A few years ago during my weekly trip to Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, I was looking through their spinner rack selection of 25 cent comics. I would often grab a couple of issues from the rack, because, well.... they were only 25 cents! I'm not sure why, possibly because I enjoy a good family friendly story or maybe just because it looked interesting, but I picked up a couple issues of Akiko. With a huge backlog of comics to read, I didn't get around to these issues for quite a while. When I eventually did read the comics I found them to be very entertaining, nothing earth shattering, but enough to leave me wanting more.
Over the next year, I managed to complete the entire series (helped mightily by winning an ebay auction of 40+ issues for 3 dollars shipped, SCORE!). I split the 52 issue series into two volumes; 1-25 and 26-52, starting the second volume before a 6 issue arc. I had them bound at the now defunct Library Binding Company, a bindery that was quite popular because of their low prices. For no reason in particular, I went with an orange buckram and gold foiling color scheme. I think it came out pretty well.
Library Binding's base price was 15 dollars for a book with a computer lettered spine, no head or tail lines/bands, and up to 2" thick. I never really liked the way those no-frills books looked; just my personal taste. So when I customized my bind to have a hand lettered spine, the books wound up costing about $40 shipped each. At the time I was over the moon with the books, but in hind sight they pale in comparison to the quality of work I've found from other binderies. There was some glue seepage that make a few page stick together and also slightly uneven trimming. These weren't major problems and if my more recent binds weren't as great as they are, I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought, but they are still problems nonetheless. I've seen a lot of people happy with their Library Binding books, but personally I'm glad I found new binderies.
As for the content of the books, Akiko is a very funny all ages comic. The stories jump back and forth between longer multi-issue arcs and shorter done-in-one issues. But regardless of format, Mark Crilley (writer/artist) manages to keep all the different types of stories entertaining. The art is also another strong point of the series. The black and white (and grayscale) art starts out quite good, but continues to get better throughout the run. That's one of the cool thing about reading a long series; watching the growth of its creator. Crilley spent almost ten years making the series and you can tell how much he loved the book and how he would try to push himself to better his skills. From reading the letters column (a great advantage to having bound the original issues), he would listen to all opinions, good and bad, and then try to improve the book with every subsequent arc. I'll be honest, the letters columns were so informative that I think I might have enjoyed them more then the stories. All in all, Akiko is a fun series that I would recommend and I'm glad I had it bound.