Monday, November 29, 2010

All The Best Comics Have Daddy Issues #8


I expected becoming a father would affect my comic reading. I was prepared for it, put some thought into it, but then recently something else occurred to me. I’ve had to completely change the way I read my comics each week, so hit the jump to see what’s different for me at the end of every week.

Topsy Turvy Reading Order

I have a ritual when I read comics. New comics come in on Fridays here Down Under, so after work at the end of the week I drive into town and pick up my weekly haul. It’s a trip I am used to, I factor into my time, and I look forward to greatly. I need to get the comics right on time so I can read the ones I’ll be reviewing for CBR and then get my words down for the editor to approve. My wife is so lovely that she knows Friday afternoons/nights are my comics time. I am guaranteed time to read the books and then write my reviews. Though, it must be said, my wife loves a good PDF preview because then I get to write my review earlier in the week.

Having a kid was something I knew would impact my Friday ritual. Now, instead of always heading in straight from work I usually stop at home. I take the kid from the wife, giving her a break, I make sure he gets fed and burped and all that business. Then all three of us head into town for Daddy’s little fix. It’s a family outing, it ensures wife and child leave the house at least once a week, though she goes out lots more than that usually. It prolongs the acquisition but it makes for a fun trip. There’s nothing better than walking through the store with the kid in the Bjorn in front of you. I keep hoping he’ll ‘accidentally’ bend a corner of a trade and I’ll have to buy it (oh no!...ha). But no matter how much I lean him towards the Vertigo racks he just doesn’t bite. A true shame.

So, once I get my books it’s still a crapshoot as to when exactly I will sit down with them uninterrupted. He might be unhappy and need some cuddling, or another job, like cooking dinner, might rear its ugly head. There are all these other responsibilities that occur and reading comics doesn’t always trump them, even if I do now get paid to read/review them. It can all be pushed back, no questions asked. CBR, The Weekly Crisis, deadlines aplenty will all have to wait while the wife and child are satisfied. That’s the new regime, long may it live.

Now, once I do get time to make time with my favourite four colour floppies I go through a routine. Or, at least, I used to. I would lay them all out and figure out which I wanted to read the most. The most anticipated comic for the week would go to the bottom, save the best for last. I wanted my reading to build up to the best. It was a fun way to go, and was interesting when I used to get my books in the mail at the end of every month. That was a lot of titles to rank and flip through before the reading began. It was just fun, what can I say?

Now, however, I put three books first every week, the three books I’m reviewing. No matter what the quality, these three books go first, then the reviews are written. Everything else must wait. Reading a comic takes anywhere between two and fifteen minutes. I try to take my time and soak everything up; I don’t want to miss a thing. Then I write my three reviews, if I can all in a row, so each review can take anywhere from half an hour to over an hour to write, check against the comic, leave to sit and stew, and then proof. It’s a good process, makes for good reviews, but does eat up a good deal of my Friday night.

Now imagine doing that with a baby boy wanting attention, food, love, and care. It’s hard work, that’s for sure. I love it, but it’s a whole family job. I’ve managed to keep it going every week, though I usually just get the two reviews done Friday night, one review can always wait, it’s not that important. So instantly my stack is changed due to review and father responsibilities.

But once the reviews are written, the work out of the way, the rest is just fun. But a father’s dance card doesn’t always have room for fun. There’s more work to be done, always more work. And this is where the massive change has come into play.

I used to order my weekly stack with the best for last. I can’t do that anymore. If I do, it can be days, many days, before I get to the issue I really want to read. I don’t know that I can handle waiting any longer. It’s a big culture shock but my order is now completely flipped. The best comics come first, they have to, lest I don’t get to them ever. The comics I’m not as pumped for, or that can at least wait, go to the bottom.

I figure this will also give me an idea of which comics constantly come last and so maybe I don’t need to buy them anymore. I really should only be buying comics I want to read, shouldn’t I? So perhaps this new order will facilitate a streamlining of my bloated pull list. Ultimately, it’ll just make sure I’m in the loop and reading the best stuff at the top.


It’s going to be something I need to come to grips with, I’m sure I can do it, but it will be different. Has becoming a father affected the way you read your comics? What changes have you put into place to your weekly/monthly/whenever you can fit it in ritual? Let me know in the comments.

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Ian @ TRO said...

I don't know why, but when I got to that big bold "CONCLUSION" at the end the whole post seemed so official and I actually laughed.

been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately, what with being engaged, excited about a family somewhere on the horizon, and also now heavy into writing daily reviews. It's gonna be a lot to juggle, but sounds worth it.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hey Ian - Hey, there things are official, ha, officially awesome!

It's the sort of thing we all think about, even if not out loud...I hope this column gave you a little something to think about. In the last 18 months I've gotten engaged, married, pregnant, and had our baby boy. I've also done a lot of exciting writing and reading in that time. You just have to keep on top of your game!

brandon said...

No doubt being a dad has impacted the 'when' I read them. I generally only get 5-7 titles a week and unless I stay up extra late I can't finish them the day I pick them up.

If I'm lucky I can read one while I am in the midst of making dinner. Then read 2-4 after kiddies bedtime prior to my bed time.

In the old days I would get home and read them all then have dinner with the wife.

As far as 'how much' I find that if reading an issue month after month is a chore that I am struggling to fit in somewhere then I know its time to drop it. The counter example is Walking Dead. I generally read the thing right after purchase, be it back at the office or first thing when I get home - even it means the kids eat a snack while I rip through it.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@brandon - thank you, now I know I'm not alone - and that it's alright to ditch some responsibilities for when a great comic is at the top of the stack!

Don Winslow said...

My daughter was born this past July. Unfortunately I've been out of work since last November. Our savings lasted long enough that I continued picking up until around April. After tat I started selling some comics online for credit and bought my fix for a little bit.

I decided, along with the help of my local comic shop owner, to continue a pull list and pick at it when I had a few spare dollars. This allowed me some comics when I could get them and it let me keep my generous discount. I've been picking up assorted things every so often when I find a few bucks folding the laundry.

When my daughter started sleeping thru the night, I started reading more. Baby goes to bed at seven and my wife follows suit early at nine. We have our quality time and I manage to have alone time once she goes to bed. I read what I can, watch what television I can. If I want to get all my reading done, I need to stay up late.

I got a new job so when I can get to the store should change. I don't get home til 830 or such, so the store is almost closed. I guess I'll go when I can.

But come nine o'clock, I'm a reading machine.

Michael said...

Not being a parent, I can't speak from experience about how children effect my reading order. However, I did want to give some props for having Fantastic Four: True Story. I love that mini.

Anonymous said...

Where's the bit where, after reading your comics, you leave a couple on your doorstep in a yellow envelope for a mate to pick up? Speaking of which, better get to reading them in time for your imminent return.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Don - that's quite the tale. I see it hits a bunch of us hard, that's for sure.

@anon7 - yeah, I expect my comics back tomorrow, mate, and a full report on your thoughts on the new state of Batman.

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