Last year I played every board game in my collection. It was a lot, especially as I didn’t take the task seriously in the first half of the year and then way too seriously later on. It hit the stamina of my beloved and my lodger pretty hard, and I had to get them trying some terrible, terrible games which are now out of my collection, on their way out or in one case going to a recycling bank.
This year I decided to take on a similar challenge, but one where I’d end up only causing myself harm by going through an arbitrary checklist of things I enjoy or have previously enjoyed.
This time I’m going to read every graphic novel I own in the house. I’ve got two and a half long bookshelves in my living room with graphic novels, but also several pods in a kallax shelving unit in the workroom and a number on a bookshelf and various piles in my bedroom as well. I decided this quest last year, but I only counted how many I’ve got in the gap between Christmas and New Year. What I mean by this is that I’ve got three hundred and sixty six graphic novels to read, there will be more I’ve forgotten or will find in the house, and I should have checked this before deciding to do this and now I’ve told enough people that I feel I ought to crack on.
A few rules and exceptions
I’ve already removed some graphic novels from the collection prior to 2022 if I knew I was going to get rid of them, and more will go on the ‘cull’ pile, probably ending up in local charity shops.
Emma has a ton of graphic novels. I’m not reading hers even though a couple ended up on my shelves. She’s a massive Vertigo person and while I’ve got some Preacher-era books, I’ve not read most of the early Vertigo titles. If I somehow end up doing well with this, I might finally get round to reading all of Sandman, which I’ve not done before.
My brother brought down a few graphic novels to try and get the lodger to read. They ended up on my shelves, but they’re his and are exempt from this challenge.
I’m missing some graphic novels in runs of a series, and if they’re mid-way, I’ll end up filling them in before I get to them. The main example is my Walking Dead collection, which is inexplicably missing volume twenty-five. I have no idea how I missed that then they were coming out. There are some I stop abruptly with, either as that version went out of print, I got board, I started collecting individual comics or some other reason. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to see what to keep, what to ditch and what to mark for completion.
I’m not going to read any X-Men collections, as I’m already doing another weird ritual thing by reading an issue of X-Men a day ever since I turned 40, then posting my findings on Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve not added any manga. Maybe that’ll be next year’s challenge.
I’ve listed everything in alphabetical order and that’ll be my guiding direction for what to read next, but it’s not law, so I might skip ahead or pick a smaller volume if I need something portable for a trip or holiday.
Finally, this may change depending on my patience, stamina and time, but I’ll try and write a little something about them.
There are some graphic novels which are glorious one-offs like I Kill Giants and All-Star Superman. There are some which went on forever, and here are a few I’m going to encounter soon:
- 100 Bullets – I’ve cooled on Brian Azzarello, but I loved his crime drama with the compelling hook that people are delivered 100 untraceable bullets and a photo of the person who ruined their life, then set loose. It goes way beyond that, but it’s a fantastic hook.
- Akiko – An adorable science fiction series with an entertainingly weird cast. It’s been so long since I read any of these, I forgot there were so many volumes.
- Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis & Jonathan Hickman – I loved the Avengers Disassembled/New Avengers era. It looks a little old now with the weirdly shiny effects on everyone and some of Bendis’ dialogue, but it’s still a time I loved. Then Jonathan Hickman came along and wrote what I think is still my favourite Avengers run.
- Batman: Knightfall – This is only three volumes, but they’re the thickest graphic novels I’ve got. They’re classics from my childhood and the last time I read them, I realised how different my sequential art reading comprehension was after decades of more decompressed storytelling.
- Fables: Deluxe Edition – A series about fairytale people living in New York, starting with a murder mystery and meandering along from there. I enjoyed it, especially Mark Buckingham’s art in the early run. The hardcovers I bought felt like they were stalling by including absolutely everything, and my enthusiasm wore out. Like so many series, I might pick it back up after reading this.
- Freakangels – Ugh, this is going to be one of many difficult Warren Ellis reads. A post apocalyptic webseries about psychic cooler-than-thou youths.
- Invincible – I have two thirds of the series in hardcover. I enjoyed it, then it went on too long. The problem with making a superhero series where everything changes and sticks is that Robert Kirkman’s not great at either sticking to that rule or keeping things interesting for a long time. It might get better, hell, I might read this and feel that I was too harsh in this judgement.
- JSA – This is a fractured run as I have a lot of these issues in ‘floppies’. I was converting them, I found a few cheap volumes and then cooled on Geoff Johns.
- Legion of Super-Heroes Archives – I’ve got a gap in this collection which won’t be filled due to rarity, but these are some lovely hardbacks putting together the earliest appearances of the far future superheroes.
- Morning Glories – A deadly school with weird goings on. As a fan of Lost style mysteries, and a writer of my own deadly school, I knew I had to check this out.
- Preacher – I used to buy myself a volume of Preacher as a treat when I worked Christmas Eve at Dave’s Comics. It’s a modern (for the 90’s) Western and a story about a literal search for god. Gloriously violent, vulgar and sacrilegious, it wasn’t without heart and I have no idea how well it’s aged.
- Thieves & Kings – Half-comic and half-prose, this is a fantasy series which I really love and it’s always a surprise how it’s never really got any attention from anyone.
- Transmetropolitan – Another Warren Ellis series, this time about a bitter journalist in a cyberpunk future which always feels like it’s probably too close to ours.
- The Walking Dead – A fast read, despite being the longest series in this collection by a long way. The challenge the author set himself was to write an ongoing zombie narrative where so many end quickly and either unrealistically positive or a real downer. I got bored with the constant miserablism of the television show ages ago, but the series kept me entertained until it ended.
I’ll get rid of less graphic novels than I intended.
I’ll feel embarrassed about some of my earliest blog posts being so favourable towards Identity Crisis.
There’ll be some lukewarm takes about Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.
All-Star Superman and I Kill Giants will make me cry again.
I’ll get Batman fatigue, and conversely I’ll feel like I want more Superman in my collection, but not Death of Superman.
So, with all that out of the way, let Graphic Novel Quest 2022 commence!