Not At WonderCon

I was a little surprised to see a mention of WonderCon in my Twitter feed this morning. I knew they were doing an in-person show this year, after skipping 2020 and 2021, but I didn’t realize it was this weekend. I went to the show in 2019, and that was the next to last time I did any air travel. (The very last time was the Microsoft workshop I went to in Redmond in May 2019.)

It doesn’t look they’re doing anything virtual for WonderCon this year. At least, I haven’t seen anything posted. That’s a little disappointing, since I’ve enjoying watching some of the virtual panels they’ve done over the last couple of years for WonderCon and Comic-Con.

After my relatively short trip to Albany recently, and how sick I got after that, I’m definitely not ready to hop on a plane and fly out to California. Maybe next year!

Presidents Day

I have today off from work for Presidents Day, and in typical pandemic-era fashion, I’ve spent it sitting alone in my apartment reading comics. (OK, that was my choice for random holidays about half the time before the pandemic too, but now it’s my choice almost all of the time…) I’ve actually spent most of the three-day weekend reading comics. It’s all been digital books, nothing physical. I’ve been trying to put a dent in the backlog of old digital books in my library, both in Comixology and from old Humble bundles and other sources. This means that I’ve been reading some pretty random stuff. Today, I read a bunch of stuff from an old Dynamite Humble bundle from 2014.

I’ve been going back and forth between using iComics and Panels for this stuff. I blogged about those apps a few months ago. Both apps work fine, though neither one is exactly what I want. One of my main complaints about both is that they don’t allow for nested folders. They both have a “collection” feature which lets you group a bunch of books into a folder, but you can’t create a collection inside another collection. And I still haven’t committed to a regular subscription to Panels, though I probably should.

For both books and comics, I sometimes think that I’m spending too much time reading stuff that was free or cheap, just to check it off my list, rather than reading the stuff I really want to read. I added an “abandoned” shelf in Goodreads some time ago, and that helps me get past the feeling that I need to read everything I “own”. Sometimes, I can read a few pages, then say “that’s not for me” and mark it as “abandoned” and go on to the next thing.

I started this post thinking I might post some thoughts about the actual stuff I was reading, and it turned into another post about how I’m reading. So I’ll say a few quick things about what I’m reading here.

  • I’ve finally started reading Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga this weekend, and it’s about as good as everyone says it is. I read through the first two volumes.
  • I finally read Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet book. It was fun. Definitely one of the better comics he’s worked on.
  • I have a bunch of self-published stuff from Matt Howarth that I’ve bought from him over the years. I read one of his Keif Llama graphic novels today and really enjoyed it. This self-published stuff is obscure enough that it’s not on Goodreads, so I had to add it. (Because if I can’t log something on Goodreads, then I feel like it didn’t “count”. I may have a bit of a problem…)

I guess that’s about it for my weekend comics binge. It’s about time for dinner, and I have to go back to work tomorrow.

Yet more on Comixology

I know this is my third Comixology post in a row, but I thought I’d write a bit more, since they’ve switched off the old comixology.com site today, and that’s really ticking people off.
Here are a couple of new articles on the subject:

I amused myself for a few minutes today by doing a Twitter search on “comixology” and checking out all the complaints. It was fun. People are angry. (Or at least pretending to be angry. It’s hard to tell sometimes.) For myself, I don’t seem to have lost any books that I’ve already purchased. And the new app doesn’t bother me that much. And I guess I can deal with the new Amazon sub-site for future purchases.

I see that my Comixology wish list has migrated over to a new Amazon wish list now, so that’s nice. I may do some cleanup on my Amazon wishlists, if I get bored later. I already have separate lists for physical stuff and Kindle books, so having a third specifically for comics is a good idea.

One very minor thing that Amazon has done that I really appreciate: They’ve stopped spelling it “ComiXology” and are now just calling it “Comixology”. That capital X in the middle always bugged me.

The new ComiXology app

I updated the ComiXology app on my iPad today to the new version, which I guess got released today or last night. It’s not great, but it’s pretty much what I was expecting. I blogged about ComiXology yesterday, but the app update wasn’t out yet, so I’m going to write a quick follow-up with some thoughts on the app.

Overall, it’s basically the Kindle iOS app, with some extra comics-related functionality added in. The main screen just has two tabs, Library and Discover. The library tab is where you view your comics, and the discover tab lists new releases, recommendations, and stuff like that. You still can’t purchase books in the app.

The filtering and sorting features in the library view are adequate, but (of course) I’d like more. The main filters are read/unread/in progress, and downloaded (vs. all). Sort options are “recent” (which seems to push recently purchased, recently downloaded, or recently accessed books to the top), title, author, and publication date. The “author” one is a bit problematic, since most comics are created by multiple people. They seem to give precedence to the writer, which makes sense, I guess. The old app used to let you sort by purchase date, which was sometimes pretty helpful. That option is gone. I don’t think the old app had a publication date sort option, so that might be good.

Search seems to be limited to titles only. I tried searching for some writers are artist names, and didn’t get any matches. So that’s a bit disappointing. (And it’s clearly not a full text search within the books themselves.)

The actual reading experience isn’t that different from the old app. It’s good enough. I don’t like the way they’ve changed certain things in the interface, but I’ll get used to it.

There’s a good article up on The Beat today with some analysis of the new app and the new “shopping experience.” It’s a pretty negative article, and I can’t really argue with anything they’re saying. I think that the overall effect of these changes, for me, is that I’m likely to spend less money on digital comics via Amazon. That’s actually probably a good thing, given how much money I’ve spent at ComiXology, and how far behind I am with my reading.

ComiXology changes and weekend reading

My weekend reading has mostly been random single issues of comics in my ComiXology library, all of which I got for free, mostly in 2014. With the coming changes to ComiXology, I’ve been spending some time organizing my lists of digital comics and finding some old ones that I’d never read.

I mentioned the ComiXology changes in this blog post from November. The changes were initially meant to happen last year, but they were delayed. It looks like the full switch-over will be happening very soon now, though they haven’t given a specific date. This Twitter thread has a number of details. It sounds like it’ll be this week. The ComiXology subreddit has had a lot of talk about it recently, most of it negative. I’m not enthusiastic about it myself, but I’m not as annoyed as a lot of people. (That’s the way Reddit often works, of course. The loudest voices bubble to the top.)

I’m probably most annoyed that all of the old books I’ve moved into my “archive” in ComiXology are going to wind up back in my main library. I’ve generally used the archive to move random old freebies out of my main library, but I guess I won’t be able to do that anymore. That’s also a problem with my Kindle library in general: too many random free books making it hard to find the ones I’ve actually paid for. If I look at my Kindle library right now, I have 1656 items in there. That’s now a combination of my Kindle books and ComiXology books. That’s really too much stuff to manage without at least slightly better tools. Oh well. Hopefully, the new ComiXology iOS app will be good, at least.

Content-wise, I’m enjoying reading a bunch of random first issues of Image and small press series. On one hand, given the number of books currently on my “want to read” list, reading a bunch of first issues is liable to just increase that list. On the other hand, I like reading these little samples of longer stories without feeling like I necessarily need to finish them, or figure out what’s going on, or really get invested in them. And I’m finding it interesting to see where some of these series have gone. Cross Bronx got just one four-issue series. Ultra was an eight-issue series, and didn’t return. Velvet lasted for 15 issues and got collected into three books. Mind The Gap got collected into three volumes, but has disappeared from ComiXology for some reason. Black Science lasted for nine volumes. Those are all examples of Image books that I enjoyed. I probably won’t pick up and read all of them, but I’ll get a few. (I already have all three volumes of Velvet in the Ed Brubaker Humble Bundle that I bought recently. That looks like it should be fun.)

Maus

I’ve been following the news around the school board in Tennessee that banned the teaching of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I first read Maus back when it was being serialized in Raw in the early 80s. So I guess I read it when I was in high school, a little older than those eighth-graders in Tennessee. I don’t remember much about how it affected me at that age, but I do know that it was the most concrete and specific material I read on the Holocaust to that point. I’m sure I knew something about it, but I don’t remember it being covered much in history class. I think most of my knowledge of WW2 came from Hogan’s Heroes reruns and G.I. Combat comics.

Something like Maus would never have been assigned as school reading when I was growing up. Comics just weren’t taken seriously at that time. I’m fairly certain that there were no graphic novels at all in our school library. But now, we live in a world where assigning Maus as school reading probably seems reasonable to a lot of fairly mainstream people. But still not to the kind of people who find themselves on a school board in Tennessee, unfortunately. It’s actually kind of heartening that this thing is national news, and has stirred up some debate and gotten Art Spiegelman some new mainstream media attention.

Speaking of which, I saw Whoopi Goldberg’s appearance on Colbert from Monday night, but hadn’t heard about her comments on her TV show earlier on Monday, so I didn’t quite have the context on what she was apologizing for. But I could tell she wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I’ve generally thought of Goldberg as being mostly harmless and mildly amusing. She probably shouldn’t be talking about the Holocaust though. She clearly didn’t mean any harm. I’m not going to criticize her, other than to say that maybe this is an example of why more people should be reading Maus.

Getting back to Maus, I followed some links and found myself reading about Spiegelman’s MetaMaus book that came out in 2011. I remember reading about it when it came out, but I didn’t buy it. I really should have; it was $35 when it came out, and it’s going for more than $1000 now. In addition to the original Raw issues, I have the first Maus book in paperback, and the second volume in hardcover. (The hardcover version of Maus II goes for $300 on Amazon right now, so I guess that’s out of print.)

It might be a good time to reread Maus, but of course it’s not a casual read. If The Complete Maus were available digitally, I’d probably buy a copy, just to have one, but no version of Maus is (legally) available digitally, as far as I can tell. All the attention of course has made Maus a bestseller on Amazon, which is nice, but it also means you can’t easily buy a new copy right now.

Another New Year

I missed my usual New Year’s Day post yesterday. There are a few reasons for that, one being that New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, and I decided to treat it like a normal Saturday (mostly) and started the day with my usual Saturday chores and errands (laundry and grocery shopping), then proceeded to spend a bunch of time in front of the computer paying bills and organizing paperwork and stuff. So it was a pretty industrious morning, but after that, I took a nap, and then spent the afternoon in front of the TV, watching Godzilla movies. I didn’t really have the energy left for anything more ambitious.

So today, I’m going to try to spend some time writing a blog post. It’s Sunday morning, I just had a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich and a strong cup of coffee, and now I’m ready to sit around and ruminate on the year for a bit.

I usually start these posts with links to the last few New Year’s posts, so here are a few:

This past year has certainly been a doozy. It got off to a rough start with the Capitol insurrection and resulting turmoil, which was the subject for my second post of the year. On the bright side, the vaccines arrived, and I got my first shot in April, my second in May, and my booster shot in December. After that second shot, I started feeling better about things and actually made a trip into NYC in June to go to the Met and MoMA. Then, I went in twice in October, once for NYCC, and once to go to the Met and MoMA again. And that was about it for travel. The Omicron variant started showing up around Thanksgiving, and going out started to seem a lot less safe again. Contrast NYCC in October, which felt pretty safe to me, with Anime NYC in November, where one of the earliest cases of Omicron in NYC was identified. So any thoughts I had of going into New York for another Met/MoMA trip went out the window.

At work, we went through a bunch of different “Return To Office” plans through 2021. They kept setting dates and then pushing them back. In the end, we returned to the office on a one day per week schedule in October. My first day back was October 14. My last trip to the office was December 9. I was sick the week after that, and then we were allowed to work from home for the last two weeks of the year. For 2022, we were supposed to move to two days per week in January, but the Omicron variant has put that on hold. Now, we’re allowed to work from home until mid-January. Then, it’s back to 1 day per week for the last two weeks of January, then 2 days per week starting in February. We’ll see if we actually stick to that, or if things get worse and they have to back off again. I’m thankful that I work for a company that’s been more flexible about “work from home” than a lot of other companies. But I’m a little disappointed that they haven’t been more flexible, especially for workers like me who really aren’t any more effective in the office vs. working from home. At this point, I feel like they should just allow folks like me to go 100% remote if we want and give up our cubicles in the office. It would just make things simpler and safer for everybody.

But enough about that. I usually include a section on my general health in these posts, so I’m going to do that now. I started the year at around 135 pounds. I’ve gradually gained some weight this year, ending up at around 140. I’m trying to hold the line there. I set 140 as my goal weight in Lose It, so any time I go over it, my calorie budget is adjusted down a bit and I eat a bit less until I’m back under. I’d dropped down to 130 pounds briefly in 2020, without actually trying. Since then, it’s just been going up though. I guess it’s mostly due to my habit of going out for a cappuccino and a cookie in the afternoon on most weekdays. There are now three good places to get cookies here in downtown Somerville: Lucid Coffee, Blue Sheep Bake Shop, and Epic Cookies. So that’s kind of a problem. But it’s not a huge one. I’m managing to hold the line at 140. And even if I let myself go to 150, that would still leave me with a healthy BMI.

I’ve been doing OK on exercise. I take a walk outside almost every day. I started doing some yoga recently too, though I haven’t stuck with it. I’ve just been doing it on mornings when it’s too cold out for a walk. According to the iOS Health app, I’ve averaged 49 minutes of exercise per day over the last year, and 491 calories on my “move” ring. My move goal was 500 over the summer, when I was doing a lot of walking, and it’s 450 now. I generally hit my exercise goal most days, and the move goal 4 or 5 days each week.

I’ve continued meditating on a fairly regular basis. I’ve been using Calm all year, and generally do one of their 10 minute meditations every weekday, alternating between their two regular features, the Daily Calm and the Daily Trip. I signed up for a lifetime sub with them during their Black Friday sale, as I’ve mentioned previously. I’ve occasionally tried to get a streak going, meditating every day. The longest I’ve managed is 40 days, from November 1 to December 10. I’m not overly concerned with getting to a point where I meditate every single day, as long as I’m doing it more often than not, but it’s fun to try to see how long I can keep a streak going.

Looking at my history on this blog, I can see that I was posting a lot earlier in the year (7 posts in January and 11 in February), but less later in the year (only one post in December). I don’t know if that means anything, really. I still like using the blog as an aid to organizing my thoughts and reflecting on my life and my choices. A lot of my posts last year were all about entertainment though: comics, movies, TV, podcasts, music, and so on. I think I indulged in a lot of escapism in 2021. I do that every year, of course, but more than average in 2021, I think. It was a rough year. I spent a lot of time alone in my apartment. I don’t really feel bad about that. I’m still very engaged in my work, and I keep up with news and politics and make informed decisions about all that stuff.

And on that “escapism” front, I always like to look back at the books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched and so on and so forth in these posts. My Goodreads history last year is mostly comics. I set my goal at 100 books and read 79. I have a few serious books in there, like Americanah and The Picture of Dorian Gray, but it’s mostly comics and Doctor Who audio dramas. A few highlights would be reading through Grant Morrison’s X-Men run, discovering the Hilda books by Luke Pearson, and finally finishing Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina.

I watched quite a few movies this year too, though I never did make it into a theater. (The Spider-Man movie is really tempting, but I’m probably going to wait for that one to hit Blu-ray or Disney+, like I’ve done with all the other Marvel, Disney, or Pixar stuff since the pandemic started.) My Letterboxd stats show that I’ve watched 108 movies in 2021. I started and ended the year with Thin Man movies, which makes me happy. I love those movies. At the start of the year, I would have been watching them on my TiVo from TCM’s New Year’s Eve marathon. I gave up on premium cable in 2021, so for this New Year, I bought a DVD set from Amazon with the first four movies. I watched the third and fourth ones on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Still looking at my Letterboxd stats, I see that Spirited Away is the only movie I gave five stars to in 2021. That was obviously a rewatch for me, part of an effort to watch a bunch of Ghibli films, then listen to the corresponding Ghibliotheque podcast episode. I still have a bunch of movies to go on that front, and I should get back to that effort at some point soon. My other big watch/rewatch project in 2021 was to work my way through the Criterion Godzilla box set, which I wrote about in my last post.

I usually cover “professional development” in these posts, but I’m going to gloss over that this time. I did learn some new stuff last year, and I could list some nice work accomplishments, but honestly I haven’t been terribly ambitious about that stuff lately. This has largely been a “let’s just get through this” kind of year. And I think 2022 will be more of the same. I discontinued my Pluralsight subscription yesterday, since I haven’t been using it much lately. I still have access to LinkedIn Learning through work and O’Reilly through the ACM, and I think that’s more than enough for now.

There’s a lot more I could write here, but I’m going to try to wrap things up. I started writing this around 8 AM, and it’s now 11 AM. I took a half-hour walk at 9 AM, but I’ve just been sitting here ruminating and writing for most of that time. So it’s about time to stop and maybe go out for another walk. It’s 55º out right now, so I should take advantage of that while I can. I know it’s going to start getting cold again later this week.

 

 

Doctor Who and Godzilla

If you were to judge my life based on my recent posts here, it would seem like I spend all of my time reading comics, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and so on. I do still have a full-time job as a programmer, and I spend most of my time on weekdays heads-down at my computer, working hard, I promise! I just haven’t had much to say about it here recently. There have been a few things I’ve thought about writing up, but they’re such niche topics that I can’t imagine them being very interesting to anyone but me. (Of course, most of these posts probably aren’t interesting to anyone but me…) All of which is preamble to excuse writing another post about comics and movies and podcasts and stuff. (What else am I going to do with my spare time in 2021?)

After finishing Doctor Who: Flux, I had a hunger for more Doctor Who content, so I dug into my backlog of comics and audio. I listened to The Lost Stories: The Fourth Doctor Box Set, a Big Finish audio drama that I’d bought back in 2016, featuring Tom Baker’s Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. I really enjoyed it. I wrote in my Goodreads review that it was the first Tom Baker audio I’d listened to, but I was organizing my notes this morning, and realized that I’d listened to a set of novel adaptations with Baker and Lalla Ward back in 2018. My Goodreads review for that set was pretty short, but I guess I liked it.

I’ve now started the Destiny of the Doctor series, which is a series of eleven stories, featuring the first eleven Doctors, that was released for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, back in 2013. I got it as part of a Humble Bundle in 2017. I’ve only listened to the first one so far, but it was pretty good. These aren’t full-cast dramas, they’re stories read by one or two narrators.

I also started reading the Ninth Doctor comic book series from Titan. I have the first two volumes of that from a Humble Bundle from 2018. It’s a pretty good series, featuring the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack.

I have a good backlog of other comics and audio dramas from those Humble Bundles, but of course every time I start reading/listening to this stuff, I start poking around for more stuff that I don’t own yet. I’d like to pick up the rest of that Ninth Doctor comic series, for instance. And more of the Tom Baker audios. And the new Ninth Doctor audios. And so on.

On the related subject of consuming DRM-free comics and audio from old Humble Bundles, I should mention that I’ve been using Panels for the comics, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I had some trouble with it repeatedly crashing on me yesterday, but I updated it to the latest version, and that’s been stable. So I guess there was a bug that got fixed. I’ll probably commit to a yearly subscription on that at some point. And on the audiobook front, I’ve been sticking with the Apple Books app to listen to stuff, using Audiobook Builder to put MP3s together into single audiobook files. (I bought that back in February.) I also recently downloaded BookPlayer to my iPhone, to try out. BookPlayer is an open source player for DRM-free audiobooks. It looks promising, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. Since it seems like it can pull stuff from OneDrive directly, I could simplify my workflow a bit by using it rather than Books.

My other recent pop culture obsession has been Godzilla. I’m working my way through the Criterion box set that I bought earlier this year. I’ve watched through to Son of Godzilla. Destroy All Monsters is next! For most of these movies, it’s the first time I’ve seen the original Japanese version. The last time I’ve seen most of these was probably back when I was a kid, on TV, as a Saturday afternoon movie. And that would have been the chopped up, dubbed, American version, obviously. For something like Son of Godzilla, it’s a goofy movie either way, so watching the uncut original, in Japanese with subtitles, doesn’t turn it into Citizen Kane, but it’s a more interesting experience to watch it that way, I think. I’ve been logging them all on Letterboxd, which has some pretty fun reviews for some of these movies.

Oh, and thinking about Doctor Who and Godzilla made me wonder if there’s ever been any kind of crossover between the two. There’s fan fiction of course, but the closest I could come to a “real” crossover is the Dr. Who character from the Japanese King Kong show and King Kong Escapes movie. Godzilla has of course met King Kong, so that puts Godzilla just one degree of separation from a character named Dr. Who, even if that character isn’t exactly a time lord.

Thanksgiving Eve

I had some PTO days to use up this year, so I decided to take this entire week off. Originally, I had some semi-ambitious half-formed plans about maybe going in to NYC and visiting some museums again, and maybe even staying overnight. But I got a bit sick a couple of weeks ago, and, while I’m mostly over that, I’m still not keen to go out in the cold, get on a train, and deal with NYC, crowds, and so on. So I’ve largely been sitting in my armchair reading comics, or sitting on the couch watching TV.

My Thanksgiving plans are, shall we say, minimal. I have no plans to go out, and I haven’t bought any traditional Thanksgiving foods. So maybe I’ll have a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, and a frozen turkey burger for dinner, and that’s about as close to honoring Thanksgiving as I’ll get.

Looking at some posts from previous Thanksgivings, I guess things could be worse. 2018 was a particularly bad year, with the snowstorm and the Christmas music debacle. Somerville hasn’t played Christmas music on Main St. in a few years, and hopefully they won’t start it up again this year. But there was one thing this year, from last weekend: some kind of issue with the sanitary line out of my apartment building that caused the building to have a bit of a stink going for a few days. (That actually almost moved me to go into NYC for a day or two, but they got it fixed before things got too bad.)

And for anyone who’s still reading after all that, here are some notes on the comics I’m reading this week, and the TV I’m watching.

I’ve read through a couple of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth omnibus volumes. I have all five, in hardcover. I bought them as they were coming out, in 2018 and 2019. I’d read most of the previous BPRD run in single issues. The end of that run and the start of Hell on Earth happened right when I’d stopped buying monthly books. So picking up the hardcovers for Hell on Earth seemed like a good idea. I don’t know if it really was though. Dark Horse has a 50% off sale going on right now for digital stuff, so if I’d waited and just bought the digital versions, I could have gotten all five for just over $30, and I wouldn’t have to worry about what to do with these big hardcovers once I’m done reading them.

And I did wind up spending some money on Hellboy-related stuff from that sale yesterday, including all of the Lobster Johnson volumes, and all of the Witchfinder volumes that I didn’t already have.

I’m mostly enjoying Hell on Earth, even though I’m not generally a big fan of post-apocalypse fiction. I should probably take a break from it, and read something different today, but I think I’m just going to go ahead and jump into the next volume. If I’m not enjoying it, then I’ll switch to something different.

For my TV watching, I finished season two of Locke & Key on Netflix. It’s a pretty good show. I’ve been listening to the Locke & Key: Unlocked podcast after watching each episode and that’s been fun. I’ve mentioned this before, but I do really like the idea of companion podcasts for TV shows. They can sometimes be too silly, or too fawning, but if you get the right mix of elements, they can be really good.

I’ve now started watching season four of The Expanse on Amazon. Season six is coming out soon, and I actually didn’t realize that I hadn’t even watched season four yet. I knew I hadn’t watched season five, but I thought I was only one season behind, not two. Either way, it’s been a good season so far. And on the podcast front, I’ve started downloading some season four episodes of The Churn podcast, which was originally the official SyFy channel podcast for The Expanse, back when it was on SyFy. Even though the show has moved to Amazon, I guess the podcast is still being done by SyFy, though I’m not completely sure about that. I’m also curious about the Ty & That Guy podcast, which is hosted by Ty Franck and Wes Chatham. That’s more of a rewatch podcast, I guess. They’ve only just gotten through season three. If they start season four soon, that might work out well for me.

I’ve been keeping current with Doctor Who: Flux, watching the episodes as they’re released. I’m getting them through Apple, so I can’t watch them until the day after they’re released, but that’s good enough for me. I have mixed feelings about this season, but hey… it’s Doctor Who! I haven’t had much luck in finding a good Doctor Who podcast. There are a lot of them! I did find one I liked a while back, but it seemed to be dead the last time I checked. Maybe I’ll try the Radio Times one.

And I will likely watch the first episode of the new Hawkeye series on Disney+ today. It seems to be loosely based on Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run, which is very good. I read the first two volumes of it some time ago, and just bought volumes 3 and 4 from Comixology, where they’re currently on sale for $1.99 each.

I’ve found that my stay-at-home vacation routine is basically to read comics until my eyes are too tired for that, then watch TV until my eyes are too tired for that, then listen to podcasts until it’s time for bed. I can’t say that I’m proud of that, but it is what it is, and it’s about all I feel up to doing right now.

So I guess that’s about it for this low-stakes blog post. Honestly, I was mostly writing this because it’s too cold out to go for a walk and I don’t feel like doing any indoor exercise right now, and I’m not really ready to dig into any reading material just yet. I’m still waking up.

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.