Bookmarks. Believe it or not they have been the key to my comic book reading lately. Now your average comic book is about twenty two pages long and I don’t need a bookmark for one of them but I do often use them for some of the larger hardcover collections of comic books that I own. Those hardcover book can collect anywhere from six to fifteen issues of any given comic. They are at least a couple of hundred pages long and I have a few big ones that are a thousand pages. They are the gigantic ones. Except I rarely sit down and read an entire collection of comics in one sitting. So for most of my collected editions I use a bookmark as if they were any other book. But my comic book reading habits have changed over the last year and I’ve moved away from collected editions.

In that last eight months or so I’ve gone back to buying more monthly comics and fewer collected editions. I got bored with reading a single title in one big chunk. Wanting to read some Conan meant reading six issues of Conan back to back. I wanted to return to the variety of reading comics as periodicals. The wait between issues is okay because I didn’t want to read more than one issue of any given title. I didn’t want to read six issues in a row of whatever comic no matter how good it was. I wanted to read one issue of this and then one issue of that and finally one issue of the other thing. I’ve been finding new books to buy and enjoying their variety. If I want to go back and read a few issues of something I will. But I was tired of the norm being reading a few issues of something.

I’ve even changed the way I review comics for this blog. For a long while there I was only reviewing stories that were finished and that I had just finished reading all the parts of. That basically meant only collected editions or something older that I dug out my issues of to reread. It even started to effect my enjoyment of reading them. I would look at some big book of comics on my shelf and then not want to read and review it because it meant not reading my monthly comics. Since I was still reading my monthly comics one issue at a time, and there weren’t a lot of them, most of the monthly comics I bought never got a review. Now that I’m buying more monthly comics and a lot of new titles I review them whenever I feel like it. Usually after I’ve read a few issue of them but anytime I feel like it is good. Issue three, issue five, issue seven, or whenever. It doesn’t matter. The story arc may be over or it may not be. I’ll just write my thoughts on what has happened so far if I have some.

As an aside I must say that I’ve find it odd when I read that some comic book fans write that they don’t think people should review something if all the parts aren’t finished and they haven’t read the whole thing. I don’t understand that. If I read a book and don’t like the first couple of chapters I’m not going to keep going. Just as if I didn’t like the first couple of issues of a comic I’m not going to keep buying it. So what if the story isn’t done yet? I’ve decided I don’t care to read the rest of it. Also comic book companies sell the stories as individual issues so it’s perfectly fair to judge them that way. It’s kind of a moot point anyway since I usually don’t review comics that I don’t like. I just find it odd when I read that. Not continuing to read something is the ultimate bad review in any case.

This new found enjoyment of reading monthly comics lead me to a bit of a problem. I still have a whole bunch of unread hardcover and trade paperback collections on my shelves. I wanted to read them but the idea of sitting down with a whole bunch of collected issues of one title held no joy for me. It especially didn’t help that a lot of those comics are the Atlas Era Masterworks that I bought earlier this year. They are all from the early 1950s and though I do like them they tend to be simpler stories that don’t lend themselves to hours in a row of reading. I want to read some issues of “Menace” but I don’t want to read ten issues in a row of it. That’s what the collected editions became to me. Ten issues in a row of the same thing. I’ve had the last “Starman” volume to read for some time now but haven’t wanted to. It’s a big book and I don’t want to read that many issues of “Starman” in a row even if it’s a good comic that I enjoy. And that book is not from the 1950s. I’m sure plenty of people have sat down an enjoyed reading many issues in a row of “Starman”. I can’t right now for whatever reason of temperament.

So what is the solution to this weird little problem I find myself with? Bookmarks. Yes, something as simple as that somehow eluded me for these last few months that I’ve been ignoring my collected editions. I started reading them as if they were any other comics. Now all of my Atlas Era Masterworks have their own bookmarks in them. If I feel like reading some old 1950s Pre-Comics Code comics I grab one off the shelf. It doesn’t matter which one. I can read any one that I want since I’m only going to read an issue or maybe two and then put it back on the shelf. Not ten issues in a row. Something as simple as a bookmark has saved me from the tyranny of my own habit which had failed me. You always have to be on the lookout for ways to break out of your own habits than no longer serve you. See that. I ended with a lesson.