Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Do You Measure...Measure a Year?

No, this is not going to be a post about Rent, which is a decent yet overhyped show with a few good tunes. I'm talkin' comic books, foo.

A little over a year ago, I was part of the non-comic book reading public. I knew about comic books. I had friends who were into comic books. My Dad even used to be a comic book reader back in the day. I didn't get into comics for two reasons: 1) I already had a number of nerdy pursuits (theater, speech and debate, choir, computers, video gaming, and an undying fascination with Voltron) and I thought comic books would put things over the top and turn me from a guy who wasn't dating to a guy who was undateable. 2) I'm a literate dude. I like the classics. I'm skeptical of the quality of any book that isn't at least 50 years old. I read Voltaire and Alexander Pope for fun. Comic books had too many pictures and just seemed dumb when compared to Essay on Man.

So about a year and a month ago I was absolutely loving Wolverine and the X-Men, a great animated show that got cancelled before its time (seriously, it had this perfect ramp up for the second season to be all about Age of Apocalypse). I felt like I needed more X-Men in my life, and I decided to do something I thought I would never do: start reading comic books. I began with X-Men Volume 1 Issue 1 (pictured above). I have to say that I would not have been able to enjoy these comics (some people are able to pick up a series in the middle, but I can't. I like to start everything from the beginning) were it not for the many wonderful apps and other digital resources that have made comics like the one pictured above, which sells for thousands of dollars, affordable for guys like me to read.  I immediately fell in love with everything about early X-Men comics. I loved Jack Kirby's artwork and how well it worked with Stan Lee's stories. I especially loved Stan Lee's editorial comments scatterd through the books that seemed to say, "I'm loving this! Are you loving this as much as we are?" I was hooked from issue 1 and have spent more time than I'd like to admit reading comics and making up for lost time. Part of what allowed me to read as much as I did was that for the first half of last year I didn't have a job and wasn't in school. Now I'm working on a graduate degree and don't have as much time for comics (though with summer coming up, I'm gonna spend a lot of time inside reading, working on my pasty whiteness while others are working on tans).

So here's what I wanna do. I want to go back and just look at how many issues I've read in the past year and just get a sense for what I've accomplished. I'll list each series along with the number of issues I've taken in.

X-Men (later titled Uncanny X-Men)- 555 issues

X-Men (later titled New X-Men and even later titled X-Men: Legacy)- 265 issues

Astonishing X-Men- 33 issues

Alpha Flight- 169 issues

Crisis on Infinite Earths (with crossovers etc.)- 46 issues

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time- 5 issues

Identity Crisis- 7 issues

Infinite Crisis (with all countdowns, crossovers, aftermaths, etc.)-68 issues

52- 52 issues (duh)

Final Crisis (with all countdowns, crossovers, and aftermaths including the torturous pile of crap that is the Super Young Team aftermath)- 57 issues

Fantastic Four (part of my First 10 series)- 10 issues

The Punisher (First 10)- 10 issues

Green Lantern (First 10)- 10 issues

Scott Pilgrim- 6 volumes of the graphic novel that I'll count as issues even though they're substantially longer

Secret Wars- 12 issues

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen- 14 issues which I did not particularly care for

A Contract With God- 1 graphic novel

Akira- 38 issues

Ghost World- 1 graphic novel

Maus- 2 graphic novels which I recommend to everyone, even if you don't do comic books

V for Vendetta- 10 issues

The Watchmen- 12 mind-altering issues

Total number of issues read:  1,383 (and that's counting graphic novels as a single issue, when most of them are more like 5-10 standard comic book issues in length)

So yeah, if you've got a mind to do it and no job, you can read over 1000 comic books in a single year. Just to put it into perspective, X-Men volume 1 issue 1 came out in September of 1963. I read from September 1963 to May 2012 in under a year. That's nearly a half century worth of X-Men. I covered the first 40 years in the first six months of last year, and my pace slowed considerably with this grad school nonsense I'm working on. Anyway, I've been surprised time and time again with how literary and grown-up comic books are. I haven't gotten tired of watching timeless archetypes engage in epic battles, and I don't think I will anytime soon.

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