Words Flow Like Chocolate, notes a singular impediment to waiting for the trade: Grant Morrison]
Here are three great reasons why I should make a complete and irrevocable switch to collected editions of comic books: convenience, economics and, my personal favorite, common sense.
Because, let’s be honest, there really isn’t a good reason for me to continue to make my weekly journey to my local comic shop: the best of the week’s releases will be collected in hardcover or trade paperback within six months, the price for the collection inevitably seems to be slightly cheaper than buying all of the individual issues, and it’s much more cozy and comfortable to curl up with a collected edition of some 168 pages than it is to read six individual issues of a comic book.
Yet I still find myself going to my shop every single Wednesday.
And the more I think about it, the more I blame Grant Morrison for my on-going addiction.
There are a lot of great writers currently doing monthly comic books. Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Geoff Johns, Robert Kirkman and others all do terrific work, but I do my best not to double dip and I can usually resist the weekly temptation of their books. Captain America, Iron Man, The Flash and The Walking Dead can wait for the publication of the collections before they see my cash.
As a matter of fact, Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is perhaps the greatest monthly series ever when it comes to waiting for the trade: it is a completely self-contained story, internet spoilers are easy to avoid and the book is a tremendous treat to read in its collected form. And the Walking Dead Compendium? – That book is pure gold. After finishing the massively thick collection, it’s almost impossible not to want more. And yet I manage to avoid the monthly temptation because it reads so damn well in its collected form. On top of all that, I don’t care if the book sees any delays in its monthly schedule as long as the trades keep coming out.
With other creators I live in hope (and fear) that what they write is allowed to stand on its own without a massive company-wide crossover meddling with their stories. I have little interest in the characters outside of the books that my favorite writers are handling. So I don’t care if Captain America has a major role in next summer’s Civil Secret Siege War as long as I don't have to purchase some extraneous book in order to understand what's going on with Brubaker’s work.
But all of my self-restraint gets tossed out the window when it comes to Grant Morrison’s work. I find myself unable to resist his monthly books even though I know that I will eventually be buying them again in their collected form.
And the irony is that Grant Morrison’s work is among the most collected of modern comic book creators. A person may argue with the schedule of hardcovers vs. paperbacks or worry that all of his Batman stories may not be reprinted in the same format, but it’s almost guaranteed that everything he currently writes will be collected. It’s not as if I risk missing one of his stories by waiting six months.
So, why am I unable to wait? Why this sense of urgency when it comes to Morrison’s monthly comics?
Much of the appeal is because Morrison is currently creating a huge mosaic for Batman which will act as a springboard that other creators can build upon. Rather than just reboot the character (a la Wonder Woman) or send him walking across America (a la Superman), Morrison is revamping and energizing the character by methodically revealing the parts of a puzzle that he’s been developing for years. It’s incredibly entertaining to see all of the pieces as they come together rather than wait to see the completed picture.
Seeing Morrison’s ideas unfold in individual issues is like having a new Harry Potter movie debut every month: I love the sense of anticipation and mystery as I wait for each issue. I’m not sure where the story is going, but I trust that Morrison will deliver. And there’s also a sense of community created as I delve into the various annotations of the stories and read what other people think of the story. The same thrill isn't there when a collected edition is printed.
This is not to say that my addiction to Morrison does not have its negative aspects. Editorial errors and publication delays have made the past couple of months frustrating, especially when one story concludes before its tie-in mini-series is completed. Waiting for the trades would eliminate the annoyance that these snafus create.
It has also become apparent with the most recent issues and their need for various artists to assist in completing the stories that Morrison is writing his scripts right up to (and perhaps past) deadline. And if multiple artists are needed to finish an issue it’s not unreasonable to infer that the artists who did single-handedly complete their issues were working at a hurried pace. None of this suggests that what’s being produced is anyone’s best or most polished work.
But unless DC decides to create new pages for the collected editions (which they have done for Infinite Crisis and The Invisibles, so it’s not unheard of) what’s being currently being published is as good as it gets. Morrison’s next major work is supposed to be a multi-artist mini-series that explores DC’s Multiverse. I can only hope that the editor will have the scripts in-hand and the artists have the opportunity to be well ahead of schedule before the books are solicited.
Having said all of that, I still find myself hooked on Morrison’s work. When he doesn’t have a (supposedly) monthly book coming out, my enthusiasm for serialized stories dwindles. So I’m thrilled that he’s going to keep writing the series with Batman Inc.
And because of Morrison and his Batman stories, I find myself buying other books on my weekly trip. Because, let’s be honest, there’s no point in going to the comic shop just to buy one book.
So his work acts like a gateway drug to further comic book addiction. Jonah Hex is a terrific monthly book, Freedom Fighters gets a try-out for at least a couple of issues, Knight and Squire gets a look, both of Paul Levitz’ Legion books are being purchased, and others comics are also being bought.
And, completely shattering my resolution, I also find myself buying Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Incognito even though I know that I’m going to eventually buy the collection. After all, if I’m going to buy Batman & Robin, The Return of Bruce Wayne and the upcoming Batman Inc. in individual issues and then in trades, I may as well break that rule for other creators as well.
I blame Grant Morrison for my lack of resolve. And, to be honest, it feels good.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010
Posted at 8:02 AM (Permalink) | 19 comments | Tags: guest review, Kevin Pasquino, Trade Perspectives