Managing Space, Krakoa Thoughts, Alan Moore, and more: It’s the February 2023 Mailbag Q&A!

It’s the first Mailbag Q&A in a few months! Thanks to everyone for the great questions, as per usual. There’s a lot, though, so let’s get to it!

My collection, please excuse the mess and the cats

Comic collections are a wonderful thing, but sadly they must sometimes contend with realities of having limited space. How do you curate your collection? How do you decide what gets cut, to make space for new books? When you do decide to get rid of comics, do you sell them, give them away, make dashing origami swans, or something else? – Tjas Debeljak

“Curate” is a strong word. I have a bit of an Apocalypse-like approach, where it’s more “survival of the fittest” rather than some sort of curation. It’s all very feel based, and there are a lot of specific distinctions I have that make sense to me from a reading standpoint.

We’ll start with the last part, though. When I decide to get rid of comics, which I do each year because I am in a room that’s filled to the brim with comics as I type this, I have a comic book garage sale. I also have free comics at said sale, both of the trade/graphic novel variety and single issues. Those are comics that a) are unorganized because I don’t overly care for them or have enough of them to merit a dedicated section or b) ones I received from publishers that I’m frankly a bad demographic fit for. But for the most part, I sell the comics at my garage sale for 50 cents or $1, unless it’s a “key,” at which point I’ll put it up for the maximum reasonable number.

The way I decide what stays and what goes is largely built around a few key characteristics. First, is the comic from the first volume of Uncanny X-Men (as in the one that started as X-Men)? If so, it sticks around, because I am collecting that whole volume. Second, do I love this comic? If so, I keep it, more than likely. Third, is this comic available on an all-you-can-eat digital subscription service I’m subscribed to? If so, it increases the probability that I let it go. Fourth, do I have some sort of personal connection to it? If so, I keep it.

To be honest, the comics I keep the most of are creator-owned for that reason. I have all of Saga, all of Chew, all of East of West, all of Scalped, etc. etc., but I’ve let a ton of X-Men and Batman comics go. The Big Two titles I tend to keep besides Uncanny X-Men are oddballs I love, like Tom Peyer and Rags Morales’ Hourman or Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ Impulse. Those are harder to track down, either digitally or, especially, in print.

So it really comes down to love of the comic and ease of access of said comic. If it’s easy to replace the comic with trade paperbacks or digital, then I’m more comfortable letting it go. But I have a lot of arbitrary rules beyond these, ones that really ensure that it’s a lot more feel based than the black and white process I’ve laid out above.

With the Krakoa era X-Books seemingly coming to a head this summer, do you think there’s any world where the line moves back to some semblance of a “classic” status quo (School headquarters, Blue and Gold teams, more classic “Superhero” stories, etc)? It feels like there’s been diminishing returns on the concept since the post-Secret Wars era, but even Hickman had an idea that the Krakoa eventually “ends.” – Seth Finkelstein

It’s interesting. While there’s no doubt that at some point Krakoa will “end,” for both the X-Men and Marvel creatives, there’s a big part of me that thinks a return to the “classic” status quo you’re talking about feels…impossible. Maybe not impossible, but such a swerve that it might break the line. Going from a world power to a school feels like a narrative shift that would be almost impossible to buy unless there’s some sort of dimensional/time shenanigans that take place, and even then, buying it as a reader might be difficult. The stakes just wouldn’t be the same.

It sort of reminds me of how it feels to revisit the first Avengers movie. When that dropped, it was like the biggest deal ever. I couldn’t believe it, having all those characters on the screen, working together, and facing such a significant threat. But in the post-Endgame world, that first Avengers movie feels quaint. It’s like an adorable amuse bouche compared to the complexity and scale of Infinity War and Endgame. Post-Krakoa, if and when that comes, I can’t help but feel there will need to be a new status quo rather than a return to an old one for it to work properly. The alternative is just shoehorning it in because certain readers crave the comfort of those classic stories. I don’t think that will pop, though.

My hope is the X-Men continue to evolve rather than backslide. At some point, we’ll find out what they do, and it will certainly be interesting to find out.

I asked this during the chat but you hadn’t read it at the time so wanted to ask again. How do you feel about The Nice House on the Lake #12 and if it stuck the landing? – Mike Ianuzo

I liked it! I didn’t love it, but I did like it. To be honest, The Nice House on the Lake was a series that I sort of had descending interest in to some degree. I thought it was good throughout, and I’ll be back for another volume. But the idea and the initial execution outdistanced the culmination of the story. My love of it probably peaked with issue #4, the one centered on the Comedian, David. Because The Nice House on the Lake is structured as a mystery box, to some degree, the more you learn, the less it’s interesting in that way, so you have to be increasingly invested in the characters to offset how that diminishes. I never fully got there, even though I do really appreciate it.

That said, I am intrigued by the next volume. There’s a lot more to this story, and the way it fits in with external forces and the external world – what, if anything, still remains, if everything does in fact not remain! – is another mystery that remains unsolved. It’s just such a big cast, and it can be difficult to ground yourself in the story when you don’t fully understand them. That said, Álvaro Martínez Bueno and Jordie Bellaire slay throughout, so no notes there. It’s a gorgeous book. I’d just like a bit more connection to the cast, especially after 12 issues.

So I’ll say it earns a TBD on sticking the landing, and that I liked it but didn’t love it after loving it to start.

This comic debuted in 2016, so odds are, if you were going to read it, you probably would have already. But if you haven’t and you like comic books – which I imagine you do as a subscriber to this site – I could not recommend this series more. It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and one of the finest, most surprising reads you’ll find in a comic shop this month, more than likely.

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