I'm sure many (or perhaps all) of you can relate to this idea: You give yourself some kind of reading task, saying, "I'm going to read (or reread) all of X this Y," with X being some comic book title or novelist or whatever and Y being a finite amount of time (like "this week"). Just to see what happens. Maybe it's some OCD thing we have, but if you're like me, you do it all the time.
I call it the Geek Assignment. It's not something we're forced to do, and we sometimes abandon it before completion, but I know I give myself Geek Assignments all the time. Recently, some of my Geek Assignments have turned into projects. Several years ago, I decided to read every Grant Morrison comic, and I ended up getting a book out of just the first part of that task. Last year, I decided to read every Legion of Super-Heroes story, starting with the Archives and working through to the present, and I'm editing a book about the Legion now.
Most of my Geek Assignments are just for pure pleasure, though, and I never "do" anything with what I read. Sometimes it's reading the collected works of Kurt Vonnegut (one of my earliest, high school-age Geek Assignments), other times it's rereading the entire run of All-Star Squadron (a Geek Assignment that I've set aside for a while as I track down the final two missing issues). Vladimir Nabokov is a perpetual Geek Assignment, but since I started with the best stuff first: Lolita, Pnin, The Collected Stories, and then worked backwards from there, I'm finding myself less and less inclined to finish them all.
Recently, after reading Casanova, I've assigned myself all of Matt Fraction's work (completed), and after the Grove multi-volume Samuel Beckett collection was published, I decided to become a Beckett expert (failed--I've only read a few plays and some of his essays). I'm still in the midst of a war comic Geek Assignment, working my way through Sgt. Rock Archives and Showcase reprints of The Haunted Tank and The Unknown Soldier. I have, stacked on my nightstand, the (almost) entire collection of Moebius Blueberry graphic novels, but I haven't read past the first volume yet--another Geek Assignment on hold (largely due to coloring issues in the books, NOT because of the quality of the stories or Moebius's amazing artwork).
So, in the midst of these ongoing (and often delayed) Geek Assignments, I've decided to give myself another: reread all of John Byrne's Fantastic Four issues. "Reread" is probably not accurate--I would guess that I've only read about 30% of his run on the title, mostly from the Trial of Galactus collection and the last dozen single issues around the time of Secret Wars II. I don't know what I'll find. I may find that the comics are absolute trash, failures on every level. I might find that they are works of a singular genius at the top of his game. I'll probably find something in between.
Nevertheless, the Visionaries trades have been ordered. Byrne's entire Fantastic Four run is zooming across the country to my doorstep. And, to keep myself on task, I'll share my findings with you as I read each volume. Anyone want to play along?
(Also, post your past and present Geek Assignments in the comments--I want to see what everyone else is up to.)