Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Format matters: Not enough abominable omnibi

A good comic book omnibus is hard to beat, and they’re usually big enough to beat your enemies to death with them too. Of all the formats a comic can come in – monthly pamphlets, prestige-format one-offs, or digital files flying through the air – there is such chunky satisfaction in a decent-sized omnibus.

A trade paperback doesn't do it any more, not in this day of decompressed comics. And some of them are so slim – just four or five issues long – that you can end up with more than a dozen collections really quickly. The constant reboots hardly help.

But an omnibus – a trade paperback that collects three or more regular collections, with a soft cover and decent price tag – helps make it less of a mission to keep track of it all. My first ever omnibus was a collection of Asterix books, with four or five of the perennial albums put in one place.

And I still get them now. I've finally got all the Charley’s War comics in one place (and it took me weeks to get through it all). I've also recently been getting some of the Hellboy and BPRD books in their chunkiest, cheapest editions, and still have a few of the Essential and Showcase cheaparse collections on the shelves, although that particular format seems to have dried up now.

Creators like Robert Kirkman have got a lot out of the big-ass format, with his long-form comics The Walking Dead and Invincible collected into big damn editions. They can get quite pricy when you've got more than 30 issues collected in one place, but you also get more bang for your buck on a page by page basis.

I wish there were more. I would totally get something like Rick Geary’s murder stories if they were all collected in one fat volume, and would love a massive and cheap collection of Jason Aaron's Thor comics, because I lost track of that one three reboots ago. There's always a place for a thick omnibus for things like this, even if they take up a shit-load of room on the shelf.

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