Essential 8 FAQs About My Essential 8 Columns

I’ve been working on these columns for a while now and I’ve found that many similar questions come up. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the column itself discussing them so I thought I might go ahead and compile 8 of these FAQs. So, without further ado, I give you Essential 8 FAQs About My Essential 8 Columns!

Why isn’t character/creator/book/item X on your list? This is the most common question I get. There are several reasons why something might be included. First, I try for variety in every column and will intentionally exclude items that are too alike so that I can highlight something different. So, if I’m highlighting books I will probably avoid including only books from a single publisher (unless the column is publisher specific). Second, I also try to avoid repeating myself. So, if I featured a book/character/creator in a previous E8 column, I might choose a different one next. Third, I try to only select books in particular that are easily accessible to readers (meaning not out of print or incredibly rare). Finally, I don’t always know about everything. This is what sequel columns and the comments section are great for.

How can your list be “essential” without character/creator/book/item X on your list? This is another common question and I think the best way to explain it is reply with two points: “essential” doesn’t mean that I’m picking the best or only options – my inclusion of one pick or exclusion of another shouldn’t be interpreted as me saying one pick is superior to another. Also, “essential” more than anything means “essential” to the dialog and conceit I’m writing about in any given column not to the whole comics industry or of all time.

That doesn’t sound like it’s really “essential” then – why use the word “essential?” Two answers: alliteration and branding. I chose a title that would be pretty easy to remember and that would help people remember who I am (Essential, Eight, Erik – clever, right?).  “8 things we can talk about and maybe agree or disagree about” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Why 8 and not 5 or 10 or 12? Well, like I said above – alliteration – and it’s also less typical and therefore more distinct and memorable. More than that though – 8 is a manageable number for me to research, write and present. If I did 10 or 12, the columns would be too long and people could lose interest. 5 just makes it too difficult to get in enough variety and content. So, that’s why 8.

I don’t like your selections. FAIL. Well, that’s not a question but I get it more often than I wish I did so I’ll take it. My goal is to create a dialog about comics. Part of dialog is agreeing and disagreeing with other points of  view. It’s rare that everyone will like everything in my column. My goal is that most people like at least one thing. Everybody has favorites and I’m happy to talk about yours.

Will you do a column on X or Y? Maybe! I’m happy to take suggestions in the comments on the column or you can send me ideas on Twitter – I’m @erikgrove. You can also message me from my website.

How can I find past Essential 8 columns? There are two ways to find them. You can search on the Bleeding Cool site or you can click this link to see my own re-posts of all columns. I include all previous columns at the bottom when I put a new one up so you can see past stuff pretty easily.

What else do you do besides the Essential 8 columns? I write other stuff for Bleeding Cool, short fiction, novels, blogs and occasionally comic book scripts. Coincidentally, you’re on my website right now so you can browse and check out my other interests and work.

Wait. Was this all a trick to get us to come to your website and read your other stuff? Oh, look at that. I’ve answered 8 questions already. They go so fast. 🙂


I want to thank Bleeding Cool for giving me an awesome platform and everyone for talking comics and asking me questions. Keep asking and maybe this FAQ will get a sequel!

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