Top Shelf Sale On Comixology; also, Kindle Matchbook

by John Holbo on November 14, 2013

Mostly I read comics in digital form these days. Comixology is a pretty good platform – bit crashy on my old iPad. But I like the Guided View format. If you haven’t gotten into the whole buying digital comics thing yet, you might check out the Top Shelf sale going on right now. Top Shelf is a major indie publisher with a lot of great titles and a pretty extensive catalogue. You can get Alan Moore, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. You can get Jeff Lemire stuff like Essex County and The Underwater Welder. You can get Nate Powell stuff like Any Empire and Swallow Me Whole (which I previously recommended here.) You can get hilarious Jeffrey Brown stuff like The Incredible Change-Bots (also recommended before.) Lilli Carre, Tales of Woodsman Pete. James Kochalka, Monkey vs. Robot and Superf*ckers. And on and on. Good stuff!

I also notice, via the Top Shelf front page, that there’s a new Amazon thing called Kindle Matchbook. If you’ve bought a physical book through Amazon, at any point in the past, you can add a digital copy for cheap. I so much prefer digital, especially for research purposes, that I will probably be availing myself of that option in future. But Kindle comics aren’t so good. You can’t zoom individual frames, as with Comixology. And not that many publishers are on-board with this Matchbook thing, apparently. I suppose they feel it will put yet more pressure on paper sales by encouraging people to sell their used paper copies, once they’ve got the Kindle copy. Probably they’re right.



Kevin Erickson 11.14.13 at 3:57 am

I also love Nate Powell! It’s hard to believe this kid from Soophie Nun Squad is now doing John Lewis’s autobiography.


Bruce 11.14.13 at 5:11 am

Some excellent recommendations above, but I would point out a few other great Top Shelf comics, at amazing prices during the sale: March, John Lewis’ autobiography; Wizzywig by the uniquely talented Ed Piskor; and, God is Disappointed in You, a hilarious Cliff Notes version of the Bible.


David (Kid Geezer). 11.14.13 at 5:17 am

Not having physical books would be like not having a roof over my head. Very unhappy.


John Holbo 11.14.13 at 6:10 am

“Not having physical books would be like not having a roof over my head. Very unhappy.”

Yes, but having too many damn physical books, as I currently do, is like having the walls closing in. Very claustrophobic.

“March, John Lewis’ autobiography”

I’ve been meaning to check it out but haven’t yet, so I didn’t recommend it, or those other titles. I should take my own advice and take advantage of the sale.


NomadUK 11.14.13 at 6:35 am

When one contemplates shipping all those books, the vast majority of which have not been cracked open for 10 years, across the Atlantic a second time, one starts to think that maybe Kirk was right.


Asteele 11.14.13 at 7:52 am

If we are doing recs, infinte Kung fu is worth it. During their last sale I got gingerbread girl and couldn’t get into the plot, the art is nice though.


Barry 11.14.13 at 11:19 am

Thanks for the Amazon Matchback information, John!


William Burns 11.14.13 at 12:03 pm

Where Matchback really seems exploitable is with gifts–buy someone a hard copy for a gift and keep the kindle copy for yourself.


Bruce 11.14.13 at 4:23 pm

March is really good, and especially for younger readers. I gave it to my 9 year old daughter and she loved it. Top Shelf is also making available a reprint of the original Martin Luther King, Jr. comic book that inspired John Lewis back in the 1950s. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s a great “coming full circle” move.


William Timberman 11.14.13 at 4:30 pm

If you don’t live near a research library — which I don’t, although I worked in one for 30+ years — and your house/apartment is small, the Kindle, iPad, or whatever is a godsend. I just gave away my 3-year old iPad in lieu of a new model, and discovered that there were 666 books to be transferred to their new home. Putting numerological coincidences aside for the moment, I’ve tried to imagine that many actual, physical books in my house. (All the available wall space covered floor-to-ceiling with bookshelves; kitchen cabinets and closet shelves crammed to overflowing.)

I’m with Captain Kirk. We can discuss marginalia, palimpsests, and centuries of pencilled catalog card annotations all we want; having my entire library in a book-sized package, weighing less than a pound, and lying there at my service on the couch whenever the mood strikes me, is truly glorious.


bob mcmanus 11.14.13 at 4:34 pm

Maisson Ikkoku at Mangahere. There are other sites. I don’t really read Manga, I was just doing some comparison to the anime.

I don’t know about restrictions, translations, availability of current stuff, or even if the site is legal. And I don’t read on anything less than as 23″ screen.


bianca steele 11.14.13 at 6:42 pm

With physical books, there’s also the issue of carrying two or three books from place to place with you through the house, trying to find a place to put them, etc., not to mention when you want to go out.

I’ve been playing with borrowing Kindle books and audiobooks from the library. It has a nice combination of spur of the moment and no-commitment, especially if you don’t put yourself on waitlists and just take what’s available. And the audiobooks can supposedly be synced between your phone and computer.


ZM 11.14.13 at 8:09 pm

I’ve only got the paper book, but it’s also available on kindle, so I’d recommend marjane Satrapi’s “embroideries” which was made after “Persepolis”. I don’t read many graphic novels but I’d recommend this about the author and her female relatives.

“Obviously! Women’s morals are relaxing! Today’s girls are no longer virgins before marriage. They do everything like men and get sewn up again to get married! This way, everyone is happy”
“And the men! What do the men do? They get themselves sewn up too?”
“It’s not the same”
“Ha!Ha!Ha! You kne? There’s not only the full embroidery where they completely block you! Ha!Ha!Ha! There’s also the partial embroidery! Ha!Ha! Ha!
…The other day I was at a funeral. After the cemetery, everyone gathered at the home of the deceased’s family. There were two women having a discussion next to me. I’ll admit to the fact that I listened to their conversation…”
– I heard that you were living in Europe.
– That’s right. I live in Luxemburg.
– As someone who lives in the West, you must surely know how the taking in is done.
– What taking in?
– Um…the taking in of the vagina.
– Excuse me??
– You know, after giving birth twice, I’ve widened a little. I know that in Iran they can re-create a young girl’s vagina. But I’d prefer to do it in Europe. It’s more reliable.


Brian 11.14.13 at 9:25 pm

@11 — Mangahere is not a legal website.


QS 11.15.13 at 2:03 am

It’ll be truly glorious when there’s a full-sized E-reader for PDFs (13″). I and many others cannot read well off a backlit screen (e.g. Ipad). Sony has a prototype it’s testing in Japan as we speak, but it’s not clear if it’ll see commercial daylight.


Ginger Yellow 11.15.13 at 6:27 pm

Not having physical books would be like not having a roof over my head. Very unhappy.

I’ve moved too many times in the last six years to take that approach to comics. They take up vast amounts of space on your bookshelves, or in your storage cases. I’m pretty much all-digital now when it comes to comics (it doesn’t hurt that comics look amazing on a retina iPad screen or equivalent). I’m not such a fan of guided view except for the few comics that were written with it in mind – you lose the sense of the layout and I don’t like having to tap all the time to keep reading (or lose control of the pace).


GeoX 11.16.13 at 4:17 am

I used to be a book-fetishist-type person (the kind of person who has strong Proustian associations with the smells of different printed matter), but when I got an ereader device this past summer, it was kind of amazing how quickly I lost all interest in owning physical books. It was actually really liberating, since I had far more than was even remotely practical. The only exception, oddly enough, is my sizable-ish collection of Disney comics, which I don’t think any electronic versions could adequately replace.

(Incidentally, the Disney comics on Comixology are a huge disappointment; they have a fair few Italian comics that have never been published physically in English, but they all have really horrible, indifferent English scripts that basically make them not worth reading. VERY lame.)


Dave Maier 11.16.13 at 6:30 pm

Thanks for the tips, John, keep ’em coming. There are some really great comics (or, er. sequential art if you prefer) out there. Especially out there are Hellboy and its offshoots (B.P.R.D. and Abe Sapien). At their best I would say they combine a compelling anthropology/folklore/classic horror sensibility (Baba Yaga is incorporated really well) with stunning art (esp. when main writer Mike Mignola does the art himself; some other artists are less to my taste). I was really blown away by Abe Sapien: The Drowning, with art by Jason Shawn Alexander. But Hellboy too — try Strange Places.

Also Mignola-esque artwise is The Umbrella Academy, described (I see here, on the back of the second volume) by the Onion AV as “part X-Men and part The Royal Tenenbaums, which is very apt. Very weird stuff, but funny too.

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