Comics Newsletter

Trade Waiter’s Lament: I Want to Read All the Things

Everyone’s talking about all these things I want to read.

Bitch Planet. Convergence. A-Force. The most recent issue of Saga or Sex Criminals. Effing Lady Zorro.

But I continue to hold firm.

I read in trades.

Perhaps it’s because I started reading comics as an adult. Perhaps it’s because I started with collections that were complete, or at least already at least enough issues to have been put out in one or two trade collections. Perhaps it’s because I collect all types of reading material like they’re going out of style, and know that I rarely start something immediately after purchase. Or perhaps it’s just because I don’t have the patience for reading long story arcs in 20-40 page bites.

For whatever reason, with one big exception, I read in trades.

There are a lot of benefits to reading in print trades. If there is an ongoing run that you’d like to slam before a big event, they’re the way to go. And they’re certainly easier to find if you’re looking for a long backlist run. They hold up better in the long run, and are far easier to hold than floppy single issues. When you read trade collections, you’re usually getting something close to a full story, or at least enough of a big story that you are satisfied with the ending. In the case of something like the Fraction/Aja (etc.) Hawkeye, the trade collections end up making way more sense than the initial release order. Also, if you purchase them (instead of say, getting them from the library), they’re way easier to store.

Of course, there’s one cost that, for some, definitely trumps all those benefits for being a trade waiter: YOU’RE ALWAYS BEHIND.

The biggest problem with reading trades is that unless you purposefully hide under a rock for long periods of time, you pretty much always find out key aspects of the story you aren’t following on a monthly basis. I don’t know who Thor actually is (and I will personally wield Mjolnir and end you if you even hint at who it might be). I haven’t the foggiest what is happening in Lumberjanes right now. I cry at ComiXology emails that talk about things I haven’t gotten to experience yet. There’s a steampunk lesbian werewolf serial coming out? Let’s talk about it next year.

Even with the increased availability of digital copies, I cannot economically justify buying countless single issues that I probably won’t get to until it’s time for the trades to come out anyway. Sometimes, I might score more current-ish issues of indie prints through Scribd. But usually, I just look at all the shiny and know that I’ll get to them…eventually.
So I wait. And cry. But I wait.