Mansters’ Journey Into the World of Comics (Part 2)
I admit it – I tend to procrastinate. I’ll set out to do something important and then think of something much less important that needs doing and what happens ? I’ll spend ridiculous amounts of time on that less important thing until – you guessed it – something even more insignificant pops into my head. Case in point…I sit down to write part 2 of my journey into comics, (which should have been completed about 4 weeks ago) when I decide I really need to finish re-reading the incomparable Locke & Key for a future podcast. After a few chapters of that, I decide to make a music playlist in the cloud that I can listen to while driving. Somehow that stupid little smartphone has taken over most of the music playing duties in the car even though I have a ton of awesome CDs. So…it should be no surprise that I never did get back to writing that night, but I am here now to recollect the next part of my journey into the world of comic books. However, before I start, please do yourself a favor and add this to your to-do list : Read (or re-read) Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s one of the best.
Considering that it has been several weeks since part one allow me to catch you up:
- Nicknames : “Flood” (1980) “Manster” (2017)
- Stephen King’s Dark Tower was my first purchased comic at age 40(ish)
- Comixology app gave me exposure to many digital comics
- Indie and small publisher comics are more my thing
- What was on the desk ?
I was hoping to begin this segment by stating all kinds of facts and statistics about comic book readership (i.e. age, gender, average income, money spent, etc). Unfortunately, my attempts to search for this data proved one thing to me – no one really knows for sure. Or, better stated: if this information does exist, then I am just not good at finding it. I am, however, really good at searching for it. What I can tell from reading anything I could is that the average age of readers is higher than retailers would like, the number of female readers is rising and for those fans who have a weekly habit, it is safe to assume spending $30 per week may be a little on the low side. What does this ultimately mean for you and me ? Not much except if you look around at your like-minded comic book friends, they are mostly white men in their 30’s – 50’s (with a few ladies sprinkled in) spending about $40 a week on comics. No surprise, right ? Welcome to the club! See if you can find the one lady searching through boxes below !
When I left off last time, I had quit buying floppies of the Dark Tower and started reading comics on the Comixology app. Then one day in 2011 I saw something that caught my attention on a co-worker’s desk. It was not a comic book or some great piece of art. It was, in fact , just a DVD of season one of The Walking Dead. But that DVD set me down a path I never intended to explore.
I had never heard of this show before but I was a fan of the George Romero (R.I.P.) “Dead” movies so my friend and co-worker, Jeremiah, lent it to me. After the first episode I was hooked and binge-watched the whole season (is six episodes considered binge-watching?). I was already a fan of (executive producer) Frank Darabont’s Stephen King adaptations (Shawshank, Green Mile and The Mist) but at the time I had no idea who Robert Kirkman was. I was not aware that it was based on a comic book but I would soon find out. It turns out that one of the free Comixology issues was TWD issue #1. After reading that first issue, I felt compelled to find out what happened next in the comic before the show returned for season two. And with the purchase of volume one of TWD, thus began the second birth (Rebirth, if you will) of my journey into the world of comics. I stand firm that I can not be held accountable for everything that followed. The comic book industry has obviously fashioned itself to be addictive with its fantastic art and great writers and cliff hanger endings. You have to come back for more. (Just like the processed food industry keeps you coming back with their perfect combinations of salt, sugar and fats.) If you can resist the pull, just stay away and consider yourself lucky. As for TWD, one volume was just not enough to satisfy, so I purchased another and another and soon read every six-issue volume on the Comixology app until there were no more available, then I went to the single issues, then…no more TWD to read. Hello, Local Comic Shop !
But first…Before we make our trip to the LCS I feel the need to discuss something a bit more controversial. Something I suspect many comic fans have done in this post-Napster age of the internet where comic books range from $3.99 to $7.99 or more and $2.99 books are going the way of the dodo. Of course, I’m talking about downloading pirated copies of books. At some point while reading TWD on the Comixology app I discovered a website that would just let you download comics for free. Free. Even comics only one week old. No credit card required. Of course you were limited by download size and a relatively small number of MB per day because they wanted you to say, “Well, this just isn’t enough for me ! I need unlimited downloads and GBs” But I held strong. I did my small downloads and got whatever looked interesting. I never pirated any books I was already reading but everything else was fair game. I knew very little about anything so I wanted to test the waters. Soon my digital library was getting bigger than I had time to read and so I stopped downloading altogether. The books I did read and didn’t care for were just deleted, but those I did enjoy I sought out in the bookstores or started purchasing digital. I learned who the publishers were and got a good feel for who did what kind of work. I expanded my knowledge of comics and grew hungry for more. When it comes right down to it, if it weren’t for those pirated books, I probably never would have gone so far in the deep end nor spent the thousands of dollars since then feeding this addiction and filling up my library. Perhaps this is something I tell myself to feel better about pirating, but the fact remains – I haven’t downloaded a “free” book in many years and have since spent way more on physical books than I ever pirated. So, you’re welcome, comic book industry. Well, that’s enough of that, let’s head back to the comic book store.
The same co-worker that lent me the DVD also told me about a small comic book shop – DJ’s Comics – about a half mile down the road from work. If my memory serves me true, the first Walking Dead comic I bought at DJ’s was the special “Governor” issue in February 2013. Since then, I’ve bought a Walking Dead comic once (or twice) a month. Sure, it’s moved on from a true “zombie horror” comic and I’m okay with that. I enjoy the “soap opera-ish” human relationships developed in the book. I’ve been with it now for the last 70 or so issues and will stay with it as long as it keeps me interested (I do still watch the TV show but that’s mostly because I like to watch a train wreck). Will one Walking Dead comic per month be enough to sustain my appetite for comics ? Are there any other local comic stores lurking around my neighborhood ? What about other comic-minded folks ? Can I actually have anything in common with those nerds ? Find out next time – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel. (Well, no one actually knows when, but the where is the same).
Until Next Time,
The Green Manster