It’s time to bring the first ever Crushing Comics Indie Comics Month to a close! This month I’ve already added 15 new guides to the Crushing Comics Guide to Collecting Indie & Licensed Comics. This final guide of the month is for one of my favorite series, one that changed what I expected from comics (and, in a way, what I wanted from life). It also arrives exactly when I always wanted it to – to mark the 30th Anniversary of the debut of this title! I’m incredibly happy to share with everyone my Guide to The Maxx by Sam Kieth.
Guide to The Maxx by Sam Kieth
I never planned to have an Indie Comic Month on Crushing Krisis.
My original plan was to begin the expansion of my Guide to Collecting Indie & Licensed Comics for my birthday back in September. I always like to spend a little me-time on a special project as a celebration of a new year of life. 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of Image Comics, and as of September I would have had to launch five guides to get caught up with celebrating the individual series anniversaries that had already passed. Then, I could roll out more Image Comics guides at a pace of one or two per month as new anniversaries arrived, plus expand to other, more-recent indie books I love.
Then, just as I was starting to build the initial Image guides, life happened… in the worst possible way.
I’ve largely lived a charmed existence with comparatively few low points along the way. I’ve lost one dear friend and had to preside over one excruciating layoff, but beyond that there’s just not that much hardship or tragedy in my adult life. Being a kid sucked by comparison – starting in poverty and detouring through bullying before I met my BFF Gina and the rest of a tribe of people who allowed me to finally, gradually become myself.
I picked up my first issue of The Maxx shortly before I met Gina, two years before it hit MTV as an animated show. It was weird and somewhat hard to follow, but I liked it. It was telling a deeper, more mature story than most of the other comics I was buying every month – certainly more than any of the other Image launch books. Who was this muscular purple man with his weird buck-toothed mask? What was the secret of mysterious Outback he roamed?
I loved the comic, but I also loved the letters pages and back matter. I always loved that sort of thing back then. I was the kid who read the TV Guide from cover to cover every week, who endlessly re-organized my GI Joe file cards, and who devoured every letters page. I think I liked them partly because some of the letters were from other kids like me, who obsessed over the small details of storytelling. At that point in my life I hadn’t met that many of those.
The Maxx had more than a letters page – it had a pen pals directory. A directory I was never allowed to take advantage of, per my mother’s ruling. I first wrote about that back in 2006 – long before I was back to collecting comics, and highlighted it again in the series of posts that I wrote to launch my first X-Men guides back in 2010. It was a formative point in my life. In a way, my burning desire to meet the people who listed their addresses on that page is what spurred me to convert my comics budget into a dial-up internet budget back in 1996. I wanted to reach out to a wider world to find more kindred spirits.
That 2006 post begins with this line:
Even before I had the internet I was always interested in connecting to people who I could understand on some intrinsic level.
When we decided to move to New Zealand, it never occurred to me just how many of those intrinsic connections I was giving up by leaving Philadelphia. I never though that it would be not only difficult to build new ones in New Zealand, but seemingly impossible.
I really thought my charmed life was going to be smooth sailing from here on out – and that moving to New Zealand would make things even smoother and simpler. It hasn’t. I’ve added more low points in five-and-a-half years in New Zealand than I ever had in the states.
Granted, these lows are still a lot higher than what other people are dealing with in their lives. People have endured worse tragedy and more painful cruelty. But, feeling low is not a contest. Our lives and our struggles exist in separate realities. One person’s light burden is another’s crushing blow.
New Zealand was crushing me. Some of that is down to being an immigrant and all the challenges and emotions that come with it. Other aspects of it aren’t just about being an immigrant in general, but specifically about being me in New Zealand.
That’s what happened exactly two weeks before I was set to launch my Guide to Youngblood for my birthday back in September. I got crushed. Not only did that yield a horrible few months of my life, but it scuttled my plans for CK – including launching those initial Image guides and continuing my streak of over 100 days of continuous daily posting. There was just no way to get back to it anytime soon.
It has taken a lot of work to start to climb up from that low point. I still feel like I am miles and miles below what used to be my surface level. But, by January I had climbed far enough that I knew I could start writing for CK again, along with doing other good-for-me things like getting back to jogging.
On those jogs, I started to think about my abandoned birthday plans to expand the Guide to Indie comics. For every month that passed I got further away from hitting the 30th Anniversaries of Image’s early titles. Could I possibly put a stake in the ground and get all caught up? Maybe over the course of a single month? Maybe as soon as March, so that I could punctuate it with 30th Anniversary guides to a pair of my favorite Image titles – Stormwatch and The Maxx – which debuted in March 1993?
I’ve launched a total of 20 guide pages this month to get to this point. It hasn’t been easy. I haven’t slept. My wrists hurt from the typing. I just now finished an entire month’s worth of laundry, sitting in baskets surrounding me waiting to be folded as I write this post.
You know what? It was a hell of a lot easier than September. And easier than the last low point before that, and the last one before that. It took me back to happy memories of past audacious projects on CK, like Blogathon, National Blog Posting Month (and the relaunch of CK onto WordPress), National Novel Writing Month, and my Blog of Tomorrow month (marking the launch of my Patreon campaign). All of those projects ran alongside equally audacious projects in the rest of my life, like leading bands, switching jobs, recording demo records, and raising my daughter.
No one gave me permission to do any of those things. Some of them involved the support of other people, but in every instance I started and finished them on my own. In every instance I came away with something more valuable than I had when I started.
That’s ultimately why I decided to have an Indie Comics Month. That’s why I am up at 2am, past my deadline with aching wrists surrounded by unfolded laundry, to make sure I finish writing this post. Life conspired to take my birthday plan from me and this is me conspiring to set that right. I can’t replay September, reverse it, or take it back, but I can move past it. I’m now back on the exact pace I wanted to be on back in September in this one small slice of my life, even if it still feels like I am climbing out of that lowest low in many other areas.
Will I keep posting every day in April and beyond? While I’d love to hit 365 posts in 365 days, there are these sore wrists, and that unfolded laundry, and so many other things that need my attention. Now I know I have regained the focus to take care of them all… and, maybe keep blogging all the while.
I hope this comic guide or any of the other 19 guides I debuted this month brought you a little bit of joy. I know not everyone has the money or inclination to become a Patron of CK, which is why I try to accompany each guide with an essay that’s worth reading all on its own. I don’t obsess over CK traffic, but you should know that I still get a thrill for every single hit to one of these announcement posts, every single visit to a guide – even when they number in the thousands.
And, for those of you supporting CK on Patreon, I am so incredibly humbled by your maxx-imum dedication to supporting this site. It would’ve died a dozen times or more since moving to NZ if it wasn’t for you, including in September.
As a thank you to every CK reader, my Guide to The Maxx by Sam Kieth is immediately available to the public! If you want access to over 70 other exclusive guides, become a Patron of CK for as little as $1 a month or $10.20 a year. And, if you can’t afford that right now, never fear – many of these guides will be public soon enough. And, if you reach out with a question about one of these titles or characters, I’ll make sure you get your answer.
Exclusives for Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 46 Guides!
DC Guides (6): Batman – Index of Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner, Omega Men
Marvel Guides (27): Adam Warlock, Alpha Flight, Angela, Beta Ray Bill, Black Cat, Blade, Captain Britain, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Drax the Destroyer, Elsa Bloodstone, Emma Frost – White Queen, Gamora, Heroes For Hire, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, Spider-Ham, Star-Lord, Thunderstrike, Valkyrie, Vision, Weapon X, Werewolf by Night, X-Man – Nate Grey
Indie & Licensed Comics (13): The Authority, Brigade, Lumberjanes, Codename Strykeforce, Cyberforce, Pitt, Princeless & Raven The Pirate Princess, Savage Dragon, ShadowHawk, Stormwatch, Supreme, WildCATs, WildStorm Events
Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 77 Guides!
All of the 46 guides above, plus 31 more…
DC Guides (16): Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Doctor Fate, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Infinity Inc., Justice League, Justice Society of America, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides (13): Darkhawk, Falcon, Gwenpool, Hellcat – Patsy Walker, Kang the Conqueror, Loki, Power Pack, Red She-Hulk, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom
Indie & Licensed Comics (2): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – IDW Continuity, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Mirage Studios Continuity
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