I keep a magic wand on my desk. It’s a simple, unassuming implement made of basswood. I picked it up at a Renaissance Faire a couple of years ago because I liked the feel of the smooth wood and the look of the ash-gray striations that run along its slender length. Also, I didn’t have a magic wand.
I use my wand all the time. I have yet to see it display any overt magical properties, but it is a comforting talisman when I find myself confronted with a writing task that feels beyond my ability. This happens almost every single time I sit down at the keyboard.
I had an honest conversation with some writer friends about this recurring and paralyzing lack of confidence. It was immediately clear that this condition is common among writers. Each of us could relate. Each of us…
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When it got to the point that even comic book stores were carrying fewer comics and regular issues of my favorites were harder to come by, I simply gave up. Then, last year, I got an i Pad, discovered Comixology and Amazon’s sizable graphic novel list and have been trying to catch up ever since. There’s so much out there! A feeling that comes with the enjoyment of reading these stories and enjoying the art is a dreadful panic that I’ll never “catch up”. There are all of these #1’s everywhere, new Universe reboots, classics I never got to enjoy before. I found a pretty sizable list of what I would make regular books and others I would dabble in. I still haven’t put a dent in the list of what I want to read.
There are so many quality popular books, that there’s a twinge of guilt for not getting to the “little guys”. Saga is at the top of my list for regular books, I read Snyder’s Batman for a while, but I stopped at the beginning of A Death in the Family (I shall return!). Marvel’s Deadpool serves up as my guilty pleasure book and Rat Queens itches a very odd scratch I never knew I had. Hardcore high-fantasy works for me. I’m also big on Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Ed Brubaker’s Velvet. There are other books I pick up regularly, but so much more that I also want to read.
For some reason, the original plan of getting “trades” went out the window. It would be a much easier way to binge-read, but then the appeal of buying multiple books a week is lost on that. On the other hand, I would catch up faster. Sure, there’s a hot debate between digital and physical books, but being married and living in an apartment with limited storage, I don’t mind depending on the cloud. If I want to re-read, I can just reload it on my phone or iPad and be a happy comic-nerd. There are also services that have sales on the books, or they’re just outright cheaper (thank you, Amazon!). The value of actually holding a book is not lost on me and every once in a while I’ll walk into the nearest limited comic book store and euphorically flip through an issue. I’ll even occasionally buy a graphic novel. Honestly, though, digital seems much easier on the commuting every man.
As someone who dreams of being an aspiring writer (I’m aloud to self-demean), I find that I’m more interested in who writes the books than who draws them. This is not a slight to the many talented artists who tell these spanning stories as the majority of a books appeal, and attitude, is in the visuals. Tight pacing, good dialogue, and a story that makes me care are key for me to keep getting a book. Fan service plays a factor also as Action Comics and the recently renewed Amazing Spider-Man are among my life-long favorites and continue to entertain. After just starting Gail Simone’s Red Sonja book, I can’t wait to read more and I never read either Red Sonja or any of Simone’s other work. Scott Snyder’s Batman is the first Bat-book in a long time that has made me feel like the Caped Crusader could possibly die in this run, and that’s saying a lot. I have many plans to make room in my list for both writer’s other works.
One strange thing I’ve noticed when returning to comics is I tend to vear away from the popular team books. I’ve barely touched any Avengers or X book. I shrug and say “meh” at the Justice League stuff. I’m sure there are great stories being told, but I find it hard to find the time to care.
More adult books have taken up a chunk of my attention as well. The earlier mentioned Saga is bizarely sexually gratuitous and everyone talks like drunken sailors. In Rat Queens, blood squirts everywhere, someone takes drugs, and again there’s the cursing and more-occasional nudity. Books such as Black Science are solely more adult in subject matter, geniusely appealing to more sentimental and instinctual fears to create an adventure unlike most I’ve read. It’s impressive how publishers like Image and Vertigo have changed from when I initially stopped reading. Speaking of Vertigo, I started reading Sandman. Yeah, it’s really good.
I’m glad I returned to this old hobby of mine. I’ve always been more of a consumer than a collector. I value the stories and characters over the physical conditions of the books I read and I like it that way. I hope to be going to my first Comic Con this summer and hope my wife will come along. I’m excited to geek-out.