Ten Things I’ve Been Thankful for This Year in Comics

It’s that time of year, as the calendar once again turns to *googles when this national holiday happens* the fourth Thursday of each November. It’s a day of eating food, watching football and mobile, inflatable balloons, and enjoying your loved ones. That’s right: it’s Thanksgiving. Or it is in the United States, at the very least.

Ostensibly, it’s a day of giving thanks, celebrating the things that had a positive impact on you, either as of late or overall. While it’s simultaneously more and less than that, that’s the gist, beyond the 5,000 calories of it all. While I am thankful for a great many things this year, comics are always a part of that. That’s why each year on SKTCHD, I celebrate the holiday specifically from a comics lens, highlighting ten things I’ve been thankful for in the comic space. And we’re keeping that tradition going this year.

As much as last year was insane, one could argue 2021 has been even stranger for comics, an unpredictable time fueled by the ongoing pandemic, supply chains breaking, paper shortages, and disruption across the board. If the defining word for the year isn’t “weird,” it’s probably been “exhausting.” Weird, exhausting…but also wonderful in its own way. Those wonderful things are what I’ll be celebrating in this column, each of which originates purely from my experience as a reader and as someone who touches on comics from my own vantage point.

There’s a variety here, but because I’m me, there were still rules to what could be considers. Those were a) my selections cannot just be a specific comic or creator, as that’s coming soon on the site anyways as part of my end of the year celebration, and b) I’m only able to repeat one point from previous lists, which is the etched in stone 10th item.

That’s it! Let’s get to the list, which is not in any order whatsoever! It’s just how it worked out, save for the final two.

Mail Days

While the bulk of my comics are bought at my local shop, there are a fair amount of comic and comic-related items I receive by mail. Some of it’s from publishers, as I get monster boxes from houses like Random House Graphic and First Second with shocking regularity. Some are from other comic shops or bookstores, like the above copy of Destroy All Monsters with a signed bookplate I received from Cape and Cowl Comics in Oakland. Others still come directly from creators (see: the book on the left, a wondrous collection of old Marvel ads from colorist Rico Renzi) or small press houses.

Regardless of where I order them from, they call come via the mail, because I am very, very far from almost everyone in comics. And I love mail days. They’ve been a regular delight in 2021, as an increasing amount of the comics I get aren’t available in my shop, so I turn to wherever I can get them from. For some reason, nothing ever seems to arrive by itself; it’s always multiple deliveries in one day. Comic mail days have swelled to become immense celebrations of the form, and something I always look forward to. They also seem to be happening on the regular. It’s not quite the same as new comic book day. But it is like having a constant yet unpredictable second day of the week in which a legion of comics is unleashed on me. I like that!

Believe it or not, more comics is not something I ever frown on, even if I’m starting to run out of space for everything.

Comics PR/Marketing Folks

Comics public relations and marketing people must feel like emailing me is an exercise in futility. So many folks in that game regularly reach out to me about projects they’re promoting or creators I should talk to, and they come with such a frequency that I rarely return them at any useful rate. It’s not that I don’t want to! I just get busy, and I’m only one person. It’s something I genuinely feel bad about too. I almost always respond days and days later, apologizing for my tardy ways. And nearly universally, the response is, “No need to apologize!” They get it. They deal with this all the time.

For people who run comic sites or a weird entity like my own, PR/marketing folks are superheroes. They’re constantly keeping you on top of what’s coming up, putting you in a position to engage with cool projects and creators, and promoting endless amounts of comics. And when faced with forgetful, overly busy folks like myself, they’re endlessly chill and collaborative instead of annoyed. That’s something I appreciate, if only because I might deserve the alternative. While I don’t always take them up on the things they reach out to me about, their connections have helped on countless podcasts and projects. They make my work better, and they expand the world available to me in exciting ways, even if it often takes me some time to get there.

It’s easy to give PR/marketing folks guff for the general weirdness of how comics are marketed, but so much of that isn’t even really up to them. They work with the hand they are dealt and within the parameters long ago established in the direct and book markets. All they can do is attempt to get people like me excited about comics, and they succeed with a shocking regularity. So good job by them!

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