Friday, September 23, 2005

4-color Fri. - Waitin' for my trade to come in

Capstone update: I was able to finish up all of my essays yesterday like I had planned, so today's my day for R&R.

Welcome to the second dose of Four-color Friday, the day that contains material that's probably of real interest to only 0.00000000001% of my readership *waves at Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate*

There's a huge debate in the wild world of comic geekdom about the best way to purchase your comics: whether 'tis nobler in the shop to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous numbers of monthly comics, or to take time waiting for a sea of trade-paperbacks, and by waiting, possibly end them? Or, in layman’s terms, should I buy new issues of comics each month, or wait for the trade-paperback collections?

On the one hand, waiting for the trades is often cheaper in the long run, TPBS are easier to store and more durable, and having the story in one volume often improves the reading experience, especially for the more complex and convoluted stories. On the other hand, if you wait for the trades there's a good chance that the big plot points might get spoiled for you somewhere along the way, and there's never any guarantee that a series is going to get the TPB treatment. In fact, if a series sells poorly in the monthlies, publishers will probably decide there's not enough of a demand for it and never put a trade out.

I've recently started moving a lot of my purchases to the TPBs for general cost-effectiveness. My basic philosophy is to purchase monthlies of the books I can't wait to read each month (Ultimate Spider-man, Legion, BoP, Teen Titans) and of the books that I feel probably need my monthly support to survive long enough to reach the TPB stage (Hero Squared, Fallen Angel, Thunderbolts). Generally speaking, once I start buying a book in trades, I rarely switch to monthlies. The only exceptions I can think of are Starman and Y: the Last Man, both of which I couldn't wait for the next issue of; and She-Hulk, which was such a great book that just barely limped along in sales in the first volume that I feel obligated to help it along with my paltry monthly contribution.

Some of my general "Waiting for the Trades" titles are:

The Flash: The continuing adventures of the Fastest Man Alive. This is a title I'm buying only because of the writing of Geoff Johns (remember him from last week's post?). Once he's off the series (which will unfortunately be rather soon), the odds of my continuing to buy the trades are slim.

BPRD and Hellboy: Love Mignola's supernatural detective series Hellboy and its spin-off, BPRD. This is definitely a series where buying the trades pays off, since they'll usually contain some background info on the genesis of a story or even an obscure short story that might have slipped through the cracks otherwise.

Exiles: Concept in a nutshell: X-Men meets Quantum Leap. Okay, it's probably closer to X-Men meets Voyagers, but I'm not sure how many of you out there actually remember the latter series. Exiles was almost recently added to my list of switched-from-trade-to-monthly due to the current storyline which will take the characters through some of my favorite alternate universes, including the Squadron Supreme's world and the New Universe. To you non-comic fans, I know that's meaningless, but trust me, to this comic geek, its pure gold.

Invincible: The story of a teenaged son of a super-hero who has recently developed powers of his own. This is one of my favorite series right now, and one of the reasons that Robert Kirkman is on my Top 5 Writers list. Funny, touching, but not saccharine, it somehow manages to find just the right balance between silly and serious. One that I have to be extra careful to avoid spoilers for.

Fables: After being chased out of their fairy-tale world by the enigmatic Adversary, the creatures of myth and fable form a community in our world. An excellent series that I don't want to talk about too much for fear of giving too much away. I'll just say that I highly recommend it, and that although it's about fairy tale characters, it's definitely not for the kiddies.

Amazing Spider-Man: I've never been a super-big Spider-man fan like some of my friends and family, but I got sucked into buying ASM because it was being written by my main man J. Michael Straczynski, better known to fans everywhere as JMS because nobody wants to attempt to spell that last name more than they have to. JMS was the creator of one of my favorite SF TV shows, Babylon 5, so I was curious about how he would do with Spidey. I know that there's been a lot of mixed reaction to his run on the title (especially the whole Stacey children weirdness), but personally I love this series. To me, JMS writes a better Spidey than just about anyone else writing today. Once JMS leaves the title, odds are so will I.

Sentinels: A lesser known series from a lesser know publisher, Sentinels is the story of second-generation heroes who have had to step up after their parents, the original Sentinels, disappear. From what I've read, this is being printed exclusively in TPB form now. A fun series with some interesting characters.

Walking Dead: Basically Kirkman's take on Romero's zombie flicks. Moves at a leisurely pace at times, but that's fine by me, as the real hook of the series is its great character studies.

Finder: A series that is dang near impossible to sum up in a single sentence that does it justice. A great series with some of the most intricate world-building I've seen in a comic. Carla Speed-McNeil includes extensive footnotes in each volume, which enhance the reading experience greatly.

Strangehaven: Another hard-to-summarize series. The only downside to this highly entertaining Twin-Peaks-meets-The-Prisoner hybrid is the glacial pace at which the other puts out new issues which forces me to wait too danged long for more of the excellent series. Just found out that the third TPB just got released, and can't wait to get it.

Okay, it's getting late, and I haven't even mentioned Boneyard or Girl Genius or The Goon or PS238 or 100 Bullets or Queen and Country or The Pulse or . . . well, you get the idea. So, I guess another round of trades-talk might be in order next week.

As always, if you have any questions or comments on any of the above, please fell free to ask, I'm always ready and willing to spread my comics love to others.


Bubblegum Tate said...

Ah, the "Coke or Pepsi" of the comic book world.

In my case, much like Todd, there are things I can't wait for and there are things I much prefer in large doses.

A quick top three monthlies:
1. Legion of Super Heroes
2. Green Lantern
3. Villains United (although that one is ending soon)

A quick top three "must wait for trades":
1. Queen and Country
2. Usagi Yojimbo
3. 100 Bullets

Incidentally, and this may be fodder for an IM discussion more than a talk here, but I'm surprised you like Kirkman so much. I really dug the first three collections of Invincible and liked what little I read of Walking Dead. But, unfortunately, I discovered that Kirkman was responsible for Battle Pope.

While I'm not Catholic myself, there are definitely some treatments of people, beliefs and issues that are pretty damn offensive to me in that book. And due to my nature (not exactly prone to outrage, but once I reach it, Heaven help you!), Kirkman has fallen squarely into my "you'll never see another dime of mine" camp.

Man, I could go on a lot longer on this topic. If anybody else is interested in Todd and Tate's Comic Book Back and Forth, let us know. Otherwise, we should probably keep it to the IM. ; )

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Regarding Kirkman and Battle Pope, I was already a huge fan before I ever learned that he had written it, and knowing that it's something that would probably cause me great consternation, I tend to act like it doesn't exist (much like my Ennis/Preacher mindset). Denial, you are my friend!

GL is one that I shall be waiting on the trades for. I think in cases where it's a charcter I'm not super-enamored of being written by a favorite writer, I'm more likely to wait for the trade. Unless the writer is PAD, in which case I am drawn to his monthlies like a moth to a flame.

I really need to start tracking down the Usagi TPBs, I haven't read them regularly since you worked at ILS