Sunday, May 17, 2020

David's Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Characters

Garin and I have been having a lot of fun recording more and more creative episodes of the podcast. I suggested that we start a conversation around what our favorite characters were. The resulting 40 minute debate can be found here. Give it a listen. 

Thinking about the list was quite an exercise. I ruled out using independent characters even though that wasn't one of the rules. Garin didn't put any villains on his list. That also was not in the rules. What we ended up with was quite interesting. We didn't have nearly the overlap I thought we would. 

Everything I do in life has some sort of internal logic or methodology. If I cannot define a why for something I will rarely do it. Why do I record a comic book podcast? It is a lot of fun. It gives me something to do with a good friend. It gives me an excuse to continue reading comic books. See. Logic! Spock would be pleased. 

So, What has me thinking about my favorite comics? Minimalism is the answer. I have thought more and more about why I do the things I do and why I allow any given thing into my life. Getting rid of my physical books? It is the logical step for a journey I started on with my very first Kindle. I still have a few books to eliminate. I also still have a few books that really have meaning that I would like to keep. Still, progress has been made.

Movies? Again, going digital wasn't all that difficult. Offloading to the local used books, movies, and games store has been an adventure. I decided that parting with clutter was a LOT more important to me than making money on the adventure. Again, my logic is simple, I collected a massive lot of movies through poor self discipline and incorrect priorities. There were more than a few movies in my collection that I had never watched or watched once and never thought about again. Why should I worry about turning a profit? I cashed in what they wanted and donated the rest to Goodwill with no regrets, a sense of accomplishment, and quite a bit of pride. The kids movie section is still something of an issue, but that will solve itself pretty quickly as Teagan grows up a bit and her interests change. 

So I keep looking at my comics with a bit of horror. Getting rid of that collection needs to be without a sense of dread. I keep telling myself that I do not need a collection of comics. I cannot go digital as neatly as I can with books and movies. My collection is thousands strong. I cannot sell the books I have and replace them digitally at an equal rate. 

I also probably don't want to do that. I do like digital comics. I redeem those Marvel digital codes and have a few thousand digital comics in my library. Even all of those comics are not things I love. Digital clutter can be very real. 

Still, there are some stories I want. There are also some comics that I want original issues for because of their relevance to me and/or a character I identify with. There are some artists I cannot get enough of their art. There are some stories that tugged my heart strings. 

How do I sort out the things I love from the rest? Well experimenting with ideas of how to break the hold of all these comics on my life is exactly what got me to thinking about what means something to me and what doesn't. Here are some ideas I arrived at:

  • I don't care anything about having a "valuable" collection. I could do a lot more by saving up my money than "investing" in comic books. There are probably no comic books in my collection that are truly irreplaceable, but if I part with something I am committing to not trying to replace it. Once I give something up it is gone. 
  • The chances of recovering what I have in the comics is zero. I shouldn't be trying to. If I manage the purge,I will continue to read comic books, but I will set myself a limit of what I have collected up. When I hit that limit I will purge the collection again. In fact, I probably should part with pieces and runs of the collection in a way which inspires other people to read and love comics. I want the hobby to grow. That is also a big reason I record the podcast. 
  • I cannot be a completionist. The cost to put together full runs of characters like Wolverine are thousands upon thousands of dollars. Even collected editions and replicas are hundreds of dollars. Multiplying that by the number of stories and characters I enjoy means the pokemon method (Gotta catch em all!) is stupid! If I cannot have everything then it is ok to only have the really meaningful stuff I love.
  • I should think more about following the characters that bring me joy rather than keeping up with continuity. I will do SOME of that for the sake of the podcast, but there is no sense wasting money reading something that feels like a chore. My reading habits need to change along with my collecting habits. 
  • It is much better to have 10 comic books I love than 10,000 I don't care anything about. 
  • I am really struggling to figure out how to do this. 
  • I do want to do it. I want my closet back. I don't want to move those boxes again. 
  • I need a real system to eliminate the fluff before I get to the hard decisions. 
I literally sat staring at boxes of comics and an entire book shelf full of graphic novels and trade paperbacks scratching my head. How do I pick my favorites from this mess? Favorites... Now there is an idea.

So I messaged Garin and said,"How difficult would it be to put together your top 10 favorite characters to talk about tomorrow?" I think I almost killed him. Even the idea of putting together a double handful of "favorites" is hard for guys like us. We literally access 4 decades plus worth of memories and cultural approval when we think about things like this. In a way, I really envy the people who have the ability to just read one book or character and be totally satisfied. As I have said many times, I am too in love with narrative. 

With a few hours of work, while carefully not looking at my collection I scraped out the following list. It has problems. It needs revision. I already missed at least one character due to my no independent titles rule. Here is what I came up with: 

  1. Wolverine
  2. Batman
  3. Joker
  4. Conan the Barbarian
  5. Doctor Doom
  6. Doctor Strange
  7. Emma Frost
  8. Phoenix/ Jean Grey
  9. X-23
  10. Harley Quinn
My thinking behind the list was highlighting Marvel and DC characters that will cause me to buy a comic book. I thought about characters I follow faithfully. I thought about characters I love even when they are executed poorly. 

I also could rewrite this list by half. I am not sure I got anything right or wrong. I know that this is a topic that I will revisit. The podcast is planning on doing some gatherings. I will redo the list at least once or twice before the first sit down. That should distract me from the problem of having no idea how to part with my comic books! 

Well that is a lie.Today we recorded our favorite writers episode. Next week we are covering our favorite artists. It really is helping me think about the things I want to keep.


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