The iFanboy Letter Column – 02/29/2008

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s the last work day before a well deserved weekend. For others, Friday means it’s the day you wonder where the hell the guy who normally does this is. And for others still, this Friday means it’s the one time in four years that you can write 2/29.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the show or answered here, keep them coming –

I am 53 years old and was given Volume 1 of Ex Machina as a Christmas gift. I had not read a comic since I was 10 or 11 years old and have no idea what is going on anywhere (DC, Marvel, all others). I have now devoured all volumes of the Ex Machina series. I am now stuck on what to read next. I go to the comic book store and am overwhelmed. The staff is not very helpful.

I would love to get involved in more multi-volume/story trades. Do you have any suggestions?

Steven W.

You’re making it easy for me, Steven. My first advice is to find a new comic shop. Any store worth their salt should at least see the business benefit of turning a new customer on to a series consisting of multiple trades. And if I ran the store you went to, I’d immediately tell you to read Y: The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan, the same guy who wrote Ex Machina. Further from that, a lot of Vertigo series should fit the bill nicely for what you have in mind. You might want to consider Fables or DMZ, both of which we talked about long ago in our Vertigo episode of the video show. If you really like the art in Ex Machina, you might want to consider Starman, with art by Tony Harris. It’s a DC superhero story, but you don’t really need to know anything about the ongoing universe to appreciate it. The fact is, it’s wide open, and there are so many great stories out there, that I sort of envy you for being able to discover them for the first time.

Josh Flanagan

My name’s Michael, and I’m a somewhat noobie to comics. So far I’ve read Y: The Last Man, Blankets, Watchmen, 100 Bullets, The Walking Dead, and Invincible. So recently a friend of mine recently recommended Girls by The Luna Brothers to me. So I decided to try and check it out, upon going to the local comic book store I was devastated to find a $100 price tag for the Complete Collected Edition. It was a huge hard cover and the artwork does look beautiful, but honestly to me, still a student going through school having to rely on the parents for income, $100 is a steep investment. Now my question is, is it worth it?


P.S. Yes, it is $62. 99 on, but at the same time I want to support my local comic book store. Even then, $62 is still a pretty big investment specially for a kid like me to place into a comic.

Boy, do I feel your pain, Michael. These collected editions certainly are expensive. And heavy! Just the other day I was carrying my DC: The New Frontier from the comic book store home, about 8 blocks, and boy where my arms were aching! But weight aside, you raise a good question. I love The Luna Brothers art. I love these oversized hardcovers, a lot. But they are expensive and $100 at your local comic book store, especially if you’re a student, is a big investment. If you’re curious about The Luna Brothers, I would recommend checking out their first project from Image Comics called Ultra. You can’t go wrong with the trade paperback at $15. Then you can get a feel for their art and their story style, and then if you really like it, then maybe save up for the hardcover collection of Girls, which I have to admit is beautiful collection with some great art, but for some reason I enjoyed Ultra a bit more.

You do bring up a good question though, albeit unintended, and that’s the question of Amazon vs. the Local Comic Book Store. I’m a HUGE supporter of my Local Comic Book Store, and I do all my weekly shopping and good amount of non-weekly shopping. But when it comes to these oversized hardcover collections, I always use Amazon. I’m totally not even schilling because we work with Amazon, but because of the simple economics. I only have so much money. $100 dollars is a lot of money for a comic book, even one as big and sexy as something like Girls. I’d be lucky to get 10 bucks knocked off that price tag at a local shop. But on Amazon, its almost 40% off! That’s insane. You have to buy from the place that will give you the best deal. If your Local Comic Book Store owner is smart, he’ll understand. If he isn’t, then well, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Ron Richards


  1. As far as Ultra vs. Girls – Ultra is a good place to start. It is the better of the two, mostly due to the fact, I believe, it was kept to 6 issues. I also believe there are some Girls trades out there, so maybe you could give one of those a try.

    I also usually go for the least expensive option on bigger books. Got my Lost Girls at Borders for about $50, for example. Close to $40 off a $100 book is an amazing discount, though.

    My only problem is when I start picking up singles at the shop – the owner sometimes asks, "When did you start reading this?" (not in a mean or accusing way) and there’s an awkward moment where I question myself as to what my response should be. Usually he’s pretty cool about it, actually, but I always get the oogy feeling when he mentions something. Truth be told, I’m not that much for buying trades at my LCS – mostly I pick up trades if I go to a different shop or a big box store. Nothing against my guy – I just see trades as more of a special purchase. Plus getting a better than 10% discount helps.

  2. Dudes: make that money. When you’re recommending trades to 53-year-old newcomers, you gotta code your answer with direct links to your own Amazon store… wait a second… you did it in the second letter, but not in the first one. Now I’m totally confused.

  3. Blame the sick guy.

  4. Great advice to the 53 year old punk kid.  Starman is actually a great recommend because he used to read comics.  It gives a taste of that youthful addiction but with the modern sensibilities of the other books you listed.

     Everytime a bad comic store story is told, I get angry.  Here’s an idea for iFanboy 3.5, a sort of Frapper map where the iFanbase posts the good stores of their city and a brief description.  Actually, I guess that is a Frapper map, just with a store review in the comment.

  5. I would also add JSA: The Liberty Files to the Starman recommend

  6. Gotta agree with Josh about being a bit jealous of Steven getting to read stuff like Y: The Last Man and DMZ for the first time. I love these book, and am so glad I read them. But it’s like a friend of mine who just had a baby; I was like, this kids gonna get to watch E.T or Star Wars (original trilogy) for the first time! So, yeah, jealous!

  7. I am going to be a bit contrary and say that i think oversized, thick editions are a waste of money and resources. I know, I know you guys rave about how awesome certain editions look, but honestly I don’t think it’s a viable, useful format for reading comics. I’ve got the New X-Men Omnibus and I’ve only read about a quarter of it because it’s too damn heavy. I’ve got the Absolute Crisis OIE and aside from looking at it with awe for the first couple weeks, it’s sat on my shelf for almost a year. Ditto for the Amazing Spider-Man, The Eternals, Silver Surfer, and FF vol. 2 Omnibi (clearly it took me a while to learn my lesson here). THe Kirby 4th World is maybe the exception. It’s printed on much lighter paper and feels more like an old-time comic and is actually manageable. On the flip side, it may not pop as much. On the other hand in the unweildy Omnibuses, it’s sometimes difficult to get a good view of an entire comics spread, which really sucks when it’s a 1- or 2-page Kirby (or Buscema or Quitely or Ditko) splash.

    I just think these large volumes are a bit overblown. Now one exception is that I like the Invincible HCs, but these are shorter volumes, so they just skirt the edge of manageability. Even so, I do sometimes think that the oversized printing is maybe a bit too high-falutin’ for the comic style of Invincible, like it’s trying to act more grandious than it is. But I started out with the HC and so I’m going to try to continue getting them instead of switching to TPBs. (also, in this case the HCs are actually about the same price or cheaper).

    I say get the Girls TPBs. They are beautifully done, they present the art perfectly and the stories are paced so that each TPB ends at a place where I was excited enough that I bought the next book as soon as possible. Lastly, TPBs are a lot easier to lend out (and borrow).

    Which brings me to my last comment. If you want to support your LCS, you might look for used TPBs in your store or let the owner/emplyees know you’re looking for one. They may be able to sell you something on consignment and then everyone wins.

  8. @Michael – Sounds like you might be looking for books that have been traded already, I am not sure. The Luna Brothers did just start up a new series back in October though, that is set to go for about 2 years like Girls, it is called The Sword. You could probably grab the issues you’ve missed already, and trade it yourself. Three bucks a month might seem more feesible than coughing up $60+ all at once.

  9. For reading the girls i would try your library, if you dont mind not owning it.  Even if your local libray doesnt have it in sock, you can ask where you can place an Inter Library Loan request, and the library will get it for you from another library.  I checked and 14 libraries have Girls in the US.

  10. Tad’s got a great idea.  I know that I make sure to write reviews for good and bad stores on and whenever possible, though I’m not sure how many people actually read those reviews before they head to the store.  Apparently not many, because the most dungeon-esque store in my area remains open, despite the owner fitting every single stereotype of a LCBS owner.

    Oh, and to help out Michael, I just read all of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books, and they’re great books outside of any mainstream comics continuity.   

  11. Hi, this is Michael, the guy that didn’t proof read his letter. About The Girls, I really like the idea of the plot, and buying the hardcover is much cheaper than seeking out the individual trades. Thank you Quentin, I did check out The Sword issue #1 and it is BAD-ASS.

    I finally opted to get it off of Amazon since it has that niceeeeee 37% discount, and my mom has that 2 day shipping plan so I guess there’s too much going for Amazon for me to shell out $100 at the LCS. But I did buy The Sword from them, and probably will buy all of them, so I guess it evens out~

  12. I think Ultra is probably my favorite work of the Luna Brothers.  I only lasted through the first half of Girls and it felt very drawn out to me.  And is probably the reason I have avoided jumping aboard The Sword.

    I always feel if the price difference is negligible to go with the LCS, otherwise gobble up the best deal.

  13. Girls was OK, but Ultra was pretty damn good.

    i got the Girls in trades and while it’s a decent story i’m thinking of auctioning them off. not a bad story at all. i just don’t see me rereading the story.

  14. Steven – I would add a couple of recs.  You should read the Holy Trilogy of the 80s:  Watchmen, V for Vendetta & the Dark Knight Retruns – classics all. Plus, given your age, you’ll remember what the 80s were like poltically & socially which gives all 3 an extra kick.  Then after those 3 downers, you could read Kingdom Come for a pick-me-up. 

        I’d also second Y the Last Man, too. I just went through all the trades like a crack monster – tough to put them down.