I thought it would be fun to talk about the comic books on my bookshelf. Like a lot of comic book fans, I have a bookshelf full to overflowing of original graphic novels and trade paperback collections.
Abe Sapien Vol. 1 and BPRD Vol. 1-12
Although I primarily buy single issues (I refuse to use the pejorative term “floppies”), there are a few series that I read as trades. At the top of that list is the Hellboy spin-off BPRD. The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development has great characters and compelling adventures of its own. I especially enjoyed the way it developed into an ongoing series even though it’s still solicited as a series of mini-series. There’s more room for sub-plots, character development and an overarching narrative.
Abe Sapien is one of the best characters of the past 20 years. He stole the show in the second Hellboy movie and his solo adventures in comics are well worth reading too.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol. 1-7
I really like the way that Dark Horse approached their big Buffy collection. They
eschewed reprinting the stories in publication order. Instead, they chose to reprint the comics in the fictional chronology of the series. That means we get some great tales at the outset featuring stories set in the past for Buffy, Spike and the rest of the crew. It also makes for a better mix of stories as long arcs and short stories, and solo features and ensemble pieces alternate. It makes for a better blend of quality (the initial ongoing series took a little while to get really good). Plus, it’s fun to see Dawn written into some of Buffy’s earliest adventures.
I should mention that technically only volumes 1-6 are on my bookshelf. Anacoqui has volume 7 in a “to-be-read-someday” pile on her bookshelf.
The Chronicles of Conan Vol. 1-14
Conan is one of the first older series that I collected exclusively through trade. I
had always heard great things about it but it seemed way too intimidating (and cost-prohibitive) to try buying all of the back issues. Dark Horse’s reprint collection was perfect. I bought the first volume in 2003. I loved the stories, the Barry Windsor-Smith art and the Roy Thomas retrospectives. I eagerly awaited each successive volume, and waited in trepidation when it looked the series might be cancelled (there was an unexplained delay of a year between volumes 10 and 11). After 14 volumes, I mostly had my fill and decided to walk away with Roy Thomas (they’re now up to volume 20).
The Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 1-5
These 500-page black-and-white monsters are a satisfying chunk of story. However, the simultaneous publishing of Savage Sword “phonebooks” and Chronicles may explain why I got burned out on Conan and ready to leave with Roy.
MySpace DHP Vol. 1
I’m funny that way. I rarely read webcomics. But I have no problem buying collections of comics previously available on the web for free. Dark Horse’s MySpace collections
are a wonderful anthology featuring characters from their diverse line as well as entirely new concepts. They’ve introduced me to Usagi Yojimbo, delighted me with Dr. Horrible and impressed me with so much more. Volume 1 is on my shelf. 2 and 3 are on Ana’s (a recurring theme). However, I’m a little behind and haven’t yet bought volumes 4 and 5.
Hellboy Volume 1-5, 8-10
Who says that movies can’t bring new readers to comics- or, at least, to a series? The first Hellboy comic I bought was a $1 reprint of “The Body” that came out with the first Hellboy movie as a promotion. I loved it. I bought a couple of the early trades and started collecting the new stories as they came out. I soon discovered that I enjoyed Hellboy a lot more in trades than in single issues. So I switched back to trades with volume 8.
Spyboy Vol. 1-5 and Young Justice
I started buying this Peter David/Pop Mhan vehicle just as it was being canceled. I loved the blend of action and humor. I loved the characters and the use of chibis (Japanese style animated avatars that crack jokes along the margins). And I would have switched to buying the monthly issues except it was, y’know, discontinued.
Star Wars: A Long Time Ago Vol. 1-7
I enjoyed reading the older Conans in trade form so much that I decided to take
the plunge with another classic series from the ‘70s and ‘80s: Marvel’s Star Wars.
Thankfully, Dark Horse had collected the entire series in 7 distinctive volumes. Ana bought me the first couple as a moving to Rochester present just over 3 years ago. I completed the collection in just over a year. I greatly enjoyed the series. There were some lows (Carmine Infantino had no idea how to draw Chewbacca). But there were some real highs as well right through the end with the introduction of compelling villains like Lumiya.
Classic Star Wars Vol. 1-3 and Early Adventures
These volumes collect the Star Wars newspaper strip. The first three volumes are by Al Williamson and they’re absolutely brilliant. Williamson had an incredible
eye for detail. He drew luscious landscapes, intricate spaceships and recognizable
characters. Early Adventures was drawn by another comics legend, Russ Manning, but unfortunately the strips are some of the worst Star Wars comics I’ve read in any format.
Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume 7, Darth Maul, Force Unleashed, General Grievous and Menace Revealed Omnibus
For a while, I was collecting quite a lot of Star Wars comics. Even so, I missed the occasional mini-series and had to pick it up later in a trade. Clone Wars Volume 7 collects the excellent Obsession mini-series with art by Brian Ching. It features a classic confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan on one side and Asajj Ventress on the other. Darth Maul and General Grievous focus on a couple of prominent villains. Force Unleashed is an original graphic novel based on the recent video game. And Menace Revealed is a big collection of issues that came out before and during Star Wars Episode I.
Umbrella Academy Vol. 1-2
I was curious about this series from the get-go, even though I wasn’t a fan of Gerard Way (the writer) or My Chemical Romance (his band)… yet. But I was cautious. Hesitant, even. I skipped the single issues. Yet I kept hearing good things about the series. Finally, I dropped down an even bigger chunk of change to buy the trade. I am so glad I did. Umbrella Academy was excellent. It featured great characters (though I always thought Kraken and Horror had their names backwards) and told an engrossing story over time. Plus, the White Violin is one of the greatest- and most visually interesting- villains I’ve ever seen. The second volume, Dallas, is just as good, though this time I intentionally waited for the trade.
One more Hellboy/BPRD spin-off to finish off the Dark Horse shelf.
Next week, on to the second shelf and DC.