Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Rules For Buying Comic Books

About a year ago I started getting more and more into comics. While I’m not super hardcore about it, I do love reading and collecting all kids of comic books and manga. But I don’t go wild and come out of my local shop with a dozen new purchases every Wednesday. I have a set of rules I go by to help keep myself from buying more comics than I can afford.

#1 - Focus.

I know a lot of people with massive pull-lists who are able to fill a short box every month. It’s especially easy with Marvel and DC having complicated webs of connected stories, but it’s not financially logical to read everything. As of this writing there are only three main books I regularly collect: Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Champions (which is on thin ice and my be cut soon). That might not sound like a lot, but I’ll explain later how I keep up with other series. In regards to manga, there is only one super long shonen series that I collect regularly, and that's Hunter X Hunter which releases a new volume like every two years. Although I do plan to collect Astra Lost in Space, which is a shorter run series. There honestly just aren't a lot of manga that I'm crazy about right now anyway.

#2 - Shop Local

I try to support local comic shops as much as I can. With a few in my area, it’s easy to swing by any of them on Wednesdays, but I have to be mindful of my wallet and sometimes the internet provides a deal too good to pass up. Luckily a lot of local shops have a large selection of stuff so even if I’m not buying the latest books I can pick up an older classic or something else.

Sub Rule #1 - Free Comic Book Day is not a free-for-all. Local shops have to pay for those books so, beyond the common courtesy of not loading up your backpack with everything in sight, I strongly encourage that you actually buy something on FCBD.

#3 - No Single Issues

I absolutely hate buying single issues more than anything. Their thin, floppy nature means you have to buy a special bag and a special board and a special box just to store them. If you’re ever in the mood to reread an old arc, you have to flip through the box to find them, carefully undo the tape on the bag, then reseal them when you’re done. Over and over again. Not to mention their expensive, currently about $4 plus tax and the price of bags, boards, and boxes. And then they’re so short I finish them on the train ride home and buyer’s remorse immediately sets in. Oh, and they’re full of ads. If I just wait I can get a trade paperback collection, which is my preferred method of buying and reading comics. On an average of 6 issues per TPB, that’s $24 worth of comics for closer to $18 that lasts longer and usually tells a complete story arc. Not to mention I can store it on a normal bookshelf.

#4 - Don’t Buy What You Can Get For Free

I’m not condoning pirating, which is a big problem in any industry. Instead, I 100% recommend getting Hoopla. It’s an app that allows you to borrow digital content (ebooks, audio books, movies, and comics) via your local library. I can get up to 10 books a month and they’re each available for 21 days. They have lots of classic stuff and get some stuff right away on New Comic Book Days. I still buy my favorite characters’ trade paperbacks, but I use Hoopla to try out some things I am not quite sure about.
Sub Rule #2 - Try Before You Buy. Last year I was so excited for the launch of America, the new solo series starring America Chavez. It was terrible and it’s my fault for getting hype based solely on a characters name. Hoopla is a great way to explore titles you might be interested in, but aren't ready to drop the cash.

So those are my rules for buying and collecting comics. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below.