October 8, 2008

A few days after writing this post, I finally got my hands on volume 1 of “DMZ.” Despite my affection for the local boys, Fantom Comics was sold out of the first book, and I finally had to haul my ass into Georgetown. Barnes & Noble’s online inventory promised they had it in stock, so when I found myself over that way for an eye appointment* last week I finally, finally had an excuse to go the extra few blocks and buy what turned out to be the Second Best Comic Book I’ve Read This Year.**

It was so good freaking awesome that I read it despite my eyes having just been dilated. I could barely see the sidewalk in front of me on the way to the store (including the cross-don’t cross signs at the intersections, sorry Power Suit Guy in the Lexus at Penn and 23rd), but once I finally had “DMZ” in my hands I couldn’t NOT read it, right? So I sat there for an afternoon partially blinded, feeling like Mr. Burns in the “X-Files” episode of “the Simpsons,” squinting and crinkling my nose (that helps!) but plowing through because it was every bit as good as I’d hoped.

Before this year, I’d always been a fan of the heavy hitters but never actually spent much time reading graphic novels. This year, with “Watchmen” and “Fables” and now “DMZ,” I’m kicking myself for not going there sooner.

On the way home from Georgetown, I stopped at Fantom Comics in Union Station because previous experience had already proven them to be well-stocked with Volume 2. A few nights ago I was up until 1:30 finishing it, despite the 7:30 a.m. start time the next day at work. I’m up to Volume 3 now, which I picked up from Politics and Prose this afternoon, still trying to atone for the karmic sin of not trusting the indie stores first. It’s the hump volume, because once I finish that one there will be more unread volumes than read ones.*** Suggestions for what to tackle next are welcome and encouraged. Seriously, please? I can see the withdrawal hitting in about two weeks right after I turn the last page of Volume 5.

*Blocked tear duct. I’m physically incapable of crying right now. Irony noted.

**I did read “Watchmen” for the first time earlier this year.

*** Volume 6 in January! Woo!


Conflict resolution

September 22, 2008

During a bit of downtime at work this month, I followed a series of links (I can’t remember if it started over at Wil Wheaton’s blog or on Boing Boing. With those two, it’s a chicken-egg situation, anyway), and I ended up over at a 2006 New York Times review of Brian Wood’s “DMZ.” (Yes, Virginia, they do make comic books about photojournalists!) Volume 5 just came out last month, but I’ve managed to get along though life without ever knowing about the book, a state I’ve been trying to correct for the last two weeks.

So what does the dutiful geek do when she learns about a new comic? Well, she doesn’t rush out to support the local comic book store, which is what she should have done immediately. She feels badly for this, especially because she walks by said comic book store every single day and lives six blocks from it. Really, there is no excuse for the turn this story’s about to take.

Instead, she left her office (in the middle of a tropical storm! Can I have some of those geek points back now? For risking death in the name of comics?) to hit up the Borders across the street. The shelf was empty, but the computer promised another copy was on the way. I figured someone else saw a review of the latest and wanted to get caught up, too. A trip to the Barnes & Noble on E Street ended with my hands similarly empty.

You know how Big Box Stores came in and ruined the specialty shops? The local hardware store and main street and all that? And now no one at Big Box Store will help you pick out a hammer or something and everyone leaves without being united with the perfect shiny tool and dreaming of happier times.* It’s pretty much the same thing with Big Bookstores: a selection that runs wide–three stories! lattes!–but not very deep. They’ve got 45 copies of “Watchmen” on display (which, really, I think is great), but god help you if you’re trying to find something Time magazine didn’t pick as one of the top books of the century. Repeated return trips to Borders revealed that the book was not actually on order and that it will not be restocked. Like an infant who just has to touch the pretty red stove, I kept returning to Barnes and Noble too, hoping that on the next trip the shelves would be magically realphabetized and resemble something close to an organized system. Like much in life, I was continually disappointed.**

So, finally, tonight I walk the long way (it wasn’t through snow and ice, but it was uphill, especially after I’d started walking home the other way) to finally stop at Fantom Comics in Union Station. And goddamnit if they weren’t forced to close early for a stupid event in the Great Hall.

Someday I’ll read “DMZ,” and I bet I’ll love it.

*My mom told me recently that the former owners of Ye Olde Hardeware Shoppe in my hometown have taken to telling everyone that Wal-Mart drove them out of business. It was 15 years ago, and I guess they figure that no one around now remembers that they closed two years before Wal-Mart opened and that the reason they went out of business was because crotchety old men may be great for adding character but they suck at providing customer service.

**I also harbored a secret hope that the area would be free of That Guy, who often glares at me as though I have no right to look in the section and disturb the 15 feet of personal space he has carved out for himself next to the manga.