Stack Week, Part Six: The Sneak Attack

Stack Week rolls right along and Conor faces his demons and comes to grips with some possible addictions. Stack Week — it’s like Shark Week but with emotional turmoil in place of Great White attacks, Chief.


I don’t know how it happened.

See, the thing is, I usually don’t have a stack. I’m usually very good about reading my trade paperbacks soon after buying them. I’m a voracious reader. Some people might say it’s an addiction or a compulsion. Let’s not speak of those people. I read while I eat, I read while I watch (some) TV, I read while the game is on, I read on the train. I will sacrifice sleep to fit some more reading time in. In fact, the sun was up this morning before I went to sleep because I had just reached “the point of no return” on a prose book I was reading and I couldn’t stop. Literally, I couldn’t stop. I have a theory that every plot based book has a point of no return — maybe the killer is revealed, or some event is set into motion, and at that point there’s no stopping the reader (i.e. me), the book must be finished!

(We’re not even going to talk about my to-read prose book stack which dwarfs my to-read trade paperback stack; and unlike with trades, I always have a to-read prose book stack. This is a whole other article.)

As I said, I don’t usually have a stack. I haven’t had a really big stack in two years. As little as one month ago I didn’t have more than two or three books in my to-read section of my trade paperback bookshelf that I built in my bedroom/office. And then, all of a sudden, there it was. I turned around one day and there were unread trade paperbacks… like… EVERYWHERE. Seriously. They were in the to-read section of the bookshelf, in the general population of the bookshelf, on the table by the bed, on one side of the desk, on the other side of the desk. The reason I didn’t realize I was slowly accumulating a respectable stack was that I was – perhaps subconsciously – keeping them spread around in smaller groups so as not to resemble an actual stack.

So when the idea of doing this Stack Week thing was hatched over a couple of high-end Manhattan cupcakes, I was excited because I could actually participate!


The top two books on my stack were added just this week. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10 almost requires no explanation. I’ve been avidly reading Brian K. Vaughan’s masterpiece in trade form and this, the final installment, has been highly anticipated. In fact, I’m not the only one anticipating it. This is one of the few books that I’ve managed to turn both my brother and sister on to for any kind of on-going basis. They will be happy to hear that this one is out now. Right underneath that is The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1. I heard so many good things about this book that there was no way I was going to let this get past me in trades. In fact, I don’t think I heard one bad word about it. I am really looking forward to diving into this one. I would love to have another great series to read in trades.

The next book down in the stack is one I’ve actually already read. For years Josh would rave and rave about Mike Carey’s Lucifer. I mean, the guy would just not shut up about it. This here is Lucifer, Vol. 1 and I read it a few years ago and it liked it okay. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. With a gun to my head I probably couldn’t even tell you what it was about or what happened in it. It left very little impression on me. But then we did the show about Sandman and I read all nine volumes of that series and I thought I ought to give Lucifer another shot, now that I was better acquainted with that world. This book has been in my stack since about a month after we did the Sandman show and it keeps getting pushed down the priority list. I think it’s because, in the back of my mind, I know that I’ve already read it and I keep going for the totally new stuff.

You just knew that there had to be some Batman books in here didn’t you?  The Batman Chronicles Vol. 3-5 are part of DC’s audacious (crazy?) plan to collect all of the Batman comics in chronological order. (They are doing the same thing with Superman now.)  Volume 5 includes Detective Comics #57-61, Batman #8-9, and World’s Finest #4, which takes us through March of 1942, so you know that if they keep this up I’m going to have to build a separate bookcase just for this series of trades. I really enjoy reading these old Batman stories and watching the introduction of the classic elements and characters and watching the evolution of the mythology. For a Batman nut like me, this books are like mana from heaven, but like Lucifer, I don’t place a high priority on getting them read right away, not when there is “new” stuff to devour. I will get to these soon enough.

The next one is… well… it’s kind of embarrassing. The Goon, Vol. 3 had been in my stack for over two years. Here’s what happened: two WonderCons ago we were hanging out at Isotope and its fine owner James Sime decided he needed to do some personal shopping for me. Twenty minutes, and quite a few laps around the back of his store later I had a big ol’ stack of books and I was $200 poorer. That stack was the last true stack that I had — until this past month — and it took me about six months to get through it all. The Goon, Vol. 3 is the last surviving member of that stack. It’s kind of like when you hear on the news about the oldest living survivor of World War I or something. I don’t see it leaving this stack anytime soon because even though James told me I didn’t need to read Vol. 1 & 2 to enjoy this one, my comic book reader brain doesn’t believe him. I don’t feel right about reading Vol. 3 until I read the others, which I don’t see happening any time soon, which means that The Goon, Vol. 3 might be seen getting drunk at the local VFS for many months yet to come.

Tales of the Fear Agent has come so very close to making it off the stack that I almost feel bad for it. I bought it back in February and I keep meaning to read it, even going so far as to take it with me somewhere when I thought I’d have some time to read. I can’t remember where or when that was, but I do remember finding out that I did not, in fact, have time or opportunity to read. I’m sorry, Heath.

Garth Ennis’ 303 is something that was brought up on the iFanboy forums – I believe it was first mentioned by WadeWilson – when the discussion had turned to good war comics and since I love Garth Ennis and adore his war comics this one was a no-brainer. Leafing through it, it looks like 303 is a quick read so I imagine it will probably come off the stack rather quickly. I’m not in love with the art, but it looks like it gets the job done. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Seeing The Exterminators, Vol. 4 in my stack is kind of like stumbling across an unheard voicemail from a dead friend. Okay, that might be overstating things just a tad. But still, knowing that this book was (prematurely, in my view) canceled makes holding this book in my hands somewhat bittersweet. Still, it’s a really meaty trade. Sometimes a trade comes out and it’s disappointing in how thin it feels, but not this one – it feels like it’s 25-30% thicker than, say, 303. I assume that some late night, sometime soon, I’ll open up a bottle of wine, sit down with The Exterminators, Vol. 4 and have a good cry.

Is that the pungent aroma of scotch I smell or is it Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle? Nope, it’s not scotch. This one is actually Ron’s copy which he lent me on his last trip to the east coast. He handed it off as I dropped him off at his sister’s place in Long Island and because it was late, and I hadn’t eaten, I stopped off at one of Long Island’s many fine Greek diners and had a bowl of chicken rice soup and a hot open roast beef sandwich, and I read about half of Demon in a Bottle. I really should have had some booze, but I was driving, so I had lemonade. It made its way back into the stack, but I should really pull it back out and finish it. I don’t like to leave a job unfinished.

Next up we have one of Josh’s all-time favorite series, if not his all-time favorite series, in The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1, which is a book you’ve seen in a few of our stacks. I’ve actually read the first few regular Starman trades. I don’t remember how many – definitely at least two, possibly as many as the first four. It’s a series I really like and I am kicking myself for not reading it when it was first out. Of course, now I have the pleasure of discovering new stories in the beautiful oversized omnibus format. Of course my excitement is tempered with the knowledge that Vol. 2 isn’t scheduled until 2009, which means at six volumes this series is going to take forever to finish.

The next book in the stack isn’t a trade at all, it’s Image Comics: The Road to Independence from TwoMorrows Publishing. This is also a loaner from Ron that I am sad to say I’ve been holding onto for far too long (since WonderCon, maybe?), to the point where it’s possible that Ron has forgotten that I have it. This book is what the title suggests, a history of Image Comics, specifically focusing on its formation. If you were reading comics back then like I was then you know it was an absolute crazy time for the comics business and a lot of that craziness (both good and bad) was because of the Image Comics revolution. I’m really looking forward to this one, and I promise that I’ll read it soon, Ron.

Finally, the stack ends with Tellos: Colossal Edition, Vol. 1.  I picked this up a long time ago, back after we shot the Mike Wieringo tribute show. The reason it has slipped, unread, through the cracks so long is that I had mis-shelved it. Because it is an oversized hardcover I put it with my other oversized hardcovers on the big shelf I built specifically for them. Because it was never with my other to-read books I forgot about the need to read it until one day recently I was standing on my bed, surveying my bookcase like a King surveying his realm, and as I was beaming with pride my eyes settled on Tellos and I exclaimed a royal expletive and pulled it off the shelf and put it with the other to-read books.

Three is one more trade in my stack that is not going to be identified here and was removed for the picture.  That one’s staying a secret because we are probably going to do a video show on it later in the year.

And I like surprises.

So there you have it. My stack. Thinking back on things, this is my second substantial stack in two years which means I’m allowing things to get out of hand once a year which sets my trade reading back by months. It’s certainly not the worst problem to have in the world.

I should really wrap this up now and get some reading done. I’m starting to feel itchy that there are so many books and trades that have gone unread in such close proximity.


  1. I’ve been thinking about adding the Umbrella Academy to my stack as well; when it first came out I hadn’t given much thought but from what I’ve heard, mostly from the show, its definitely worth reading.

  2. That is a nice stack there Conor. I just finished Tales of the Fear Agent and the Starman Omnibus. Both were fantastic!

    I am trying to intentionally build up a stack at the moment for my summer holidays coming up in August. I would at least like to have 8-10 books for a 2 1/2 week vacation. I had very little in terms of single issues this week, so I grabbed the Rucka Question hc, the Umbrella Academy, and Atomic Robo. Sadly, I couldn’t resist starting the Question hc last night, so that one won’t be making the trip.

    I am having a bit of a problem right now concerning Y: the Last Man. I own the first 2 trades and read them a year ago. I want to get on with the rest of the series, but now I am aware that there is a new hc format releasing two trade volumes per hc. Should I wait and start getting these? Or do I just dive in and buy chucks of the tpbs?

  3. Bad news, obsessive-compulsive Conor – there is a 0 trade of The Goon, collecting stuff before the book moved to Dark Horse.

    Have no fear, though – I’ve got all The Goon trades and Chinatown in my to-read stack, bought them at full price from Powell himself (but they’re nice and signed and sketched, so I don’t mind the undiscounted coin), and some of them have been in the stack since ’06. The good news is I’ve got the series, so once I do start reading, I won’t have to stop.

    I swear, I’ve probably got the GNP of a small country wrapped up in unread trades and issues.

  4. the umbrella academy was awesome ( I read my brother’s single issues) but i’m waiting is for the dark horse library edition of the umbrella academy that comes out in aug or sept.

    i ordered my starman from instocktrades june 2 and i’m still waiting for it and after reading all the stacks week articles i realized how big my stack is and it kinda makes me excited to read everything now.  


  5. I’d be interested to see orread a breakdown of your shelving unit ,Conor. It seems like it could prove to be a decent nodel for the rest of us.

  6. Nice stack there Conor.  Your stack probably fits my tastes the most.  I love Starman and am looking forward to reading the Omnibus in the next few weeks here.  Tales of the Fear Agent is really awesome, and they should put more short vignettes like this out in between the trades.  I recently read Tellos as they just released the Colossal in paperback.  It was really fantastic and Ringo’s art is simply stunning.  I’m thinking you’ll really enjoy that one.

    Collecting Batman Chronicles = Bravery

  7. What I want to hear about are from you (us) married guys (and gals)! How do you solve The Sytack? I have stacks, but they are hidden (and not for that reason, mind you!), because my wife won’t allow (!) stuff like comics to invade our living quarters…so they are relegated to a spare bedroom and my nightstand. My light is at the end of the tunnel though: we are about to build a new house and i get my very own "Hobby Room"…what bliss, what joy! I am very interested in your shelving designs, Conor, because I need some ideas. I’m thinking walls in primary colors: Superman Red/Yellow/Blue with a giant mural of an issue of Action Comics (i’m a little artistic and can copy anything… I share pix when it’s done), but i need shelving ideas…where are the iFanboy architects when you need them?

  8. I’ve finished V for Vendetta and Alias vol. 1. I’m slowly making my way through my stack. I think Black Panther vol. 2 is next.


  9. @target242, I handle the Stack in the context of my marriage using a four-step process:

    1) be an equal partner with rights in your marriage

    2) pay for your half of the house

    3) remember that once you turn 21, only the police and Congress can tell you what you are "allowed" to do

    4) do whatever you want wherever you want in your own house.

    You know what I mean? With a mortgage payment like that, I think we can do a little better than my own room.

  10. Stack Week has been great. Though it makes me realize how big mine is (my stack I mean, ahem).  It’s really because of Ifanboy and Around Comics that my stack is as big as it is. I started selling a lot of my old stuff on ebay and everytime I got a large chunk of money, it would go to trades that I heard of on the shows. I went from having a few trades here and there, to an entire bookshelf. This as been a fun week of articles.

    I would like to see pictures of your entire shelves though, not just the stack. I’m kind of interested in how everyone has there’s set up.

  11. R.I.P The Exterminators.  Great book.

  12. Yeah, it was me pimpin’ 303 on the forums — good memory Conor. I love that book & am always talking it up. Just read the first five pages & I’ll be surprised if any Ennis fan or war comics fan could put it down after that.

    I always thought I didn’t have a stack until I read this … like Conor my unread trades have been spaced out all over the place, maybe out of subconcious guilt, lol, but now I’ve counted them up & see I have 6. I’m ashamed of myself.

  13. LOL Jiminski, with a philosophy like that…

    You are either:

    1) newly married

    2) headed for divorce court

    3) married to the perfect woman

    4) amish 

  14. Man, the local media here in West Virginia won’t shut up about the last surviving World War I vet. See, he lives in the state – albeit in the farthest reaches of the panhandle, about six hours away from here – so every single move he makes is documented in loving, annoying detail.And then featured on our local tv news. And in our paper. And on the radio. Sheesh.

    That said: READ THE GOON!! I hope it gets the Dark Horse Library Ed. treatment someday. That would make me happy enough to pee my pants.

  15. @target242 – handbags. Lots and lots of handbags. Like, lots. Like, going-to-handbag-only-stores-many-miles-from-your-home-on-a-hot,-humid-Sunday-afternoon-when-all-you-want-to-do-is-lay-around-and-nurse-your-hangover handbags. Like lets-spend-Memorial-Day-combing-back-alley-knock-off-purse-vendors-then-go-home-and-grill-up-enough-food-to-feed-a-small-militia-while-a-shitty-week-of-work-waits-for-you handbags. Betsey Johnson is my Red Skull, my Doctor Doom, my Joker, my Lex Luthor, my Per Degaton (holla ‘atcha, Booster Gold fans!!)

    Although I did get PAD Hulk Visionaries and Sterenko Nick Fury TPBs out of tonight’s purse pursuit.

    And shoes. Although not as much as the handbags. I’m constantly tripping over totes full of purses and shoes – and getting yelled at for doing so. My stack may be huge, but at least it’s out of any kind of footpath that may have developed in our over-stuffed apartment.

    And romance novelist signings, although those are few and far between. Did anyone know Sherrilyn Kenyon, pseudonym for the author of the current Swords of Avalon comic from Marvel, has the same book agent as Neil Gaiman? Fuck, I did. And you know why I know that? Because my purse-toting, shoe-wearing, Sex-And-The-City-quoting wife dragged me to a signing/Q&A for said madam author a year or so back, and said topic was broched.

    I’m drunk and venting. Thank you for your indulgence. I’m going to try to make it to my side of the bed without disturbing that pair of Steve Madden’s oh-so-carefully abandoned in my path through the bedroom.

  16. @dan – handbag freaks are typically hot. right?

  17. @minithin – My wife is way too hot for a comic/movie/toy geek like me, and gets hotter by the day. I definitely traded up.