Feeling the Pull

Several weeks ago I noted that I’d be moving and starting school. The latter is just around the corner, but the former has at last transpired. Columbus is a beautiful place, a fantastic amalgamation of suburban charm and urban energy. I live in a quiet and secluded complex mere minutes from the lively bustle of a true college city.

One of the neat perks of my new home is that I live quite literally down the street from a comic shop, a far cry from the 30-40-minute trek I was previously tasked with should I desire a physical book in my hands. And that trek was not altogether worthwhile, I fear; I may have mentioned before, but I found all the stores in my region to be rather absurdly standoffish, with one owner in particular whose demeanor is best described as “I dare you to try to buy something from me.” Knowing that a shop was within immediate reach was therefore only half the struggle; if the owners of this unassuming corner store were anything like the ones in New York, I was prepared to say sayonara to print comics for good.

But wait, you interrupt. Hadn’t you already said goodbye to comics in general?

No, no I hadn’t. What I said, or part of what I said, anyway, was “I have a few books I plan to stick with if at all possible. If finances work out in such a way that I can even consider comics a viable ongoing part of my life, I will be sure to say as much here.”

Now to be fair, I’m not positive whether the finances are going to work out. But at the moment, some numbers have turned out to be smaller than I’d allotted for them to be, and in turn there’s some extra cash which hadn’t previously been available. The kind I hope to turn into a pull list long-term.

However, what I said previously remains true, and I’ve had almost three weeks to verify its veracity. I am a far happier person when not submerged in comic-reading culture. The absence of a daily deluge of dredging, be it over social media or forums or chats, is a welcome change, and one I don’t soon intend to reverse. And when no longer part of the going conversation, there’s no pressure on the reading process at all: I buy books because I like them, I read them because I want to, I drop them because they’re no longer desired. As it should have been all along, and yet as it seems to not have been. I looked for a very long time at “the wall” today and realized with a faint sense of satisfaction that I didn’t miss some things I’d used to compulsively read in the least. Good riddance, I say.

I do not know how often, if at all, I will post things here. But I’m still reading, and if I have something to say, it will show up here. No promises. No structure. Nothing like what I envisioned when I launched the site. But I am allowing for the possibility that this site will be less than entirely silent, and figured here’s as good a place as any to say so.

The store down the road from me is called Laughing Ogre, though despite a name like that it actually features very little in the vein of tabletop gaming and RPG’s which most of the comic shops I’ve been to seem to focus on. When I entered the store I was greeted with a smile by not one, not two, but ultimately three staffers, all of whom at some point spoke with me for reasons that had nothing to do with selling me something. And I decided not 30 seconds into my visit that I did not care if there happened to be other stores in the city or anywhere nearby, because this was going to be the one I go to, and I knew I wanted to set up a pull list, a real one, which gave me an excuse to really quantify my monthly reading and set a budget, but also an excuse to come back every week.

Laughing Ogre runs subscriptions for customers who have at least five monthly books under their name. With ten titles, you get a discount on almost everything in the store. And so I put down five titles, and looked around, and promised I’d be back later on with a full list.

Again, I have no idea if my wallet will handle the audacity of such a list. But ten was the goal, and it came with perks, and so I went ahead and finally made a list, and while the list on this site may not currently be accurate (and, heck, might never be, unless I suddenly feel the urge, which definitely could happen, but I digress), I’ll put the list here, because as I’ve said before if anyone wants to talk one-on-one about books I’m currently reading and enjoying, I’m pretty much game for that:

  1. X-Men
  2. All-New X-Men
  3. Uncanny X-Men
  4. The Wake
  5. Astro City
  6. Morning Glories
  7. Fatale
  8. Mind the Gap
  9. Fables
  10. Scarlet Spider

Now, before you react in horror to the complete absence of DC titles (though three Vertigo books must count for something, right?), do keep in mind that DC’s current business model is rather self-defeating in the long run, as they disincentivize print purchases doubly, first by omitting the digital redemption code which Marvel offers for free with its top-tier titles, and then again by dropping their digital prices when new issues release. It’s not so much that I have no interest in reading any DC books; it’s more that doing so via an LCS is the most expensive and inconvenient way of doing so. That said, because I needed to fill a quota and have limited funds, the fact that I can’t justify buying DC titles through this store means I won’t be buying any at all, they may be cheaper later on, but meanwhile that money will be going to something that was justifiable on a pull list.

The top seven on that list are pretty much secure. I have read every issue of all of them and have no intention to stop reading future ones unless circumstances demand it. The other three were added somewhat impulsively; I looked at what I’d considered reading in the past, and then I scanned the entire wall of ongoing comics not once, not twice, but three times. Mind the Gap I’d read the first issue of and really liked; having now read the eleventh issue, I find myself still quite liking it, and think it’s pretty likely that book will remain on my list for good. Fables is me trying to overcome a weakness I have had since the start, which is a fear of trying to get on-board a long-running book because I haven’t read all of its issues. Even Mind the Gap had me nervous, but I knew I could catch up in two trades. Catching up on Fables is an extremely expensive proposition, and may not happen within the decade, let alone the year. So if that one falls off the list, it will be more because I feel lost or daunted than because I don’t enjoy it. And Scarlet Spider is me finally making good on my very old self-promise to pick up a book with Yost writing it, since his writing had been my gateway into comics and had introduced (and created) my favorite character. The “Wrath” arc has been really fun for me, with Kaine frequently causing me to laugh out loud and Aracely effortlessly blabbing her way into my heart. It’s a book which I will drop to make way for something fresh and compelling (Vertigo’s “Defy” previews booklet has me very optimistic for the fall), but as an obligatory placeholder I figured I could do a lot worse.

Anyway, this is long and rambling and mostly useless, which is why I can justify posting it, since it really doesn’t undermine my previous declaration that my relevance in the community had come to an end. If you wanted to know what I’m up to comic-wise, now you do. And if not……you just read about 1400 unnecessary words.