This is a fine time to up and abandon us.
For some crazy reason, comics have been relegated non-essential during our tine of viral crisis!
Seriously? Non-essential? Clearly, the people responsible for that decision never read comics.
The latest news is Diamond Comic Distributors has announced that they will not be shipping comics to shops until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, comic producers will more or less shut down as well, since there is no point in producing 100,000 copies of a comic you can’t move. Maybe this will be used as a time for writers and artists to catch up (looking at you, Bendis!).
This could spell disaster for comic shops across the country and the world; many shops are already barely turning a profit, and other are basically getting by on a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.
So, consider your local comic shop: check in with them and see if they are willing to mail comics, trade paperbacks and graphic novels directly to you. I suspect most will and they could really use a little bit of money coming in to keep them going until things go back to normal. You could also essentially prepay for your next batch of comics by buying gift cards from your local shop for use when life returns to normal.
So, remember that Walking Dead Omnibus you’ve been eyeing in the shop forever? Now’s the time to buy it. After all, you won’t be spending money every week on individual comics for a while and you need something to read as much as your shop owner needs a cash flow.
Some might even offer to drop off the book at your house to save postage. Give the shop a call and see what your options are.
And if you don’t know what trades or omnibuses you want, let me help.
There are thousands of trades out there, more than enough to outlast the stupid virus. Here’s what I have been reading to keep me sane; you know, I like these old books a lot, even more than much of the new stuff.
WATCHMEN: I taught this work in my comics class at Case Western Reserve University and have read it thoroughly dozens of times. It’s brilliant, as is almost everything by Alan Moore, but what impresses me is that every time I read it, I find something new. I envy anyone reading it for the first time.
GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW: This collection by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams exists in many forms from the oversize giant edition to simple trades. Even after almost 50 years, it remains one of the most powerful collections in comics. Green Arrow, the people’s hero, confronts his Justice League partner, Green Lantern, about the down-to-earth problems regular people face, like paying the rent. Lantern, who is actually a space cop responsible for billions of creatures, realizes he needs to get in touch with his own people. And together the two heroes set off in a pick-up truck to discover America.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR: The first 100 issues by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are immortal. These also come in many forms, including the dirt-cheap (and color-free) Essential editions. No matter the form, the stories are all captivating. You’ll realize how good those early stories are when you compare them with later issues.
AVENGERS: Any and all Avengers, Marvel’s greatest team of heroes. These are also available in many formats, the early issues are the best, but right up there with them is the collected Kree-Skrull War era and later, The Korvac Saga. Lately, I’ve been delving into more recent stuff, like Brian Bendis’ “Avengers: The Heroic Age” and finding it most enjoyable.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, Omnibus Bronze Age, Vol. 1: These issues cover a wonderful period of experimentation as new writers and artists broke away from the earlier work by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky and tried to appeal to the changing world of the 1970s. Sometimes they struck gold, sometimes they missed the target, but over all this collection is a wonder.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, Omnibus Vols. 1, 2 and 3: I spent $250 on this giant collection of the most recent collection of JSA stories, many by the great Geoff Johns. You can also buy them in less expensive trades, but it’s best to start at the beginning and work forward. These are among my favorites in my collection.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: There are no bad collections of Legion stories, though some are better than others. These also come in different formats from the giant omnibus to the cheap trade paperback. If you’ve never read a Legion story (who are you?) ask your comic shop guys where you should start. You can’t go wrong.
I could go on for hours about great trades, but you get the idea.
Editorial Interlude: Ye Old Shopkeep here; as of this publication, Diamond is still shipping backstock, so there’s a good chance we can find whatever you need next, if we don’t already have it in stock. All in stock trades are currently 50% off.
We’ll be happy to suggest some of our favorites, too; along with Mike’s great selections above, off the top of our heads we came up with this list of newer stories: God Country, Curse Words, Sex Criminals, Afterlife with Archie, DC Meets Looney Tunes, any of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, The Fadeout, any Hellboy, Jimmy’s Bastards, Black Science, and the wonderful work of former Clevelander Brian K. Vaughan in Sage, Papergirls, and Y the Last Man.
Look, there’s only so much television you can watch, stretch your mind with some great comics.
Mike Sangiacomo is a writer from South Amherst. Follow me on Facebook.