One Fan's Opinion: Issue #57

Fri, September 29th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Erik Larsen, Columnist

I've got a confession to make...

I buy the same comics again and again and again.

It's true. I'm that guy.

It's not enough that I have a healthy run of Stan and Jack's "Fantastic Four" and "Thor" comics - when they were collected into Treasury Editions, I bought them. And when they were collected into Marvel Masterworks - I bought them again. And now that they're getting the Essential treatment - I'm buying them again. And if they put them out in that nifty new Omnibus format - I'll buy them again.

I can't tell you how many times I've bought the "Dark Knight Returns" or "DK2!" I've bought "Sin City" big and "Sin City" small and "Sin City" with this cover and "Sin City" with that cover.

I like "The Walking Dead" in comic book form and trade form and hardcover form and oversized hardcover form.

Same deal with "Invincible."

And "Gdland."

And as much as I cherish each and every issue of "Rocketo," I can't wait to have them all collected into one big volume!

And I do love 'em! Because nine times out of ten I get something new out of them. As nice as the original comics often are, chasing down each single in order to read a run on a book can be an ordeal and often with older books the printing can leave something to be desired.

The new reprints are often stunningly clear in terms of their reproduction and those Essential books in glorious black and white give me the opportunity to savor the delicate ink like and examine the art as never before, unhindered by color which can overwhelm as it enhances a book! And that's not all! In the latest "Essential Thor" volume (#3), they reproduced (either by accident or design) many of the covers sans corrections! You can see the covers as originally executed and dope out why smiling Stan took it upon himself to have them altered.

And the latest Hulk volume contains many of my favorite issues of that titanic title! It's Herb Trimpe at the top of his game and there are scripts by some of comics' greatest! I can't tell you how great it is to see these volumes on the shelves of my local funnybook purveyor!

And those trades with that behind the scenes dirt! I love 'em!

Truth be told, I've been even known to - gasp - wait wait for the trade on certain books so I can get them in these forms. With so few monthly mags featuring the kinds of bonus features of old like letters pages or pinups or backup yarns, it's often just as easy to wait for the inevitable book that's sure to follow (mind you, I don't do this with every book. I especially don't do it with comics that have smaller circulations where there's some doubt that a trade will ever materialize). It's a risky move, I know, but I'm a risk taker.

I love big books.

I liked having all those "Bone" comics and I liked them in trade form, but that Bible-sized all-in-one collection? That was sweet!

And did you see Frank Miller's "300?" All those double-page spreads were turned into double-sized landscape pages! Now that was cool!

And those Absolute books? Hell, yeah! That's the way I was to see my comics! I dig seeing the art that much bigger and getting it in a size which is nearly that of the original art is not only a visual feast, but a virtual art lesson in book form as the artists' work can be studied and learned from.

I eagerly snapped up "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" and "The Far Side" collection as well. I love those "Peanuts" books and the "Dennis the Menace" books and the "Walt and Skeezix" books (although those last three aren't readily available in other form, so I guess they shouldn't be included here, but I can't help bringing them up because they're so goddamned amazing)!

I don't have room for this stuff! These books are threatening to push me out of my house, but I can't help myself! Yeah, I have "The Gray Area" comics by Glen Brunswick, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, lovingly colored by "Invincible's" own Bill Crabtree and lettered by comics legend, John Workman, but but I'd rather thumb through it all collected together in book form any day.

Ditto any of a hundred other books!

I regret falling behind on collecting "Savage Dragon" into trades. Year, I've got a mess of them in print, but even the dozen or so volumes that exist barely scratch the surface and readers these days aren't as inclined as I was to chase down all the single issues of the comic book - they they want their comics in bulk! They want them in volumes so big they'll flip over their car like Fred Flintstone at the drive in if they're not stacked properly!

I'm doing what I can to rectify the situation, but there's some missing film that needs to be found and there's work that needs to be done.

But it's getting done.

In the meantime, I'm putting out an Essentials-style black and white collection that's as thick as your leg that collects a healthy stack of issues and I hope to have the rest of the series follow suit.

And trades. Lots of trades.

But that's my stuff. I get to see my stuff all day long! When I sit down with a good book it's not often one that I wrote myself. Yeah, I know, you love them more than life itself and I can't blame you for feeling that way...

I'm pushing it, aren't I?

In any case, I like big fat books that collect a mess of comics. And I hope they keep those trades coming my way just as fast as they can put 'em out. And if there were more volumes featuring "Captain Marvel Adventures" or "Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth," that would kick serious ass! And how about a book of Kirby rarities like "In the Days of the Mob," "Spirit World" and the still-unpublished "Dingbats of Danger Street?"

I'd be there!

I wish that more cool crap was collected! There are hundreds of worthwhile comics that have yet to be bound between two covers - huge runs of your favorite titles that are no longer in print and readily available at an affordable (or even at an expensive) price.

I'm tearing through these back-breaking tomes like nobody's business. Devouring these things in record time! And I'm loving life!

Oh, and that girl I mentioned a couple columns back? She's reading "Blankets."

That seemed to do the trick. Andi Watson comics are soon to follow, if I have my way.

It's a good time to be reading comics, be they 32-pages long or 600 plus! But that's just one fan's opinion. I'm willing to concede that I could be wrong.

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