Squirrel Girl Letters Page Banner - Matt Reads Comics

A Love Letter to Letters Pages

Like a lot of modern comics readers, I’ve mostly become a trade-waiter.

For those who don’t know what that term means, “trade-waiters” are readers who eschew collecting monthly comics as single issues, instead waiting for the book-like collections that show up at comics stores and mainstream retailers like Barnes & Noble.

On the whole, trade-waiting is much easier than buying single issues. It requires less logistical headaches and drives to the comic store. It eliminates the chance you’ll miss, say, issue 20 of a particular series, leaving you to fill in the gaps between issues 19 and 21. Trade collections are ad-free, and they’re easier to move from place to place than single issues (in my life, this consideration comes up a lot).

But there are still good reasons to buy single issues. Some publishers use only single issue sales to gauge how successfully titles are selling. So if you want the series to continue, you need to buy the single issues. There’s also something to be said for reading comic stories in their original, serialized form, in getting to enjoy the story as it was conceived. And in getting to talk about it with the other readers hanging around your local shop on Wednesday.

But the best reason to buy single issues is this: They’re the only place you can find the comic’s letters page.

Hawkeye Kate Bishop Millennial Superhero - Matt Reads Comics

Kate Bishop Is the Millennial’s Superhero

My wife keeps trying to convince me I’m a millennial. I continually resist this classification, but with each month that goes by, I’m more convinced she’s right. You see, I have a lot of the same baggage and problems that millennials have. The same baggage and problems that Kate Bishop, also known as the-very-best-Hawkeye, has.

Kate Bishop Millennial Superhero - Matt Reads Comics

I Was a Batman Kid I'm a Superman Adult - Matt Reads Comics

I Was a Batman Kid, But I’m a Superman Adult

The S Stands for Hope The Bat Stands for a Bat - Matt Reads Comics

Like a lot of kids, I grew up wanting to be Batman. I was the right age to catch Batman: the Animated Series fresh as it aired on weekdays and Saturday mornings. My parents bought me Batman Returns toys without watching Batman Returns (which thank goodness, that movie’s messed up). My grandma noted my infatuation and taped Batman ’66 episodes as they re-ran on daytime TV, while I was at school. She, my grandpa, and I watched them together.

I quickly transitioned from TV and toys into comics. And while my mom might’ve hoped Catholic schooling would teach me to live by Jesus’s principles, my personal philosophy is much more Mantle of the Bat than Bible-based.

“The victory is in the preparation.”

“Death is powerless against you if you leave a legacy of good behind.”

“All men have limits. They learn what they are and learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine.”

Atomic Robo of Mars - Matt Reads Comics

Stephen Hawking Is a Bastard – Re-reading Atomic Robo of Mars

One of my favorite things about Atomic Robo, the action-adventure comic about a wisecracking robot built by Nikola Tesla, is the way the series’s premise lends itself to jumping backward and forward in time.

Robo and Carl Sagan - Atomic Robo of Mars - Matt Reads Comics

To create a robot adventure scientist, one must first invent the universe.

Why It's Important Superman's Trunks Are Back - Matt Reads Comics

Why It’s Important That Superman’s Trunks Are Back

We got the word in the middle of January:

“Hey, guys, DC here. Just so y’know…Superman’s trunks are coming back.”

And comics fans rejoiced. (Mostly.)

You might think those of us who care about this change are making a big deal out of underwear, and yes, we are, thank you very much. Because Superman’s trunks are more than just a design choice. The trunks are a symbol, just like the “S” on Superman’s chest. The “S” might stand for hope, but the trunks? The trunks stand for wonder.

The Comic Tells You How to Read It - Scott McCloud's The Sculptor - Matt Reads Comics

The Comic Tells You How to Read It – Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor

Comics have a secret superpower you might not know about: they can tell you how to read them. Sometimes, creators are content to simply get their story down on the page. They don’t pay much attention to pacing, transitions, panel construction, and page layout. But when a good artist puts these tools to work, they produce a comic that controls your narrative movement and adds extra layers to the story.

If you want a master class in just what a creator can do when they’ve purposefully placed every line they’ve drawn, I’d recommend taking a look at Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor.