So this past week was supposed to be my vacation. SPRING BREAK!!! Some years that might mean jetting off to some tropical (or at least warm) climate and enjoying some R&R in the sun. This year it meant spring-cleaning the house, the garage and starting the yard work. At least it wasn’t 45 and rainy all week…

Let’s get back to the idea of vacation for a minute, though. Often times it is considered relaxing to head to the beach, the park or some other sunny spot and enjoy some quiet reading time. After all, with the distractions that plague us on a daily basis, using reading as an escape is ideal. That theory is heightened when you are reading in a great location. Would you rather be reading in your living room or in a hammock in Hawaii? Exactly.

The question then becomes – what books do you read while on vacation?And if I might take a moment to clarify, this is a completely different question than “what books do you have if you are stranded on an island?” What I am getting at here is that you are on the beach in front of your time share – which looked far more impressive in the online photos, and you are surrounded by other adults, screaming kids, people swimming, etc. – what books do you read?

The majority of the people laying out (in my scientific poll called “my memory”) seem to read magazines or prose, “books” as we call them in my house. My wife likes to read spy novels or other suspenseful mystery type things. Some people read romance novels, while others seem completely engrossed with biographies and memoirs. The options are limitless.  Celebrity gossip magazines abound. I’ve even seen people reading what appears to be textbooks or some type of research material. Who am I to judge, right?

Well, to be honest, I guess I am somebody who judges others based on what they read. Not rudely and not loudly, but I do look at the books that people read and then I look at the people. The point of this, I am not sure. Actually, I think that the idea of looking at what others are reading transcends vacations – it can come into play while commuting, or really anytime one comes in contact with people “relaxing and reading” in a day to day setting.  When I used to ride the train to work I found myself respecting people that read The New York Times, and scoffing at the people reading The New York Post (which I also picked up on a few occasions but folded over so as to hide the major headlines).

But let’s steer this conversation back towards comics, if it was ever there. If you are reading in public what material do you turn to? If I am throwing things in my suitcase the idea of taking any type of monthly is ridiculous (although I did it on my last trip to San Francisco). The problem is that there is just not enough material in a monthly for me. It lasts a few minutes, and then you are stuck having to find something else to read. Do you want a pile of monthlies lying next to you on the beach? How about Absolute Editions? Sure they offer more content, but they are not easy to tote around, and I certainly don’t want sand in my $100 book. Beyond that, I find that I have to lay them on a table to read, or I risk crushing my legs. A lounge chair is no place for an Absolute.

Also to be considered is the content. For example, you are on a plane and decide to pull out Lost Girls. It seemed innocent enough at the store -– written by Alan Moore, following Dorothy Gale, Wendy Moira Angela Darling and Alice Fairchild –- all from stories we knew and loved as children. Well, in case you don’t already know, this is NOT a book to be opened in a large public forum, at least not unless you want to get smacked by some lady because you accidentally turned the page and her 8 year old saw something that he shouldn’t have. So, Lost Girls is out.

Do you carry some superhero trade and put up with the jeers of kids (and their judgmental parents) as Superman once again saves the day? Eek, worse, what if a kid were to ask to borrow your book? Then it comes back all grimy, if it comes back at all. Or, perhaps, you go the scholarly route and read Maus or Persepolis and try to engage people with intellectual glances as they walk by.

I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer. Perhaps people use a vacation to completely remove themselves from the comic world and come back refreshed. Conor tried that option a few weeks ago when he crossed the pond. He missed a Wednesday and found himself missing books altogether.

So, the vacation question looms out there. Is there a perfect solution? Perhaps not, but venturing out with the wrong reading material seems the least desirable solution of all.


  1. Awesome post.

    In the past year or so I’ve been in the position to read stuff in public. Those times I read Fray and Black Hole. Fray was fine, but Black Hole could’ve been kind of weird if someone caught me looking at pictures of some dude that had mouth in his neck.

    I know there are some books I’d feel proud to read in public, like Watchmen, Blankets, and possibly Superman: Birthright, which is one of my favorite Superman stories.

    I almost don’t care what I read in public, I’m just glad that I can show the public that people are still reading comics and that they’re just like anything else, except that they have characters that might say SHAZAM when the time calls for it.

    ACTUALLY (wow this is getting long) I read comics while at work, so customers pretty much see me reading comics all the time, and I’m glad they see it.


    Alright, so I went off topic, sorry. Continue with more suitable comments. 

  2. Do you REALLY think anything but a hammock in Hawaii is an option for me?  Tiki mug in hand, butt swinging in a hammock and comic held at the correct angle to block the hot sun from my eyes while I read it’s sequential art goodness!



  3. hmmmmmmm anything by neil Gaiman if i truly want to escape into another world no other author allows me to escape like Gaiman. Then it doesn’t matter where i am or who is watching, cos i’m not really there

     The Brit in a Hat

  4. I don’t read comics in public much (my commute is a drive) but on vacations and whatnot, I find Vertigo trades to be perfect – a lot of them naturally feel like chapters, they usually read pretty quickly and the ones with the lower price point/newsprint paper won’t keep you worrying about them getting banged up or spilling Pina Coladas on them. Oh, and people will think you’re "hip" (or even "hep").

  5. I great post Gordon! I think your my fav after Paul Dini. i wish i could go to huaii if i did i think i be off looking for where they shoot Lost.  

  6. I like to read hardcover books poolside..but you gotta watch out for the splash. Comic-themed hardcovers or a Doctor Who (i guess Star Wars or Star Trek for some of you would work too) book work great… some quick recommendations include: "Soon I Will Be Invincible" and "Up, Up, and Away" or something similiar…even novelizations of Kingdom Come and Crisis, Death of Superman, etc. are available…so you CAN look all intellectual and still read THE Comics.

    I also tend to favor the magazines because of the Splash Reasons, so Wizard, Comics Buyers Guide, or someother magazines are a gimme. One could easily replace a cover of a cheesecake magazine with The New Yorker if you feel that self conscious…

    I second the post on the Vertigo trades as well…and the Pina Coladas, or a Corona Light with lime…

  7. It all boils down to an equation:

    If love for a certain book (a) is greater than (>) love for the beach (b), then the book stays off the sand – perhaps being confined poolside or to the hotel room.

    If love for said beach (b) is greater than (>) love for said book, than said beach and said book live together in harmony.

    Last year I took hardcover editions of DKR and Batman: Year One to the beach. They did not make it past the hotel pool’s fence. Wolverine: Origins, however, is somewhere in the Atlantic as I type this.

  8. Alas jonnyeatsdirt…i must report you to the EPA for gross neglect and endangerment to marine life everywhere….

  9. Wait, Lost Girls is not for kids that like Disney?  I’ll be hearing a call from that kids class I donated it to soon…

  10. Gordon that was a great post. 

    My self I know I don’t care what people think of me. If I am reading a comic book and so what if Superman saves the day one more time. If it makes me happy I don’t care you have to ask your self are you reading for you self or someone.

    Let me take you back to a few years a go. When I went back to France to see my family. I had over 20 TPB in one bag. When I was on the plane I was reading The Surrogates, Battle Hymn Farewell to the first golden age and Gen 13.  I was rocking out my ipod. And I am sure there was a few episode of ifanboy on my ipod.

    Also I am not one to buy into oh WOW I have to read my books only at the coffee shop. I read anywhere I can. I know every night since I was a kid around six when first got into comics and I have been reading every night. Even when I was in the hospital when I had my chemotherapy when I was sick with Cancer.

    I would be reading. Some people like my girl friend loves watching TV for me. I am more in to reading a book it can be anything from the new Batman to a book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Since my two favorites books of all time are Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky and 1984 George Orwell.


  11. For plane rides I gues then to grab a couple of trades from my shelf as I’m packing my carry on, then they tend to stay there until the plane ride back. For everything else, I tend to just find some book on my shelf that I haven’t read yet (which there are more and more of as of late) and bring it with me, and force myself to read it if I accidentally pick up something I don’t like…

  12. plane rides for me always means a marvel essential.  i love having the big book that will typically last both flights there and back.

  13. I’ll read anything in public if the size is appropriate (so omnibi and absolutes are out of the question). I’ve read my single issues in a coffee shop, I’ve read erotic novels during 30 minute walks (walking & reading at the same time is challenging, lemme tell ya), and I’ve read trades at my girlfriend’s place while she’s using the computer.

    Still, the sheer amount of podcasts sitting on my ipod has caused my general amount of reading to freakin’ plummet. I still haven’t read my Invincible hardcover or the first Powers trade ’cause I’m always listening to podcasts. 

    As for being on vacation, that’s the time I don’t want to read. I wanna be out there doing stuff. Swimming in the ocean, playing in the sand, doing the horizontal mambo, or taking in a show; and if I’m relaxing in the Hawaiian hammock, I’ll be listening to podcasts. 🙂