I read with interest that BOOM! Studios will be releasing a hardcover edition of the first 12 issues of Once & Future by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora. I searched long and hard for the softcover collected edition of those issues, so why would I even consider buying the hardcover edition?

A LITTLE MORE ON THE HARDCOVER VERSION

Once & Future, King Arthur, Something Is Killing the Children, BOOM! Studios, Filip Sablik, Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, JLA, Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Frank Miller, hardcover, softcover, trade paperback, comic, Hardcovers are obviously more expensive than softcover editions because those covers are, well, HARD! They clearly cost more to make, so why are they making this version?

First, let me briefly give some more info on this book from the aforementioned release:

ONCE & FUTURE Deluxe Hardcover Edition collects the first 12 issues of the Diamond Gem Award-winning series from New York Times bestselling writer Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Star Wars), Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Klaus), colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Captain Marvel), and letterer Ed Dukeshire (The Red Mother), available in stores November 2021.

Specifically, and just in time for holiday gift-giving, this book will be in local comics shops on November 12 this year.

Why is BOOM! Studios doing this? Here’s a paragraph that explains the reasons for this book (and Something Is Killing the Children, which is another great comic, but I’m happy with the version of that series I already have):

“When it comes to horror and fantasy, the creators of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN and ONCE & FUTURE have managed to completely rewrite the script, bringing a fresh, new take to the beloved genres and building devoted audiences worldwide,” said Filip Sablik, President, Sales and Publishing said in a press release from BOOM! Studios. “As a fan myself, I’m very excited to announce that BOOM! Studios is offering the perfect gifts for comic book fans this winter—the very first ever deluxe editions collecting each of these phenomenal series in a large, oversized hardcover format with plenty of extra specials tucked in for new readers and dedicated fans to enjoy.”

As I’ve said, I have already invested a lot of time and money in finding and buying the softcover version, so what about the hardcover edition?

KEEPING THE GOOD STUFF

Once & Future, King Arthur, Something Is Killing the Children, BOOM! Studios, Filip Sablik, Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, JLA, Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Frank Miller, hardcover, softcover, trade paperback, comic, Once in a very great while, when I actually get this odd occurrence called “free time,” I like to pull out of my collection a longer story so I can dive in and enjoy a story that pulls me in for a time.

For instance, I like to take out my slipcover/hardcover edition of the terrific JLA/Avengers crossover, which in all likelihood will never happen again in my lifetime. That was a multi-issue epic that explored the differences and the similarities between the two biggest teams in comics history.

I particularly like the times when Batman (my favorite) and Captain America interact. I never realized how much like each other they have been, something that few comics creators have ever discussed before or after this book. I would expound on that here—for goodness sake, read this book if you haven’t already!

This edition has survived many hours of reading, and I hope it will stick with me as long as possible. I truly LOVE this book!

While Once & Future isn’t quite in the same “league” (so to speak) as JLA/Avengers, it is a special tale that speaks to my slight English heritage (I’m 3 parts English and 1 part Scotch—kind of like a bad drink!) since it deals with King Arthur and his knights, among others.

Granted, I didn’t pick up this title from the beginning. I was occupied with other comics at the time. However, so many people who’s opinions I respected kept mentioning it that, finally, I decided to give it a try. I loved it! However, I was too far behind to possibly get all the individual issues, so I’ve contented myself to get the trade paperback editions to keep.

That said, it took literally months for me to find them! I asked my regular LCS to order them, but they never showed up. So, when I had occasion to visit other comics shops, I would always check their trade sections for those books. Finally, I found one in one store, and the second in another. Phew! It was worth the effort, though!

A VERSION TO LAST LONGER

Once & Future, King Arthur, Something Is Killing the Children, BOOM! Studios, Filip Sablik, Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, JLA, Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Frank Miller, hardcover, softcover, trade paperback, comic, I have owned a trade paperback of The Watchmen for decades now (yes, I’m that old!), and I’ve noticed with a lot of sadness how it has deteriorated over time.

The pages have yellowed, the cover has started to tatter, and the spine isn’t in the gorgeous shape it was when I first got it. Sigh.

So, when the “ultimate” edition came out a few years back, I bought it. The bad news is that, for this book, I hate to even crack open the book that cost me over $100 to get! I’d rather resort to the trade so I can keep that expensive version in the best condition possible!

Yes, DC has reprinted the trade several times over the years. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has watched this trade begin to wither and die. I will, when I’m flush with cash someday, get a more current trade to read when the one I’ve kept for years finally gives up the ghost. But not yet.

I know that even hardcovers will have to surrender to the ravages of time at some point. It just won’t happen quite as fast as the trades will falter. And I am a fan in for the long term, so I want them to survive as long as possible.

PAPER VERSUS DIGITAL

Once & Future, King Arthur, Something Is Killing the Children, BOOM! Studios, Filip Sablik, Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, JLA, Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Frank Miller, hardcover, softcover, trade paperback, comic, I often have to tell creators why I’m ordering a digital version instead of a paper version on Kickstarter or when I’m interviewing them on my weekly podcast.

It’s because my bookshelves have gotten pretty full over the years.

I like to say that I’m on a relentless hunt for quality storytelling in comics. Some might think this is a BAD thing, but I’ve put together quite the collection over time. And I only have so much space, so I’m having to choose digital more often these days since I have a much larger hard drive than I do physical space to keep collected editions.

I know that some of my computer-geek friends tell me that the colors look SO much better in the digital version, and I can easily zoom in on panels I would like to read more closely, something my eyes find more difficult each year.

But, as many people like to point out, there’s nothing quite like the experience of holding a printed comic in your hands and feel yourself “falling in” (as Frank Miller described his experience reading his first Batman story) and, even if it’s just for a short while, leaving the cares and oddities of reality behind to experience again a special story that makes me happy or fulfills me in some way.

It’s like few other things I’ve experienced in my life!

So, thanks, BOOM! Studios, for giving me a “deluxe” edition I can keep for a long time. Of course, I would request that Mr. Sablik please consider another edition that will continue the story on my bookshelves for even more years, please?

What do you think? Do you buy hardcovers versus trade paperbacks? How do you choose which version to pick up? What do you do when you run out of space? If you prefer digital over print, why?  Whatever your opinions, be sure to share your thoughts in the space below!


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About Author

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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