Six Days of Stack Week – Part 5: Stacks Everywhere!

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. 


 

When Conor sent out the call that this week was to be Stack Week, I immediately felt two things:

1 – Relief. Whenever tosses a subject out for the article, it takes out a signficant percentage of my weekly stress quotient.  All of the writers on the site really try to make sure we aren't repeating topics, and I have had several panicked drives home trying to figure just what the heck I was gonna write about that night.  So, yeah, relief.

2 – Panic. I gotta tell ya, my stack management has been on overdrive since I have been a bit more thoughtful about my books. Until the Superman books get better (IMHO!), I won't buy them. I haven't bought any X-Men books in months. If I am curious about a title, I now actually flip through the book before I buy it to see if the art is appealing to me. I mean, when not buying a comic or three means more money for, you know, food (or, more likely, drink), it gets kind of fun to go, "Nah, I'll pass on this."

That's not to say there are not a slew of stacks strategically placed around the apartment, within reach of sitting or sleeping positions. They are just…well, they are more focused these days.  

The highest stack in the apartment is also the one I am most ashamed of.  It is comprised of the entire run of Wednesday Comics. Yup, this series, which I have been a fervent fan of, is still unread. Not totally–I read the first five or six issues, but then my comic shop missed a few issues and everything just broke down–I had to go hunting at two or three shops for #9 and #10–and by the time I had the whole collection, I just decided that I would rather read all 12 issues in a row to get the full effect.

The thing about Wednesday Comics, of course, is that you pretty much need some table real estate to get the full effect, and you need time and focus. I basically have been waiting for a rainy Sunday morning when I could make some coffee and some, I dunno…something breakfasty that is not cereal and just hang out with Wednesday Comics for an hour or more. Despite the fact that each story is "only" one page, it takes awhile to get through an issue–to do it right.

That's gotta be one aspect of the stack, right? It's not just that life is out of control and we are falling behind on everything. It's also that there are things in life that we look forward to, that we want to give proper attention to, that we want to really experience in the best way possible.  We don't read them beacuse we want to read them–just later.  When the light is right. When someone won't bother us at a cafe asking, "Hey, you read comics? I got this box at my mom's place with all these comics from the early 90s–you think they're worth anything?" (That happens to me a lot.) 

Which is related to my other stack, the Absolute Stack, which I think is designed to be read and enjoyed a few decades from now, when people point to them and ask what the "wood slabs" do.   I have bought several of these tomes (and they have been a welcome Christmas gift, let me tell you). After using getting them from Amazon (using the iFanboy link, of course)I checked their delivery status multiple times a day. I rejoiced when they arrived and was thrilled to crack the books open before I quickly slipped them back in the slipcase. I dusted the shelf off before resting them there. I look at them with a special pride everytime I pass them on the way to the sofa.  But I have never read them.  Someday.  

My other stacks are a lot less dramatic but you may relate. There are a few miniseries out there that are obviously designed to read better in a trade, but for some reason, we buy the single issues anyway.  This happened to me most recently with I Am Legion by Fabien Nury and John Cassaday. I was all stoked on this because I was beginning to really miss my somewhat regular Cassaday dose from Astonishing X-Men but when I started reading it, I really felt the "just wait, dude" thing go off almost immediately.  Now, of course, the series is done, and I have even positioned the series to the top of my "it's done read it" stack, but the weekly books keep pushing it out of the queue.  I am looking forward to reading it– my frmer collegue Sonia remarked that it was quite good and everything.  I think the only way to gurantee that I will read it is if I decide to do an article that covers it…

…which brings me to my other stack. I try to do articles where I talk about a few books and discuss them as a whole, either in terms of creators, characters, or themes. Right now I have the original issues of Batman Year 100 waiting for me to link it to a second or third Batman series or title, but we'll see. I get a lot out of rereading books for iFanboy, probably because the way I read comics is completely different than how I used to read them. To dig through my old issues and trades and realize, "Oh wow, I have that [important book from creator I really love]?" is a really good feeling!  

My other stacks are really embarrassing.  They are usually 2-3 issues high and are basically the "finally got issue X so I can now read the rest" or "I have no idea what is happening in this story so I will keep the previous issues around to get context for the new issue" stacks.  A good example of the first kind is my Joe the Barbarian stack.  I was all excited about this and then I went to the store to see that issue #2 was out and I missed the first one!  I had to race around town and finally found #1, so I was just able to read both on the plane yesterday.  An example of the second is kind of my Batman stack, which I will be the first to admit I didn't want to admit. Like, I don't know what's going on but I can't seem to remember anything that is happening in any of the Batman titles right now–which, as I reread this, is very much a redundant sentence. But, seriously: I feel like I need to re-read the entire Phillip Tan run of Batman and Robin just so I can get an idea of what is going on with the Cameron Stewart one–I mean, you guys all seemed to know what was going on.

The stack as memory crutch is the one that worries the most. The other stacks are all about celebrating comics, about enjoying the moments of discovery (and rediscovery) of story and character, trying to make time for something we enjoy.  The memory crutch the inverse of that–it's proof that I am reading comics but not fully paying attention to them, a tacit admission that I am willfully wasting a few bucks. Oh well–that's another issue completely, which we will get to later.  If I remember, that is.

So my stacks this time around are numerous and specific, obviously representing the many pushes and pulls of my daily life.  While my earlier stacks have been the result of an inability to manage abundance, my current stacks represent hopeful intention and acute responsibility. Funny how times change.

How about you all? How do you deal with miniseries? When you are missing issue #1 of a series, do you read #2 and then go find #1? Have you actually read any of your Absolute Editions?  


 
 
 

Mike Romo is an actor and writer in LA. He's rikemomo on twitter and you can email him here.

Comments

  1. I’ve been slow reading mini-series at the moment. Got Spider-man 1602 and Atom Eve & Rexplode waiting in my stack. A funny thing about my Absolutes is that I have always bought the story featured in another format and the Absolute is my "double-dip" version. 

    My stack has been slow to move this week as I’m making my way through the PVP Awesomology that was featured in the iFanboy Christmas gifts video show. It’s a slow, slow read. I have promised myself not to stumble and order all the Strangers in Paradise pocketbooks until the summer in a half-hearted effort to keep another huge complete run out of the trades stack.

    Just wondering if anyone else feels a sense of guilt in relation to their stack? I often find myself looking at it and getting a sinking feeling that no matter how much I read I will never get through it. It’s the same with DVDs and games – these stacks seem to be a monument to a failure or a greed on our parts. When is enough comics enough?

    On a depressing note, a friend of mine who’s also guilty of letting books, DVDs and albums pile up remarked that when we pass away we’ll leave stacks of unwatched DVDs, unread books and comics, and unlistened to albums to those left behind. Sadly I don’t think that sobering thought is going to change us anytime soon…

  2. ah mini’s if i don’t start them when they come out I tend to wait til the mini is almost over and go back and buy back issues right before the last issue comes out, Absolutes, only have absolute watchmen which was a fine bday present, read it about twice since I got it, issue #2… I guess its the bit of old school in me that remembers a time when I didn’t know when/if I would get a missed issue so yeah I totally read the #2 and hope to god that within a few issues I can piece together what is going on. I think this might also be why I don’t tend to like grant morrison stuff in issues but love it in trades, mostly because I always seem to be late to what ever he is doing…

  3. I buy a fair amount of minis as they come out and read them in single issue doses.  If I miss something which subsequently goes on to get good reviews e.g GI Joe Cobra, I won’t go back and get the issues, I tend to wait for the trade.  As for my absolutes, I’ve read about half.  I’ve read Dark Knight, New Frontier and Watchemen, but still have Long Halloween, Death and Promethea staring at me, mocking my inability to summon the strength to plow through ’em.

  4. I’ve managed to stop the weekly book habit and only do trades but now my stack of trades is at least 20 books deep. Add that to the bookshelf of prose I haven’t read the 300 movies that are in the netflix queue and it is no wonder that my entertainment feels like an upaid second job somtimes.  I just want to make it clear that I blame all of you good people and all your "helpful" recommendations of what is good. 

  5. Like Mike I have multiple stacks. One for single issues i need to get too but just aren’t a priority. One for standard paperback trades (which tends to contantly grow as my amazon wishlist gets near empty every payday) and my omnibus/ absolute stack. I tend to read my omnibus’ slowest as they hurt my legs when i read. also i could read three modern day comics in the space of time it takes to read a classic claremont x-men title so that slows me down just as much

  6. I rarely have time for all the TV or internet or comics I want to ingest, so I have a small stack of trades that I still haven’t started (including the first Invincible hardcover and the first Powers trade). I think I’m waiting for a plane flight or something.

     

  7. I’ve been collecting Batman and reading comics for 21 years…………..That being said, I do not know what the hell is going on in Batman and Robin….These stories just aren’t that memorable….Though I do like Damien Wayne alot…Other than that, well, I guess i’m still waiting for something "BIG" to happen. 

  8. I love this stack feature. it makes me feel less alone as I stare at all my unread books. I fantasize about how awesome it’s going to be when I retire, my kid heads off to college and my wife has better things to do and I can just read and read and read. Maybe in 20 years I’ll finally find out how Norman Osborne became such a big cheese after secret invasion : )

    I also have the wed comics stack (I haven’t even read more than the batman and hawkman of the 1st 2 issues) and what’s worse: I’m planning to buy the "trade" in a couple months. I don’t usually buy trades when I have the floppies, but in this case I don’t even like to open the issues; it’s impossible to close them up right.

  9. I always try to read minis an issue at a time as they come out. I have in the past banked a number of issues before reading them – the last year of 100 Bullets and The Mighty are two the spring immediately to mind – and that usually makes the experience more rewarding. Only problem – those banked issues usually fall by the wayside to make space for that week’s comics and get pushed to the bottom of the pile. I try to avoid reading a later issue without having read an earlier issue.

    I only own two Absolute-style books – New Frontier and Lost Girls – and I’m 50/50 for reading them. I don’t have a huge problem reading them – I can usually prop them next to me if I’m laying on my side, or hold them on my lap if I’m sitting.  Still, not as easy as picking up a floppy and abusing it like it owes me money.

    As far as my own stack, it’s embarassing. I’ve got a 4-foot high bookstand crammed full of unread trades, another 4-foot-high stack of trades (99% Essential/Showcase/Complete/Omnibus trades), three 2 1/2-foot tall stack of floppy back issues, and a Diamond shipping box full of floppies. It’s shameful – it’s the reason I don’t have a Blu-Ray or a flatscreen! If I stopped buying comics this week, I’d still have enough stuff to read for the next year. There are issues I bought at my first con 10 years ago that I haven’t read. I have whole runs of Sandman Mystery Theater and Jenkins’ Hellblazer I haven’t even flipped through. I’ve got the first 50 issues of the Baw-Ha-Ha JLA and about 50 issues, including the last 30-some straight, issues of the Barry Allen Flash series. All this stuff and more I want to read, but quite seriously, there aren’t enough hours in the day. 

    OK. I’m done bitching. Carry on.

  10. Thank you for articulating why I’ve not completed the Wednesday Comics run.  I agree that there’s a time and place for it.  It’s at the top of my stack and it’s getting to be intimidating.  🙂

  11. I’ve done OK with my Absolutes.  I read New Frontier (the Absolute was the first time I read it in any format), Kingdom Come, Sandman 1 & 2 and have Sandman 3 & 4, Death, Crisis, Ronin and Dark Knight waiting for me.  Looking forward to All Star SUperman, which I should read pretty quickly since I haven’t read the story before.  On the Marvel side I read the Alias Omnibus and still have to read The New X-Men Omnibus.  I usually like to start reading these huge tomes when I know I can devote enough time to read them straight through without getting too behind on weekly issues and other things in life.  And my Strangers in Paradise Omnibus came in today, I’m going to need to clear my calander for the next month!

  12. @mike: I normally get through my weekly stack of new comics. Trades are the area I need to focus on.  I buy them and get to them eventually. Sometimes I wait until I get multiple volumes before I start reading.  If I miss out on a #1 I’ll try to get it later and wait to buy and read the other issues.  In cases where I can’t even get the first couple of issues I "trade wait" and add to the stack.

  13. @mike: I also have a small stack of old first appearance back issues I want to read.

  14. First off, Blackest Night is my last mini. I consider BPRD and Hellboy as ongoing, even though they always renumber the issue on the cover (but they keep the "real" number on the inside). Anyhow, I have picked up most miniseries via trade for the last few years and I am about to make this a more stricter rule for myself. If I were to see an issue #2, but not a number #1, then I’d wait for the trade even if it meant that at the time of trade’s release I might no longer be interested. Too many new books, the cost of the trade, my budget, etc…, so many things can factor in this .

    All of my absolutes and omnibuses have been read at least once, but more than half of them have been read 2 or more times. My last count, I own 26 of these "specialty" type of HC collections (specifically, I would say the page size has to be larger than normal to be called a "specialty") with half mine being in DC Absolute form.

    Personally, re-readability is a huge factor in making a significant purchase in the ballpark of an Absolute or a Marvel Omnibus. I refuse to buy one of these if I think I wouldn’t read it once every 3 years or so. No point in upgrading from issue form, or if I don’t have the issues, borrow or search the library. The oher side of this is that these are investments. Seriously. These are collections that are printed to the size of initial order for the most part. Some of these collections get reprinted, but many haven’t. Because of this, these books can easily fetch double their suggested retail price on the market. Some can even go triple or higher. Enjoy them, but take good care of them too.

    I think they are too expensive to just say that you own it, but don’t plan to read it anytime in the first year or only once ever. Stick with something smaller then.