Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Pull List | Rethinking single-issue comics

Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1
I recently started buying single issues of comics again. Not because I feel like I'm hurting the industry by trade-waiting (I don't), but because it's more fun that way. A lot of writers and publishers are making obvious efforts to create a more rewarding experience out of buying single-issues.

The trouble is that I've just started adding series to my pull list willy-nilly without giving a lot of thought to what I'm doing. That's where this post comes in. I'm going to start assessing what I'm buying every week and make some choices. I need some limits, not only for budget reasons, but also to protect my time.

I've decided that a pull list of 20 series is pretty reasonable. That works out to about five, individual issues a week: a little over an hour of reading time and between $15 and $20. It doesn't include graphic novels and series that read better in collected form (BPRD, for instance). I'll have to assess those separately.

Saga #4
Last week, the single issues I bought were (in alphabetical order):

All-Star Western
Atomic Robo
Courtney Crumrin
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE 
The Spider

Of those seven, I know that I want four on my final list of 20.

I've been a fan of Atomic Robo since it started and though I also want the collections on my shelf where they're easy to get to, it's a comic that's really made to be read as single issues. I resisted buying both versions, but it always hurts me when I pass up the monthly version on the shelves. That tells me something.

Courtney Crumrin is another series I'm going to want to keep buying. I love Ted Naifeh's work in general and it's great to be able to read about his terrifying, but so-cool, little witch girl on a regular schedule. Plus, the individual issues feel like complete units, even though they're parts of a larger story.

Courtney Crumrin #3
I just decided last week to check out Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staple's Saga instead of waiting for the collection. I'm glad I did, because it reminded me how much I enjoyed getting a new installment of a BKV comic every month. This one is a space opera with fantasy and horror elements and there's a huge feeling that absolutely anything can happen from month to month. It's a brand new universe that needs exploring.

Finally, David Liss and Colton Worley's The Spider is a fantastic pulp-superhero series that I don't want to wait for.

The other three series are all on the bubble for various reasons. I really liked Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE when Jeff Lemire was writing it, and loved Matt Kindt's first issue for what it was. The problem is that Kindt changed some things in a way that jolted me a little. It's a speed bump I expect to be able to get over, but it shook my confidence some.

The Spider #2
I'm also generally enjoying Aquaman (I'm behind on it, but catching up), but I'm not fully sold on it yet. I'm tired of the constant reminder that Aquaman's a pop-culture joke and the series' defensiveness about that. There was also a fill-in issue in which Mera is sexually harassed in an unbelievable, ridiculous way just so she can show how tough she is by beating the guy up. In other words, the comic feels desperate; like it has to cheat in order to make its heroes seem cool. On the other hand, Aquaman's teamed up with a jungle girl, so that's pretty great.

I'm almost positive I'm done with All-Star Western. It keeps retelling the same story in different ways and after ten issues, I'm looking for something new. As I keep adding series to my 20 every week, I expect All-Star Western to fall off the list pretty quickly.

Here's how I rank these seven:

  1. Atomic Robo
  2. Saga
  3. Courtney Crumrin
  4. The Spider
  5. Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE
  6. Aquaman
  7. All-Star Western

1 comment:

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Love the new avatar!

I can understand your desire to pick up comics on a more monthly basis. Recently I tried starting to pick up Daredevil since I had heard so many good reviews about the new creative team. While the art and writing are indeed good, the stories were a bit light with a slice of life bent that might be better appreciated in a trade when there are a number of stories in a row, so that I can get my action fix later on in the same sitting.

I'll be very much interested in seeing what you think of these titles as I'm only marginally familiar with most of them.


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