365 Reasons to Love Comics #268

What's black and white and read all over? Today's Reason to Love Comics. (I know, I know, that joke doesn't work in print. Quiet, you. Have an archive link.)


268. Essentials/Showcases/Phonebooks

I love these babies. Let's look at what makes them great.

First of all, they're cheap. Over 500 pages of comics for 15-17 bucks or whatever the suggested retail price is these days is a really good deal, especially since you can't get the cool old stuff it's reprinting as cheap anywhere else. This is segueing into my second point, which is that they're loaded with content-- like, 20+ issues of comics goodness in glorious black and white.

Marvel really got the whole ball rolling with their massive compendiums of classic "Marvel Era" material. If someone wants to pick up a collection of great Spider-Man stories, well, they can. No need to shuffle through back issue bins or stare longingly at Mylar-sheathed beauties on a wall somewhere-- you can just hit up Borders or Amazon or whichever premiere or independent bookseller you wish and grab a cool tome of great comics. Me, I'm picking up all of Marvel's Thor editions. I'd love to own these in singles, of course, but I just can't afford it-- and Essentials are the next best thing. Kirby's work looks great in black and white, especially when he's paired with a strong inker. And Ditko-- heck, Ditko's work in black and white is to die for. I don't want to neglect any of the other greatest artists of the past, either-- it's all good. So, yeah, praise be to Marvel for running with this idea. I'm really glad they're turning to their more obscure series these days, too. Now if only they'd buy the rights back so we can get an Essential ROM...

I really love that DC is using their Showcase Presents volumes to reprint a lot of kooky Silver Age stuff that is impossible to find anywhere else. Okay, okay, so I'm really thankful they put out an Elongated Man volume. I was really hoping for one, but never thought they'd make one in a million years. The gods smiled upon me that day. Anyway, yeah, DC's putting out a lot of great material that wouldn't sell in expensive hardback Archive editions, and I thank them for it. However, I'd also like to see them take more stuff that's only in Archive and put it into Showcase-- like Doom Patrol, for instance, or Kamandi. Still, I'm just happy to have these books coming out regularly. My want list is ridiculously long, and I never finish the bloody things, but they're great!

And who else puts out cool phonebooks? I know there are the Cerebus ones. What else? My memory ain't what it used to be.

Some people refuse to buy these collections because they're not in color. Fie on them, I say! You can't beat this kind of deal-- loads of good comics for little cost. I can sacrifice the four color if I have to. If you can't, well, buy a box of crayons and go to it! They can easily become the world's greatest coloring books.

Alright, kids, I'm keeping this one short tonight, and I apologize for any bizarre diction. When you've been writing or editing formal stuff all day, you just want to bust out and start rambling. And so I have. I hope you followed along.

Anything I forgot to talk about here? How many of these volumes do you have? What's your favorite? What's on your to-buy list? Which ones do you want them to come out with next? And when will DC get over this "let's not reprint anything post-1976" policy? All this and Andy Rooney tonight on 60 Minutes.

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