Mar 11, 2003

I’m so far behind in my comic reading these days its not even funny, but I’ve been treading water for the last several weeks and at least reading as many as I’m buying, even if the ones I’m reading are ones I bought three or four months ago. It actually makes for an interesting change, since most comics are generally episodic and if you read three or four at once from different titles you get three or four unconnected episodes, each of which won’t be continued for another several weeks in most cases. By having a backlog of 50 or so comics, I can actually read “vertically”, that is, read several issues in a row of the same title. So tonight, for instance, I read the three most recent issues of Daredevil, plus a couple of single issues of other things. It makes for better continuity and I’m more likely to remember the story by reading larger chunks of it at once. Of course, the whole point of graphic novels is to consolidate all the related issues of a particular story together so you can read it in a few sittings rather than waiting from one month to the next. I think in the old days it was easier to keep the continuity straight on a month to month basis, because a) I was younger and better at remembering what I read, but also because b) the stories were more verbose, with lots of captions, so it actually took longer to read a single issue, and because it took longer you got into it a little more and were better positioned to remember it four weeks later when you got the next issue. A lot of comics these days don’t have much at all in the way of captions, and its a rare comic that requires more than 10 minutes to read. At a minimum $2.25, for only 10 minutes entertainment, it’s an expensive thrill, and with some of them pushing three or four dollars each, you’re getting into phone sex prices. I stoppped buying manga because with not only no captions but not much dialog, many of them could be read in under five minutes, and it just didn’t seem worth it. It’s hard not to see comic books, or at least mainstream superhero comics, as a dying medium, slowly being superceded by graphic novels. Although they tend to point fingers at video games and the internet and whatever, the industry really has only itself to blame, with the consolidation of distributors and lack of advertising and creator ownership all driving up prices and driving down sales. But I keep buying them anyway.

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