Collected volumes! Woot!
I've gotta say, I love collected volumes of webcomics. Maybe it's because I'm from that demographic that has a fair amount of disposable income and nothing better to spend it on (since I don't play video games or go to movies or buy movies much, which tends to be the biggest money drain for people my age). Maybe it's because the feel of a book in your hands lends a concrete sense of legitimacy to a webcomic. Maybe it's because I really like to read in the bathroom (I've spent probably upwards of two hours in one sitting in the bathroom reading Melonpool. Bugs my roommate to no end.). Maybe it's because I like the giddy thrill of the "extra content" which all the freeloaders online aren't getting. Whatever the reason, I love collected volumes. And we all owe an eternal debt of gratitiude to these small-time/self publishers like GoManga and LuLu. They're the biggest blessing to webcomics since the banner ad.
So far my collection isn't terribly big. I've got all the collected volumes of PvP (the Image store seems to be down right now, otherwise I'd link it). I've got all the collected volumes of Melonpool (get 'em while they're cheap). I've got the first two volumes of Megatokyo (I'll get the third one eventually. Ironically it takes me longer to buy something when I know I can just pick it up at the bookstore). I've got the only collected volume of RPG World (I wish he'd hurry up and finish the comic so I could buy volume 2!). I've also got the Hurricane Relief Telethon book.
And, as of yesterday, I have the first collected volume of Starslip Crisis. I was actually surprised to see it arrive today because I ordered it roughly a week ago at "slowest mail possible" shipping. I'm guessing the post office has geared up for the holiday season already but the mailings haven't really started yet. Either way, I was stoked to see it rubber banded to my doorknob. My first impression upon opening the package was that the book was kind of small. Not in length, mind you, but in size it was smaller than I expected. Not the smallest book I have, mind you, RPG World and the Megatokyos are much smaller, but still, "A Terrifying Breach of Protocol" was more compact than I had imagined. Well, that's fine by me. Makes it easier to fit in the bathroom book basket. And upon cracking the book open, I was really happy to see that Kris Straub doesn't fail to deliver on the extra content. Not only are there nice cast pictures and bios, and a lot of interesting subtext and technical info, he's taken all that content and woven it into the book so that it appears next to the relevant comics. For instance, the bios come next to the comic in which their referenced character is introduced. The technical info on the Starslip Drive comes when Vanderbeam recklessly engages it and destroys the ship (in one universe). In a word: awesome.
There are still a few collected volumes I'm defunct on, including HOUSD, Dandy and Company, and Real Life (I'm thinking Christmas gifts). There are also some real kickers coming soon, including the first Penny Arcade collected volume (poor guys, they've been mired for YEARS in a sticky legal issue over that one), and a full color volume of Inverloch, which I'm totally stoked about (also announced in the release of Inverloch are volumes of Chugworth Academy and Earthsong, if you're into those).
Ah, it's a great time to be alive.