Return to Stack Week, Part IV: No New Hope

Like evil, or hatred, some things cannot be conquered. But they must be faced. They must be admitted. Our stacks are that thing. Sure, there are those among us who do not let themselves get ahead of themselves, but I am not one of the lucky ones. Were there time and inclination, I could read comics for at least 1-2 days straight. But there is not time, and the onslaught will not stop in my lifetime. In the meantime, we have Stack Week.

Since my last update, I really felt that I had a handle on things, and in a way, I did. Other than two books on that stack, which I will relate later, they’ve all been read. Yet, my pile of unread books in the house is a constant. The new method for dealing with it is to spread it out around the house, so at no one point is it too daunting of a visual object. Still, when put together, and laid out flat, I stare at thousands of pages, all begging to be read, and honestly, it makes me want to swear off literacy. To deal with it, instead of making a literal stack, I decided to spread them all out on one flat surface, and the resulting floor tile scared the hell out of me. Look upon its mighty square footage of neglect!


Even after taking this photo, I realized that I managed to miss a couple of key points in my unread compilation, and we’ll get to those after we deal with these. I feel like I should start with some group admonition, like at an AA meeting. “Hi, my name is Josh, and I don’t read enough of my comics.” Then you all say, “Hi, Josh,” with exuberance, and I tell my tale.

The first part of the tale is one of excuses. That’s right, I’m going to try to justify my inaction. My problem is probably one that’s unique to most of the readers out there, and it is that because of iFanboy, I end up with a lot of comics that I didn’t necessarily ask for, and I feel a strong obligation to read them, even though, as is clear, I don’t tend to get to them with any regularity. More than anything, it’s a question of time, and when I have some free time for, I tend to read the stuff I bought (i.e. wanted in the first place), or do reading for the show (which is often and daunting). Then again, the great part about submissions is that I can discover something I never knew about, and then share that with you folks, making all sorts of people happy. Well, here’s the first step in that. I admit I have a problem.

Comic Book Tattoo Special Edition – Look at that thing! It’s a giant, giant book, and I’m honestly not sure I can even lift it. There’s all sorts of great art in there too, but I’ve always had trouble with anthologies, because of a lack of continuity throughout the pages. Still, there’s a wealth of great content. Unfortunately, it’s too big and beautiful to be left by the toilet. Hey, I’m being honest here.

Watching the Watchmen – This book is simply fascinating. But it’s not so much a straight through read. Plus, I keep putting it back on the shelf, since it takes up so much space, and then I forget about it. You want to know how to make the greatest comic book of all time though? This is the book for that.

Willie and Joe: The WWII Years – I ask for and received this for Christmas, and of course, it went on the shelf, and was sort of forgotten. I got a few pages into the historical text at the beginning of the book, and I was rapt. Not enough to remember I had it, but there you go. It’s also a collection of strips, rather than a continuous story, so that works against me too.

Plan B: The Haunted Life of Doctor Anomalous – This was handed to me at New York Comic Con by writer Josh Jenkins and artist Karl Slominski. I haven’t read it yet, and I’m not at all sure what it’s about, but it’s very nice looking, and well produced as a self publishing effort. However, here’s a pro-tip: get a website for your book, because I can’t find one for this. With any luck, you’ll hear more about it in the future.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures – This one is a holdover from the previous stack. It’s a how-to on creating comics from start to finish, and you’d think an aspiring creator such as myself would be all over this course of study. Yet, I suppose part of me doesn’t feel the need. Yeah, I’m confident.

Perfect Dark – Eric Trautmann, of Checkmate fame, made this comic book, which is quite nice looking and well done. And he’s a fine writer, and the nicest of guys, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it, very likely because of my prior experience with video game to comic adaptations. But Trautmann assured me that he put his all into make it good. And I believed him. Yet I still haven’t read it.

Reinventing Comics – Yes, this one was here last time around, and it’s still here. I just want to give it back to Ron, having read it. I loved reading Understanding Comics, so I don’t know the problem. Again, no story maybe?

Wasteland, Vols. 1-3 – If you heard me tripping through my explanation of Wasteland in our Oni Show, you might surmise that I read vol. 1, but it was a while ago, and haven’t read the following collections. There is no excuse! These are up soon, but I’ve got to start with a reread of the first book.

X Omnibus, Vol. 2 – I have no idea what this is or how it ended up on my shelf. It’s from Dark Horse, and it was written by Steven Grant. This is the first book in my ongoing “volume 2 problem,” where I got the second book in a series, and never got the first. It looks okay, I suppose.

Lavapunch 2
– This is an anthology of some kind. Again, I don’t know where it came from. The cover is gorgeous though, and it makes me want to read through it. Inside is a story from Lars Brown, of Northworld, and I’ve read that, so I assume that’s where it came from. If you’re down with indie anthologies, go check out their site.

Light Children: The Invalid Book 1 – Self described as a “blazing fantasy epic”, I can only assume the book’s creators sent this to me. It has a very nice airy style of art in side, with thick bold inking. The characters also seem to be devoid of pupils in their eyes, which does tend to scare me away a bit. As a friend once wisely informed me, “no pupils never means anything good,” and he’s totally right.

Awesome The Indie Spinner Rack Anthology – I bought this a long, long time ago. The good news is, the money went to a good cause, and I paid for it. I had a real job back then, so it was a long time ago.  I’ve read bits of this, but never really delved into it too much. I can’t bring myself to admit it to Charlito, even though we’re buddies.

All Local Bands Suck (Except Ours) – Creator Porter Mason handed me this collection at the New York Comic Con very recently. He had me completely captured with the cover and title, and I’m down for this as soon as I remember it’s there. Check out this stuff!

Grendel God and the Devil – In our last delivery of Dark Horse offerings, I said I’d take this book, because I don’t know a thing about Grendel. Well, I still don’t. But I hope to soon.

Mega-City Undercover – Ron dropped this off here after he did this Mini on the book. It’s by Andy Diggle and Jock. Good right? I need to get on this, and give it back to Ron, clearing precious space.

The Rabid – This one is from Viper Comics, a nice little outfit out of Texas who make a lot of comic books that always seem to fly under my radar. This is not right, and they sent me a bunch of books at one point, and this is one of the books I still haven’t read. I’m gonna assume it’s about…werewolves?

The Astounding Wolf-Man, Vol. 1 – This didn’t hook me in issue form, but I wanted to give it another shot in trade form. It’s been on my nightstand, bookmark at the read for a long time, but I still haven’t picked it back up. I also know what’s going to happen, because of the re-cap in the Invincible crossover a few issues ago. I wish I liked this book more, I think.

Skyscrapers of the Midwest – This is almost all that’s left of Christmas gifts gone unread. In fact, I actually started reading it today. Until then I had no idea what it was, or what it was about. I loved the title and book design. That was about all, along with great word of mouth. I have yet to get that far, or form much of an opinion. You shall hear more!

Wizzywig,Vol. 2 – You might remember I did a Mini on part one of this totally indie published book. It’s a continuation of the fictional retelling of a Kevin Mitnick-like hacker, and I expect more of the same from creator, Ed Piskor.

Dynamo 5, Vol. 2
– For the last couple of years, I’ve heard Ron telling everyone how Dynamo 5 is the best superhero comic book going. While I think Mark Grayson would beg to differ, I haven’t read it, so I can’t say. Still, I have volume 2 here, and I haven’t read the first. So I remain ignorant. I know this: Ron loves it, and Jay Faerber is earnest, and seems to love his book. I’ve got to pick up the reasonably priced first volume it seems and get this out of the way.

There are a couple of books not pictured here, because I hide them like a squirrel does nuts.

The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 – I hope another volume of this never comes out, because I would probably die before actually making it through this tome. I’m not sure why I bought it. It was probably out of historic and educational obligation. I hear about Steve Ditko’s genius and I want to understand it first hand. Still, it’s a slog. I used a gift card to buy this a while back, and I think I’ve made it to about issue 4, maybe 5. I do find it very interesting to read the economy with which they handled seminal moments in Marvel’s past, but at the same time, why does it take so long to get through? I will finish this one day. But give me a decade or so. It is a beautiful presentation of these classic comics.

Invaders #2-#37 – One of our favorite members of the iFanbase has a ridiculous collection of classic comics, and in space saving effort, and some extreme thoughtfulness, he sent us a box full of comics. We divided them up (for the time being) and I ended up with a hulking stack of Roy Thomas Invaders comics from the 1970’s. For the first time in my life, I want to read some of the classic stuff, and see if I can find out what makes them tick. Captain America, Human Torch, Bucky, Toro, and Namor in World War II. If not for these comics, Ed Brubaker might not be doing what he’s doing. This will be fun.

Miracleman #1-13 – This is a big part of the classic Alan Moore run of comics, and I’ve never read them. I’ll say this: look for a video show in the future.

I’m thinking it’ll be a while to get rid of these, but there it is. It’s out there. I made it through last time, and I’ll be shamed into doing so again. I bet I’ll be surprised by some good stuff in there.



  1. A daunting list indeed.  I’m claiming ignorance that I’ve never heard of half this stuff, so I look forward to any musings you may have on them.

  2. All Local Bands Suck (Except Ours) is awfully tempting. Next paycheck, maybe Thanks for highlighting some self published ventures .

  3. Dude, I’ve never heard of half of these, and they’re in my house.

  4. Josh’s stack is so much cooler than mine.  

  5. @Paul "Lots of Reading…." Still kills me

  6. I enjoyed Astounding Wolf-man Vol. 1.  I found the family stuff interesting enough that the less than impressive "hero stuff" is made acceptable.  Unfortunately, my (2 year old) daughter looked over my shoulder and saw one of the gorier pages.  I think she may still be crying.

  7. Dynamo 5 does indeed kick major ass and stomps colons.  While its true that Mark Grayson will hear no such talk of them being better, he would certainly acknowledge that they rock out very much so.

  8. God and the Devil is probably my favorite of the Wagner written story arcs. Grendel doesn’t get the love he deserves 🙁

  9. Looking at these stacks just makes me realize that there isn’t enough money in my world to get all the things I want to read.  If I get the second job then I don’t have time to read the books that I now will have the money to purchase.  Sigh

  10. There is a website for a comics called Plan B, but I highly doubt it’s the one you have:

    Also Reinventing Comics is a drag. For me it’s because of a poor divide into chapters – it’s hard to find the next chapter for some reason and see how much more there is to read, the faded look of the computer generated comics is ugly, and the divide into chapters isn’t that good… when I just finish reading a chapter and see that the next one is huge, I’m going to put the book down.

    It has some nice insight but it’s a book that required me to trudge along, and is not as enjoyable as Understanding Comics was. I almost finished it but it’s too annoying of read. Understading Comics was good at dividing. Here you’re going to learn about color, here you’re going to learn about X etc, instead of the weird divide like "catching the wave". It’s also very doom and gloom. "this is how artists are screwed" "nobody takes this industry seriously" "there is lack of options- everything is superhero comics" "Distribution sucks" "you have no chance to make any money" etc.

    I might not be able to exactly state why it’s annoying, but it’s an annoying read that requires trudging along.

  11. that watchmen Enter text looks us

  12. I’m loving the Return of Stack Week so far. However, with only half the Fan Folks chiming in so far, I still think I may be ahead on unread stuff. It’s a sickness, and I’d be in that AA meeting in a flash. Which reminds me, I still have The Trial of Barry Allen to read. GAAAHHHHHH!

  13. Ditko’s work is so otherworldly that it’s worth putting in the time to get comfortable with that era’s storytelling. That "Watchmen" book looks very tempting (as does the "Willie & Joe" collection).

  14. You need bookmarks.  Every comic book store has them and they are sprinkled like confetti at every convention.  That’s the only way to get through some of those massive anthologies you have.  Do the same with the Spider-man omnibus.  Read one story every Wednesday as if you just bought it.  There’s less than forty Ditko stories and it’s the early ones where the essence of Spidey was defined.

    It’s all about chipping away a little at a time. 

  15. Websites? Are those still around? Damnit! I knew I forgot something… Karl’s gonna hate me. He’s the best penciler, inker, letterer, lay-outer, soon to be website builder money can buy.


  16. I can’t go into Star Clipper without pawing that Willie and Joe box for a couple of minutes. I’d love to buy it, but I know I’ll finish it in one sitting and miss that fifty bucks.

    I need a library card.

  17. Wait…didnt you recommend Wille and Joe in that podcast josh? If you didnt read it, then why did you recommend it?

    I did read Watching the Watchmen and it was good. Normally I dont like those books where it’s nothing but sketches but Dave Gibbons art is more then enough for me to like it. Plus I did read Astonishing Wolf-Man and I must say it was reall….*snores*

  18. I have a friend who, last time I was at his house, brought out a stack of comics, slapped them on the table in front of me and said, "This is Miracleman if you want to read it but it can’t leave the house seeing as it’s irreplaceable." (a generous offer and reasonable request)  And I said, "Umm. . ." and I looked around and I realized I was in a room full of good friends that I don’t get to see very often, and that we had to leave to get one of them to her train in less than an hour and I wasn’t going to be able to sit there and take in that much Alan Moore in the time and space available.  So I gasped a thank you, flipped through the art, and promised myself that I’d take him up on it next time I was in the neighborhood and actually had some time to kill.  Of course, I haven’t been back since then (blame cons and con flu). 

    So I guess what I’m saying is — read these comics!

  19. @TNC: WILLIE AND JOE was primarily my recommendation.  Josh and Ron read some of it before the show.

  20. @conor: Oh okay, sorry I thought it was josh’s….Still great recommendation.

    @ohcaroline: If you were a master theif you could’ve taken those comics without him noticing. 🙂

  21. They have an X Omnibus?! I read the first 2 issues when they came out in like 1992 because it was kind of like Spawn where a "superhero" would bloodily kill a bad guy and that is what most 3rd graders wanted to read. Even as a 3rd grader I recall thinking, "This is stupid. And the art sucks." It could be that I was the stupid one and it was too mature for me, but it really sticks out in my mind as truely awful. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mention that series since. I’m still surprised there is a recent omnibus.  Wait, there are at least 2 volumes of X?  Will wonders never cease?

  22. @Paul- I always get stack envy as well.

  23. Update.  Since writing this yesterday, I’ve read 1 1/2 of the books on this list, and added 3 more.

    So I got that goin’ for me.

  24. nice!

    i am very excited about miracleman video show thing josh. did you buy the book on the net for an extortionate price or what?

  25. @TheNextChampion  i don’t kill the goose that lays golden eggs!  These folks have let me borrow lots of comics over the years.  (Also, like, they’re my friends and stuff).

  26. @ohcaroline: Oh well if they are friends then killing isnt an option….Just put some nice white pills into their coffee…I’ll give you my address if your interested 😉 lol

  27. How will you read miricle man josh?  Also, will it ever be out in trade?

  28. @Gabe: I imagine he will use his eyes… and it will probably never be out in trade.  At least not any time soon.

  29.  Comic book tatoo may not be a cohesive story, but the beauty alone makes it a joy to read. And Drawing words and writing pictures is now in my stack thanks for doing this guys it’s fun to know that buying faster than I can read is a addiction not only i suffer from. 

  30. the absence of miracleman/marvelman trades from the shelves is the greatest crime against comics since the inquisition that brought about the comics code

  31. Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!

  32. Or the Wertham Inquisition.  Nobody expects that one either.

  33. MiracleMan is indeed a great read, and lives up to the hype (was there hype?) surrounding it.

  34. I think you and everyone should check out All Local Bands Suck (Except Ours), but that’s largely because I am "creator Porter Mason".

     As for my own stack, I need to get through the 100 Bullets and Gotham Central trades, plus some of the freebies I picked up at the NYCC.

    But none of this will happen until I make more Bassist Wanted comics so I can keep making books to keep filling up Josh’s stack!

  35. @portermason – I’m reading your book right now.  Almost finished, but I can say right now, I love it. So thanks!

  36. Oh good, I’m glad I ran into you that day. Good luck with the rest of your insurmountable stack (though it sounds like you’ve made some progress).