Six Days of Stack Week – Part 4: Stack Week Diet: Eat Your Comics!

In what's become an annual tradition here at iFanboy, it's that time of year.  It's our version of Shark Week on Discovery.  It's STACK WEEK!  What exactly is STACK WEEK?  Well my lucky friend, it's the time of year where we take stock of the stack of books in our "To Read" pile and highlight some of the delightful comics that lie ahead for us in upcoming days, weeks, months and for some, years. 


At the beginning of the year I decided to make some changes and become both a healthier person, and a healthier comics fan. It may sound silly to say "healthier comics fan" but I think there's a lot similarities between your physical health and how you approach a hobby that you're passionate about. The same concepts that lead to a fit body can lead to a fit mind.

The hardest part of changing my physical health was understanding how to eat. The idea of eating small portions of food throughout the day instead of one to two large meals can be a difficult lifestyle change. If you've developed the habit of eating on the run or just flat out skipping meals you know what I mean. If you've ever made the effort to eat like you're supposed to, you know that the effects can be dramatic. With that in mind, the strangest thing happened on the way to cutting a few inches of the waistline, I found a way to be a better comics reader! In just the same way that small portions and a wide variety of food throughout the day can give you energy, alertness and a healthier body, treating comics like food can do the same thing. I know it sounds ridiculous, but let me explain. Have you ever sat down with a huge stack of comics and told yourself that you're going to plow through them, if for no better reason than to alleviate the guilt of having them pile up? And once you did, how did you feel? If you're like me then you felt like you just wasted a bunch of time and didn't enjoy yourself. So don't do that! Space them out and make sure you enjoy what you're reading.

So think of me as your Stack Week comic book dietician. I'm encouraging you to reduce your comics junk food, add more variety and enjoy your comics in smaller but more frequent bursts throughout the day. For an example of my Healthier Comics Lifestyle, here is my Stack Week comics diet.


Chris Neseman's Stack


These are the comics in my to-read pile that I've set aside for first thing in the morning. These have to go well with a cup of coffee and bowl of cereal. Not too heavy, but not empty calories either. This needs to be a selection that helps my brain start working and gets me in the mood to start my day.

Bowl of oatmeal with dried cranberries and mixed nuts.
Cup of coffee 

The Storm in the Barn – Creator Matt Phelan sent me this wonderful graphic novel last year, and my only regret is that it took me this long to get to it. The Storm in the Barn is a sparse yet beautiful story set during the American Dust Bowl. The young protagonist Jack struggles to find purpose in a grey and desolate world that has taken his family's livelihood and threatens to take so much more. It's not until Jack explores the barn of his recently California bound neighbors that he discovers a strength that nobody expected.

The Storm in the Barn
Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press

Mid-Morning Snack

The day is in full swing and the morning coffee has done it's job. I'm fully awake, but there's other things I need to do. I need a boost of energy  and entertainment to get me to the afternoon, but it needs to come in a quick fifteen minute burst, so my options are limited.

Banana and some grapes.

Late Nights at Kinkos – Will Pfeifer is a really funny guy. I have proof, and it's called Late Nights at Kinkos. Will is better known for his work on Catwoman and Aquaman, but as the book says, "In the days before Photoshop, the internet and a regular paycheck…" Will was a self publishing machine. Characters like Violent Man, Generation X-Man and a host of others grace the pages of this time capsule of Will's early writings, drawings (yes, drawings) and irreverent musings. It's well worth the Twelve Bucks and I highly suggest grabbing it if you see Will at a convention.

Late Nights at Kinkos
Will Pfeifer
Twelve Bucks


Ahhhh. Here's an actual block of time at the office where I can get away from my desk and read a healthy chunk of comics. I can slow down, eat a sandwich and forget about the workday by reading whatever I'm in the mood for. A little crime? Maybe some historical fiction? Some Golden Age goodness maybe.

Turkey sandwich
Sweet Potato chips
Iced Tea

Human Target – Here's a good lunchtime book with plenty of action and crazy plot lines. I really enjoy the new FOX TV series, so I figured it was time to read one of the comics that served as it's inspiration. It's a little weird coming into the comic if your first introduction to Christopher Chance is the TV version. I think it's best to just separate the two from each other and enjoy them both on their own merits. Peter Milligan gave Len Wein and Carmine Infantino's creation the Vertigo treatment and it was a perfect marriage. Human Target is a dark and twisted espionage romp with twists, turns and tons of fun surprises. And it goes great with a turkey sandwich.

Human Target: Chance Meetings
Peter Milligan
Edvin Biukovic & Javier Pulido

Afternoon Energy Bar

This is even better than the Mid-Morning Snack. The day is three quarters of the way over, and the finish line is in sight. I've had some great comics to help me out to this point, and now I can get that one last jolt of sequential happiness as I turn the corner towards home. Let's see, this might do just the trick…

Cliff Bar (the peanut butter is my favorite)

Dynamo 5 – You want some Capes in your comics diet? I got em' right here. Jay Faerber's Dynamo 5 is a blast. It's a fantastic superhero team book that's filled with teen angst, drama and great action. It's very reminiscent of the early Marvel books and the dysfunctional characters that changed comics. I guess dysfunction is what you get when you mix the five illegitimate children of Earth's mightiest hero into a secret government super team. If you grew up reading The New Mutants or the Teen Titans there's a pretty good chance you'll dig Dynamo 5. It also fits into the larger Imageverse of Invincible and Savage Dragon.

Dynamo 5 Vol. 1: Post-Nuclear Family
Jay Faerber
Mahmud Asrar
Image Comics

Dinner Time

Home Sweet Home. And there is that huge pile of books staring at me. Right behind is my wife staring at that huge pile of books, rethinking our marriage vows. "Don't worry honey, I'm working on it. While you watch Bones reruns after dinner I'm going to get through this, I PROMISE!"
My options really open up here. I've got a good chunk of time to read pretty much whatever I want. This is the time to tackle some layered storytelling where I can be conscience enough to get what's going on.

Grilled Salmon
Steamed broccoli
Long grain rice

Age Of Bronze – Eric Shanower is pretty freaking talented. I've also heard he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Frank L. Baum's Wizard of Oz and the Trojan War. You can get your OZ fix by reading he and Skottie Young's Wonderful Wizard of OZ, and you can get your true fiction history lesson about the Trojan War with Age of Bronze. This is a meticulously researched book, but more importantly it's entertaining. What's not to like about sex, betrayal, adventure and heroic feats? It's all in there, and it's beautifully illustrated. On top of that, you'll actually be smarter after you read it!

Age of Bronze Vol 1: A Thousand Ships
Eric Shanower
Image Comics


I'm a big fan of having a small nightcap before bed. I don't have one every night "anymore" but when I do it's a fantastic time to read some comics. Turn down the lights in the house and maybe read something a little dark and moody. The Walking Dead has been a favorite of mine for Nightcap reading for years.

Bakers Bourbon with an ice cube. (if I'm feeling crazy)
Decaf Green Tea (if I'm being good)

School: A Ghost Story – Brian Defferding defies logic. If you've ever met him (if you've been to a convention in the Mid-West there's a good chance…) you probably think of him as maybe the nicest person on the planet. I've never seen Brian without a smile on his face, even after standing behind a convention table for three days straight selling his book. And I mean standing because I don't think I've ever seen him sitting down. I think it's important to describe Brian because his book is completely fucked up. It's dark and gothic, and quite frankly it gives me the willies. Don't get me wrong, I love every second of it, but it's messed up. The main character is a little girl who we first meet as she's describing her own murder. A year after the murder she wakes up in a school where all of the kids and faculty can't see her. Oh yeah, and their eyes are all sewn shut. And there's something really nasty after her that creeps me out just thinking about it. School: A Ghost Story is a labor of love by one of the nicest guys I've ever met. And it scares me.

School: A Ghost Story
Brian Defferding
Deftoons Comics
$18 ($14 at his site)

So there you go. That's a day of eating your way to comics health. It may sound silly, but it's worked for me. When I read smaller chunks of a wider variety of comics I tend to enjoy them more. I also have better memory retention which can be a problem when you have a few thousand comics stories floating around in your head. This may not work for everyone. It may not fit into everyone's schedule. And I may just be crazy and obsessive for trying to find six times a day to read comics. All I know is that I've lost 15 pounds in the last two months and I love comics more than ever.


  1. I’ve been curious about Age of Bronze for a while now. Maybe I should ch–WAIT! I’m not supposed to be ADDING things to the Stack!  AAAAUUUUGGGHHH!!!

    I am so ridiculously jealous of that comics room, man. Wooden longboxes?!  

  2. It wouldn’t be Neseman if he wasn’t talking about booze.

    I’m with Paul as well. I want your comics room. 

  3. I think I’ll check out Dynamo 5. 

    My longboxes are made of solid gold (and diamond BoxLox box anchors). 

  4. thats amazing i want that comics room so much!!

  5. I’ve just been getting into the whole "healthy living" kind of thing, so maybe it was just your timing, but I loved the heck outta this article, Chris. Good job, sir!

  6. Thanks folks! I’m a terrible writer, but I do enjoy dropping an article of comics ramblings from time to time.

    If you want to see the comics room in all its glory you can visit this thread over at 11 O’Clock:

  7. this was a refreshing change of pace for stack week, which tends to be a period of self flagellation and regret. Chris–can we have a photo tour of the comics room?!

  8. I just would like to see a picture of Chris’s shelving unit. From this little glimpse, it looks AWESOME.

  9. age of bronze is a fantastic and dense book. if the fourth trade ever comes out … well, i would like that very much.

  10. that is one sexy set up you’ve got thurrr

  11. Our stacks look eerily similar: Starman, Rocketo, Age of Bronze, Best American Crime Comics…

  12. Spectacular comics room, Chris! I’m sure you get this a lot, but I’m jealous.

    Really fun article too. Refreshing with no empty calories. Hope to see more articles from you in the future!

  13. Awesome article Chris! Great stuff I have to try out … in moderation of course.

    Speaking of healthier comic reader, one way to get me to go to the gym is that I read comics while I am on the stairmaster, treadmill, or eliptical. It’s not as easy as sitting on the couch, but I find that it helps me get through the working out process and it gets me to the gym. 

  14. Hey Chris, I dig how and where you stored your Lone Wolf and Cub collections.

  15. Nice I love the pairing of reading with food.  Also I concur with everyone else, that from what little of your office/comic room I can see it appears to be amazing.

  16. Saw the pics on the link you added. Really impressive stuff. Nice take on the theme for the article too.

  17. @Paul

    Image is doing a $1 #1 issue of Age of Bronze in April. 

  18. Sold!

  19. I encourage everyone to check out the link Chris put up for his comics room.  It is glorious.  I imagine a choir of angels sing as you walk into the room, and it is bathed in a holy light. 

    Nice piece here Chris.  I enjoyed it much.  The Kinkos book sounds great. 

  20. @Chris – 1) Don’t put your writing down; you write like you talk, and I like hearing you on AC and 11 o’clock; 2) FINALLY some love for Age of Bronze. Preach! I would definitely recommend getting the $1 first issue, but then go to trades; Shanower is writing for the big story and some of the episodes work better on context. I recommend vol. 2, “Sacrifice”. The artistry of these issues is amazing, and if you already know the story you can jump right in.

  21. I see you  got Eddie Campbell’s "Alec." It’s great.  I’m about halfway through, and it’s just a pleasurable read that’s simultaneously easy to get through but remains meaty.  It’s my preferred bedtime reading. 

  22. Chris that room you have is amazing. What a pain it must be if you move. The sheer weight would be immense.

  23. Agreed. Nice spin on the stack week article.  I also have been spreading out my comics reading in small chunks of maybe two or three different books at a time and find I do enjoy and remember them better that way.  Also very intrigued by Age of Bronze, which I hadn’t heard of till now.  And I will be ingoring the pics and docent guided tours of your glittering comic filled halls as I tend to be greed and impulsive man with too many options for easy purchasing.

  24. A ton of good stuff on there and also great 100 Bullets wallpaper.

  25. My stack finally toppled this morning. I was holding a poorly constructed cardboard box full of books when it happened and, out of exasperation, I dropped the box, only to have it split open on impact and the books went everywhere. 🙁

    I had to watch an hour of television just to calm down before I could go back in my room and deal with the mess.

  26. Dust Bowl comics?  Count me in.  Where is the Rucka shrine?