Return to Stack Week, Part VII: Stockpiling Entertainment

loomingLike many people, when I see something I want, it’s hard to convince myself to wait until I need it. Good cheese, uncomfortable shoes, nice bits of fabric, interesting types of clay, and good books are all to be coveted and hoarded. Some of these purchases are quickly consumed (i.e. cheese), but others pile up in little treasure troves of hidden goodness, to be slowly enjoyed over the fallow months. Over the last weeks, my big juicy pile of comics-to-be-read has come into it’s own. With what started as a back ache, has turned out to be a slipped disc (or two), and I’m having to spend a lot more time than usual lying on my back doing very little. Initially, the opportunity to lie in bed and do very little sounded fun, but after a day or two of enforced convalescence, the indolence began to drive me crazy. Between work and resting, I was getting pretty sick of TV (despite re-organizing my Netflix queue to deliver an increasingly puerile assortment of eye candy). Then I remembered the pile of comics which I’d been meaning to read for the last months.

With all of this time-wasting bounty at my disposal, I quickly saw that reading is the only thing that I can still do while lying in bed to rest my swollen disc. And while I do have a giant stack of novels (an assortment of fiction and science fiction, which is what I like), they don’t really grab my attention when I’m in pain, the way that comics can, with their enticing imagery and scattered word balloons. It’s been this way since I was a kid, reading the Uncanny X-Men in bed when I had mono.

Sandman (all of them)

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me the entire run of Sandman (third-hand at this point, and I fully intend to pass them on when I am done). Way back when they were coming out in a monthly format I read them all month by agonizing month. At the time I was transfixed by Dave McKean’s incredible cover art, in all honesty the stories were secondary, (although I wouldn’t have kept on reading it, if it hadn’t fully captured my imagination after a while.) Now, years later, I thought it would be fun to take a look at them again. What’s really surprised me is how much I remember, I thought¬† I would have forgotten more, and that the stories would seem new again. But they don’t, so I made it through one volume, and the other 10 are still waiting.

The Adventures of Luther Arkright
Have you heard of this book? It seems like hardly anyone has, but when I was a kid in London, this seemed like a really important book. It’s kind of overwhelming, dense, fiddly, with all the complexity of a detailed etching and certainly no color in sight. Even though I read it back then, it’s in my pile of books to read because I recently read a follow-up book; Heart of Empire. Now that book is a lot more fun, I hate to sound stupid but it’s so full of color. It marries the crazy Victoriana of this first book, with an almost psychedelic, aggressive color treatment,¬† with a hard, definite clean line. I really enjoyed it and I fully intended to review it as part of my series of reviews of the best comics reprinted in 2008. But then I realized; I can’t talk about it in isolation, it’s a follow-up to a complex initial book that I hardly remember. And so The Adventures of Luther Arkwright now sits on my stack waiting to be read.

Final Crisis (all of them)
Like many of you I bought these as they came out, slowly reading and enjoying them, and putting them aside to properly read together, as one continuous story. Now with the conclusion, I want to go back, read them in perfect order, without a break, to digest the information they contain. The pile is really big, and I’m having a hard time getting excited about this. It’s like when I studied fine art, and we had to cover the Surrealists; equal parts interesting, intimidating and confusing. My brain hurts. At some point I will read these. I will.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 5
I’ve diligently read volumes 1-4, and look forward to reading the next three in the series. This one has been on hold for the last two weeks, because the combination of a deeply disgusting story in volume 4 (chopped up people), and the meds I was on for my back ache, gave me horrific nightmares about a poor dog, falling to pieces and dying in pain… that was a couple of weeks ago, I’ll come back to them but I need a little break. Also, unlike many other comic books I buy, this is a lovely little pocket size, and is so perfect for reading on-the-go that I feel like it’d almost be a waste to read it in bed. It fits perfectly in my handbag, and it makes me look forward to my 15 minute bus ride to work. So I’m saving this one for the ride to work. I fully expect to get reading on it again soon.

Black Jack, Vol. 2
Chip Kidd designed this yummy hardcover volume, and I enjoy the book as an object as much as I do the stories contained within it. With that in mind, I feel like this a book that I don’t want to take out the house, in case it gets too abused by wear and tear. Thus it’s only going to get read in bed (I really only read in two places; the bus and in bed). The short story aspect of it means that I’ll be dipping in and out of it pretty soon, with all of this newfound time in bed to fill.

Earth X
This was a birthday gift back in November, and a good one I think. I don’t know anything about this comic, but I was told that the art was appealing, and on first glance I’d have to agree. I didn’t even look at it when it came out, mostly because I was pissed off that Alex Ross did the cover and nothing else (I have this old-fashioned idea that people who do the interior art should also do the cover art), but now that I have it, I’m excited and curious to read it.

Ted McKeever, Book 2: Eddy Current the Complete Series
Ron passed this one on to me, knowing that I’m borderline obsessed with Ted McKeever. When I was 17 and went to my first convention, where every other artist was swamped. He wasn’t, and I’d read some of his stuff, so I asked him for a sketch. He asked me what I’d like him to draw, so I decided to try and unite my two heroes, but getting him to give me his version of Elektra. He was confused by the request, but proceeded to draw me a fantastically gawky looking woman in jagged strips of fabric (just as she ought to be). I have read the books that are reprinted in this volume, but I’m loving the chance to reread them. He’s such a strangely erratic and diverse author, and it’s interesting to see all of his work in one place.

Essex County, Vol. 3 (The Country Nurse)
A few months ago Top Shelf had a sale, and Conor told me that I really ought to buy the Essex County books. Now there is nothing more amazing than reading a great book, or seeing an amazing film, or eating at a marvelous restaurant without any introduction. It’s like two gifts in one. First you have the quality of the experience, but second, there is the almost total lack of anticipation, it’s just this blessed surprised, dropped into your lap. The Essex County books were like this. But they were heartbreaking too, hence my tardiness about reading the last volume. The simplicity and crudity of the art elicited an immediate emotional response, and I cried like a kid reading them. So I’ve had the third volume in my stack for months now, saving it until I feel strong enough to handle the heartbreaking story that I fear lurks within it.

Lost Girls
UltimatesI love Alan Moore, so I should love this, right? What’s it about? I don’t know. It’s bloody big though… too big to read in bed, comfortably anyway. Too big to read on the bus. I flipped through it when I bought it and though “Oh, that looks a bit naughty.” And I heard the furor about it, so I have an idea that it’s a bit scandalous, but really this doesn’t make me want to read it any more or less than I did before I heard anything… It’s just so big and cumbersome. I fear I may never get to it.

The Ultimates
Yes, I have stacks and stacks of monthly The Ultimates, of various hues. A friend was going to throw them away and I just couldn’t bear it. I thought I should at least have a look at these things I so revile on principle alone, and see if, in reality, the implementation of the concept is as abhorrent as I thought on first glance. In the past I picked up some random issues, decided that a retelling of old stories, but set in modern times, was an abominable dilution of comic history, and dismissed them en masse. But this isn’t entirely fair. Maybe some of them have great dialogue, or new takes on the stories? Perhaps there is great art once in a while, it’s possible… So I took this box of comics, promising myself that I’d plunge in headfirst and read them with unbiased eyes. That was nearly a year ago, and they’re still waiting to be read. I still think that this might happen, I hope so.


Sonia Harris works as a graphic designer in San Francisco where she’s lived for ages and ages. Apparently she has a funny accent due to her misspent youth in the UK. She really can’t help that, it’s just how it is.



  1. Ultimates is excellent!  Other than that, crapulence!

  2. Ha! It’s like the Ultimates bin is something from a tax returns office.

    ‘Now do I put Ultimate Spider-man #110 with Ultimates 2 #12?….or should I put it with the rest of USM?’……

  3. Sonia, I don’t know if you wrote your own front page intro, but the use of "N.B." made my heart flutter. Thanks, whoever composed that. 

    Man, I miss David Foster Wallace. 

  4. From what I’ve heard, I feel like Essex County would destroy me.  I’m afraid to even pick them up.  

    I’m going to pick up Lost Girls when it’s reissued later this year.   

  5. Ultimates 1&2 are some of my favorite comics of ALL-TIME, and I’m an old MFer.  Ultimates 3?  Hated it.  *two snaps*

  6. i thought there were a lot of positives in Ultimates 2; it felt like a big-budget action movie done right.

    of course if you don’t like big-budget action movies at all…

  7. When I started to read comics again, Earth X was one of the first things I tried, and it nearly strangled my interest in the crib. It was… not written for me. You are right about one thing, though: I bought it because I dimly recognized Alex Ross’ name from Marvels years earlier, but in this case he was responsible for the wrong part of the book.

  8. @TheNextChampion They came like that, isn’t that weird?

    @Paul I cried so much I nearly puked. If the iFanboys have done anything for me (and they’ve done a lot), I’m grateful for all of the new comics they’ve brought into my life.

  9. "Luther Arkwright" is crazy entertainment. I read it a few years ago & it will swallow you whole with its  parallel science fiction/fantasy world.

  10. "Lost Girls
    I love Alan Moore, so I should love this, right? What’s it about? I don’t know."

    If there was ever a book that I was going to flip through not knowing what it is, that’d be the one I’d want it to be the least.

    Oh, and if that Ultimates collection makes it to Vol 3, burn those issues. The first two are aces though.

  11. When you get done with that Sandman collection, can you hand them down to me by any chance?  I’m not in a hurry to read them or anything.  It would really be appreciated.

  12. Wow you also got the now out of print versions of Sandman. Their probably not in mint condition now but if they were….I would hold on to thoses Sonia.

  13. Not that, Fanboy gentlemen, is a stack. 10 Sandmans (Sandmen?), a heafty Lost Girls (excellent, classic Moore storytelling – enjoy), Earth X, Eddy Current, and a box of Ultimates is a lot of reading. Impressive piles, and I never say that to a lady.

  14. I bought Lost Girls over a year ago, and have still only glanced through it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Alan Moore, but it just seems like so much of a commitment!

  15. I’m still waiting on Amazon to deliver my Vol. 2 of Essex County! I’ve read Vol. 1 months ago and can’t read Vol. 3 until I get Vol. 2 thanks to my OCD hehe. Apparently they are re-printing Vol. 2 next month though so maybe I’ll finally get it.

  16. i bought and read the first essex county book and i didnt cry! i guess i didnt get it. although it kept my attention it seemed really short. i felt kinda ripped off after i read it.

    i know you guys sed that the second one is the one that rips your heart out. but i dont really want to read it now. i regret buying the first one now.

  17. @s30 I know just what you mean, I had the first reaction after volume 1 – nice, sad story, but a bit brief. But then volume 2 built on that foundation and it really did rip my heart out (and I can be a bit of a calous bastard). I do understand not wanting to buy it, but it’s under $10 on Amazon. Alternatively, you could see if anyone’s selling it second hand, or if your local library has it.

  18. Volume two killed me.

  19. @ultimatehoratio – "Hated it.  *two snaps*"  I wonder who else on the site is old enough to remember that?  I always prefered Homey the Clown and Fire Marshall Bill, but Men on Film had it’s moments.

    Can you imagine how much it would cost now to make a show featuring the Wayans, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez, and Jamie Foxx?

  20. Think of the Ultimates as just Mark Millar doing the Authority again, their pretty much the same.  It’s almost like imagining what watchmen would be like if they had used already exsisting characters.  Wow, did I just compare watchmen and the Ultimates.  Wow.  


    But really, look at it like the Authority 

  21. I read the Ultimates on a the monthly(?) basis and I really liked it up until the Loeb/Madeuria run. I was excited to see Joe Mads return to comics, but the coloring was atrocious, and I think he’s an artist that needs to be inked.

    Essex Cout Volume 3 is almost like an Epilogue tale to the other 2 books. I’m excited to read his Vertigo GN when it comes out. 

  22. i love Ted McKeever…Metropol and Metropol A.D. are awesome…and Eddy Current’s in them too

  23. i hope you enjoy Earth X i thought it was good but wanted some Alex Ross art instead. The Ultimates are good too.

  24. @robbydzwonar My little brother has first dibs, then I have to ask the guy who gave them to me if his girlfriend is going to read ’em. If yer still around after that, and the postage isn’t too insane, you can have them.

    @Dan You know what I just realized? I missed a few things out of the stack too? "The Hedge Knight", and "It’s a Bird…", the latter of which Mike Romo lent me. Since he’s coming to town fer Wondercon, I guess I’d better read that next!

  25. I thought you’re the one who read less comics. That’s not a stack lady, that’s a monster!



  26. @sonja– [im in pounds actually] okay, i guess ill keep it on my list of things to buy if you guys are sure its worth it. i suppose it would be nice not to think of myself as a cruel heartless bastard…

  27. @Sonia – The Hedge Knight is great IF you love A Song of Ice and Fire.  If not, the weight of the tale is not so apparent. 

    Ultimates was the series that got me back into comics after a fairly long hiatus.  I thought Ultimates 3 was an abomination.  It’s not the same book in any way shape or form. 

  28. @Crippler    Damn it   , you just reminded me that I have to finish that telephone book of a series " A Song of Ice and Fire"   I see it every day on my bookshelf just laughing at me.

  29. @mudi900: Good point. I do read about a 30th of the weekly comics that the other iFanboy writers do, but yes, in terms of trades, I’m pretty much a lost cause. I read fast though (am already on Sandman Volume 4), so this is me acting with some restraint.

    @Crippler: I never read a Song of Fire and Ice… Now I’m wondering if I should read that first.

  30. Read it if you don’t mind that three long books haven’t come out yet, and that it wasn’t a seven book series originally…maybe more wil crop up. It’s great but annoying to wait for.

  31. @Sonia – The Hedge Knight is a tie-in, but also not.  It’s set many years before the events of the novels and the story doesn’t really intertwine with anything going on in the books, but, I think it’s clear that the reader is supposed to know who these people are (most are mentioned to some degree or another in the series).  If you need an excuse to pick up the first book – A Game of Thrones – then by all means give it a try.  It’s great fun. 

  32. i really think you’ll like earth X.  Its still one of my favorite stories of all time.  Just be ready to be confused a bit