Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: Saga, Trades and the Singles Man

For the longest time I kept hearing how wonderful, simply fantastic that Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples was. It was a series that was crazy and wild, sweet and funny, somber and violent, out of this world and oh so very human.  

But for whatever reason, I did not get Saga until one day I was having a chat with the incredibly wise and knowledgeable Jermaine Exum, manager of the best comic shop in North America, Acme Comics of Greensboro. I was looking at my pull list and I realized that knee deep in the muddy muck of middle age, I needed to grow up. I still loved reading comics but the DC/Marvel super hero paradigm just wasn't doing it for me. (I may have in fact used those words. Whoever does my dialogue is weird.) 

I mentioned that I was interested in looking at other, more atypical series, something like Saga. So Jermaine, ever the consumate salesperson (they do not call him "Lord Retail" for nothing!) nimbly reaches for a trade on the shelf: volume one of Saga.  "And it's only $9.99 for six issues," Jermaine said, zeroing in on my inner cheap bastard self. That comes to $1.75 an issue. And Marvel wants me to pay $3.99 for 20 pages of story and art? Hell no to that! So Jermaine made himself a sale. 

And I made myself, finally, a fan of Saga.  

I was blown away by Vaughn's story centering around a "Romeo and Juliet" duo (but with less suicide and more ass kicking) against a backdrop of intergalactic war. These two go and make a baby which pisses off both sides to no end. 

And that's just the core of the story. There is so much going with a wide variety of characters; Saga certainly lives up to it's name.  

CAUTION: There is a LOT of use of the word "fuck" in all it's various meanings. I mean, ALL of the meanings. At some point, I expect a character to come into the narrative named "Fucky McFuckster".  

And the art? Wow! Fiona Staples is a revelation! At turns minimalist and insanely detailed, her chief strength is emotion. On a par with Kevin Maguire, Staples can tell so much story with a facial expression.  And in Volume Two, we find out she can draw a giant scrotum. So she's got that going for her. 

Anyway, I was hooked. So I later purchased Volume Two (which was more than $9.99, damn you, Lord Retail!) and I continued to be captivated by this tableau spinning out from the imaginations of Vaughn and Staples. The complexities of the narrative continue to weave and twist, drawing me in deeper into this world, this universe of their devising. I was enthralled (despite the giant scrotum).  

Then Volume Three came out and I my appreciation of this series continues unabated. 

But now I was facing a conundrum. Saga had produced 18 issues which was spread out over 3 trades. Which I had read. I appear to be buying Saga in trade form. But then Saga#19 came out.

The question was do I start buying the series in single issues now that I've caught up OR do I continue to wait this out and stay with the trade program?  

The thing about comic books fans is that we can be such creatures of habit. Any my habit for Saga was in trade paperback. So with some reluctance to break free of the pattern I had established for myself, I opted NOT to buy Saga#19

Then I began seeing this on various comic book sites:

"Did you see what happened in Saga#19?"
"Did you see what happened in Saga#19?"
"Did you see what happened in Saga#19?"
"Did you see what happened in Saga#19?"



As I write this, I have not gone back to buy Saga#19. I'm trying to be strong and stick by my decision. Which you might be wondering what the big deal is. OK, so some of my Saga comics will be in trade form and others will be single issues. What's wrong with that?

And if you have to ask that question, you don't understand the twisted complexities of a comic book reading mind. 

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