Everyone should have a hobby. Mine is: when Top Shelf comics has one of their periodic $3 sales, I try to tell people that a couple of these recurring, sadly semi-remaindered titles, are only just about the best I’ve read from the last couple years. I wrote the same damn post – about the same damn books, practically – only last year. It’s not as though writing the same post over and over makes me appear especially clever. I must believe what I’m saying. Here, let me talk you through the procedure: you should buy, at a minimum, Scott Morse‘s The Barefoot Serpent and Lilli Carré‘s Tales of Woodsman Pete and Dan JamesThe Octopi and the Ocean and Mosquito. Check out the previews if you don’t believe me. I also feel the James Kochalka and Jeffrey Brown titles would be very solid purchases, and the price is right. And, oh, I could walk you through the best bits of the whole store, in my private opinion. (Buy Jeff Lemire.) But I want to focus on these four recommendations as sincerely heartfelt. $12 for the foursome. That’s pitiful. I feel I am robbing the artists themselves, just telling you the good news. Please buy these books so that Top Shelf runs out and I don’t have to keep writing this post. (Maybe I’m misunderstanding the economics of the situation and this will go on forever. Maybe it’s like Wall Street. It doesn’t have to make economic sense. I just don’t know.)

In other news, I’m reading Jan Tschichold‘s The Form of the Book. He’s the Wittgenstein of typography. (But that’s a different story: and I don’t mean that Tschichold was a good philosopher. It is a point about temperament. I do say so admiringly.) The next time you are at a party, see if you can humiliate your host by subjecting his or her bookshelf to this discerning treatment.

Only the book jacket offers the opportunity to let formal fantasy reign for a time. But it is no mistake to strive for an approximation between the typography of the jacket and that of the book. The jacket is first and foremost a small poster, an eye-catcher, where much is allowed that would be unseemly within the pages of the book itself. It is a pity that the cover, the true garb of a book, is so frequently neglected in favor of today’s multicolor jacket. Perhaps for this reason many people have fallen into the bad habit of placing books on the shelf while still in their jackets. I could understand this if the cover were poorly designed or even repulsive. But as a rule, book jackets belong in the waste paper basket, like empty cigarette packages.

What I like is the afterthought quality of ‘or even repulsive’. I would like to see this scene played on the stage. But I wouldn’t pay a lot of money to see it, admittedly.