Reading and organizing comics

I haven’t written a blog post in a while, I see. There are a bunch of things I could blog about, some of which might be useful or interesting. But I’ve spend a bunch of time this weekend fiddling with comic book related stuff, so you’re going to get a post about comic books, and organizing lists of comics, and ComiXology, and stuff like that.

I keep a list in Evernote of all of the physical single-issue comics I’ve bought and read, since I jumped back into buying single-issue books in 2016. I pretty much stopped buying new books in 2020. I looked at that list about a month back, and realized that I’d bought less than a dozen (physical) comics this year. And I’d read only a few. I read a few more right around Halloween, since I was in the mood to read some spooky stuff, and I had a few old Halloween-related comics in my to-read pile. Today, I went through the list and decided to buy a few more single issues on eBay to complete a couple of runs. I bought the eighth issue of Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, a couple of issues of Wynd, a couple of issues of Usagi Yojimbo, and a couple of issues of Groo Meets Tarzan. The last issue of Groo Meets Tarzan comes out this week, so I’m going to try to pick that up at my local comic shop, and then that’ll probably be the last book I buy this year. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking that I should sit down one of these days and polish off the last of the DC books I’d bought before stopping. I have a handful of Detective issues, all twelve issues of Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes run, and some other stuff.

I also recently took a look at my Goodreads history to see what collections (physical and digital) that I’ve read this year. I finished reading Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina series (digital collections from ComiXology). I read a few volumes of Invincible (ComiXology again). I read most of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run (physical TPBs), and will probably finish that by the end of the year. I bought and read most of the Hilda books after watching the Netflix show. (Those aren’t available digitally, so I bought the TPBs. They’re oversized, so I’m probably better off with the physical format for those.) And some other random stuff.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten interested in reading some stuff from old Humble Bundles again, so I’ve read a few old Doctor Who and Star Wars volumes, in CBZ format, on my iPad. This lead me into reevaluating my choice of reader apps for DRM-free comics. For the last year or so, I’ve been using iComics, which is pretty good. (I blogged about it just about a year ago.) I decided to play with Panels this weekend and see if it was any better. The free version of Panels isn’t great, but if you pay for the premium version ($1.50/month or $11.50/year), it’s a little better than iComics and maybe even better than my old favorite, Comic Zeal (which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since 2016, and doesn’t really work anymore). I’m not keen on paying a subscription fee for a comics reader, but I might do it. (I’m on a one-week free trial right now.) And I guess that providing the developer with a steady income flow might keep that “no updates since 2016” problem from happening…

Back on the ComiXology side of things, I had an issue with the app on my iPad yesterday that caused me to delete it and reinstall it. That got me looking at my library of books there. I currently have over 1000 books in my library. ComiXology has never really had great tools for managing a large library. The tools have gotten a little better over the years, but still aren’t that great. But I spent some time in the app yesterday going through my old books, and marking a bunch as “read,” cross-referencing them against my read/unread lists in Evernote. Back when ComiXology started, they didn’t really have a good system for marking books as read. When you’d read an issue, the app would remember that, but it didn’t sync that status back up to the server, so you’d lose it any time you had to reinstall the app or move to a new iPad. At some point, they fixed that, and the read/unread status is stored in the cloud, and is even something you can filter on. So I’d like to get to the point where I can look at my list of unread books, and it’ll actually show me only books I haven’t read yet. My official unread list is currently a little over 600 books. There are still a bunch of books in there that I’ve actually read, but just haven’t marked as such, so I still have some cleanup to do.

The planned changes to ComiXology, that were announced back in September, are apparently still on, but little has been said about them lately. You can still buy comics from comixology.com and manage your library from there. I’m hoping that all the work I just did to try to update the read/unread status on my books doesn’t get lost in the transition. (Though it would be pretty typical and unsurprising if that did happen.)

At the beginning of the year, I briefly considered subscribing to ComiXology Unlimited, but couldn’t quite talk myself into it, mostly due to the large library of purchased comics that I still haven’t read. But now I’m thinking about it again. There are a few things I want to read that I haven’t bought yet, and that are available on ComiXology Unlimited. So maybe I should just go ahead with that. I have to keep reminding myself how much of a backlog I have…

I’m also considering buying a couple more Humble Bundles. There’s a Dynamite one running right now that has some books in it that I’d like to read, and some that reprint stuff that I read long ago, but would like to reread, like Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar. (I need to remind myself that I bought two Dynamite bundles in 2014, and haven’t read everything from those bundles yet.) And Dark Horse has a Lone Wolf and Cub bundle. I read a bunch of Lone Wolf and Cub years ago, when First Comics was publishing it back in the 80s. But I don’t have those issues anymore, and First didn’t complete the series. Again though, I need to remind myself that I have a manga bundle from 2018 that I haven’t read yet. and a bunch of volumes of Blade of the Immortal that I haven’t read. And a number of other random manga volumes that are collecting dust on my shelves… But at least the Humble bundles support charity, and they’re DRM-free downloads, so they don’t take up space in my apartment, and I won’t ever lose access to them (assuming I don’t lose my hard drive and all my backups).

One of the other good things about having switched largely to digital comics is that I don’t have to bag and board them, so the current bag and board shortage really doesn’t affect me. Nor does the recent ransomware attack on Diamond.

I’ve taken Thanksgiving week off, to use up some of my outstanding vacation days, and maybe I’ll read a bunch of comics over that week. I had been thinking about a semi-ambitious multi-day NYC vacation for at least part of that week, but I’m rethinking that after being sick most of this week. I’m pretty sure I got sick after going out to eat last Sunday. It was the first time since the pandemic started that I’d risked eating indoors at a restaurant. I can’t say for sure that the restaurant visit was where I got sick, but there’s a pretty good chance that it was. And I did get sick after NYCC, as I mentioned in my last post. So maybe a multi-day NYC trip is a bit too ambitious for me right now. Maybe a one-day trip on Monday of that week? Then I’ll have the rest of the week to recover if I get sick? I don’t think any of my illnesses this year have been COVID, but they sure have been inconvenient and annoying.

Well, there you go, a long and rambling post about comics. I guess that was a good way for me to get some of this stuff out of my head on a Sunday evening so I can concentrate on work tomorrow and have a good work week, prior to my vacation next week.

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