Comics Ate My Brain

January 6, 2006

When The Trades Just Aren’t Enough

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom Bondurant @ 3:50 am
For a while I have struggled with replacing certain series with trade paperbacks. I have the first two trades each of Sandman and Starman (1994), and from there started getting each on a monthly basis. Each ran about 80 issues, including annuals, specials, and Secret Files, so going to trades would free up a lot of space, and it would probably result in me reading them more often.

However, Starman also had an occasional text-page backup series, “From The Shade’s Journal.” Usually this would be something about the Shade having lunch in Los Angeles with Mickey Rooney or some such, and he’d make fun of Mickey before skipping out on the check. (He was a villain, after all.) I don’t know; I never really read “FTSJ,” because 1) I wasn’t that into the Shade and 2) it’s text, man, and I read the funnybooks so I can look at the pictures. Also, the “Journal” pieces came out irregularly, and I could never remember what the story was from one installment to the next. In other words, I don’t think I missed a lot, but I’d hate to get rid of everything and find out later what I did miss. There were some rumors a few years ago about the Shade miniseries being collected along with the “Shade’s Journal” pieces, and I would get that if it ever came out.

Along the same lines, selling off the single issues of Sandman to finance the purchase of trade paperbacks would mean losing the Sandman letters pages. Not that I remember a particularly steamy letter from Tori Amos or anything; but there was one letter, shortly before the Vertigo changeover, which still brings back fond memories. It basically made cruel sport of those who would write in claiming never to have read a comic book before, “but then, after a transcendent evening of physical pleasure, my lovah reached under his bedside table and handed me a copy of issue #29….” The guy then went on to say “we all know you have copies of every JLA/JSA crossover in your closet, so get over yourselves,” etc., and I’m really not doing it justice. Either that or I have much fonder memories than it deserves. Maybe I’ll keep that one issue.

Still, the nonlinear timelines of both books brings up another question: in what order should the stories now be read? Isn’t the Ramadan story in Sandman #50 now collected with the “Convergences” stories from about a year before; and aren’t a lot of Starman‘s “Times Past” stories similarly lumped together, when before they were sprinkled in-between arcs? If the collections reflect the authors’ true intentions, that’s one thing, but I’d rather know the order in which they first appeared, because by and large that’s how I first read them.

So there you go. I do think it will be easier for me to convert JSA and Teen Titans to trade paperbacks, thanks to the demise of the letters pages….

P.S. I know this makes five entries in five days, but it’s just a happy accident so far. As much as I like doing this, I sure didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to become an everyday blogger.

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