Habit is a funny thing. I say that because I recently realized that one of my main habits has changed over the years in a way that I never really noticed. That would be my comic reading habit.

In the last few years I’ve purchased more of my comics as hard cover or soft cover collections than as actual comic books. This mostly has to do with me not liking too many super hero comics so there are not a lot of new monthly comics for me to buy. I still get the small press comic books that I’ve been buying for ages but there aren’t a ton of them and they don’t come out monthly or even bimonthly in a lot of cases.

It’s been a golden age of comic book and comic strip reprints and I’ve gotten a lot of them. Plus I’ve bought a lot of graphic novels and a couple of current super hero books as they’ve been collected in a bound edition. I sure haven’t been reading fewer comics. This switch from comics to collections is not the habit I’m talking about.

Every comic reader has his habit of how comics are read and put away. There is a temporary place to put new comics and a more permanent place to put them after they’ve been read. From an end table to a comic box or shelf most collector’s comics follow the same path from month to month. If there is no order to your collection then you don’t have a collection you have an accumulation. That’s a different beast entirely.

When I get back from the comic shop I usually log my comics into my database. Not every collector has a database but a lot do. This way I know what comics I have and on which shelf to find them. How to find them is actually the most important part to me because my collection is spread out across many book shelves. It’s more a map than a database.

I still don’t have all my hard and softcover books in a database though and that is making it hard to find them at times. I’m constantly having to rearrange my shelves as I get new books and it’s tough to get them into any kind of order because they come in so many different sizes. Some need extra tall shelves and some don’t. It can be an organizational challenge but at least books have easy to read spines that the book title is usually printed on.

After a comic is logged into my database I put the comic into a bag and it goes onto my end table in the “To be read” stack. There it stays until I read it. When I want to read a new comic I pick one off the stack, read it, and then put it away on a shelf with the rest of the series. That’s it. Not too complicated and it keeps things neat and easy to find. The comic don’t linger around the place getting under foot.

This week at the comic shop was different than my usual one. Not only did I have none of my regular comics come out but I didn’t have any collected editions come out that week either. Sometimes on weeks like this I’ll find some collected edition of something on the local comic shop’s shelves that looks interesting and buy it. But not this week.

This week I decided I was going to pick out six super hero books that I usually don’t read. Three from Marvel and three from DC. As I said I normally don’t buy any super hero books so I had a lot to choose from. But as they mostly looked like crap to me so it wasn’t a particularly easy choice. I even wanted to check out an issue of Astonishing X-Men but it was a dollar more than the other comics. All the X-Men I looked at were a dollar more. That lead me to eliminate the X-Men from my choices.

This blog isn’t about reviewing comics but I’ll give you a quick rundown of the ones I bought:

Powerman and Iron Fist – 4 – My least favorite of the bunch. It barely made an impression on me. I won’t ever be picking this one up again.

Secret Warriors – 26 – Not bad but it was mostly a Scooby Doo “Big Reveal” issue and I wasn’t really interested coming in at this part of the story. That art and script were fine but I had no interest in the plot. Oh, and everybody ever who you thought were people were really robots.

FF – 3 – Well done but it was too reminiscent of “Planetary” for me. I already read that comic and it was better. Not a bad comic though. Nice art.

Teen Titans – 94 – My favorite comic of the six. It kept me interested and entertained. Nice art and writing. I’ll buy the series again.

Batman: Gates of Gotham – 1 – Pretty good but the artist’s confusing use of blacks hurt the story telling. I might check out another issue of it.

Flashpoint – 1 – Decent alternate world story. I might read some more of this too.

So those were the comics I bought. What was interesting to me was that they lead me to rediscover an interesting old reading habit. Since these comics were all series that I didn’t collect I had no idea if I was even going to bother to keep them. They had no place to go, shelf-wise, and I didn’t enter them into my database or slip them into protective bags. They kicked around on whatever flat service I could find to temporarily store them. Before and after I read them.

Just having the comics kick around may not sound so radical but it changed my reading habits. Even after I read them I picked them up a few times over the week to thumb through them. I read a couple of them twice. Then I remembered that this was how I used to read comics as a kid. I’d buy them and they’d kick around for a while until I got to know them. I think that’s how most kids used to read comics and one of the reasons why most comic collectors have vivid memories of childhood comics. We read them a few times just by the virtue of the comics being at hand for a week, month, or so.

I think that the pile of comic being small was also a help to this habit. I’ve had large piles of unread comics lying around over the years and often I’ll just ignore them. Sure that may be because they were freebies and I wasn’t that interested in them to begin with but it also may be because a larger stack of comics is unwieldy to flip through. And they all blur together. A large stack I just want to get out from under foot. They can just be clutter. But a smaller stack is more manageable and intriguing.

Whether the small stack was important of not it was nice to rediscover this old reading habit of mine. In judging if I liked these new comics or not it gave me a chance to get to know them better then if I read them and filed them away immediately. I think I’m going to try some more new series and let them linger about the place a bit.