The iFanboy Letter Column – 10/17/2008!

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 is the day you wake up way, way too early and have to put on a suit.

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 any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming –


I just got back into reading comics a little over a year ago after many years of not reading and feel like I have over extended myself. I read quite a few comics every month and it is starting to take away from reading other things; books, magazines, etc. I feel I need to drop a book or three but can’t bring myself to axe any! I’m sure you get questions like this all the time but my monthly list is below please help!

Monthly List:

  • Cable
  • Red Mass for Mars
  • No Hero
  • City of Dust
  • The Stand: Captain Trips
  • The Dark Tower: Treachery
  • Magneto: Testament
  • Deadpool
  • Fables
  • Astonishing X-Men
  • The Mighty Avengers
  • Air
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • DMZ
  • Samurai
  • Secret Invasion
  • The New Avengers
  • Northlanders
  • X-Force
  • Nova
  • Crossed
  • Gravel

Andy G.

We get a lot of e-mails like this and they almost always share one thing in common. They almost all are missing a key piece of information. It’s really hard to make any drop recommendations without knowing what you like, what your tastes are. Do you like all of the books on your list equally or do you have favorites? Without knowing any of this stuff, I’m going to have to go in blind. I imagine that in These Tough Economic Times we’re going to get more letters like this so that’s good to keep in mind.

Right off the bat, Andy, I see that you are buying a lot of mini-series — Red Mass For Mars, No Hero, The Stand, The Dark Tower, Magneto: Testament, Secret Invasion, and Crossed — and those books will, essentially, drop themselves. Granted, some are close to ending and some are almost a year away, but that is something to keep in mind.

If I were you I would drop a few of these single issues and switch to reading them in trade. That way you free up time from month to month and you get to read a whole chunk of story every six to eight months. I’d do that with DMZ, Fables, and Northlanders.

As for any books to straight up drop I would go with The Mighty Avengers, Cable, X-Force, and Air. The Mighty Avengers because it is mired in the Secret Invasion and Brian Michael Bendis is going to be leaving the book soon anyway, Cable and X-Force because my gauge for X-Books is that if Ron doesn’t like them then they must have major problems, and Air because I haven’t heard a lot of good about that book.

Conor Kilpatrick


I work at a bookstore, and I’m one of the (unfortunately) few people there who reads me some comics. I’m slowly chipping away at the others, and, pertinent to this email, I have kinda done so with one of the people who runs the kids section. After lending her Understanding Comics, she has conceded that she never really realized how interesting comics can be, and how you can get honest to goodness awesome stories out of them. She also happens to run a book club for kids (well, early teens or something, really) and wants me to suggest some books for them, and to give a little talk and answer questions. I’m just wondering if you guys would have any suggestions. The point of the talk and the recommendations, as it’s been explained to me, is to show these little lit nerds that comics aren’t just an escapist, visual medium, but can have actual literary worth as well. The kids are, I think, 12 and up (though how up I’m not sure), and, being that they’re, y’know, 12 and already in a book club, are wicked smart and clever and mature and all that stuff, but it’s still a bad idea to throw sex and nudity and too much cursing at them. Oh, and the books can’t be terribly obscure, because at least a few copies will have to be tracked down in town (the less ordering we’ll have to do through the store, the better).<

My shortlist at the moment is as follows:

Tales from the Farm (Jeff Lemire), Laika (Nick Abadzis), Northwest Passage (Scott Chantler), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Bryan Lee O’Malley), Goodbye, Chunky Rice (Craig Thompson) Bone: One Volume Edition (Jeff Smith), and probably Understanding Comics as well.

Mostly I’m just trying to think of stuff that I’ve read a bunch that has some literary punch and also does things that the average person wouldn’t expect comics to do. I think I’m only supposed to suggest two, so throwing Bone and, like, Blankets or something at them would be a little mean.

Oh, and for the record, I’m in Canada, hence the Tales from the Farm and Northwest Passage ideas.


That is a fine bit of questioning right there, and the fact that it’s not the easiest thing for me to answer sort of gives a clue to how simple a question it seems, but how hard it is to come up with good books for you.

Right off, if you’re sensitive to sexuality for these kids, you might want to take a second look at Tales from the Farm and Scott Pilgrim, Canuck pride aside, as while I don’t think they’re necessarily explicit, there are sexual and adult themes in both books. The other suggestions you make are quality, but I do worry that, while I find it fascinating, Understanding Comics might not be the most exciting read for kids, unless they’re really into this process kind of stuff. It’s not that it’s not good. Obviously it is, but perhaps later.

If I had to suggest a few you haven’t included, I’d say to check out Mouse Guard by David Petersen, which is beautifully illustrated fantasy. You might also want to look at Kurt Busiek’s Astro City for really well written, but thematically safe superhero material. Finally, check out the soon to be ended Minx line of comics, which has several titles that fall just into the area you’re looking for. You’re actually exactly who those books were targeting, but get copies of books like The Plain Janes while you still can. I think Judd Winick’s Pedro and Me for material I think anyone can be affected by. Finally, I’d suggest that you look into the work of Gene Yang, whose stories are much deeper than they first appear to be, with books like American Born Chinese and Gordon Yamamoto & The King of Geeks. If you’ve got any suggestions, please leave them in the comments to help out someone doing very good and important work.

Josh Flanagan



  1. I’ve tried to cut my pull list down, but it’s really hard. Geoff Johns’ books aren’t going, Ed Brubaker’s and Greg Rucka’s neither. When I try to cut at DC, I realize that I’m enjoying Final Crisis and Batman RIP too much to drop and that I want to read Dark Reign to know what’s going on.

  2. If I could make a full list on what I pull, instead of following one week at a time….I’d have enough money for food. For that guy’s list BTW; definitely get rid of Mighty Avengers, Air, Crossed, and Cable. None of those titles are living up to expectation (well maybe it’s early to say for one issue of Crossed), but they werent entertaining at all this week.

  3. Great letters this week!

    Regarding Andy – I think Conor’s advice is sound. Especially concerning the mini-series. The King books I’m buying in collections. I have a few of his novels and to keep things nice and tidy I stay away from the issues so that I can shelf these stories with the necessary novels. Dark Tower graphic novels with the actual novels and so forth. Your not really dropping anything, but your time and money management can be in greater control this way. Plus, it is a bonus really when you’re buying into a tested story. By "tested" I mean proven. The none spoiler reviews on this site are a dandy for this.

  4. ‘Cable’ actually seems to be going somewhere interesting now (IIRC, Ron dropped it during the first arc which really was on the pointless side).   But I agree with the overall reasoning — if you’re not enjoying something enough to care what happens next — if you’re honestly conflicted about whether to drop something, it’s probably smart to drop it.  If you hear later that it turned out to be the best thing in the world, there’s always the trade.   

  5. @Evin~  I had some of the same problems with my lending library that I set up for my students.  The thing that they tend to request the most is Ultimate Spider-Man.  I know that it’s mired in superheroing, but it really can connect and speak to teens with the issues that they go through, and it’s also a good yarn about loss, overcoming adversity, and finding joy in the little sucesses.  I’d recommend that.

  6. @ Evin…again~ I wish I would have turned and looked at my shelf before finishing my post, but Tellos by Todd Dezago and Mike Weringo is a great story that’s more than appropriate.  The ending and themes in the book are of definite literary value.  Plus the book is damn, damn beautiful.

  7. Maybe they’re too obvious, but Persepolis and Maus have significant literary merit.  Also consider Fun Home which won all kinds of book awards.  One of my personal favorites is The Complete Soulwind by Scott Morse.  Also book geeks can’t help but enjoy the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

  8. I had to trim my pull list recently, as well (you’ve probably already seen me whine about it). It was *really* hard to drop Superman and Action Comics before New Krypton, but the sheer volume of books involved would’ve broke my budget. Plus, I’m certain it’ll be released in trade eventually. I’m keeping most creator-owned books, though, because I’d like to support them and you never know if they’ll make it to trade. What I’m noticing is that I’m less able to buy trades because single issues are taking up so much of my monthly comics budget, especially with all the damn Final Crisis mini-series (which I’m unable to drop because I want to see what happens!). I’d like to strike more of a balance because I’m really missing trades right now, esp. Fables Vol. 10, Scalped Vol. 3, the Queen and Country Definitive Edition Vol. 3, and various others. I want to read those really bad but have to wait until I can fit them into my budget.

  9. @PudgyNinja The League Of ExtraOrdinary Gentlemen has rape and graphic violence – like limbs getting torn off someones body, or someone getting bludgeoned. There is also spanking which I quite enjoyed.

  10. 1.  Although I agree with your recommendations Conor, I often wonder why people come to you guys (or anyone else for that matter, not trying to dis iFanboy at all) for advice on which books to drop.  Look at your list, really think about what you are enjoying the least, and drop it.  No one can really tell you what you are and are not enjoying.  If, for some reason, you are loving Loeb’s Hulk…well then keep reading it!  Don’t look for justification from all the super cool comic guys out there.  My two cents.

     2.Mouse Guard and ABC are definetly great reads for young ones.  I would also recommend Runaways, BKV run (my young sister-in-law loves em) and X-men: First Class, because kids will very likely want to read super hero comics right away.

  11. I did actually consider Mouse Guard and American Born Chinese when staring at my self, but, as great as they are, I think that they’re largely (Mouse Guard especially) more art-heavy than they are story-heavy. ABC is better, but still a little light, I think.

     Plain Janes is a good idea, although I totally just did buy our last copy a few weeks ago, though I imagine we could get more.

    I do also agree that Understanding Comics is a little… dry. I just thought it might work because, if there’s anything that could be regarded as a textbook for this stuff, it’s that one.

     Thanks for the help, guys.

  12. Instead of Understanding Comics try on of Will Eisner’s books – Graphic Storytelling or Sequential Art. Less dry and a lot more fun.  But if you were teaching a course in English Lit you wouldn’t necessarily assign How to Write Books or Theory of Novels.  I say go with more actual comics.

  13. I would disagree about American Born Chinese.  It’s fantastic story.  it’s just that it seems so simple that there’s nothing behind it.  But that’s taking 3 stories and bringing them together, so elegantly.  It’s a clinic on story, in my opinion.

  14. @Josh-I would argue that it would help kids through a lot of the problems they would face in their early teens; ffeeling that they have to fit in with the crowd.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, it would teach them to just be themselves and to learn that its ok. 

    Upon further thought, I recommend Owly as well.  That owl is bad ass.  Plus he isn’t afraid to cry, which would appeal to the emo nature that most younglings seem to have nowadays.

  15. i would definitely drop Air, Andy. i read the first three issues and was pretty unimpressed. Comics just aren’t writing and art, there is a craft to each page and i don’t think the team of Air are particularly talented.


    with regards to comics for a younger audience, i think young adults, late teens, would really dig Bendis’ Daredevil run. It was extremely well told and intelligent. i don’t think the graphic scenes of violence were worst than any PG movie. plus the book doesn’t seem like a young adult piece so kids won’t feel like there are being talked down to.

  16. Poor Mighty Avengers: So much potential, such a great first issue, doomed by Frank Cho, stuck in the mire of Secret Invasion.  Another tiny comic book tragedy.

    Drop X-Force.  It blows. 

  17. @edward – I don’t think Bendis wrote his Daredevil run with 12 year olds in mind.  And it would EASILY be rated PG-13.  I mean, it’s more appropriate than Alias… but it wouldn’t be my first choice with that age group.  "Ultimate Spider-Man" is more fitting.  Just looking up at my bookshelf… what about "Sam and Max"?  Might be out of print, though, and it’s not terribly deep.  "Young Justice"?  Excellent book, but not real literary…

     I think you should consider "Ultimate Spider-Man".   Like Neb, that has found much popularity in classrooms of mine.  And there’s nothing wrong with giving them even just the first volume of "Bone".  That would have been my first suggestion,  if you hadn’t poo-pooed it up top.

  18. @Evin: Days Like This by your canuck brethren J. Torres and Scott Chantler is an amazing graphic novel about 60’s pop music especially the girl groups. it would be just perfect for a pre teen or early teenagers to read and its one of my personal favorites

  19. @Evin: oh i forgot about Houdini: the handcuff king by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi. its accounts the events leading up to harry houdinis 1907 escape from the boston river while handcuffed. its very well written and educational without being boring, and it shows a variety of different storytelling techniques that someone new to comics should see. and i dont know about most kids, but when i was an early teen i was obsessed with Houdini and in all honesty still am. hope that helps

  20. #1 thing Vertigo doesn’t need: people giving up the single issues.

    Thanks, Conor


  21. 1.) The dropping of the Mighty Avengers is a great idea. I have tried myself for a long time to stick with the book, but I just can’t seem to support it anymore. The loss of Bendis and the story lines of Secret Invasion really make my not want to continue with it.

    2.) As far as younger crowds, I feel that Runaways and Mouse Guard are the two 100 percent best choices. Great length, great characters, and two very representative pieces of art to really show them what the medium is about and what it can convey in relation to plot and story as opposed to standard novels.