Comics Gobble: The Numbers Edition

Friends, it is Saturday, and I did not finish one comic books this week. Not one. It’s the first week since I picked up the first volume of Lumberjanes back in January that I haven’t read at least one comic.

I’ve been busy–settling into a new place, starting a new job, adjusting to life with a new pup. I’ve been writing every day (which is why I moved to this beloved little island in the first place!), going on long walks with my sweet rescue mutt, Nessa, cooking yummy dinners for myself, and getting in bed by 9pm. I’ve also been reading, of course, but not quite as much as I was during my transitional vortex, when reading and packing was all I did.

So, this week’s Comics Gobble is a day late and a lot nerdy. I don’t have any new comics to write about, so instead I present you with comics by the numbers. We’re just about a quarter of the way through the year. Here’s what my comics reading has looked like, statistically.

  • Comics Read: 54
  • Fiction: 50
  • Nonfiction: 4
  • Writers/Artists of Color: 7
  • Main characters of color: 36
  • Queer main characters: 24
  • Print: 15
  • Digital: 39
  • Borrowed or from the library: 32
  • Owned: 22 (almost exclusively through Comixology)
  • Science fiction or fantasy: 42
  • Not science fiction or fantasy: 12
  • Original languages: English (51), Japanese (2), French (1)
  • Top reason I chose to read a comic: known comic (i.e. part of a series)
  • Top publishers: Image Comics, DC Comics, BOOM Box
  • Average number of days it took to read each book: 2.5
  • Shortest book: 78 pages (reMind)
  • Longest book: 271 pages (Beyond: The Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics Anthology)
  • Oldest comic: published 2002 (Y: The Last Man, Volume 1)
  • Newest comic published 2017 (Saga Volume 7, The Backstagers, others)

Looking at these numbers, it’s easy for me to find the patterns. The vast majority of the comics I’ve read this year have been fiction, mostly science fiction or fantasy. I’ve dabbled in some wonderful all-ages comics, a few superhero comics, and some graphic memoirs, but sci-fi and fantasy far outnumber all other genres.

I’m a big nerd, so this is not surprising, but it occurs to me that one of the reasons I love sci-fi and fantasy comics so much is because of the art. I love these genres for the big, varied, continually surprising imaginations of the people who write them. There are literally an infinite number of imagined universes, aliens, spaceships, planets, alternate histories, magical creatures. It’s wonderful to read about all of those different worlds, but it’s equally wonderful to see them drawn.

I remember pouring over books of artwork of Middle-earth when I was a kid. Sometimes the art didn’t match up with the images I had in my head, but most of the time it was magical to see a world I loved come to life through art. That’s what it’s like reading sci-fi and fantasy comics. The world building is incredible because it’s literary and visual.

Saga is my all-time favorite comic, but my other top sci-fi and fantasy comics with incredible art include: Lumberjanes, The Backstagers, Nimona, Bitch Planet and Cognetic.

I believe I noted this in an earlier Comics Gobble, but perhaps the most interesting number here is that though 36 of the 54 comics I’ve read had main characters of color, only seven were written and/or drawn by people of color. (Caveat: my data is not necessarily 100% accurate, because sometimes it’s hard to find information about all the authors/writers of comics).

Diversity and representation in comics is a beautiful thing. However, based on subjective observation (and my own small data sample), it seems that many of the comics coming out today by the big publishers are still dominated by white writers and artists. One of my goals for the rest of the year is to seek out comics written, drawn and created by folks of color. I recently backed Bingo Love on Kickstarter, and I cannot wait to read it. I’m also pretty excited about these two lists of black comic writers and artists on Book Riot.

Some other goals for the rest of the year, based on the information here:

  • Read more comics in translation! Other than books written in Japanese, translated comics are often harder to come by, but I’d like to read more of these. The Arab of the Future 2 is on my list, but beyond that, I’ll have to do some searching around.
  • Graphic memoirs! I’ve only read a few nonfiction comics this year and I loved them all (March, Relish, The Arab of the Future). Graphic memoirs are a different beast from more traditional fictional comics, and I’m looking forward to reading a lot more of them in the coming months.
  • Read some comics from the Golden Age (or at least some non-contempary comics!) I’m not a fan of superhero comics, but I have fallen hard for this art form, and I think I owe it to myself to explore some of its history. Maybe I’ll find some obscure queer gems from the sixties.

I’ll be back with a regular Comics Gobble next week. In the meantime, happy reading!

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