A problem I have (that I expect is common to every culture junkie) is that frequently, my appetite for new material exceeds my ability to consume what I already own. I read more comics than anything, and yet I have a pile of graphic novels that’s 5 books deep with unread material. I read novels more than I listen to music, and yet I have a pile of books 25 high that I’m trying to fit in before I buy any more. I don’t even want to think about how many albums I’ve got to listen to, and as for films? I’ve pretty much given up on watching films except at the cinema now. The sad truth is that even though I never buy anything just to own it, things can and do slip through the cracks – or in this case, onto the shelf – where they will be ignored in favour of newer purchases.
One such comic is The Escapists. The collected edition of the series that (as I understand it) span out of Michael Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay. It’s written by Brian K. Vaughan, and features a line-up of artists that, under any normal circumstance, I’d jump at the chance to read material by. Which is why I put the book on my Amazon wishlist one Christmas.
However, once I received it, I decided that I should probably read Kavalier and Clay first. I’m sure there’s no obligation to in terms of the material – it’d be a poor comic indeed which couldn’t stand alone – but that’s the way I am. I’d prefer to read the source material first. I want the context.
Unfortunately, almost two years after I received the comic, I’ve yet to actually get around to buying Kavalier and Clay, let alone reading it. At this point, I’m not sure when I will. Other novels and books demand my time. But still, the idea that I might one day read Kavalier and Clay in turn prevents me from picking up The Escapists and cracking it open.
In fact, it’s been so long that now, if I read the comic, it’s like I’m admitting defeat – that I’ll never read the book. And if I admit that, I might as well admit I’ll never get around to reading any Michael Chabon, because Kavalier and Clay is easily the best entry point for me to start with his work, and if I can’t find time for that, I can’t find time for anything else he’s done. The question, then, is do I want to be the sort of person who writes off Michael Chabon’s entire output having never read any of his work? Not at all.
And that, friends, is why I haven’t yet read The Escapists.