I’ve Read Nothing Lately

Conor exists in Black & White, color is added in post.

I was chatting with Conor last night, trying to hash out some ideas, and I admitted that I’d read nothing over that past week or so. I’ve read my usual floppies but nothing that really struck me or had an impact or even something worth getting excited enough to write about. That’s not to say I’ve been reading bad comics. Fantastic Four #605 was maybe the best issue of FF I’ve ever read, but could I write an entire column on it? Probably not.

I read another short vignette within a larger collection, but again, not worth 1,000 words. Frankly I just haven’t been reading much of anything. I’ve been busy with work stuff, podcast stuff, life stuff. More or less just trying to keep afloat, let alone ride the waves well enough for graphic novel free time. I’m not trying to complain, this is the very normal ebb and flow of daily life. I quite enjoy it but there are times where it prevents me from having anything of significance to post here. However, I imagine this applies to all of you as well.

How many of you have come to this site not having read anything new but still hoping to find something worth getting excited about? At a certain point community becomes less about than keeping abreast of the absolute latest book and more about actually being a part of the community. No one here would judge you for not having read Avengers vs. X-Men #1 yet, nor should they. You don’t need to be up with the latest issues to join in on the Superman discussions Mike started and I continued last week. These things exist outside the news cycle, and that’s one of the reasons I like writing for iFanboy so much.

Conor encouraged me to write about whatever. I didn’t hear that as “We just need to fill the slot” so much as “We know that given the freedom you can do something interesting and new.” And I appreciate the confidence and the lack of barriers, and it has led me to today’s almost anti-column. This isn’t about not liking comics anymore, it isn’t really even about not having enough time; it’s just about having spent the past week or so doing other things. But I still relish the fact that I can come here for conversation and engagement; what other hobby allows that?

I’ve had a ton of grading to do lately, and I usually watch TV while doing that. I’ve been getting into Top Gear on the BBC lately, so now when I collapse into bed I usually throw an episode of that on my iPad rather than a new book. It’s almost the end of the semester so I’m not into starting a new book right this second. I’ll either A) not be that into, B) be so into I can’t stop reading it, or C) read a bit, put a bookmark in it, and let it sit for months unfinished. None of those are really good options for me right now. I could go out and buy something new that I know I’m sure to love, but that’s just paying money for a time commitment I don’t really have when there are plenty of things left to read around here. An age-old conundrum of the comic fan to be sure.

Life without comic's community -or- being a geologist.

My consummate fear is to be left out, to be left behind. I think that’s true of many a comic reader. I think for most any nerd subculture there’s that sense of finally belonging, of finally being with one’s people. So much time was spent alone in the darkness but finally we see the light of a community of like-minded well-wishers and we rejoice. We’d be fools to just walk away from that, right? So we struggle and strain to keep abreast with the rest. To always be caught up with the series that matter, to have read the canon, to have an opinion on the intricacies of the inside, but for what? To belong, that’s what. And that matters. Humans have a primal need to belong. Maslow put it right in there with food, shelter, and sex. It seems a lofty reason to explain why I keep coming back to a specific website even if I’m temporarily out of the loop with the subject matter, but I don’t think that makes my assessment any less true.

So what is a guy to do? I honestly don’t know. These aren’t the kinds of columns that usually don’t generate a ton of conversation, but I’m actually asking how y’all handle this sort of overworked malaise. Do you go buy that new shiny hardcover? Do you power through your neglected stack? Or do you just watch some movies and wait for the passion to reignite?

 


Ryan Haupt realized that comics are composed of static silent images one after another. Yet at the same time his podcast, Science… sort of, is composed of  dynamic noisy sounds one after another. Kind of trippy if you think about it.

Comments

  1. I read my comics in “TPB style”. I have my comics shipped to me monthly from Midtown Comics so I get a lot of comics at once. I have found myself collecting superhero comics and waiting until I have 6 – 12 issues of a particular series and reading it all in a row. I haven’t read a single Wolverine and the X-Men issue yet. On the other side of the coin, the second I get a Vertigo, Avatar, or nonsuperhero comic in my hands I read it the same day.

    • Yeah man, unless it’s an indie. I like to stockpile & get a good chunk before I go at it!

    • why do you now get them in trade then?

    • EDIT; why do you NOT get then in trade? (ifanboy really needs an edit post button).

    • @adrianrigter
      I’ve been getting the singles of comics like Uncanny X-Men, Batman, etc for YEARS. I’m used to getting them in singles and I prefer them as singles as part of collecting them as well as entertainment value.

      For comics like Walking Dead, Fables, Preacher, Sandman, Fear Agent, etc I don’t feel the “need” to collect them. So I buy the trades for them. I read them purely for entertainment and I like to put them on the shelf for others to browse.

      Digital comics is where I can “play test the field”. I bought Peter Panzerfaust #1 and Saga #1 digitally first and liked them a lot and now I’m buying the singles.

    • Interesting, thanks.

    • I’m trying out this approach. I’ve been in a slump as Ryan describes. I found the arcs I’ve enjoyed the most in the past were read in TP format.

  2. i’ve been taking a bit of a break. Actually been really engrossed in the Hunger Games books (just finished Catching Fire) and have been a bit obsessed with Pac Man and NBA Jam on my iPad and Phone…so that has taken up my nightly reading time. =)

    Knowing that i can buy my digital comics whenever i want, the need to get em and read em on Wednesday isn’t as strong, but yeah i’m not really able to be part of that same day conversation.

    • also i’d say that having a bit of a buffer is really good for me. After keeping myself busy with other things, i start to miss my comics, and i run back to them, so i think it helps maintain “the relationship”.

  3. We seem to be in the same place.

    I’m going on comics hiatus starting this week.

  4. I’m actually coming back to reading novels after being away from it for about four months. I’m reading The Last Day, The Devil in the White City, and In The Woods. I’m back with a passion.

    And of course, my weekly fix is taken care of.

  5. I’ve noticed that if I read (or listen to) a review from someone who is genuinely excited about a book (like when Paul posts his reviews or when Ron used to do his X-men Forever reviews), it gets me excited. If I read the book that has them pumped it typically gets me moving. Kind of like priming a pump.

  6. i tend to walk away from it. if i try to read something when im not excited i end up listlessly burning through it and feeling oddly empty. just kinda like “ok well thats done….” I tend to catch up on movies, play video games or read a novel. novels usually get me excited about comics cuz novels take a while to pull me in. after i finish a novel i get excited to pick up something as immediately immersive as a comic. although i dont know if that will necessarily work for you since youre so strapped for time since (in my experience) novels tend to take a lot of time

  7. I’ve got a few friends who are readers as well. Usually by conversation we remind each other how good comics can be — or complain about how amusingly bad they can be which can also be fun. Also there’s a veritable mountain of really good comics I totally missed out on either due to my tastes at the time, economics, or being on comics sabbatical.

    I’ve been in a similar funk as of late, so today I finally grabbed the first trade of Gotham Central.

  8. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I think the best way to recharge, and it’s something we all need to do periodically, is to try something completely new. It’s definitely out there waiting to be found. Just pick up something you wouldn’t normal try. Or have put off trying. Something self contained. Fall in love with a new rhythm.

  9. Personally I’d drop all your Marvel and DC books and read something different.

    Right now a grand time to be a comics fan, there’s so much interesting stuff avalanching down I don’t know its even possible to be bored. Its just none of the interesting things are at Marvel or DC.

  10. Since I started doing my own podcast, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like I’ve always needed to keep up with the conversation on the latest in comics. The Marvel and DC hype can do that to you since they’re the 2 dominant players. It’s why I’ve been focusing on the smaller players and going back to old stuff I didn’t read in the early 2000s when I wasn’t reading comics.

    Plus, getting away for a while recharges the batteries. Just came back from Atlantic City for my wife and I’s anniversary. I bought new Puma sneakers and now I’m energized to read more comics. That makes sense, right? 🙂

    Also – Avengers Alliance on Facebook is freakin’ awesome if you want to break up your comic love into other mediums.

  11. Wow…wasn’t expect this. Great article Ryan.

    Reading this reminded me of the place I was in about a decade ago. Nothing I read at the time seemed to quench my thirst. Its not that I felt dissatisfied in the stories, well…I just didn’t feel satisfied. Real life definitely has its impact on the luxuries of life. Comics are no exception.

    As my grandmother often told me when faced with similar situations, try not to over think it and get a good nights rest. When you wake up in the morning, you may feel different about things. Regardless, those comics will wait on you, ready to deliver the magic.

    In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed your comic-related writings since joining iFanboy (particularly your recent Superman musings) and it was fun listening to you guys on this past Staff Pick of the Week Podcast. Keep your chin up. I, for one, look forward to your future contributions and insights!

  12. It’s funny, I’m reading about 7 or 8 comic series right now and I’m still absolutely in love with them.
    It’s true about 6 of those 7or 8 series are Marvel books, but I just haven’t run out of love for them like a lot of people say they have. Maybe it’s because I’m 16 and have only been reading comics for about 5-6 years but who knows. Recently though I felt as though I should be reading other non comic stuff, So I’m about 2/3 through The Dark Tower (it’s OK) and plan to read the Hunger Games after being incedably surprised on how great the movie was,

  13. This article hits the nail on the head, and my answer to your questions at the end is D) All of the above: You can buy that new book and read it when ready, power through the stack anytime you fell like or have time to and watch tv and come back it later all the same. That all seems to be exactly where I’m at, I have stuff including issues and trades I haven’t read yet, the issues can go through pretty quick but I wanna enjoy em so only read when the mood and timing is right, that sounds sexual but more like I wait til I’m relaxed and in the get lost in a story frame of mind. I’m in the middle of moving, my truck is being worked on, and I’m going back to school, so i kill time when i can watching a movie or show till i feel like reading. But yes what other hobby can we still have a community and discuss whatever without keeping up with the new? Honestly, probably lots of em from video games to chat rooms on whatever to book of the month clubs for all I know but those communities might not be held together by the same glue. Comix are a passion and we can talk about them no matter what we do or don’t have time for. Thanx for writing this article as it is exactly where I’m at today with my LCS holding a cpl trades for me but don’t have time to read em, haha….so I’m gonna pick em up and read em when I get settled into my new place after the move.

  14. I know this feeling well. I’ve usually found two things help: 1. Do something else for a while and don’t feel badly about it. Variety is the spice of life and all. 2. Force yourself to read something. Sounds weird, but I’ve had lulls that I only got out of by reading lots and lots of stuff, which made reading even more stuff more pleasurable. You sometimes can forget how much comics can be. The trick is, make sure you read the good stuff when you force youself. Maybe reread an old favorite, or a recent critically-acclaimed book. And, yes, do buy something new to get out of that rut. A shiny hardcover is the best medicine.

  15. I think there are a lot of people in the community who read too many gd books! Ryan, how many you reading a month? It reading your books is any kind of chore, you should cut back. If you find Justice League just sitting there, don’t keep buying it. Meanwhile, I bet you still get excited for Scalped (Couldn’t find the link to your pull list?)

    Your old enough to not feel like your missing anything if you skip event books, universe books with forgetable creative teams, etc.

    Also, read more prose. I find prose novels are a great complement to comics, they are long and deep, like a symphony, while comics are short and peppy, like a good pop tune. Each makes you appreciate the other.

    • THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #2
      PROPHET #24
      THE WALKING DEAD #96
      THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #684
      BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #3
      JUSTICE LEAGUE #8
      BATMAN #8
      FABLES #116
      AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #2 (OF 12)
      THE INCREDIBLE HULK #7
      VENOM #16
      WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #9
      ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #2 (OF 4)

      To me anyway, that’s a lot of books. Only one non-DC, non-Marvel. Only one non superhero. Not that that means much, in the end, its about what you like.

    • Scratch that, I didn’t see the top 3 books..(Urthona goes back to his Sanctum in deep space to sleep)

  16. ryan – the answer to your question, as with everything in life, is pornography. just a *ridiculous* amount of pornography.

  17. Everyone gets burned out from time to time on comics. Sometimes you read a few stories from a Batman tpb or power through 5 to 11 issues in my stack. Have run & read a comic.

    Matthew

  18. Top Gear? Proper BBC Top Gear? All sins are forgiven

  19. I’ll respond to the column first, then go read the thread.

    Ryan,

    I gave it all up for a while. I walked away from it. I tried just getting art comics, and just limiting my time to the “premium” and “exclusive” “works of substance”. I came back to the mainstream again. I’m currently on my third bout of Marvel Zombie-ism. I’m on my second personal Metonic Cycle, my third time around the wheel of loving it, hating it, loving hating it and hating loving it. Silver, Bronze, Reagan, Platinum and Post-Modern Age veteran.

    Tried every angle of limiting my outlay. I’ll just collect good creator-owned and independent stuff. It’s the Wizard era. I’ll just collect The Spirit. Exhausting. I’ll just collect the really good shit. A vast, lonely wasteland of effete, erudite elitists. I’ll just collect Marvel. Give us your firstborn. I’ll just collect quirky old DC back issues. Give us your basement. I’ll just collect old magazines. Here is your herd of cats and tinfoil helmet.

    I went back to my old habits. I still buy issues but I read them in great piles. I live in a town with a really good public library. I gave up day-and-date two or three times in my life. As a matter of fact, I’m day-and-date (or least I get my book report in before the “week” is up) on half a dozen or so Marvel titles for the first time since maybe 1993, and that’s really fun again.

    I finally fulfilled a personal fantasy and started subscribing to Marvel comics. I save a bunch of money, and they mail me comics. It makes every day a potential Wednesday.

    I actually really like to get that issue of Amazing Spider-Man or new Cap in the mailbox now, and maybe even read it the same night. Usually I like to pile up arcs and sometimes I even read the library’s hardcover of issues that I’ve got. I try to stay up with a few titles from the standpoint of the trade-waiter, even though I buy those titles in issues.

    Sometimes I want to talk about a move that came out last year or a comic book the came out last century. And sometimes there will be someone else who wants to talk about it, too.

    Sometimes, not. Which, to your point, is why I found it fun again to stay up on a couple of titles and have something to say about what just happened in Winter Soldier or Daredevil.

    Cheers.

    • I was just filing today’s purchases, for instance:

      DC Comics comics (LCS)

      FEB120197 BIRDS OF PREY #8 $2.99 (read it someday)
      FEB120242 THUNDER AGENTS VOL 2 #6 (OF 6) (NOTE PRICE) $3.99 (read it in May?)
      FEB120167 WONDER WOMAN #8 $2.99 (read a big pile of DC this summer?)

      IMAGE Comics comics

      FEB120509 MANHATTAN PROJECTS #2 $3.50 (read a big pile of indy stuff when Brilliant wraps up?)

      MARVEL Comics comics

      LCS

      FEB120609 DEFENDERS #5 $3.99 (THIS IS THE ONLY BOOK I’LL READ TODAY/THIS WEEK)
      FEB120578 PUNISHER #10 OMEGA $2.99 (read when mini-event concludes)
      FEB120617 THUNDERBOLTS #173 $2.99 (read two year’s-worth next month)
      FEB120574 VENOM #16 $2.99 (read a dozen issues some rainy Saturday)
      FEB120547 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #9 AVX $3.99 (read mutant books this summer, for sure)

      sub (won’t arrive for a week to ten days)

      FEB120569 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #684 ENDS $3.99 (read this when mini-event concludes)
      FEB120541 AVENGERS #25 AVX $3.99 (read two year’s-worth in May)
      FEB120612 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #515 $3.99 (read two year’s-worth in June?)
      FEB120625 UNCANNY X-FORCE #24 $3.99 (read mutant books this summer, really)
      FEB120623 X-MEN #27 $3.99 (OK, we’re shooting for August, I think)

      So, yeah, I “bought” 13 books this week, I came home today with 8, and I filed away 7 of those for next week, next month, this summer and maybe someday. I’m gonna go read Defenders, because the light is just right.

      Cheers.

  20. Frankly, I’ve just given up trying to stay current with a lot of comics (esp. Marvel and DC) due to both budgetary and time constraints. I know a lot of comics fans are able to maintain their habit after becoming fathers but I’m just not one of them. My single-issue pull list is down to five books (Scalped, Unwritten, Invincible, BPRD, and Hellboy) and surprisingly I’m completely fine with it. Yes, it means that I’m not able to really participate in the online community as much as I used to (sorry guys, don’t even have time to listen to the podcast anymore [ducks under chair]), but I really enjoy reading those comics in the limited time I have to read them. I also love listening to music, watching movies, and some TV so my spare time is extremely limited, so unfortunately my comics habit has probably suffered the most.

    • For a Top Five Shortlist of i/c-o stuff, that there’s a darn fine list my friend.

      You sir, are a man of discerning taste, rest assured.

  21. Here’s the thing with comics/movies/novels/music – there’s a period in a person life, if they are smart, they realize there a huge amount of awesome material made before they came of age or started thinking as an adult.

    That means if you’re into novels in school you read Breakfast at Tiffanie’s and think this Turman Capote guys is alright. You look for his other stuff then read In Cold Blood and are BLOWN AWAY.

    You hear the Black Keys or Justice or The Arcade Fire on the radio and think yeah, awesome, let me go backwards and get all their albums.

    It’s the same with comics, who is this Alan Moore dude? Holy Shot, Watchmen is good let me go back and get TOP TEN, Tom Strong, Swamp Thing etc.

    But this period of discovery only last so long, usually from, like, 18 to 22, maybe then you are caught up with the rest. Now you have to wait for the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s new album.

    AND, sadly you realize the awesome subculture or industry or medium you liked before which seemed to be nothing but genius pieces of work actually has a real lot of sinkers. That there’s going to be period when you have to wait for the good stuff and THAT SUCKS but it’s part of getting older so man up

    • @edward…”That there’s going to be period when you have to wait for the good stuff and THAT SUCKS but it’s part of getting older so man up”

      No, what sucks about getting older is knowing you’ll NEVER get caught up on learning about old genres, lost classics and past masters. It’s staggering how much there is to learn about older films, books, videogames, art, music, etc. (And stay away from jazz or your butt is sunk forever.)

    • b_RAD: Well said.

    • This site can be painful

      @b_RAD: yeah, the point is you read the best examples of all those old classics because they’re in the popular consciousness. William Golding’s other novels don’t stuck up against Lord of the Flies. That’s what you’re left with

      (And, believe me, i will stay away from jazz)

    • @edward…”This site can be painful”

      Yes, education can be difficult for some. Luckily, that ends around the age of 22 according to your post.

    • I’ve started coming to terms with the fact that — at age 30 — there’s already more stuff I’d like to read/watch/listen/experience than I’ll ever have time for in my life.

      While that is kind of a bummer, it’s also sort of liberating. I’ve had enough past experience with good books/movies/comics/etc that my taste is fairly developed, so it makes it easier than ever to bail on something I’m not enjoying.

    • @edward’s first comment. I think alot of this comes from refining your tastes. I was more open to stuff when I was younger, but now that I’m old as dirt I know exactly what I like. The wait can be excruciating.

      In that regard, Absu, Slough Feg, and Vektor need to get on that shit. I want new good music.

    • @b_RAD: my point had nothing to do with education.

  22. @edward – in regards to your whipped-up example toward other William Golding novels, I would argue his novel, The Inheritors, is an excellent tale about the first encounter of modern humans by the Neanderthals. A bit slow to start, but fascinating and worth the read nonetheless.

    I do understand your point, but comics, like any leisure pursuit, becomes a weight when that escape becomes a job.

  23. I just wait a week or so. In most cases, something else I’m excited about will come out, and that’ll spark interest in the ones I didn’t read.

    I also made severe cutbacks in the amount of books I buy. I really only buy the books I absolutely love, and leave the other stuff for the birds.

    Trying the digital day-and-date releases has worked well for me. I don’t have a pad of any kind, but reading these things on comixology, graphicly, or even Marvel’s digital sub are all supremely enjoyable, with Comixology in the forefront for me.

  24. Good to hear you are enjoying Top Gear BBC. I love it. What’s cool is that Netflix had pretty much every episode from Season 2 through 16 or so on streaming. I went back and started watching Season 2, then 3, then 4… I’ll admit I skipped around to later seasons after that, but what was amazing was how much more sophisticated the segments have become over the seasons. Just a fantastic show.

    Now, more on topic of comics, my interest had been waning as well recently. I was still buying books, but I wasn’t avidly reading them. Some I just let pile up and didn’t read. I got behind. I didn’t care. I was getting some out of “obligation” and we all know how THAT goes.

    A few things have gotten me back on fire for comics:
    1. Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Batman
    2. all the new great non-mainstream books coming out right now. Image is on fire. Vertigo launched several new titles. There are some great ones from some other minor publishers. There really is quality stuff coming through of late.
    3. I took a trip to Austin Books & Comics, here in Austin, TX. That place is Nerdvana. It’s like making a pilgrimage to comic Mecca. I highly recommend a visit if you’re nearby or visiting, or if you need your faith renewed.

    I also starting dropping books that were not exciting me. Hard to do, but it had to be done. This is an ongoing process, too.

  25. Ryan, you wrote:

    “So we struggle and strain to keep abreast with the rest. To always be caught up with the series that matter, to have read the canon, to have an opinion on the intricacies of the inside, but for what? To belong, that’s what. And that matters. Humans have a primal need to belong. Maslow put it right in there with food, shelter, and sex.”

    I think applying some of Maslow’s theories to say Hawkeye or Wolverine or Batman would make for an interesting article.

  26. I haven’t bought any new comics since mid-February. A combination of lack of time, money and excitement for anything coming out currently has kept me away. I’m not out completely, I will come back to new stuff, just not right now. However, comics are in my blood. I love ’em and I can’t stay away. The other night I was looking for something to read and pulled the first Preacher trade off the shelf. That was Monday. I have since crawled into the eaves of my attic and dug out the rest of the series (including the mini series and specials) and blown through all but the last storyline. I knew the book was good but I forgot how good. Also I realized how much of it I had forgotten (particularly the later issues), it was almost like reading new stuff. This has given me the jump start I needed to start re-reading the piles of good stuff I have packed away over the years. This idea started gnawing at me last year when I broke out the Simonson run on Thor after seeing the movie.

    Ennis’ Hellblazer, David’s Hulk run; Morrison on Animal Man and Doom Patrol; Giffen & DeMatteis’ JLI; Ostrander’s Spectre (the first 12 issues of which might be the best first year of an ongoing I’ve ever read), these are the things flashing through my head and getting me excited now. Speaking of flashing– Waid’s run on Flash. These books are bought and paid for and just sitting in boxes waiting to be enjoyed again. And there’s been enough distance from the last time I read them that I can look at them with fresh eyes. I certainly wasn’t reading Preacher 12 years ago the way I am now. and as inevitably happens something I read will strike a chord and I’ll get the itch to start checking out new stuff again.

    Comics reading has always been about ebbs and flows with me. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or the expense is getting higher, or it just doesn’t feel the books I read are being written for me anymore but I just don’t feel like riding out this ebb. It’s ok if the books aren’t being written for me, things change. I get it. Right now I need to recharge the batteries and the best way I know how is to read some good comics and get my excitement level up again.