• The slow-time of comics is part of their greatness

    I absolutely love Alyssa Rosenberg on pop-culture. This is one of the rare times I have to disagree with her:

    I haven’t started reading DC’s New 52 titles yet (because I read so fast, I don’t tend to read comics before they’re anthologized because the price paid to time spent reading is frustrating otherwise)

    This breaks my heart. It’s not Alyssa’s comments on “52”, which I just received in the mail today and have not yet had a chance to read. It’s her comment on the value of reading comics once a month.

    First of all, that’s how the author wanted them to be read. They are chapters intended to be released in nuggets over time, each individually digestible. Watchmen is awesome as a graphic novel, but in its serialized original format, it was a masterpiece. Waiting a month between each issue was one of the hardest, and sweetest things I ever had to do. I read the first three issues of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns at summer camp, and then wasn’t able to finish it at home because my parents didn’t believe in comics. I had to go back to camp a year later to read the final chapter.

    It was totally worth it.

    These days, when I can get a book downloaded to my Kindle or iPad in seconds, when I can find a movie online in minutes, and when almost any information is available instantaneously on my phone, there’s something nice about having one thing in my life go in slow-time. I read my first issue of Planetary in late 1998, when I started residency. I read the final issue (there were only 27) in late 2009. At times, it was torture waiting for the next issue. But nothing will replace the excitement of getting each issue, and the literal decade of anticipation waiting for the next part of the story.

    Sure, you can go buy the whole thing today in four collected graphic novels and likely polish it off in a few hours. You may even love it. But I swear to you that you won’t have gotten nearly what I did out of my time with the comic. The price paid to time spent reading was worth every penny.

    That said, I think Alyssa is spot on in her comments on Amanda Waller.

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    • As an economist I’m curious. You say waiting “was totally worth it.” I wonder if you exercise the same patience when possible. Do you watch a TV show you haven’t seen one week at a time (and none over the summer)? Do you wait the appropriate amount of time before seeing a movie sequel?

      I’ve noticed that though someone alleges that consuming media a certain way is preferred, they often don’t subscribe to that method when they’re consumption is unconstrained.

      • Mostly that is how I watch TV.

        But I’m not arguing that I have self-control. I’m arguing that the fact that comics force me to wait is actually a good thing. It compensates for my lack of willpower.