More Than I Can Read

By | Friday, May 10, 2013 Leave a Comment
I like to take advantage of free comics. Not just the ones from Free Comic Book Day, but somebody's cast-offs or giveaways or any other promo books. That "#1s Promotion" that Marvel recently did with comiXology? I went ahead and downloaded all 700-some books, even though I'm pretty sure I won't read most of them. You might be asking yourself why I would do that?

The first possible answer would, I think, stem from a collector-type mentality. "He who dies with the most comics wins" or some such. And, to a degree, that would make sense in strictly a physical world environment. But it doesn't really click in a digital space. Especially one like comiXology where users are basically just renting the comics, and don't have the ability to store local copies. If comiXology -- a single company that's trying to make a profit -- goes under, the books in that already emphemeral (i.e. digital) collection vanish.

No, the answer in my case is the same as why I've never gotten rid of any of my comics. I use them for reference.

The first piece of comics-related writing I got paid for was back in 1997. It was a series of issue reviews of Marvel's Heroes Reborn comics. The angle that I took in writing them was to first summarize and review the stories on their own merits, but then also go back and put them all in perspective relative to the original characters' origins. To do that, I made heavy use of my own collection, doubling-checking how characters were introduced and in what capacity. I wasn't thinking it at the time, but I'm sure there was a heavy subconscious influence from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Actually, much of my writing in general has been influenced by guys like Peter Sanderson, as I've stated before. It tends to be research-heavy, and often that research goes back to obscure nuggets that nobody else besides me finds memorable in the slightest. And even my memories on those pieces tends to be vague, which is why I then like to go back and confirm that I know what I'm talking about.

In some of the things I've written, I can recall a stack of comics three feet tall sitting right next to my computer as I kept everything I might need handy while I was working. A couple times, I had five or six issues I was cross-referencing simultaneously and had to spread them all out on the floor so I could flit from one panel to panel across multiple books.

In most of those cases, I was writing based on what I already had in my collection. I didn't (generally) go out and buy comics just for the research. So I hang on to what I've got, and I take advantage of free books when they're available. Because I might need to refer to them in something I'm working on. Granted, I might never have a need to write about Arachia's current Fraggle Rock comics, but if I do, I've got some old background material from Marvel's attempt at the license ready to pull out.
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