I’m tired of trade paperback collections of comic books. That’s this week’s statement. Maybe it’s because I’ve bought a lot of them over the last few years and haven’t even read them all yet but lately I’ve been looking for more new monthly comics to buy and haven’t been so interested in collections.

It’s one of the questions a modern comic book reader has had to ask himself. Should I buy a monthly comic and read each part as it comes out or wait for the whole thing to be collected into a book? It’s fun to read a comic monthly but often the collection is cheaper, nicer, and easier to handle and store. That and a lot of times nowadays things are “Written for the trade”. We don’t get monthly cliffhangers. The story just stops when the issue ends and picks up with the next issue. Each individual issue doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. Instead things happen and then they don’t. It can be a frustrating to read a story done like that month to month.

Of course trades and hard cover collections have their downside too. First off not everything gets collected into a book. Secondly I notice in myself and others that “Waiting for the collection” often means never buying the collection because by the time it finally comes out I’ve lost interest in it. I read or hear about a comic I might like a couple of months before the first issue comes out which means the trade won’t be out for six months after that so by that time I’ve forgotten I was even interested in it. I really have to keep track of what collections are coming out in the coming months if I want to get some. And I have kept track pretty well over the years but I’ve grown bored of keeping track. Or maybe I haven’t seen as many things I’m interested in lately.

I might be tired of collected editions because a lot of them that I’ve bought over the years have been collections of older comics. Maybe I’ve already got all of those that I want. How many more collected editions of good comics from my youth (or before) are left to publish? Not a ton I guess. I’ve got a lot of good comics from the 60’s-70’s in nice collected editions already so how many more could interest me? Not too many recently.

Last summer I tried to find some new monthly series to buy. I tried a bunch of mainstream super-hero comics and liked a few of them from DC but then they went and relaunched their entire comics line and the few I liked were no longer there. I tried some of the new series from DC and ended up liking about four of them but now that four is down to one. I don’t think I collect a single Marvel series but I have been buying Iron Man regularly as it’s collected plus I’ve bought some of the new Spider-Man and Hulk collections.

It’s to Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics that I’ve turned this time to find most of my new monthly comics to buy. They’re harder to find than Marvel and DC comics and often not in great supply on the shelves of most comic book stores. That means that most of the time you can walk into a comic book store and get the latest issue of Batman or Spider-Man but the latest issue of “Reset” by Peter Bagge might not be lying around. That’s why I started adding new series to my subscription list at my local comic shop before the first issue even comes out. If the story sounds good and the art looks interesting then I want to give it a try. That’s how I’m going to find new things.

I’m still collecting my same old comics too. Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, The Savage Dragon, Dark Horse Comics Presents, Rachel Rising (anything by Terry Moore), Mud Man (anything by Paul Grist), Love and Rockets, Rasl, Glamourpuss, and a few other things that come out less frequently. But that’s not very many comics. I think I was down to one or two comics a week even with some of the new DC comics I had been buying. I wanted more.

It’s a good thing for me that Image Comics has been having a big push this year of new creator owned comics that are in a wide variety of genres. From old fashioned super-heroes to spy stories, crime stories, alternate history stories, sci-fi, and fantasy the variety has been more to my liking. I’m not much of a fan of the same-old same-old from Marvel and DC.

I’ve already added the new Image comics “Fatale”, “Danger Club”, “The Manhattan Projects”, “Saga”, “The Activity”, “Mind the Gap”, “Hoax Hunters”, and “Thief of Thieves” to my subscription list plus from Dark Horse “MIND MGMT”, “Reset”, and “Ragemoor”. And from IDW the new Bernie Wrightson “Frankenstein” series. All of them are pretty good. I don’t expect them all to be around as long as “The Walking Dead”, especially since some of them are mini-series, but I’ll stick with them as long as they’re good. I’ve even added some new ones that have yet to come out to that list. It’s a good time to be looking for new comics.

One more reason for preferring monthly comics comes from an off-hand remark from the radio show GEEKTIME!. It’s a show about all things geeky so, of course, they talk about comics. One person said to the other, “I’ll get you the collection” and a third person said, “You know me I don’t like collections. I prefer comics because I like covers”. That’s one thing I also like about monthly comics: the covers.

Though they usually reprint the covers in most collected editions they don’t have the same impact. Looking at a comic book cover is looking at an objet d’art but looking at it in a collection it’s just another page somewhere in the middle of the book. Out of context it loses it’s power. Quite often in collections the covers are printed without their logos. This ruins them for me as it not only changes their context but also their whole composition. Removing such a large design element leaves things looking awkward. Covers are one of the best parts of comics yet in a collection they can get lost or ruined.

One final thing I like about comics and their covers is that thumbing through a stack of comics is like looking at a time machine. A stack of thirty comics or so can represent five years of monthly change in artists, design, characters, and the world in general. It’s fun to look back at them and see all the things that have gone on. That’s what good comic book covers can do.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like collected editions. I especially like oversized deluxe hardcover collections. They’re fun. I’ve got a lot of nice comics in those formats and I’ll certainly be getting more, especially those really pretty oversized collections, but for now I’m going to be concentrating of finding some new monthly comics to read. That’s what I’m into these days.