19.Jan.2010 How should I keep up with comics and what should I read once I decide?

Keeping up with comics has become a curious situation for me over the past six months.

For nearly two years while working at Wizard, I had access to a box that contained the entirety of each week’s comics. The question was never “What do I read?” but more “What don’t I read?”, especially as the latter always ended up being a shorter stack of books. I’m very much the type of comic reader who will give anything a chance, and when the weight of my wallet didn’t factor into that equation, I gave most things a read for two or three issues before deciding whether I’d keep up or let them drop. This led to a ridiculous amount of reading and I was trucking through something like 30 to 40 titles a week and, over the months, kept up to date on a majority (Think 50 plus series) of Marvel, DC and Dark Horse comics with a smattering of IDW, Oni and other smaller publishers catching my eye with occasional books.

More or less the size of the stack of books I used to read each week.


I deeply love comics and would thoroughly enjoy being able to keep up on the amount of titles I had been reading, but when I lost my job at Wizard, the hundred or so dollars I would have had to spend each week to stay up on “current events” was too staggering an amount to even consider. I had simply been reading so much professionally—if you will—that transferring that reading list to my private life was in no way feasible.

It was, in fact, impossible.

So, feeling my lack of a paycheck stabbing directly into the butt cheek that’s normally adjacent to my wallet (Not literally, but not a great metaphor either.), I took the exact opposite route (which wasn’t hard considering the aforementioned lack of income during my unemployment) and dropped every single title I was reading. I grabbed occasional trades when I could spare the cash, but I quit weekly comics cold turkey for monetary reasons and haven’t delved into them again since.

Now I have a job, a paycheck and I get comped all of Dark Horse’s weekly titles (A nice perk!), so I’m thinking about getting back into the game and catching up on comics’ recent history. This is, however, where I need a little help.

Reginald and Beartato illustrate the tough choices I have ahead.


Since I’ve entered the working world, I’ve always been able to keep up on comics for free. I haven’t purchased weekly comics since I was in college, and then it was a simpler matter of just not buying too much beer on the weekends and I’d have money for comics on Wednesday. Now, my financial situation is hindered by such gloriously adult things as paying for medical and auto insurance or thinking about how to finance retirement, alongside other necessities that didn’t really factor in when considering my weekly spending in college, and I’m wondering how best to buy and read comics in my current situation.

So, here’s what I’m thinking and where I’m hoping to get a little feedback…

While I do love keeping up on weekly comics, I think I am going to have to make the move to a solely trade paperback (or graphic novel, if you prefer) form of comic reading. Not only are trades cheaper in the long run, but I I’d rather have a nice looking bookshelf as opposed to piles of long boxes taking up space in my living quarters. Does this make sense? Can any weekly readers talk me out of this “payment plan?”

Also, while I have a few titles in mind that I want to catch up on in trade (Pak’s Hulk, Pak and Van Lente’s Herc and a few other non-Hulk/Herc related books), I really don’t know what titles have stayed good over the past few months and what has really fallen off. If anyone has any “must read” recommendations that date back to September, please let me know. I won’t be reading as much, so I want everything I am reading to be really good. Help me out, peoples!

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There are 6 Comments to "How should I keep up with comics and what should I read once I decide?"

  • Sal Loria says:

    Jimbo, go with trades, first and foremost. As for what’s been consistently good, you could go with whatever recommendations your peers send you, but you can also hit a site like comicbookdb.com and see how the general public is rating story-arcs, etc.

  • Rae says:

    1. Several local comics shops give professional discounts.
    2. Copies of most DC pamphlets eventually make it into the break room.
    3. Divide and conquer. If a group of five people each subscribe to two or three books then pass them around, everyone gets to stay caught up, and no one builds up too much longbox clutter. Or just mooch off other people with subscription boxes.

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    Sal,
    I definitely plan on hitting up some boards for some general populace opinions on good books, but would prefer personal recommendations for folks like yourself. I’ll probably do another post soon with a “tentative pull list” of sorts. Feel free to weigh in when I do.

    Also, yeah, most money I spend I think will be on the trade front.

    That said…

    Rae,
    I definitely benefited in college with the “Divide and Conquer” method. That was, in fact, one of the main things that had me going to the shop as frequently as I was back then. The fact that coercing roommates to come led to much more reading material than a solo trip would was always great fun and benefited us all. Still, using that pro discount and snagging DC issues around the office is definitely going to become a regular occurrence.

    Also, I guess part of what I’m realizing as I reread this post and these comments is that getting caught up in the weekly craziness of comics may have its fun aspects but more often than not it can lead to a lot of poor purchases and a lot of wasted money. I think I am generally leaning toward going the trade route for that reason and so I can make sure what I buy is good. That said, anything I can get my hands on in the mean time will definitely be gobbled up. So, perhaps frequenting the shop for minicomics (which may or may not ever get collected, or if they do will likely be bound years from now) will sate my weekly fix, alongside grabbing any extra comped issues laying around, but trades will likely make up a majority of my comic spending in the near future.

  • Since getting back into comics, I’ve tried to keep my collecting in specific circles. I always had the problem of grabbing tie-ins and then never letting them go, building up an insane pull list. So I stick to Batman, Green Lantern, X-Men, and some indy stuff.

    My favs:
    Irredeemable
    The Anchor

    And of course, I take advantage of press assets to see what’s coming ahead.

  • Oh hell, I forgot Locke & Key, but I get that in trades.

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    Not a bad idea, but then the question becomes which Batman or X-Men books I collect. Off the bat, I’d likely jump back into “Batman & Robin” as I’ve enjoyed all Morrison’s Dark Knight kookiness, and I think—as I had quit weeklies—that Fraction had really hit his stride on “Uncanny.”

    But obviously, this is where I need to sit down, plan out a tentative list and get some feedback of what I should add or subtract.