Last of the New Comics

By | Monday, April 06, 2020 Leave a Comment
The last of my new comics
Over the weekend I got the last of any newly published comics I'll see for who knows how long. (My newest ones are in the picture here.) Although the situation changes on a day-to-day basis, the last I heard, Marvel and DC are still producing comic stories but it's unclear as of this writing how/when/where/if they might get distributed later. FYI, I had my recent books mailed to me; I'm not even going out to pick stuff up at this point!

Me? I'm not worried about not having anything to read. In the first place, so far I have found I have pretty much no more time than I had prior to any stay-at-home orders; I'm privileged to be able to do my work remotely, so I'm still putting in a full work week. In the second place, I have a huge To-Read pile of books and comics sitting here with me already. Even setting aside digital comics and webcomics, I could probably keep myself occupied for years just on what's sitting in my personal library right now. I've been very privileged in being able to buy a large number of books, but I've also picked up two additional collections for free: my dad gifted me his collection about a decade back and I found someone else who had literally left theirs out on the curb. I've still yet to read most of those books, so I'd guess I've read at most maybe half of the books I have in my collection today.

But the question of the day, then, is what can comic fans who haven't been as fortunate as I have do while they're waiting for new comics to get published again?

I think there are a couple of good solutions. I'm not sure how obvious these are to everyone, so I'll explain them here.

First, start looking at webcomics. This might be tricky for a number of reasons, though. While they are (generally) free, there is a definite shift a reader has to make in going from print comics to webcomics. The problem isn't the content or the format or even the venue, but the rhythm. Going to your local comic shop every week to pick up books was a habit many print readers picked up ages ago. Having them forego a Wednesday trip to a comic shop is vastly different than checking a digital bookmark every day or looking at an RSS feed regularly. That habit shift is, I think, what's often problematic for people; they don't like having their schedule and habitual rhythms changed. Another problem can be the material itself: if you're a reader looking for a specific character or creator, there's a good chance they're NOT doing anything online at the moment. There is no Spider-Man webcomic and I don't think Scott Synder is writing any webcomics right now either. If you're a fan of those, you're out of luck in terms of new material. So switching to webcomics will mean finding new creators, characters, and ideas to interact with. There's plenty of good, even great ones out there, but none of them feature the Justice League if that's what you're really interested in.

The second idea is to start searching the back issues. If you're interested in a particular character, start going through other titles they appeared in. If you're a Fantastic Four fan, maybe check out the Marvel Two-in-One series that featured the Thing in every issue. There's another 100-plus issues (if you include the Annuals). Or maybe track down the old Strange Tales stories that focused on the Human Torch. If you really liked Warren Ells' writing on Trees, see if you can find Transmetropolitan or Planetary. Find out where else your favorite characters and creators were featured -- you're online; the information is readily available! -- and start using the money you would've spent on new comics on these back issues. If your local comic shop doesn't have their inventory listed online, call them up and ask them what you're looking for! Even if they don't have it stock themselves, they can probably help track it down for you! (Although make sure you have them confirm pricing on things before they acquire it for you -- you don't want them to buy a book for $100 if you're not willing to spend more than $10 on it!) Many shops now have delivery or curb-side pick-up; you can still take advantage of those.

You might not be reading the newest comics, but you'll still be enjoying stories about your favorites that you yourself haven't read before! And, importantly, you'll also be helping out your local comic shop who's obviously seen their income fall dramatically with all these stay-at-home orders. When state governments start lifting those stay-at-home orders, you don't necessarily need to keep hunting those back issues if you find you didn't enjoy them, but it will have given you a deeper insight into your favorite character/creator at worst, and maybe given rise to a new appreciation of some other work that you had never experienced before!
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