I’ve been reading quite a few comic books lately. That’s because as I’ve been sheltering in place I’ve found myself a little bit over worked and under stress. During the first couple of months of this Coved-19 crisis I got a lot of stuff done. From making videos to making art I was busy all day and night. A little too busy. I couldn’t keep up that pace and burnt out a little. So I slowed things down and gave myself less to do. That meant I had to find things to do that weren’t work. So I decided to relax and read some of my many comics.

Just a few weeks ago I put the new series “The Boys: Dear Becky” on my pull list after buying and enjoying the first issue. Then it struck me that I never finished reading the series that came before it. It’s just called “The Boys” and it ran for 70 issues. Years ago a bought a “Humble Bundle” of a whole bunch of digital comics that included “The Boys” in it. I didn’t have any of the physical comics so the digital ones would have to do.

Here is an odd thing about my comic book reading habit. I don’t like to read all of one thing in a row. I like to mix it up. So I knew I didn’t want to read straight through all 70 issues of “The Boys” with nothing else in there. So I pulled out the five issues of Howard Chaykin’s “Hey Kids! Comics!” that I recently bought off of eBay and decided to alternate some to those with “The Boys.”

Here is something I discovered while reading “Hey Kids! Comics!.” I had actually read them before as digital comics back when they came out last year. I thought they were okay. When I read them this time around as physical comics they blew me away. I loved them. They’re the same exact thing but reading them digitally I got less enjoyment from them. I’d rate reading them digitally as about a 7.0 and reading them physically as about an 8.5. Maybe even a 9.0. That’s how much more I enjoyed them as an actual physical comic book.

I was probably reading one issue of Chaykin’s book for every three issues of “The Boys” I was reading. That meant I had to mix a few things more in there after I was done. The next thing I chose is the collected edition of Joe Matt’s “Peepshow.” This came out back in the early 1990s in a graphic novel format and collected all of the one or two page autobiographical comic strips he made for various comic book publications in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I consider it a classic.

For a lot of comic book fans the late 1980s to early 1990s are defined by Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and Rob Liefeld and their work at Marvel Comics. Their Spider-Man, X-Men, and X-Force defined comics for most comic fans of the time. But for me those years were all about Joe Matt’s “Peepshow,” Chester Brown’s “Yummy Fur,” Peter Bagge’s “Hate,” and Daniel Clowes “Eightball.” Probably a few other things too that I can’t think of right now.

I don’t think I’ve read “Peepshow” in about twenty years. I don’t know why but it’s probably because I read it quite a few times in the 1990s. Plus I passed it around to all my friends. Reading the autobiographical strips thirty years after they were made meant they have a lot more nostalgia to them now then when they first came out. Time has transformed them. We’ve all moved on, including Joe Matt himself, but the Joe Matt character who stars in these strips is still the same as he ever was. Forever a twenty something not very successful comic book artist in the late 1980s with all sorts of weird “Warts and all” quirks and behaviors.

The pages of “Peepshow” are jam packed with panels. When he made these he usually only had one or two pages in some comic book anthology to tell his story. So he made them sort of like Sunday comic strips. They’re wonderfully done but also dense. So I ended up reading either two or four pages of “Peepshow” in-between issues of “The Boys.” It took a while to finish the 80 page graphic novel.

After finishing “The Boys,” which I enjoyed, I decided to read volume two of “Rex Mundi.” I had read volume one last Spring but then didn’t dive right into volume two. I decided to give it time. Volume two is quite different then volume one. Not only is there a different artist but volume one was dark, mysterious, and full of politics in the background. Volume two was brighter, more action oriented, and the background politics broke out into an shooting war. I hadn’t read “Rex Mundi” in over a decade and it was as good as I remembered.

Since I finished the “Peep Show” graphic novel I moved onto the fourteen issue series that followed it also called “Peepshow” (or “Joe Matt’s Peepshow” I forget its official name). Since it’s a regular comic rather than a collection of strips it doesn’t have the density on the page like the graphic novel, and I remember people at the time were disappointed in that, but it’s just as good.

Oddly when I went to get my issues off the shelf numbers 11-13 were missing. According to my database I never got issue 14 but the three before it should be there. I don’t know where they went. The same thing happened to issue number three of “Rex Mundi” volume two. It wasn’t there and I have no idea where it went. At least I found a collected edition of “Peepshow” issues 11-14 on my shelf. So I’m good to go with those. I read the one “Rex Mundi” issue digitally.

I’ve also been reading my new comics to go along with these old ones. I’ve been getting four of five comics a week so I’ve been mixing those ones in too. I still have some issues of “Peep Show” to go but I just finished “Rex Mundi.” So now I have to find the next old series I want to read. I’m going to have to look around and see what I haven’t read in a while. That’s a lot of stuff.