I both love and hate The Long Halloween. It’s meandering at points it should be succinct and is succinct at points it should meander. It’s overstuffed with villains. It’s out of context and doesn’t sync with the cannon. On the other hand, it was the first comic I ever read.
At age fifteen, I would save up my money from working a weekend job at my parents salon, washing hair and sweeping floors. I would scramble to Amazon to peruse the expansive range of comic books before deciding on the Batman classic. In the middle of rural Ireland, distinctly lacking in local comic stores, I would relish my deliveries of books of a foreign realm and retreat to my bedroom to devour them. Until this point my only contact with comics was my weekly Beano and whatever I could scrounge up from the racks at the local newsagents. Loeb and Morrison wrote my introduction to a new world, moving on Moores’s The Killing Joke and Miller’s Sin City, I was hooked.
It wasn’t until college that I encountered the other of the big two arriving in the shape of my now boyfriend. When I first met him he had been collecting Marvel for some time. He told me tragic stories of single issues turned to papier mâché by flooding and sent me home on weekends with eight to ten graphic novels. I would return on Mondays ready for the next pile. I was addicted, moving from event to event, traversing the space between Civil War to Siege in time to catch up with the cannon.
As our relationship grew, we began to build our library. Adding to his already ample supply of Marvel and Vertigo, I added Avatar and 2000AD, and we would debate thoroughly over Image titles. Piece by piece, book by book, the library came together. Each added by one of us commenting on how we enjoyed a writer’s storytelling, an artist’s style. How each book seemed fun, crazy, thought provoking, mysterious, gory or just plain cool. Love and sweat went into the library, (particularly when we moved house!), every book bought, logged, ordered and cared for. Some were presents, some were to give it a try, some were just because, and others were I HAVE TO READ THIS!
As the collection grew, I grew attached to certain artists and writers, following their work in an intricate timeline of months between one trade and the next. I built up my own collection of favorites, that I would read and re-read, settling into them like a well loved couch. Comics were portals to other worlds. I could move from the intense violence of Crossed to the slapstick joviality of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in the time it took to take a trade from the shelf. It is a much more intimate process than novels. While reading books you determine appearances and images from the world you’re immersed in alone. Comics are a direct insight into the world belonging to the artist. They provide a shared space where everyone sees everything in the story the same way. You might notice different details but you know how to picture the world.
I collected everything and anything I could get my hands on. My collection stands today at roughly fifty moving boxes full of trades (like I said, love and sweat). I have a collection ranging Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Image, Avatar, 2000AD, Titan, IDW, Boom, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, Oni, SLG, Self Made Hero, Humanoids, and so many indies. I have entire collected series, main events, stand alones, done-in-ones, art books and even a collection of books on comic making. I’ve learned the process behind making comics from small press, everything from script, to assembly, to printing, to selling at conventions (hands down the scariest part).
I love my comic book collection because it is a shared thing. Every piece has a story of why it is there, every story a debate in why it must be picked up. Comics give me a common ground to forge some of the strongest friendships I have ever had. Comics are more than just the paper they’re printed on, they are a community. I can start conversations about loved characters with people I have never met before. I can stroll into my local comic store and strike up a conversation with another customer. I can always, always, find a new story to love. Comics have taken me through some of the hardest nights of my life when there was no sleep coming, and still leave room for me to make silly jokes about the stories with my boyfriend. Comics have been the basis of the cartoons we loved growing up and the blockbuster movies we see today. Some of my friends have read more than I ever will, some have barely read a few issues, but I never find them intimidating or lacking. There is always someone to point you towards a comic they loved, so you might enjoy it too.
From a few trades scattered across my bedroom floor, I have built this library with someone I love. With recommendations from the wise retailers at my local comic store and friends who have loved these books. Whether you have read every Marvel title ever printed, just perused some Image books, or are picking up your first issue ever, comics are a fandom, a community, they can even be a family. So if anyone hasn’t already, let me welcome you with open arms to our crazy world and tell you I’m so happy you’re here. Welcome to the fandom.
We like comics, and we hope you do too.
Kerrie grubs through the garbage for comics to letter.
Small press comics creator, letterer and book design. Knows what you ate for lunch.
You can buy her award winning book Girls Like You here.comments powered by Disqus