The Comic Book Conundrum

I’ve reached an interesting point in my collection of comic books: I’ve fallen seriously behind in reading. Probably a year or so, at least. I didn’t mean to. It started out innocently enough. I couldn’t get to the comic book store for a couple of months. (House of Secrets, for those of you who care about such things. Follow them on Twitter.) Correction: When I say “couldn’t”, I should probably say “didn’t”. It was one of those things I simply didn’t prioritize. This is compounded by the fact that it’s quite literally down the road from my survival job in Burbank. I could have – should have – taken an extended lunch on the odd Wednesday afternoon to pick them up. But I didn’t. Bad Anthony.

So that’s how it started. Call it laziness. Call it apathy. Call it Ishmael.

Ultimately, I went and it was a sizable pile. Sizable for me, at least, since I’m admittedly somewhat of an aliterate. Don’t get me wrong, I adore reading when I finally sit down to it but it feels like a chore at times. Perhaps it stems from a fear of commitment. I mean, I have no issues (pun not intended but kept; deal with it 🙂 ) killing hours on Reuters and Reddit, digesting nuggets of news (I’m somewhat of a political news junkie) and avoiding pictures of cats (I genuinely could not care less about other people’s pets). However, when tasked with sitting down to read a book – comic or otherwise – my brain, to borrow from Winnie the Pooh, feels fluffy. (Credit it to Rowlf the Dog for introducing me to the concept and song: “Cottleston Pie”.)

As a result, the comics went unread. The pile grew. Months passed. Journeys to House of Secrets continued. The pile grew. Rinse.Lather.Repeat.

Here’s where the conundrum kicks in. Why don’t I simply stop collecting?

Stop collecting?! But what happens when I eventually catch up and I don’t have that next issue available to me? What happens if there’s a huge cliffhanger or paradigm-changing story arc and it’s lost to me because I stopped collecting?! I will not link to the image of Boromir’s classic “One does not simply” meme because the actual gesture he’s making isn’t actually when he says those words. Actually. But the sentiment is there: One does not simply stop collecting comic books!!! These things have to have a natural end. Or they have to be cancelled to force you to stop. But then the clever folks at the comic shop slip in that new, related title they know you’ll like and you gladly – or guiltily – buy it since they were nice enough to pull it in the first place. And so the cycle continues.

“Okay. I see your problem. You need your fix. Totally understandable. So just stop collecting the physical copies. Download them.”

I tried digital. My brain has yet to rewire itself to adapt to the non-tactile feedback I get with books. Besides, I crave the turn of the page, the feel of the paper. Heck, even the smell! There’s a satisfaction of working your way through a mountainous pile. There’s a certain level of elation in slipping the comic gently back into the bag, safely onto the board, pulling off a piece of tape, and sealing it all closed. (I don’t tape the flap shut until I’ve read the comic; it’s my way of keeping track.) There’s closure in pulling out the box the rest of the collection is in and adding one more family member. You don’t get that with digital. So I’ll keep on collecting until such a time arrives that the stories end or I reach a point where I feel I can stop, having been sated. The latter is improbable.

My only saving grace, I suppose, is that I’ve kept it (mostly) limited to the Buffy Universe*. I don’t subscribe to anything else. That’s not to say I don’t want to. I’d love to delve further into the comic book world. In part to discover wondrous stories and art. In part to be more knowledgable when I make my treks to WonderCon and Comic-Con. Maybe one day I will. But for now I don’t think it’d be fair** to add even more to the collection, knowing they might sit idle and unread for the foreseeable future. I have too much respect for them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this has reminded me that I’ve got some old friends I haven’t seen in a good, long while and they’ve got stories they’ve been waiting to tell me.

* I added Saga because it’s awesome! I added Figment because it’s fun.
** It may not be fair but it’ll expand my horizons. Eventually.