I finally stared watching movies again. Why did I stop watching movies? I’m not exactly sure but the short explanation is that they got too long for me. Or that I lost the patience to sit still that long. It’s really not about the movies it’s about me. I can’t sit down and concentrate on a movie for as long as I used to be able to.

I can still watch TV but I’m not a TV binge watcher. One TV show is either 42 or 22 minutes long without commercials. I usually watch between an hour and a half and two hours of TV a night before I go to bed. It relaxes me and calms me down. Otherwise I get tired and wired. That’s how I describe my state of being when I’m still wide awake and want to get things done but my concentration is shot for the day and I have no energy left to actually do anything but be restless and maybe pace. It’s like I want to draw but can’t anymore. Sitting down and relaxing is what I should do because tomorrow is another day but it’s not always easy to do without the distraction of entertainment.

Also with TV I can stop between shows and brush my teeth, get a drink, or whatever. I can’t do that with a movie because I’d miss parts. Movies demand your attention all the way through for the full two hours. I don’t seem to have that in me very often anymore. I’ve watched a few full movies over the last couple of months. I finally caught The Guardians of The Galaxy Volume Two and enjoyed that one plus I watched the two John Wick movies which were good but that was about it for the winter. Maybe there were a couple of more in there that I’m forgetting right now but not a whole lot more.

Meanwhile over this past weekend, plus a couple of days, I’ve watched three movies. What’s the difference you ask? I finally decided to not watch the movies all the way through at once. Y’see, I always have twenty minutes to half an hour to watch something. I do my exercises after diner and usually have on a TV show while I do them. Since I stand and work I sometimes need twenty minutes to sit in a chair and rest. I can put something on then too. I’ve run out of or gotten bored with half an hour TV shows so why not put a movie on? I can always catch the rest of it later. That’s become my attitude.

A second factor is that I can also watch the movie on my iPad. Not always but sometimes. As easy as it is to watch a movie on my TV occasionally it seems like too much effort. I have to turn on the TV, turn on the stereo, wait for the TV to boot up and connect to my wireless network, and then pick something to watch. It’s not like the process takes more than a minute or four but opening up my iPad and launching a movie watching app takes seconds.

It’s a different experience watching a movie on an iPad. One of the good things about it is that the picture is crystal clear and taken in at a glance. I know most film makers want you to see their movies on the big screen but with a little screen it’s easier to see the composition. I’ve found that sometimes scenes can look prettier on the small screen because of that. Plus there is an intimacy when holding an iPad in your hands and watching something. Of course that’s a drawback too. You have to hold the iPad and that gets tiring after a while. It’s a good thing I don’t do it for that long.

One more thing that has annoyed me about watching movies is the sound. I’ve got a good sound system hooked up to my TV so that’s not the problem. The problem is that I like to watch action movies. They have lots of gunfire and explosions. The dialog happens at one level of volume and then that’s cranked up for the action scenes. I know that’s the way the film makers want it but I’m always turning the volume down during the action scenes. I don’t need super-loud gunfire, tires screeching, or explosions in my movies. It doesn’t help me instead it takes me out of the movie. Since TV shows have less of a budget there seems to be less of that super-loud noise. At least when I’m watching on my iPad the volume isn’t so loud.

What movies did I watch this weekend? Let me tell you. The first was Den of Thieves. I think that one was over two hours long and I watched in in three or four pieces. It was pretty good. It was a caper film that we got to see from the point of view of both the police and the criminals. Lot’s of characters and lots of action plus it kept me guessing. There was also a lot of moral grey area so I wasn’t sure who I was rooting for. Did I want the criminals to succeed or not? I think that was handled well.

The second movie was The Commuter. Another action movie that takes place on the Metro North train that runs between Cold Spring and Grand Central Terminal. It was also a pretty good. It starred Liam Neeson as an ex-police officer caught in an impossible situation on his commute home as evildoers force him to find a hidden person on the train. Good stuff with lots of tension. Even with breaks in between scenes.

The third and final movie was The Accountant. Yet another action movie with Ben Affleck as an accountant who has really good combat skills that come in handy when some rich criminal wants him dead. It had and interesting and unusual climax as Affleck squared off against the final end-battle boss. Sometimes these action movies are very much like video games.

So there you go. Half an hour at a time is the way I like my movies now. Just enough time until I want to get up and move around a bit.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got six new comics.

  • East of West – 37
  • Hillbilly – 9
  • Stray Bulletts: Sunshine and Roses – 34
  • Uber: Invasion – 13
  • The Walking Dead – 179
  • Strangers in Paradise – 3/li>
    Check them all out here:

  • A strange thought struck me this week. I have read a lot of comic books. Being that I’m a comic book collector that doesn’t seem like such a strange thought but it really is. When I say I’ve read a lot of comics what I mean is that you’d have to work hard to find a person who has read more comic books than I have. That didn’t use to be the case but now I think it is and that’s what a just realized.

    When I was growing up in the 1970s I collected comics (I consider 1976 to be my official collecting staring point) and so did a few of my neighbors. Lots of kids read comics at the time but fewer did as we grew older. By the time I graduated high school I probably knew no more than half a dozen people who collected comics. We had all probably read the same amount of comics whatever that amount was.

    When I went off to college my major was art so I met more comic book fans. By the time I graduated I knew at least another ten comic book fans and, though many of them didn’t buy as many comic books as they once did, we probably all read around the same number of comics. We were all about the same age and had read a lot of the same ones.

    After college I worked in the offices of Marvel Comics. There almost everyone read comics. And they read a lot of them. Being that I was only about 22 years old there were a whole bunch of people who had been reading comics for a lot longer than me. I never thought of myself as being a person who had read a lot of comics while I was there. Especially since I hadn’t been reading many Marvel comics for a few years at that point. There were people there who were reading and had read every Marvel comic. That’s a lot of comics.

    A lot of time has passed since my Marvel days. It’s been almost thirteen years since I last worked there. Because of Facebook and the internet I’m still in touch with a lot of the people who I used to work with and many of them are my friends. We all have comics in common. But the strange thing is that a lot of them really don’t keep up with comics anymore. They occasionally buy and read some but mostly don’t. Meanwhile I have kept on buying and reading comics. That means the number of comics I’ve read has been steadily growing over the years while a lot of other people’s number hasn’t.

    Since I consider my comic collecting to have started in 1976 that means I’ve been collecting comics for forty two years. That’s a long time. I’ve had a pull list (a pull list is where a comic shop sets aside the comics you pre-order for you to pick up every week) at a local comic book store since 1983. Before then I used to go to the local newsstand to buy my comics every week. Most of my comic book friends haven’t had a pull list in a least ten years.

    At a conservative estimate of five comic books a week times forty two years means I’ve read just short of 11,000 new comic books. Those are fresh off the stands copies and don’t count back issues, collected editions, borrowed copies, and now digital comics. So 11,000 is now my starting point for having read a lot of comics. How many people have that big a number? But as I said that’s just the starting point.

    I know that number is an underestimation because my database tells me that my current collection stands at about 11,500 comics and I’ve gotten rid of thousands of comics over the years. I think my collection peaked out at about 15,000 comic books years ago. Plus I actually read all those comic books. I watch comic book haul videos on YouTube and a lot of people buy comics that they either never intend to read or never get around to reading. Sometimes they buy then just to have them in their collection and sometimes they buy them with the intent to get around to reading them someday. Sometimes back issues are so cheap that a person buys them just for the hell of it. But not me. I’ve read every comic book I’ve bought.

    Then there are the collected editions. I probably have a thousand of those on my shelves. They collect anywhere from five to ten copies of a comic. So that’s another five thousand comics I’ve read. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of collected editions over the years too. I’m still fairly new to digital but I’ve read a bunch of comics on my iPad over the last two years. Maybe five hundred of them. Once again that may be a low estimate.

    It’s really that pull list number that made me realize I’ve read a lot of comics. I’ve bought comic books ever week for forty two years. Sure there were some weeks I couldn’t make it to the shop but since I had a pull list that meant I didn’t miss the issues. They held them for me until I could make it in.

    So how could someone who hasn’t gone to the comic shop in the last twenty years have read as many comics as I have? They almost certainly haven’t. So a lot of the people who I knew at Marvel in the 1990s and who I then considered to have read at least as many if not more comic than me have a static number. Mine has kept growing steadily. It would be hard to catch up. I never even skipped a year like so many people I know have.

    So that’s my strange realization for the week. I’ve read a lot of comic books. More than I realized.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • Kill or Be Killed – 18
  • Saga – 51
  • The Prisoner – 1
  • Savage Dragon – 233
  • Warlock and the Infinity Watch: True Believers Edition – 1
  • Check them all out here:

    I was a Marvel Comics kid. From the mid 1970s until the early 1980s I was all about the Marvel super heroes. In the early 1980s when George Perez started drawing the New Teen Titans I finally had a DC comic book that I liked too. But in the end I liked indie comics better. Pacific Comics, First Comics, Eclipse Comics, and lots of other small press comics. Even as a kid I liked Marvel’s weirdest, offbeat stuff best: Omega the Unknown, The Guardians of the Galaxy, The Defenders, Adam Warlock, and whatever other oddities they had made by talented people. That’s my taste. The creative out-there stuff.

    By the time the mid-1980s rolled around I was in college and had pretty much gone all indie comics. I stopped buying all my long standing Marvel comics, Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Avengers, and Defenders. I had hundred issue runs of those series that extended back to my childhood but I wasn’t interested in them anymore. I still bought plenty of comics but they were all indie books. Captain America was the last Marvel or DC comic that I kept buying. I bought that one well into the 1990s before the “Heroes Reborn” storyline made me give it up.

    I may not have bought Marvel or DC comics regularly anymore but over the years I would check in with them and read some of their comics. I wasn’t a huge fan of the late 1980s-early 1990s Lee/Liefeld/McFarlane stuff but I checked some of it out. I also remember liking some late 1990s Avengers comics. When there was a creator I liked on a book I would give it a look. Or if I got nostalgic for a character, mostly Spider-Man or the Hulk, I would check that out too.

    I did this all the way up until the early 2010s. That was period in which I was buying mostly collected editions. If I wanted to check out what was going on in the Marvel Universe I’d buy a collected volume of something. I read “Planet Hulk”, “Spider-Man: Brand New Day”, and “Spider-Man: Spider Island” that way. I thought they were all okay. But then I stopped. Over time I did get nostalgic and wanted to check things out but I didn’t. I haven’t bought any Marvel or DC comics in years. What happened? That’s the question I asked myself.

    The answer I came up with is really a conjunction of three things. Especially as it relates to my childhood favorite Marvel Comics. The first part of the answer for me is that all the characters I grew up with are no longer themselves. They’ve all split into many versions of the same character. There are at least six different versions of Spider-Man, four different Hulks, five Wolverines, and a whole League of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four). No longer are any of the Marvel super heroes special. Each is just a face in the crowd. The last time I got nostalgic to read some Hulk I couldn’t even find a comic that starred the Hulk I wanted. I wasn’t nostalgic for a knock-off version of the Hulk so I just gave up on it.

    I think different versions of popular characters is a natural extension of a company growing and becoming more corporate. In other words it’s hard to stop. By “More corporate” I mean that more mangers and money people are hired. People whose job it is to make money off of Marvel’s intellectual property. And they do their job.

    One thing you have to understand about making comics is that no one knows what will sell. With experience you can make some guesses but no one really knows. All the creative people I’ve known in comics, from editors to letterers, have always tried to make the best comics that they can. But they’re not the ones who make the decisions on what comics get made. The money people do that job.

    So imagine you’re a money person at Marvel Comics. It’s your job to make as much money as possible for Marvel. Spider-Man and the Avengers are your best selling comics. So what comics do you want to make? More Spider-Man and Avengers comics of course. You may not ultimately know what comics will sell and which won’t but you do know that Spider-Man will sell better than Quasar. So you green-light Spider-Man projects and red-light Quasar ones.

    As I said before the creative people are trying their best to make good comics but their creativity exists in this context. If you’re creator and you’re pitching a project you know your chances are better with Spider-Man than with Quasar. And if you’re creating a new character basing that character on an already popular character increases your chances of approval. So inventing Spider-Girl is better for you than inventing Quarry-Girl.

    Creating yet another Spider-Man knock-off annoys me because it makes the character less special in my eyes. It makes me less interested in Spider-Man when he’s one of a thousand Spider-Characters. And that’s not even an exaggeration. There was a Spider-Verse comic that had endless alternate world versions of Spider-Man. Ughhhh…

    That leads us to the second thing on my list. Creative choices get more conservative. “More corporate” also means more people have to approve a project. When Stan Lee was running Marvel in the 1960s, as far as I’ve ever read, he only answered to the owner Martin Goodwin. So if he wanted to get a project done he had to convince one guy. If you’re a creator at Marvel these days how many people do you have to convince to go forward with a project? I’m not even sure but I bet it’s three or four. At least.

    Successful creators in this context will learn what will get approved and what won’t. They’ll tailor their stuff towards that approval process. The stuff that gets through this process easiest is the stuff just like other successful stuff. Hence we get six Spideys, six Hulks, six Wolverines, and so on. Every popular hero these days has a superhero “Family.” Creative choices get narrower. Instead of new and creative projects we get more of the same. We get variations on a theme. We get Batman and the Joker in a dozen different time periods and a dozen different alternate realities. That is the exact type of stuff I’m not interested in.

    The third thing on my list is a simple one. The number on the comic book. The issue number that was on a comic was my last tenuous link to the comics I read in my youth. I collected The Amazing Spider-Man from about issues 165 until 265. So if I saw issue 467 at least it had a context for me. But over the years Marvel and DC have relaunched and renumbered all their comics. The number on the front means nothing to me anymore. That last connection is gone. So now if I want to check out the latest issues of The Amazing Spider-Man it doesn’t really exist for me. Instead it’s the latest edition of some other Spider-Man series. They don’t even bother to use volume numbers anymore.

    Of course the worst thing for Marvel and DC is that I don’t even care. I can’t even be bothered to nostalgia read anymore. But lucky for me there are plenty of other good comics out there that I can buy. And I do.