January 1, 2010

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Thoughts on Reading for 2010

So it's 2010 and time for a fresh look at what I read in the way of comics.

I've been an omnivorous comics reader since my conversion to manga around 2003 or thereabouts. Over time, I've added indie comics (Top Shelf, Oni, Fantagraphics, and the like), mini-comics (thanks to SPX), and zines (thanks Erica).

In any week (sometimes the same day) I'll read a standard capes comic, a manga, and some self-published work. I enjoy reading from all types of comics, but it also means that I don't have time to read everything I'd like to read from a particular type of comic sub-genre.

In the process of reading Incredible Hercules and little gems from SPX or the Richmond Zine Fest, I might miss on keeping up with the latest volume of Emma or forget to finish off reading Mars. Or I'm into a manga groove, I don't get a chance to read those copies of Berlin I picked up at the Drawn and Quarterly sale.

Here and there I've thought about reeling in what types of comics I read. But what to cut? It seems wrong to arbitrarily say "no more capes comics" when Jeff Parker or Fred Van Lente or Dan Slott (to just name a few) are still writing great stuff. I can't imagine missing out on Fumi Yoshinaga or the nifty horror manga Dark Horse has published. The closeness to the creators of mini-comics plus the fun of finding new favorites is not something I want to give up, either.

What does this mean, then?

Obviously, I'm not giving up my omnivorous taste. I don't think limiting myself is the answer. After all, if I was still limiting myself, I'd have paid a lot of money for Blackest Night comics I didn't care for at all. (Seriously, how can anyone like them? Seems that DC is stepping all over itself to spit on 70 years of comics.)

A quick look at my book shelves show the following:

1950s Steve Ditko
Roy Thomas Conan
Lone Wolf and Cub
Chobits
Almost a full bookcase of Essentials and Showcase Presents
Absolute Sandmen
Bone
Crumb Comics
Scott Pilgrim
Aya
10 magazine holders worth of minis and zines
Everything (I think) Jeffrey Brown every published
Up to Volume 15 of Mome
Flights 1-5
Heck, even the Brand New Day Spider-Man stuff

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. They're all books I've enjoyed enough to want to own and come from all parts of the comics spectrum. I think my reading life would be a little poorer without them.

That doesn't mean I can't re-examine what I'm reading, especially since I have a pretty good deal with my local library and can read virtually anything I want that comes out in book form. I think I've used that too many times to read comics just because they were there.

So here are some things I'm going to look at for 2010. I definitely welcome feedback and comments. These aren't in any particular order.

1) Continue to sample new webcomics and build up a nice daily reading library. I was very late getting into webcomics but I've really found a lot of good ones in such a short time, like My Cardboard Life, Spud Comics, Bug and others, just to name a few. Heck, I finally even broke down and started reading Dinosaur Comics. There's definitely a lot out there and I can't wait to find it.

2) Catch up on my mini-comics before going to the next con. That's most likely SPACE in April, so I have 4 months!

3) Don't read something just because it has a character I like in it. I call this the Batman rule. I need to stop reading things just because Bats is in it. (Similar problem with Spider-Man. The Thing is probably number 3 on this list, but he's in a lot less comics.)

4) Work to read more titles as they come out. This means a combination of getting on library hold lists sooner and using my book-buying budget to maybe get a few less comics but more newer comics. It would be nice to get into more discussions of newer books.

5) Don't be afraid to stop reading if I'm not enjoying something. I've got a dogged determination to get through a book even if I don't like it. It's time to stop that, and free up more time for books I do like.

If I can follow those five steps, I think I'll be able to manage my reading this coming year and be reading things I want to be reading, not reading them just because of habit.

How do you pick your reading? I'm especially interested in hearing from those who read from more than one style of comic.