Like most things made by people, the comics industry is rife with frustrating institutional problems that will probably never be solved in our lifetimes. If you ask five different people about the worst thing to happen to comics, you’d probably get five different answers (or one cheating answer: the 90s). But, as someone who writes about comics, here’s the one that I find the most destructive, the one that gets in the way of a lot of people reading and enjoying great work: the idea that comics are supposed to be collected.
Note how I worded that. There is nothing inherently wrong with collecting comics, but the idea that it’s what you’re supposed to do is what’s destructive, because of what it implies. First and foremost, comics are meant to be read and enjoyed. Collecting comics just sort of happens as a natural extension of that—they pile up, and since they’re serial narratives, you want to hold on to them while seeking out gaps—after all, who wants to have just part of a story?
No, this is about the other kind of collecting.