Comic Book foreign lands.

A few of you who read this may already know, but I am going to be leaving for Australia here in about 6 days (hence the awesome Australian noir illustration by Sean Phillips.) I have lived their before, and usually my journeys mean long periods of time without reading comics. I *love* my comics, but it's just so darn hard to buy them abroad when I know my comic shop stateside will be holding them for me, with my club member discount waiting, too. Because of the exchange rate (the US dollar is still barely more than the Australian) and the fuel tax on top of the cost of the comics for having them shipped overseas, comic books are a high priced import for the Aussies. Gotta respect the collectors down under. However, I've been planning. I have a  stack of trade paperbacks for my stay abroad. It's embarrassing how many series I haven't read in my years as a comic book reader. We all have those big gaping holes in our collections. Here is what I've got on the menu:

The Sandman
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Dave McKean (and many more)
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)

I know, I know. It's a big one. My reluctance to read this series was rooted in the stereotypes that sometimes surround female comic book readers. We don't like superhero books, goth, fantasy, and Buffy comics are irresistible, and we love everything Neil Gaiman touches. And though these stereotypes are sometimes true (and also disproved by the exclusively goth / Buffy loving male readers out there), I have learned one excellent series at a time that avoiding a book because of who reads it is a quick way to miss out on some good reading. So bring on the book loved by 15 year old goth girls the world over.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Derick Robertson
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)

I love Warren Ellis. I love Derick Robertson. Soooo.....yeah. I don't really have an excuse for this one. I will admit though, I didn't even know this series existed until I started working in a comic book store. When I recently saw Volume 1 in a 50% off bin, I thought, well, better get on it.

Scott Pilgrim
Writer & Artists: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Publisher: Oni Press

I picked up volume 1 and was going to save it for my trip to Australia, but started it a bit early just to see what all the fuss was about. Well, that didn't last long. I read the first book very quickly and, okay. I get it. Have you ever read a book and thought "Wow, they wrote this book just for my friends and I!" The nerd loving, jobless, 20-something slackers that inhabit Scott Pilgrim's cast are painfully relate-able. With only five volumes for this series so far, I may have to pace myself - this one will be hard to resist reading straight through in one sitting.

These are just a few of the trade paperbacks I have set aside for my trip, but there are many more series that I'd like to have under my belt . For instance, aside from some Avengers books, I've never read any Thor comics. No problem, there are only 50+ years of history to catch up on! That makes it a little harder to find a place to get your feet wet. But as I tell my friends who are reluctant to read any comics because they don't know where to start, you just have to take the plunge. Take a risk, buy something without knowing if you'll like it, understand it, or want to continue reading it. Before you know it, you'll be in the outside looking out, perusing the comic book shelves for books that strike your fancy, and not long after that, you'll be writing a blog for six people, hoping that you've inspired someone else to try something new.

(Images provided by Sean Phillips blog, DC Comics, and Oni Press, respectively.)