“What books do you read?” That’s one of the usual questions writers get. Or at least this writer. When I get that question, people almost always mean what comics do I read. And the answer is … not as many as I should, really.

The more time you spend writing comics, the less time you spend reading them. I don’t run out to the comic store every Wednesday. I truthfully don’t even go to the comic shop once a month. But my “to read” pile seems to grow steadily anyway, between stuff that shows up for free, collections I pick up in a book store or online, and the single issues I grab when I do get to the comic shop. It usually comes down to a choice of doing more writing, or taking a break and doing some reading. “More writing” usually wins because, thankfully, there’s always more to do.

When I do read, it’s usually collections rather than single issues. I’d rather consume a story arc as a whole, rather than in bite-size chunks. Over the weekend I picked up the Millar-McNiven Wolverine: Old Man Logan hardcover. Mark’s a good writer and a fine fellow, even if he got back in the Self Promotion line for seconds. Steve McNiven, of course, got his start at CrossGen as essentially an apprentice, on the strength of some sample pages featuring Lara Croft.

An aside: on Steve’s first morning in the studio, most of the artists were absent, having pulled all-nighters the night before. So when Steve showed up, there wasn’t anybody around to give him the studio tour and show him the ropes. It fell to me. So in addition to showing Steve where the supply closet was, where his flat file drawers were located, and that there was indeed beer in the fridge. And I kinda indicated that it was part of his job to get me coffee every morning, with milk and one sugar. Just a joke! But Steve seemingly took me seriously, and as I remember it, ran off to get me my coffee. He delivered the coffee to my office, and asked, “Milk and one sugar, right?” I said, “Right.” And before I could explain I was just joking, Steve asked, “And should I put my dick in it every morning, like I did just now?” Pretty obvious he was going to fit right in.

Some of the other collections in my “to read” pile currently: Brubaker’s Daredevil Omnibus, Iron Fist Omnibus and Criminal Deluxe; the CharlesVess art book, Drawing Down the Moon; the Edginton-Culbard adaptation of A Study in Scarlet; and the latest volumes of Nexus Archives and The Walking Dead.

I try to keep up with a few books in singles, though even then I’m apt to read a handful of issues at a time: Captain America, Hellboy, Jonah Hex and Northlanders, as well as The Darkness and Victorian Undead. A few others that draw me in with fantastic art: the Ultimate books drawn by Frank Cho, Arthur Adams and Carlos Pacheco; and J.H. Williams and Cully Hamner on Detective Comics. I’m also enjoying the hell out of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine: Weapon X series, both the Garney and Paquette issues.

Another aside: I’m a big fan of Yanick Paquette’s art. We got to hang out a bit at the after party for last year’s Calgary Expo. In addition to being a terrific artist, turns out Yanick composes music and actually seriously considered becoming an entomologist. He regaled me, artist-sculptor Ruben Procopio and Ruben’s fiancée Jeanne Schanberger with tales of experiments involving what sort of, uh, poop insects preferred to nest in and consume.

Now … I have some writing to do. And reading I wish I was doing.