Name: Joshua Strasburg


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    theyliveagain's Recent Comments
    February 5, 2009 1:05 pm

    I'm very glad you wrote this article.  I follow over a hundred different blogs and news sites, but rarely am I inspired to comment.  Forgive my verbosity ...

    Years ago, I decided to become a "trade waiter." The handful of graphic novels and trade paperbacks I owned at the time were a pleasing sight on my bookshelf, next to the "real books."  Their place seemed like a coup of sorts, a way for me to remove the separation of comics from books by allowing them to physically inhabit the same space and, therefore in my mind, the same respect.

    At first, I was loathe to forego my weekly trip to the comics shop.  That jaunt into town for comics was always the highlight of my weekend, something to look forward to, something that was just for me.  Not long after making the decision to switch to trades on certain titles, financial concerns forced me to delay and delay and later cancel my weekly shopping trips until there was no going back.  I started buying all my comics with spines, all online, and never for full cover price (if I could manage it).  I thought it would be painful, but it was ... liberating.

    The shift from purchasing weekly installments of comic singles to hunting for good deals on cheap graphic novels on the Web was a new thrill.  After years of collecting and storing comics in dusty boxes in my closet, it was really nice to put my comics up on the bookshelf, where they were more likely to be perused and re-read (I can't stress the importance of this facet of owning books!).  Apart from the pleasing aspects of their new location, collecting squarebound comic books instead of staplebound pamphlets allowed me to break my long-held notions of what it means to have a collection.

    I was like most comic collectors, I think, in that I believed it was important to save all my comics, no matter how bad, because every comic added to the overall quantity that was my "collection."  The quality of my collection was measured not by the individual quality of the comics but by the number of them I could amass.  The "trade shift" forced me re-think the importance of comic singles in comparison to their squarebound counterparts, which then allowed me to make a decision that would have horrified my 12-year-old self: Get rid of them.  That's right, I got rid of them.  I sold them, gave them away, and even (gasp!) threw some in the garbage.

    That's not to say I rid myself of the entire mass of comics.  I merely unburdened myself of the comics I didn't like, want, or need.  I actually pared them down to a number which fit into two "short boxes" (traditional collectors will understand how small a number this really is).  All the while, though, I was building up a nice little library of comics with spines on the bookshelves.  Of course, I decided early on to only keep the books I really liked and to sell or give away any others.  (The public library's graphic novel section helped me save money by allowing me to find out if some books were good or bad without having to pay for them first.  Whodathunk?)

    I devised a few criteria to judge each book for inclusion in the new collection: (1) A "collection-worthy" book must be great--not just good.  (2) A collection-worthy book must be "re-readable."  The only purpose I can see for keeping a book is to read it again.  If I read a great book, but find it difficult and can't see myself ever reading it again, it doesn't get a spot in the collection regardless of how great it is.  (3) If a book is not necessarily collection-worthy on its own, it may stay if it is part of a larger series that as a whole is great.  (4) Books with pleasing nostalgic value may earn a place in the collection despite their quality--assuming of course that I would indeed re-read them.

    Every book I read is judged by these criteria, which ensures that my collection is not only full of high quality books, it is only high quality books.  I can go to the shelves, pull any book off, and enjoy reading it.  Because that's what counts, right?  Reading is about enjoyment, about finding a "good friend" to spend time with and relax.  I would rather have a small number of really good friends than thousands of MySpace friends.

    Joshua Strasburg ( /

    December 30, 2008 11:18 am

    To Conor: I recently read SCARLET TRACES myself and I can tell you that you don't need to read the Edginton and D'Israeli WAR OF THE WORLDS to enjoy it.  True, their version is great and sets the tone for the sequel, but if you have even the slightest inkling of what WAR OF THE WORLDS is about, then you already know everything you need to know.  Even a cursory glance at LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN VOLUME II would be enough to fill you in on the back-story.  SCARLET TRACES is excellent.  It has a lot of elements to suggest that Edginton and D'Israeli are fans of Arthur Conan Doyle as much as H.G. Wells.  After I read it, I immediately tore into KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, another Edginton/D'Israeli collaboration released by Dark Horse.  I wish I could fill a shelf with comics from these guys.