So… Even though I have all the original issues (even that weird, seeming-non-sequitor-but-totally-not-as-it-turns-out short story from that Vertigo Winter’s Edge special)… Even though I also have all the trade paperbacks, printed on cheap newsprint as they were, and bought for a song from a convention dealer who was desperate to clear out stock rather than lug it all home… Today I bought this:
Yes, it’s the Invisibles Omnibus. All 59 issues (plus the afore-mentioned not-non-sequitor short story, entitled, since we’re talking about it so much, “And We’re All Police Men”). Which I have now bought for the third time, and (in non-adjusted dollars, at least) at the highest price.
(No, really. If all 59 originals cost me two bucks ((and I think they did)), that was only $118, spaced out over the course of six years. And the trades… Well, I don’t even want to admit how little I paid for the trades. I should be ashamed of myself. That poor man, and his over-estimation of how much even marginally counter-cultural stock he could move over the course of three days in Charlotte… What was I saying? Oh, yes. I don’t care to say how much I paid for the trades, but it was well under $100. Well under $50, actually. Okay, so I picked up the whole run for 20 bucks. And a misprinted issue of Wolverine in which Sabretooth utters an ethnic slur, traded to another customer who was fighting me over volume one. Ahem. At any rate… The Omnibus ((and I’m glad it doesn’t actually SAY Omnibus on the cover anywhere; it would seem… tacky)) rings up at a whopping $150. I mean, I got a pretty good discount from my Local Funnybook Store, but the point stands: Most Money Spent, Third Time Buying.)
But, y’know… I’m okay with that. The trade paperback reading copies I spent so little money on are, as I said, printed on what I think may be even cheaper paper than the original comics, and as such have already decomposed to the point that my newsprint allergy (the bane of my funnybook existence, let me tell you) has rendered them useless for their intended purpose. Plus… This is a very nice book. There’s that new Brian Bolland cover, for instance…
…which features a shocking pink hand grenade, and urges you to smile. And that’s got to be worth SOMEthing extra. The book’s also printed over-size, which serves the lovely artwork quite well. And this book had some damn fine artists over its run: Steve Yeowell, Jill Thompson, Phil Jimenez, Chris Weston, Mark Buckingham, Philip Bond, Frank Quitely… There was even a run on which Sean Phillips was inked by Jay Stephens, and their mix of stark realism and cartoony smoothness combined for maybe my favorite Phillips art ever:
The larger size also affords added oomph to the big shock images…
…and to some of the series’ famous “trippy” sequences, as well:
The pages are reprinted in full bleed (a fancy way of saying that the pictures go all the way to the edge of the paper), which is nice, and the book’s sturdy sewn binding (a must for anything this big) ensures that you don’t lose any image or text in the center. It also ensures that the book will lay flat:
That’s important with a book this heavy. I’m not joking in that title up above: I actually put this thing on my bathroom scales, and it really does weigh ten pounds. It’s the kind of book that, sooner or later, you’re going to have to read sitting at a table. That much weight pressing down on your lap will eventually block blood flow, and nobody likes it when their crotch goes to sleep.
(Well, I suppose somebody out there might, but that’s getting into fetishes even this most 90s of comics doesn’t touch…)
But speaking of reading the thing (which I’m sure I must have been, even just a few seconds ago)… I did a bit of that, this afternoon. I jumped around, mostly, starting (as always) with the opening line (“And so we return, and we begin again”), then jumping to the last one (“Our sentence is up”), and from there moving backwards and forwards, a page or two here, a panel there, a whole issue skimmed when something caught my attention. Not a bad way to spend a lazy Wednesday afternoon. And honestly, obsessed as it is with time and secrets and the cyclical nature of things, not a bad way to read Invisibles, either. I’ve been considering another re-read of the whole run this fall, seeing as we’re rushing headlong into the 2012 apocalypse that figures so prominently into the story, and this monster tome gives me even more of an excuse.
This will be my fourth or fifth reading of the whole thing, though, and after my experience with the book today, I think I wanna try something a little different: I’m going to read it forwards and backwards at the same time. That is to say, I’m going to start with the first issue, then read the last issue. Then I’ll read the second issue and the next-to-last issue, and so on and so forth until I meet myself in the middle. My hope is that this will be both horribly confusing and terribly enlightening. And maybe, if I’m lucky, it’ll manifest the holographic fictional reality that is The Invisibles. Or at least invoke the ghost of John Lennon. SOMEthing cool’s bound to come out of it, anyway, even if it’s only a series of blog posts. Unless it’s a disaster, of course. In which case, you’ll never hear about it again…