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Friday, November 04, 2005
I've been thinking recently of which comics I re-read, and why. My purchasing habits are fairly varied. I purchase a mix of monthly comics and trades, with a healthy mix of super-hero comics, manga, "genre fiction," and "indie/art" comics. And since I buy comics for two, Pete being a comic reader as well, I also get exposed to and read a lot of stuff that, normally, I wouldn't. Then there's also my regular back-issue purchases. My fondness for the weird and goofy DC books of the sixties and seventies keeps me prowling back issue bins on a frequent schedule.
Yet, despite what seems to me to be an utterly insane amount of comics read and purchased on a recurring basis, I still, somehow, find myself rereading the vast majority of my comics purchases. But some title don't get reread. And I've noticed that a significant number of the titles that don't get reread are the manga titles. I wondered why this would be so, and it got me thinking as to why I reread certain titles and not others.
The super-hero comics are the ones that probably get reread most frequently. This is largely due to a desire to familiarize myself with past occurrences in light of newer issues. It's the continuity, in other words. Which isn't to say that I don't find pleasure in rereading these comics. In fact, it more or less goes without saying. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't care about what happens next, or want to try to remember what went before.
Most of the trades I purchase get reread on a periodic basis. This is more true of stand-alone trades than of trades that form part of a series. In the later case, what sometimes happens is that I go back two or three volumes in preparation for a new one, while trades that collect mini-series or stand-alone storylines get read whenever the mood strikes me. It's also probably worth pointing out in that regard that very rarely do I buy something in both monthly comics form and trade form. There are only very rare cases where I like something enough that I plan on rereading it often enough that I opt to purchase the more permanent edition as well.
With original graphic novels the split is almost even between "reread" and "never picked up again." Most of them are of a size that it doesn't take long to reread, and most of them aren't exactly intellectually taxing reading, so I would almost expect that I'd reread them more frequently, especially on those days when I'm bored and trying desperately to find something to read. And yet, most of them just sit on the bookcase once I'm done reading them, even ones that, as I recall, I actually enjoyed.
Now, the manga, that's a complicated case. Much of the manga doesn't get read for two simple reasons: length and repetition. I still enjoy Ranma 1/2, and tend to read new volumes as soon as they come out, but I never feel compelled to go back and read older ones. Mostly, I think, because with more than thirty volumes of the same basic jokes, reading one volume is largely the same as reading any other. On the more plot heavy titles I sometimes go back a volume or two to catch myself up on new volumes, but for the most part, it simply feels like too much work to haul down ten or more volumes off the bookcase.
A rare exception to these rules are the books of Yuu Watase and CLAMP. I can frequently dig those out and spend a day or two rereading the story up to the current point. In Watase's case, it's almost necessary to reread the stories frequently, as they're heavy on plot and fairly fast-paced.
Now that I've culled my manga reading piles a little, I've noticed a slight increase in the number of reread volumes. I've already read the second volume of Death Note twice, for example, and I've lost track of the number of times of reread the first volume of Chikyu Misaki and the three Yotsuba&! books.