towel. Or a bag. Put it in a plastic bag.  That'll work– a plastic bag. Anyway, I enjoyed Criminal in single issues a lot. I have all of them, from the beginning, and I still have every intention of reading those essays in the back, I just…I just..well, the books are in the closet..and..no matter.  No matter.  I really want to read this series again because I want to see how it reads in a single format, you know?  I am excited about the larger format and look forward to discussing the book with anyone who asks me, "What is that?" in the airport.  I'm on a mission, in a way, to make sure people see this trade.

I have a ton of single issues to read during my five day trip, so I am not sure I will bring another trade, but if I did, I would bring the Captain America Omnibus, which ends when Steve gets shot.  I am going to be totally honest with you–I wasn't on Captain America at the beginning, I missed out on the first dozen or so issues, so, in a way, this makes a lot of sense to bring.  It's a trade and I haven't read the stories before!   I have a feeling I will be putting this one in my luggage. So I don't have so much in my backpack.  Wow, right on! Good selection so far, right?


I have a ton of comics to read, like I said, so I think that's it for the travel trades, because I also want to read Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, which I have been trying to read since I bought the first hardcover so many years ago. This is my second paperback version of it, and, like I was telling Paul Montgomery yesterday, I have just failed to read it…over and over…for years.  And it's not that I don't like the book–I love the book.  I dunno what it is. I got the Anathem in a jiffy. Love that book, too.  But The Baroque Cycle is just…it's just dense writing. It's great–he wrote it all in long hand, using a fountain pen on straight up parchment (or so he claimed), by the way–I just…well, I need to finish it.


But the winter will be here when I get back and that's why I think I am going to reread both Parker books. Yup, that sounds super fun.  Those books are such gifts, I gotta say. We are in a very, very cool time, that we can be around when these were first published, because I honestly think these books will be around forever, you know?  Like, Darwyn Cooke has created modern classics here, books that represent this time so well, where comics have been consistently engaging in story and stunning in art.  


Finally, I think I am going to read Asterios Polyp again and not just because Scott McCloud told me to). I am tempted to wait another year (because, apparently, they go by like that), to let myself be even more thrilled when I settle back in, but what's the point? I have a feeling that I'll notice something new about the book each time I open it.  


It's funny, I used to not really be into reading comics over and over again, probably because when I was a kid, that's exactly what I did.  Even years later, when I would dig through a few boxes of comics at my parents place, I would look at a cover and remember the entire issue and just put it back.  (For what it's worth, I think that knowing what I do now, I would be really interested in reading my old books, I probably have a few from creators whose work I admire now just waiting to be be discovered.)  I remember when Conor had that video segment in which he would guess the plot based on just the cover (a good segment, dude, you should bring it back once in awhile).  Now, I guess..well, I'm either getting old or my brain is just so jammed with comics, that I kind of appreciate being able to look back at a few issues to get revved back up again (it's both, I know).  The trades represent the most sublime version of that impulse–the whole thing, whenever you want it.  Awesome.


Finally, while I know (and hope, and want) digital compendiums of comics, digital omnibuses (omnibi?), I think the trade format will get along just fine.  A rainy night, a comfy chair, and your favorite hardcover trade? Life doesn't get any better than that. Let us know in the comments which trades you are looking forward to spending some quality time with!


I hope all of you get some time off in the coming weeks, and I hope that all of you have a great time with your family, with your friends–but hope that you get some time on your own, too, where you can relax and just read a bit. Life's crazy these days, and it's important to spend a few hours, just a few, doing what you love.


For those of you who are rocking it, Merry Christmas.  Happy holidays to the rest of you, of course, and here's to a really wonderful, fantastic, healthy, happy and comic-filled 2011 to you and your family. And, finally, thanks for reading. It's an honor.







Mike Romo is an actor, dammit, who lives in Los Angeles.  He'll be in airports for the foreseeable future. Email him here, and follow his exploits on twitter.


  1. I think I might give Asterios a reread too.

  2. @Romo, Stephenson did write the Baroque Cycle longhand on parchment. The Science Fiction museum in Seattle has it on display. It’s a sight to be seen.

  3. Great article Mike. I always get ambitious when it comes to vacation, and the holidays when it comes to reading trades. In April when I went to Mexico, I took way too many books with me, and only read Batman: Dark Knight returns, and played Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks on the plane/at night in the hotel room.

    Enter the ipad…I’m going to Europe for 8 days in a week, and I don’t plan on bringing any trades or gaming devices with me other than the Ipad, and PSP. I’m looking forward to downloading/reading the first five issues of Orc Stain, House of Mystery, Volumes 5, and 6 of the Walking Dead, possibly rereading GL:Rebirth, and finally starting Locke & Key, and I’ll be doing it all on my Ipad. Good stuff.

    Mind you, I still love my trades, and my bookcase. It’s nice to have the option to have certain books on the ipad.

    Also, I’m planning to pick up the Amazing Spiderman Omnibus. The comic fan inside says, I must read that one day since I’ve never read Stan Lee’s Spider-man.

  4. Oh man I’;ve a mountain of trades to read, the holiday just isn’t long enough:
    The last ex Machina – and I’m going to gorge myself by rereading the previous two,
    The latest Chew,
    The 1st Proof,
    the latest Incorruptable and Irredeemable,
    Young Liars – that has sat on my shelf for a year

    The list goes on and on. I fear my stack week paranioa returning.

  5. Currently rereading Scud: The Whole Shebang!

  6. Both Criminal and Cap grace my bookshelf, can’t wait for the 3rd volume of the cap omnibuses and the next deluxe edition of Criminal to come out!

  7. I’ll be reading the amazing spider-man omnibus and plowing my way through the rest of lone wolf and cub(I’m only on vol. 5 of 28)

  8. Yeah, I placed a big trade order to take with me on the family trip.

    Planetary Vol. 4
    The new Parker
    Return of the Dapper Men
    The last Ex Machina
    The new Grandville
    The two latest Locke and Key volumes
    Moving Pictures

    On my short Christmas list were the first two Hellboy library editions and an Everton top…so, hopefully the trade library will expand even more!  I’m so excited to read them…but I don’t leave until the 26th, I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait. 

  9. Walking Dead 13
    Star Wars Dark Empire Trilogy
    Sweet Tooth 2
    Fables 14
    Planetary 4

    Plus two prose books.

  10. I’ve got a lot of prose books to read, but I think I might reread Asterios Polyp again, since it’s been almost a full year (I actually read it two day before new year’s) since I’ve read it, I might as well give it another go. 
    Oooo! And maybe The New Frontier too, gosh I love that book 

  11. I was totally cool with Anathem, but the whole Baroque Trilogy leaves it in the dust. It’s dense, yes, but as much fun as you’ll ever have reading a book. I didn’t want it to end. Don’t put it off any longer.

  12. Too much to choose from, but I’m going with GI Joe Cobra Vol 2, GI Joe Hearts and Minds, Sweet Tooth 2 and Power Girl 2.  I’ve also got the second Batman and Robin HC to read and that Chaykin Batman one shot from last month as there’s nothing better than Batman at Christmas.

  13. Well said, Josh. Cryptonomicon is one of the few books I have ever reread in my adulthood. I really want to reread the Baroque Cycle too. It was also awesome reading it in college while taking a class about Revolution & Reformation class. Brilliant books. 

  14. Damn it.  I was totally going to skip the LCS this week and just bring the newish William Gibson.  Now I’m thinking I should get something to supplement that.

  15. I’m actually thinking of taking a break from comics for a bit so I can focus more on my prose reading. Does anyone else ever get the itch to do this, or am I officially banned from the website now? 😉

  16. Great comments, guys! That is so rad you can see those handwritten pages–gotta check that out. Josh, thanks for the encouragement, i am diving back into Quicksilver tonight..funny, I read Cryptonomicon twice, too–love that book!

    Good reads, all! Enjoy! Glacier you liked the piece!

    Ok…a bookmark would have been useful…do i start from the beginning? Oy…

  17. I just read Asterios Polyp again the other day as well. Love the book as always. Also gonna give Matt Kindt’s Super Spy a second read. Then have the first two Starman trades, the third volume of Queen and Country (Definitive editions), the Queen and Country prose novels, and finally From Hell.

  18. Oh–“from hell” would be perfect! I lent it to someone and they never brought it back…damn. I started Quicksilver last night…from the beginning! Awesome, and so wonderfully illustrative that part of me really would love to see it done graphic novel-stylee.

    Super Spy is another great choice, I wonder if i should read the stories in chronological order…

    Off to pick up sandwiches after reading a nap time story to nephew. (which sounds really weird to me)

  19. @Romo Thanks. Now the idea of Baroque Cycle graphic novels will haunt me for the rest of my days. I would shit my pants out of sheer awesomeness.

  20. I have never heard of this Neal Stephenson guy but now I am infinitely intrigued. I guess I know what I am using my gift cards on. Thanks guys, as always, for the great recommendations.