I come from a Christmas list family. As children we always made up our Christmas lists when that time of year came around so that everyone in our family would know what we wanted and could more easily purchase things for us. And no one had to get default presents that kids hate like socks. We didn’t get everything on our list and people were free to go off list if they desired but the list was always there as a handy tool.

Being a comic book collector, even as a kid, always left me in a bit of a bind; Christmas list wise that is. These were the days before comic shops and mail order was the only way to get old comics. Except for the Fireside Origins books, (Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Bring On the Bad Guys etc.) all of which I got for gifts, there were no trade paperbacks. So putting comic books on my Christmas list wasn’t practical. People didn’t want to have to jump through hoops to get a comic and random ones I might have already. Subscriptions were a decent answer to this and I had quite a few subs to comics in my childhood. But subscriptions were a deferred present (though welcome) and not special like a Fireside Origins book.

I mentioned that this was before comic shops were around but when the first one opened around here (1981) it really didn’t change much via Christmas lists. My chances were still iffy that someone would go to the comic shop and track down what I wanted. Going to the comic shop was not in anyone’s usual routine and they would get stuff in the stores they normally frequent rather than venture into unknown parts. If it wasn’t in a mainstream bookstore my chances of getting it were slim. There were not many comics or trades in bookstores in those days.

Now, I want to bring you up to today. In the great trade paperback versus single comic at a time debate I come squarely down in the middle. I go to the comic shop every week and enjoy the periodical nature of comics. But if companies are going to sell trades and hardcovers cheaper than the actual comics then I am going to wait for the trades. Of course there is some small press stuff for which I buy both the comic and the trade. Gotta support the team. But for making wish lists trades are the best.

I had a birthday this last week and I have to sing the praises of the Amazon.com wish list and all of the comic book trades, hardcovers and graphic novels that they carry. I’ve been using them for quite a few years and they make ordering things I want as gifts real easy for my family. So I get a lot of cool comics now.

This year I got: Black Hole by Charles Burns, Paul Moves Out and Paul Has a Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati, Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Case of Madeleine Smith by Rick Geary, Invincible: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2
by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Bill Crabtree, The Mad Archives, Vol. 1, and Kamandi Archives, Volume 1 by Jack Kirby. A nice collection of stuff.

Oddly enough I’m hesitant to read them all. I so like having a whole bunch of good comics to look forward to that I don’t want to get through them so quickly. I want them to last. You can only read something for the first time once. And so many somethings is a treat.

So far I have read: Paul Has a Summer Job, it’s a coming of age story as Paul gets a job after high school as a camp counselor at a camp in the middle of the woods and learns something about life, love and fun. Good stuff that has a lot of heart.

Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Case of Madeleine Smith by Rick Geary, I like this series of books. Geary does an excellent job of transporting the reader to another time and giving us a look into a infamous murder case. Background is given, the people are introduced and the facts laid out before us. Plus some speculation. I love non-fiction and history books but the fact that this is a comic takes me to the time and place in a different way than prose does. This book is about a poisoning case in Scotland in 1855. Every book in the series is good and this is no exception.

Kamandi Archives 1, I have only read the first issue in this and it is the first time I have ever read it. I have probably read about a third of the Kamandi series so most of it will be new. The main comment I have is, “This is how a first issue should be done”. I have complained before about origin issues but this is a good one. We are introduced to many interesting concepts and characters while the story is being told in a mere 22 pages. It left me wanting to see more of Kamandi’s world. There is a reason Kirby is such a renowned storyteller and Kamandi 1 is sure proof of that.

Mad Archives 1, I have read the first two issues in here and though the humor is a little dated (just in places) the cartooning is first rate and funny is funny. I had read that these were a little bigger than the normal DC Archives but they are really quite a bit bigger. They are about an inch taller and two inches wider. I like the big size a lot. I guess it’s to fit in with the Mad Magazine size reprints.

Happiness is a whole pile of good comics to read.