Confession is good for the soul, according to the old proverb.
It’s always refreshing to relieve oneself of baggage, no matter how serious or trivial. Why am I talking about this at the start of a comics-centric column? Because today I want to clear my conscience of the burdens I carry. Even though I have been a diehard comics reader for 40+ mostly uninterrupted years, I have a great many comic book blind spots.
What are comic book blind spots, you ask?
Quite simply, they are titles/series/one-off issues that are notable or historic for any number of reasons, that a person hasn't read. Think landmark material, like The Killing Joke, The Dark Phoenix Saga, or The Sandman. These are books of a certain pedigree that are assured of inspiring panicked gasps from people whenever they hear the words, “never read it.” This was one of the topics I was most interested in discussing when the idea for a BEHIND THE PANEL weekly column first came up, because I have quite a few. I bet every comics fan reading this has several of their own. It’s unavoidable. There are TONS of great comics that are being produced on a regular basis right now. Now add in 80 years of comics and you’ll see why blind spots are simply a part of that comics life.
To be clear, I’m not looking for absolution. I love comics as much as any sane person can love an inanimate object printed on paper telling tales of men in tights. For a long time, though, I was mainly a fan of the Big Two and superhero tales. As I grew older (and hopefully a tiny bit more mature), my tastes evolved and I was drawn to creator-owned titles and non-superhero stories. But there are only 24 hours in a day; sometimes TV, movies, or sleep wins out in the eternal war for my free time.
OK, let’s get to it. Sharpen those arrows of outrage, here are three of my Comic Blind Spots ...
I have never read The Authority by Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch. In fact, in scanning my databanks, I discovered I have fallen woefully short in my Ellis reading. I’ve never read his "Extremis" storyline in Iron Man, never read Planetary, or even his and Cully Hamner’s OGN Red. FYI, whenever I get approached at a convention or DM’d on Twitter/IG about who I should interview next for Behind the Panel, Ellis is a name mentioned more than once. I’m not even sure he would say yes, but I’m certainly not making the request until I’ve read more of his oeuvre.
I’ve also never read Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol. In fact, until Young Animal’s ultra-trippy take on the team, I don’t think I had read a single DP comic, period. Whenever I tell someone I haven’t read Morrison’s DP, it garners the most aggressive "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" reactions of any of my blind spots. Not even close.
Lastly, I’ve never read a single issue of Fables. Yep, I’ve never set eyes on one of Vertigo’s most popular titles. And because I’m an honest person, when I interviewed artist Mark Buckingham for our four-part Vertigo podcast retrospective, I admitted my personal shame. Buckingham had a good laugh about it.
I’ve read nearly every single Spider-Man, FF, and Avengers comic, and enough Batman books to start a Gotham City support group. But I also didn’t read Watchmen until I was in college and Kirby’s Fourth World in its entirety until after I graduated. Your comics checklist mileage may vary from mine. That’s OK. The discovery of something new and amazing is part of the fun of being a geek.
Check out the poll and do your civic duty — VOTE! Let me know which one I should read first. And while we're being all honest and sharing, hit me up on Twitter/IG/Facebook to reveal your own comic book blind spots.
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