What’s Wrong With You? Too Many Comics

Sometimes we’ll have people over. OK, well we did that once, before our son was born. And during those times, we’ll get the idea that we should entertain with food and drink. There will only be two people coming over, but we’ll make enough food for 90 people. Afterwards, there’s a lot left over and we’ll eat it for a few days, and then eventually throw most of it out, and then we’ll be broke because we spent all this money for no reason. Not only that, but the people who came over brought their own stuff too, and we can’t even fit it all in the trash.

This is sort of what the comics market feels like today. For every comic reader, there are 700 monthly titles. That might be an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like it. DC is bringing out 52 new titles this month. Others are on the way in the months to come. Marvel has gotten to the point where they’re offering so many books, they’ve resorted to decimal points to number them. There is actually going to be a Fear Itself #7.3. Dynamite, IDW, BOOM!, Dark Horse, Image, and others release another 20-30 issues each every month. Then, every single day, I get email from creators who have produced their own comic books of varying quality and scope. I just don’t… I mean, who has the time? We get emails constantly asking us if we read, and why don’t we read every title and series you can imagine.

And this is my job!

What is the casual reader to do? Say you want to read a few comics a week, and have some fun. Instead, you’re deluged by shelves and shelves of options, all while being told of a dying industry, and dropping sales. And yet, the weekly list of possibilities is mighty. Listen, we at iFanboy, we’re not helping, I get that. In a given week, we’ll tell you about dozens of great comics you should be reading. “But iFanboy, I’ve got to feed my kid!” Yeah, buddy? Me too! Wait, you’re not reading that? What are you insane?

This goes on constantly. This past week, I read 13 DC Comics titles. Do you know how long it takes to read 13 comic books? Then I had another 10 issues from other places. Quality or no, I just wanted to get up and go for a walk. Then you’re left with the stacks of books. I know some folks like to re-read, but with this kind of input, how would you? You’ve got to make cuts! You’ve got to cut books you like, that aren’t even bad. Honestly it’s no wonder that people stick to books they know. It’s daunting otherwise, and they’d like to see their families for a couple hours a week.

At a certain point, it’s just not fun anymore, and it feels like comic book readers are all super users. There are no casual comic book readers. Comic readers not only read as many titles as they can pay for, they also watch every cult TV show, get to every movie, play every video game, and spend all day on social media talking to the people who make that stuff.

This is because it’s fun, and fascinating, and it’s unlike any other fan experience out there. It’s no wonder we can’t get new readers. You have to go from 0-60 faster than a Nissan GT-R. “Well, if you like this book, you should read this one, and these 10 volumes of trades, and this, and oh, you should pre-order the three concurrent series that creator is putting out in 3 months!” If I wasn’t neck deep in this, I’d go take a nap.

Then, everyone wants you to go see their band! Again, I’d have to check the stats, but about 90% of comic book readers want to make comics,  and we’ve been telling them to just go do it for years. And they should. It’s a remarkable time for creatives, and the web is your oyster, and blah blah blah, it’s too much! If you’re all making books, who’s got time to read any of them? It feels so circular. Again, I am guilty of this, and thinking that I, among all the thousands, have something to say that’s worth hearing. Who do I think I am?

It has never been easier or harder to be a comic book fan. If you want it, it’s there. And there, and there, and there, and there. Reprints, trades, hardcovers, omnibi, and statues are all yours for the hording. Then next week, back the truck up again, but we’re getting another dump. The week after that? You bet. It’s a good thing real estate is in a slump, because we’re going to need more space to keep all this garbage, provided you still have time to work after reading all those damned comics.

Now my longbox is full again!

Comments

  1. tschafer tschafer says:

    sound like you got a problem josh….a stupid problem, but a problem none the less

  2. Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

    I hear you, Josh. There’s a lot out there. It doesn’t really help that I work in a library and can get my hands on about 75% of the stuff that I’d like to read in just a few days. My impulse control is shoddy at best and at my worst, I check out Civil War and all(!) of its tie-in books because they were there. Trying to find time to get through my latest shipment from DCBS while trying to reread all the Captain Atom books I own for an upcoming blog post is a heck of a juggling act. I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m doing this all for fun.

    That’s why I’m cutting down on my comics purchasing in this era of the New 52. That’s just a crazy amount of comics and I need to lie down for a while.

  3. stuclach stuclach says:

    Make mine digital!

    This is one of the many reasons I’ve starting buying everything that is released Day and Date digitally.

    Also, my wife recently made the mistake of letting me store my comics in our bedroom. IN OUR BEDROOM. Things will get ugly.

  4. Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

    @Josh. Small bites! It’s perfectly ok to trade wait. I have come to terms with the fact that stories will be spoiled for me but guess what ? I’m still going to pick them up and enjoy them! I don’t have to get every issue the minut it drops
    Also, drop ‘em! lost in an arc, not excited about the latest event anymore(fear itself) Drop it !!

  5. Bryce31 Bryce31 says:

    I keep my pull list to to a small enough number to where I rarely have a six book week. It’s cheap and I only buy books I love, so I never feel burnt out.

  6. HailScott HailScott says:

    Josh: I know you guys have done it in the past, but it seems like a good spot to remind us where we can donate the comics we want to pass on.

    • Neb Neb says:

      There are TONS of places to donate. Just google: donating comics, and you’ll get a few organizations that take them. An organization I volunteer for, The Elyria Comic Book Initiative, takes donations (I’m required by law to mention this when responding to such queries). Maybe there’s a similar community organization near you?

      I always give my all ages books to the ECBI, but I send my more adult content to Heroes for Heroes. If you don’t want to ship things, dontate them to children’s hospitals or contact a local school to see if they want them. Try pediatricians or dentists offices. All kinds of places will take free comics.

    • powerdad powerdad says:

      Good Will takes comics.

  7. Yup. There are WAAAAY more books out there that i want to read than i have time and money for…and then there is older stuff and trades. Too much. I rarely re-read stuff i have so i sometimes wonder why i have bookshelves full of stuff.

    For me a big week is 8-10 books…i’d like to cut back. I can just about handle reading that amount in a week without feeling swamped.

    And there are a lot of the same kinds and styles of comics out there right now. From a pure art direction standpoint there are like maybe a dozen different ideas with dozens of variations (characters) on each of those to suit specific tastes. Lots of the same.

  8. jwaesch jwaesch says:

    On average I’ve been buying the same amount of comics each month for the last 2 years, but over the last year I’ve been reading less, based on time. Personally I’m ok with slowing down, reading less while still buying more than i can feasably read, but enjoying what I do read without feeling rushed and knowing I’ll always have my personal comic library to go to.

  9. moodydoom moodydoom says:

    we’re living in an incredible media boom.
    Will it wire our kids differently? Most likely.
    Will it render our brains obsolete by the time we’re old farts. Have you watched your parents try to operate a computer, nevermind a tablet, smartphone or home network? Hell yes.

    It’s not too farfetched to think that future generations will be able to read multiple books at the same time without missing a beat. …Or alternatively, maybe all comics will become two pages long, all movies 20 minutes long and all TV shows a whopping 3 minutes.

    Also…some fans might give you shit about being too dramatic in this article but I 100 per cent agree. I’ve been grappling with this ever since getting back into comics over this past year. Force me to buy only what i can afford and I will resent you for all the great stuff i’m missing. Let me buy everything I want and everything blurs together to form a single massive feeling of numbness and indifference. rock and a hard place i tell ya….

    • this giant media boom has turned it all into a Casino Buffet. Even the best ones….you never savor anything. You just gorge.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      ha! frikkin’ well said. that casino buffet after-taste…shivers…

      i also think we are living in a time where owning things is becoming redundant. It weighs us down, emotionally and physically. The powers in control are fighting to hold on to a dying distribution system. Why can’t they just set us free?

      i want to live in a digital subscription world, where i can read as much as i want at a nominal cost. maybe then i’ll actually start reading less, taking my time on new and exciting comics, instead of snatching at the buffet with both fists while the kitchen starts packing everything away.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      There are days when I look at all the DVDs and books and stuff I bought but will never have time to really enjoy, and I have a mild panic attack. And yet, we keep on. Comics are only a part of this.

    • this might sound odd…but netflix streaming / on demand kinda changed my life. I’m a natural pack rat, and with media i used to acquire..borderline hoard them. Movies, games, books, magazines. Use just once then put away into a collection…its overwhelming and i don’t need it. Once i got into the streaming/on demand mentality, my desire to own actual media went down. I barely buy any movies anymore…maybe like 5 Blu Rays in the past year and 2 of them were gifts. Most things i just watch/read once anyhow.

      Something about hobbies and hoarding…they tend to go together.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Not odd at all. Adding a kid to the mix? Perspective.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      with any media, you have to be careful that you are not spending more time chasing/finding/storing/collecting stuff than you are actually spending enjoying it.

      i got stuck in this trap with comics, movies, anime, tv… I have things i hunted down years ago that i still haven’t even watched/read…

      What is it about finding something we love that makes us want to strangle it until there’s no life left in it?

      My advice for someone with a kid would be: Try to make a simple, ritual out of the experience. Maybe just read together once a week or visit the comic shop once a month, and only allow them to pick a limited amount.

      Try to show them the value in having one great thing, even if there is so much else out there. And, also, show them that as long as they are enjoying one thing, they are not necessarily missing out on hundreds of other things.

  10. AmirCat AmirCat says:

    This topic is near and dear to my heart. I have amassed 6 long boxes of new comics within the last 2 years (since started reading again).

    One thought I had was make something useful out of the comics I own, like a craft project. I would love ANY ideas about what sort of crafts I can make out of the comics I don’t want anymore. Thank you!

    • wallpaper….i actually saw a guy on flickr who took some of those essentials books and wallpapered entire rooms. He had a 60s black and white Fantastic Four bathroom and others. It was pretty cool.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      You can get into comic book binding. I am not talking about sending your books off to be bound by someone else. I am talking about doing it yourself . DYI comic book binding allows you to be “crafty”, get those books out of your long box, and reinforces the habit you already have. You can make softcovers or hardcovers w/slipcases with the books you already own. There are forums about DIY comic book binding where you can learn how to do it. It is pretty cool to see all of the unique projects that people have come up with.

    • the thing about book binding…i’ve done it. Its difficult…even a simple perfect bind or signature sew…..its a very precise craft. The first few books you make, will be jacked up, 10000% guaranteed…not to discourage that project, but don’t try binding anything you really care about until you’ve “broken a few dozen eggs”

    • Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

      One time, I turned old Ultimate Spider-Man issues into a nice little Link handbag.

    • lepineisme lepineisme says:

      I have only two long boxes and neither are full. I’ll re-read until I figure out the storyline wasn’t as good as I remember and then cut ‘em up and make greeting cards or invites or re-purposed art.

      Comics+glue stick=awesome!

  11. Gabe Roth Earwigg (@gaberoth) says:

    This all feels like a bit of a humble-brag. “What should I do about having to read ALL these comics for my job?” Josh, you read comics for a living and part of that is keeping up with the related media. Cry me a river. You like it and you know it.

    • tom_swift says:

      Very true.
      These posts are beginning to sound a bit like “Get off my lawn” type rants.
      You want pain- try sorting through 75 spreadhseets a thousand lines a piece 8 hours a day.
      You get paid to read comic books man. Sure you work hard but lay off this line a bit.
      And as for the cost- I am pretty sure a good tax guy could help you write off the expense of the books- if you’re not doing that already.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It’s about saturation of the existing customer base. I use myself as an example. It’s the best one I have.

      I actually don’t spend enough on comics to make too much of a dent in the standard minimum deduction for a married couple.

      If you don’t like your job, quit, but don’t pull working class hero crap on me. I work hard every day like any job, and I did years in crappy jobs to get to this point. We all make different kinds of sacrifices, and I earned where I am by being lucky, working very hard, and being talented.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      To defend Josh a little bit, as you can see from other people in this thread, this IS A PROBLEM for people. Myself included. I am fortunate enough that I can afford all the comics I could possibly want. However, I do not have unlimited time (father of a two year old) or space. There are only so many hours in the day or places to stuff your comics without renting storage space.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      OK, that was probably a bit much, but we’ve all got our touchpoints. My point is, I earned the shit out of my job, and your crappy job is not my fault. You probably make more than me if it makes you feel better.

      They are rants. They’re supposed to be a little confrontation and a little truthful, and like clockwork, someone gets mad at me every week. They’re also not to be taken that seriously. But I got a reaction out of you, and others, so I succeeded.

    • mcrounds says:

      This is a relevant comics issue (as in problem, not #1). Josh is speaking on behalf of comic readers who are faced with this issue. There are more comics coming out than I have money or time for. So, as a fiscally responsible family man, I have to pick and choose. I’ll admit that picking and choosing has become more difficult with the new 52 releasing. You’re doing a great job Josh (and the rest of the ifanboy crew). There will always be people who will begrudge the work you do because they don’t like what they do. You all took the risk and initiative with this site and it paid off. You should never be made to feel bad for that. Most of us really appreciate the work. Thanks!

    • Gerry Lopez nudebuddha says:

      I don’t get the attacks on Josh. I don’t get them at all. These posts are basically Josh taking on a Larry David persona and I love it.

    • for an encore, Josh might consider doing the next article as a video show, from a comfy recliner ala “Pierre Bernard, Recliner of Rage” if you remember that classic Conan skit….. could be epic…

    • j206 j206 says:

      Whoever you are, however much you don’t like your job or life, for whatever reason, YOU ARE ON THE INTERNET READING WEBSITES ABOUT COMIC BOOKS. Or football, or music, or wrestling. If you’re able to find time out of your day to do that, not to mention make snarky, catty comments on said comic book website, I’m guessing your life is a lot better than a good % of people on this globe in other parts of the country who have SERIOUS problems. I joked below about Ethiopian children, what they’d think if they read this article. I was really only joking. But there is obvious truth to that. If you told one of them that there are people in the world that argue about comic books, or that there are people who live in the western world who argue over who has it better off, I can’t even imagine what they’d think. Seriously people. Let’s lower the judgment lasers. That crap is ridiculous.

      Is, “I have to read too many comic books” a real problem? Hell no. Do you honestly think Josh thinks so? I doubt it. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t feel overwhelming at times. A job is a job. No matter what it is. At the end of the day, even if you love your line of work, you end up finding yourself going through the motions. All jobs have boiling points, and after a while are more work than pleasure. Even chocolate tasters and porn casting agents have their rough days where they feel the burden or life and work.

      If you have read this site or listened to these guys podcasts for any period of time, you’d know the kind of guy Josh is. And if you don’t, I do. Or at least have an idea of his on-air persona. Sure, he can be snarky (it’s kind of the point a lot of the time), but mostly the guy is just honest. On more than a few occasions many of his articles are more of self-reflective, self-analytical type journal entries than anything. Ones that he shares with us. Ones that I myself enjoy. There is a lot to gain from reading such writing. It’s real life to say, “Hey, I think maybe we as a comic book reading society are a bit compulsive in the way we approach a hobby that we choose to do for fun.” It doesn’t matter if you make a living off comics or not. Honest self-reflection isn’t something to scoff at.

      Yeah, maybe Josh’s kid eating relies on his reading comic books. But it doesn’t change the fundamental introspective feeling one gets. I know I have it myself. Just like I do when I self-analyze myself for how I react to my favorite sports team losing, getting upset that a movie I wanted to be good sucked, or breaking up with a girl. In the grand scheme of life problems, those are all trivial problems to have. Some more than others depending on your perspective. Yet it doesn’t make us feel any different. If it’s something someone feels to put to print, it’s a thing to them. Who are we to judge?

    • I think saying Josh “reads comics for a living” is really not seeing what actually goes on here. Josh (and everyone else), don’t just read the comics, they then have to express their opinions about those comics in a thought provoking, informative, intelligent way. they have to write articles. they have to moderate all these comments and answer all those e-mails they get. They have meetings and conference calls, and recording of podcasts and video shows, and all the behind the scenes stuff we never see. PLUS they have to do all of that on a deadline. There is WAY more to their jobs than just reading comics.

  12. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    I think one of the things that is dragging down the comic book industry right now is a focus on quantity, not quality. The focus on quantity is driven by short-term focus on quarterly / yearly earnings and growth, which drives focus on market share, which drives Marvel and DC to put out as many comics as possible. Under the current comic environment, DC and Marvel, and every other publisher, would each publish 100 books a month if they could do it profitably.

    Unfortunately, I think this doesn’t serve the overall health of the industry. I think fewer, better written and drawn comics would attract and retain readers more. If every comic was the quality of the current Daredevil, FF or Batwoman, man, I think the comic industry would be experiencing a boom. The problem is that the signal-to-noise ratio is too low — too many mediocre titles crowding out the really exceptional ones. This forces you to ask yourself every week, “Did I get my money’s worth? Will I buy this book again next month?” When the book is very good, it’s an easy question to answer. When it’s middle of the road, it’s a lot harder. When you’re entire pull list is mediocre, it becomes very easy to get out of comics all together.

    I wish Marvel and DC only published 25 comics a month, not because the market will only buy 50 books from the top-2, but because they are putting all of their energy and focus into making those books the best they possibly can be. I know it is not going to happen. But, I think they should create demand high by keeping supply scarce. Right now, I feel like I do after I have stuffed myself at Thanksgiving dinner — I cannot think of possibly consuming one more thing. I am full up. And, that is not a very satisfying feeling.

    • its a press release driven industry. Having the same creative team on a book for 3 years might make great stories, but its a nightmare for the PR department. Headlines, buzz……that drives everything.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I kind of don’t agree. I think the press releases are usually just chatter. They make people talk, but I don’t know if they alter buying habits all that much. Either way, I am part of the problem!

    • don’t underestimate the value of chatter. A LOT of advertising is brand awareness…remind people that your widget exists as well as taking an old widget and making it seem brand new. No such thing as bad press and all that. Advertising especially in pop culture is evolving into becoming less obvious and more of controlled “word of mouth”.

  13. boosebaster boosebaster says:

    As someone who loves a good rant I enjoy these and hope they continue, I don’t understand how anyone takes umbrage from them.

  14. Neb Neb says:

    This is a great time to be a reader because along with the choice there is a great amount of quality. I’ve been having to cut my list back just to make room for the new DC stuff I want to give a go. Now that I’m married, working like crazy, about to have a baby, and going back to school for my Master’s, I find it hard to have time to conquer everything. But I buy anyways– to support my store, support the industry, and support the mini “vacations” I can take during the week when I’m reading comics. Eventually, it all ends up at my eye balls, even if it’s a tad behind schedule.

    In the end, this is about entertainment. Buy what entertains you. Read it, enjoy it, and then store it or donate it. Or, like me, eBay the crap out of it, so it leaves your domicile.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Congrats on the baby, Ben! Hold on to your butts.

    • Congrats on the baby! I feel your pain, my backlog of comics on the “to read” pile is so big after having a child there are some I’m sure I will never read. but it’s an addictive hobby!

    • Neb Neb says:

      Thanks guys! We’re excited but completely terrified at the same time. I assume that’s a fairly normal reaction. T-minus 2.5 months and counting until my spawn enters this world….

  15. WeaklyRoll WeaklyRoll says:

    I think the scariest part about this article, and topic in general is what Josh says about everyone wanting you to read their book, and the number of people reading comics wanting to write or producing something. As a guy who wants to write for a living (and i’ve given up my dream of writing comics, it no longer interests me because of this saturation/editorial demand) i always feel bad when i pass up a book that’s new or by a brand new creator, because i want to support the indusrty that i love, and feel if i don’t i’m not supporting enough and they industry won’t be as strong as it could be. I think though that i out too much thought into that piece.

  16. Smasher says:

    See, I didn’t see this as a rant about physically having too many comics in your collection so much as it was a rant about there being too many comics in the marketplace.

    I sincerely think that the comics business would be better suited for new readers if it wasn’t tethered to only releasing its titles on Wednesday and once a month.

    What Marvel did with Amazing Spider-Man and DC did years earlier with 52 (going weekly with multiple creative teams) were both strokes of commercial and critical brilliance. If the big guys duplicated this format with fewer titles published every day of the week just imagine the possibilities.

    Batman Mondays, Spider-ManTuesdays, Wolverine Wednesdays, Thor Thursdays, Flash Fridays, JLA Saturdays, Superman Sundays

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Costs would go up because shipping isn’t consolidated, and it mean a lot more work for retailers.

    • Smasher says:

      And another thing (sorry Josh, your rant gave birth to my rant) poly-bags and omnibuses are not good for new readers.

      The big two need to identify its audience as readers and not collectors. Self-manufacturing a collectible market is what seriously hurt comics in the 90s. You’re not gaining new readers by putting your new #1 comics in a bag. You’re gaining a collector who could care less about the next 3 issues of that first issue’s story arc, let alone the second issue.

      And Omnibuses are nice. Some of them are gorgeous but is this the best way to sustain readership?

      Why not use the back catalog of thousands of stories and republish them in current issues. Increase the page count (with little to no price increase please) give the readers more to read and more reason to come back.

      Imagine if the Captain America #1 came with a reprint of part 1 of an old Cap story from the 80s? With a little editorial guidance I think new readers would find these back stories just as fun as what’s brand new. Heck, they may even enhance the current storyline.

    • Smasher says:

      Thanks for the reply, Josh.

      Regarding cost. I think you’re right about this in the short term but I think if it attracted more readers the cost would come down.

      As for retailers… I don’t think more work for retailers would be a bad thing. Again if it garnered more readers, more readers would beget higher sales, higher sales would beget more employees. More employees to handle the more work.

  17. j206 j206 says:

    I sure hope no starving Ethiopian kids read this one their iPads today on their way home from the mall. Dear lord, what horrible problems we have!

    No, I’m just messing. I get what you’re saying, Josh. I think we all have this sort of thought go through our head from time to time. I have very similar thoughts that bother the hell out of me. Like when I find myself feeling obligated to catch up on all the tv shows that have piled up on my DVR. Including the last 5 episodes of Weeds, because I’ve watched the previous 6 seasons. Or when I load up iTunes and see that I have over 650 saved podcasts of varying shows that I for some insane reason intend to get to at some point. What I’m saying here, is I think some of us are a tad compulsive by nature. For whatever reason, comics seem to draw us types. So yeah, I very much get what you are saying in this piece, Mr Flanagan. Although maybe just for this once, the article should have been title, “What’s Wrong With Me?” ;)

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I never specified the “you”. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s the market. Sometimes it’s everything.

    • j206 j206 says:

      Oh for sure. I got that. I was mostly funnin’.

      I really enjoy your articles, man. Not knob-slobbing by any means. But I’ve always appreciated your honesty. Ron and Conor bring other awesome talents to this place. But I’ve always liked the way you are not afraid to wear your feelings, opinions, or insecurities on your journalistic sleeve. I appreciate a more self-reflective writing style. I think people need to realize that most of the time, if someone writing about a topic, there’s a good chance it has more to do with the writer than anything. And I also think that as people, we aren’t trying in life if we aren’t constantly questioning ourselves and trying to figure out why we are the people we are and do the things we do.

      So don’t worry about my snark now or in the future. I 100% endorse any crazy take you have on whatever. The more we as people questions ourselves and others, the better off we are as a society. There are people on the internet who actually deserve to be called out for their opinions. Those cases usually feature opinions that come with little to no thought behind them. Nobody here can ever say that you don’t bring thoughtfulness to what you write. Even if they disagree.

  18. Spoons Spoons says:

    Having switched to completely digital I no longer have to worry about the space issue. In 4 years I amassed 8 long boxes. Now that I am digital that is all I will ever have. I might even start upgrading to digital with the print copies if I can find the cash. I wonder if Chew #1 first printing is going for on eBay…?

  19. moodydoom moodydoom says:

    i’m surprised no one has mentioned piracy yet.

    Ironically enough, I think piracy is a reaction to the current market saturation.

    The more comics out there, the more unrealistic the supply, the more people justify not being able to afford it, the more people feel frustrated, the more people grab that shit for free.

    if we let this problem fester for long enough, people will get so used to getting content for free digitally that it’s going to be hard to reverse the habit.

    i wonder if Netflix has stopped a significant amount of people from grabbing stuff off of torrents, simply by making digital content affordable and easily available?

    • Smasher says:

      You’re not off-base. It also promotes trade-waiting though with the closers of big box bookstores (Borders) I wonder if we’ll see less trades.

  20. keith7198 keith7198 says:

    Since digital doesn’t interest me at all and print books are the only way to go (for me), space will one day come into play. I’m trying to head that off by giving away hunks of books that I either was luke-warm about or that have no real value or that I have no interest in reading again. I’m already noticing how this is making a big difference in my stacks of books.

  21. Is the comic market shrinking or growing. MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!

    Me personally I love the variety available.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      The variety of product seems to be huge. The publishers are trying to sell more to the existing readers. The number of them is shrinking. I would actually like more quality variety of other genres. But I don’t need more superhero books. I have well enough.

    • Neb Neb says:

      Seconded!

    • keith7198 keith7198 says:

      Josh nails it! How about cutting X-Men, Avengers, and Batman down to two books each instead of four and using that space to give us something new and fresh.

  22. Smasher says:

    I’m just curious. Why don’t folks throw away their comics after they’re done reading them like a newspaper or magazine?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      A low grade mental illness. Even *I* can’t do it. I know it doesn’t make sense.

    • To be fair, I tended to horde magazines when I was younger and still bought magazines. Newsweek, Wizard, Nintendo Power… I still have most of my old Nintendo Powers.

    • Smasher says:

      You’ve got to try it, man. Your meals will taste better.

      Seriously though, I wonder how much “collectibility” is calculated into the mark-up of these comics? Even if it’s 0.5%, I wish it were gone.

    • I sometimes throw out comics. But I usually re-read comics I bought, so i need to hold on to them.

    • Neb Neb says:

      I always hung onto that stuff growing up (magazines and such). I think with comics it’s different because it’s a hobby where it’s fairly acceptable to hang onto things. Also, as JohnV pointed out, if you hang onto comics you can always re-read them and they can still be relevant/enjoyable. Not sure how much joy you would get out of a Time magazine from 10 years ago.

    • i’m sure you meant to say “recycle” your comics as to be efficient and self sufficient, like a well oiled business or first world country…oh…yeah, nevermind.

  23. RocketRacoon RocketRacoon says:

    Solid Read Josh. Like others have said, I don’t think the problem is limited to comics. Same can be said for video games, movies, tv shows, music, prose books etc. At this point in my life, it’s not the $ that’s the issue it’s the time, and I simply don’t have enought of it to indulge in the all the wonderful things media is putting out.

    I’ve solved the storage, and clutter issue with comixology. I’m buying everything I’m interested in enough to read digitally, and I’m know down to 3 or 4 physical books, and those are all Marvel. I wouldn’t be surprised if by year’s end I’m not buying any physical books.

    The problem seems to boil down to gluttony. We want to absorb everything we can, but the majority of us don’t have the time.

    It’s a good problem to have.

    • j206 j206 says:

      Good point. It isn’t just comics. Everything today is as such. It’s the world we live in. Thanks to the internet, and the growing case of mass-ADD we all have as a society, we live in a time where immediacy rules. Gimme more, now. I’m already over yesterday. It works with news media, pop culture, all around. And the only way to overcome that is by coming out with something new constantly. I was listening to Tom Katers on World Balloon recently where he marveled at how quick comics as an industry is to make things immediately old. “That book? That was last week. Now it’s all about this book.” And yes, we as readers fall for it. It’s one big warped machine. Both sides feedinto it. And thanks to that, it likely isn’t going to change anytime soon. Sucks. But it’s the world we live in. The internet, and the immediacy and constant gratification that it’s brought, is great is a lot of regards. But now that we have it, we’re stuck with the downsides living in “ADD Nation” brings.

  24. MattKelly MattKelly says:

    Two things to touch on here:

    1) I imagine its hard to feel the pressure to read every book out there, to have all of your bases covered. I give you guys kudos for keeping up with it all. And it must break your hearts to not be able to give every poor indie creator a fair shake. Hopefully as the digital market continues to unfold and evolve that it will become easier to sift through it all and less of a time crunch to enjoy.

    2) Speaking of creators, I think I know why so much of the market is made up of people who also aspire to break-in. I think the main reason is that those of us (yes, myself included) who want to continue to use their vivid imaginations after adolescence see comics as the easiest, “lowest threshold of entry” way of making fantastic “big budget” stories come to life. It probably cost the guys who made the COWBOYS & ALIENS spec comic about $5K from soup to nuts. And to make a short film of the same caliber? Waaaaay more, I guarantee it.

  25. tom_swift says:

    This is all well and good but when you admit to trying to provoke a reaction.
    Well- there it is. Job done.
    But it should be able to be a two way street. And I am not going to stop and think hey- is this a real opinion or is this a “larry david” persona opinion. Come on.

    I am all for just throwing it all out there.
    I too think that’s what makes it worth it.

  26. danielstorer danielstorer says:

    As a new reader, I must admit that I was originally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books that I could choose from, and I was even more confused finding a good place to start! Luckily the New 52 is here and I have somewhere to begin, this should be fun!

  27. This is a weird time in my life because, starting August, I’ve been buying more comics then I had originally coming back into the industry. You’d think I’d be buying more in the beginning because I was going back fresh, but for the most part it was usually 3-4 books a week. Sometimes 5-6 would come into play but it would be rare.

    Now a days I’m buying 7 books max which might not sound like a lot but for my budget it’s a hell of a lot more to buy every week. Of course the DC reboot isn’t helping which has doubled my DC output as a reader.

    I’ve only had to use one shelf on my bookcase to keep this comics because I refuse to buy bag and boards and pullbins. I don’t know why I feel like its a waste of money. It’s grown big after a while so I have sold a good amount of old issues to get some credit at my store. It helps because, especially around this time, I needed extra funds to try out the new books coming out. So I’m basically getting all the nuDCU books for free which is nice. Maybe in the future I might have to sell all my books or bag/board/box them all. But right now if it anit broke don’t fix it.

  28. RLFloyd says:

    I’ve been reading comics seriously for a few years now, and didn’t touch a superhero book (except a few of the popular Batman books) until DC’s new 52. It was just way too overwhelming. Too many books. Too much history. Where are you supposed to start? But with the DC relaunch, and day-and-date digital, that’s all changed.

    It’s nice to finally be able to discuss books with others the week they come out. So I guess that’s another part of the problem. If you want to be a part of the comic book community and interact with others who share your interest (like right here on iFanboy), you need to be reading a fair chunk of the latest books so you can talk about them. Otherwise, enjoying comics becomes much more of a solitary experience (hey, I’ve been reading older books in trade for the last few years. It’s nice, but a bit lonely!).

  29. Keep on keeping on, Josh.

  30. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    Next week, I’m taking on lettering!

  31. player1 player1 says:

    It IS a big pile.

  32. harpothedope harpothedope says:

    sometimes i just want to scream to the world: YOU DON”T HAVE TO BUY ALL THE COMICS!! JUST THE ONES YOU”LL LIKE!

  33. Zak71296 Zak71296 says:

    I keep a few series that I really like and the rest go into a pile that I eventually sell to my local Half Price Books. I get a little cash and someone else can enjoy the books.

  34. besighyawn besighyawn says:

    I always find myself burning out on comics every couples of years, especially after falling behind on reading the too many good comics out there

  35. iamso77 says:

    Keep on trucking with these articles, Josh. I like reading all the comments from this column.

    As for my opinion about too much, its all about balance. Don’t oversaturate yourself with stuff. Create some principles, stick with it and you will see how much stuff you can cut out.

  36. Once again a single title with many quality talking points:

    Are there too many comics available today (running the entire spectrum of quality)?
    yup. but that’s why “critics” (or opinion sites such as this) become more and more important in the future to steer you to the one’s you want/should read and help reduce the clutter. 1 site does not have to read everything. With a few trusted sites you may crowd source most of comics output.

    Are there so many “good” quality comics on a weekly basis that you should be reading, it becomes prohibitive to readers?
    Can’t say I agree with that claim. May need to adjust the concept of “must read” if this is truly a problem. Definitely don’t see the comics industry as a vast and varied field of top quality output that expands the medium.

    Are our physical collections of comics overwhelming our lives?
    I found that once I began to think of my comics “collection” as an actual “collection” similar to a museum that needs to be curated, it was easy to thin out in an ongoing attempt to improve the quality. My criteria now is if I will someday be able to hand this comic to someone as a prime example of something (creative lettering, use of watercolors, high quality crime story, cover design etc.) I hope to have a “collection” where any book I pull out can be held up as one of the tops in its specific area. It also affects my buying habits, as I tend to trade wait and “rent” from the library. Only buying ones I feel worthy of the collection. Or passing along ones I feel did not live up. You do loose the weekly rush…and the manipulative story telling aspect of comics, where they get their hooks in you make you care and then make you wait a month for the resolution. That falls apart in trades.

    P.S. Everybody make more comics, and review more comics, the more there is, the more interesting stuff will inspire others and the qulaity comics will be found eventually…and they will still be good years from now when new readers find them again.

    great now even im bored with this post.

  37. odare77 says:

    thank you Josh for giving such eloquent voice to this fanboy dilemma. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve tried and failed to declutter my obsessions….there’s always something new to peak the interest. I try to keep in mind the fact that as a child I could make the smallest amount of comics or books last and last, and I had no need to watch a movie anywhere other than a theatre or on a video rental. Unfortunately the disposable income of adulthood som etimes gives us a little too much freedom. Still it’s gratifying to see people posting about how willing they are to enjoy things, like single issues, and then just pass them on or sell them….there is no obscure fanboy law that says if you don’t hoard you’re not a real fan.

  38. stasisbal stasisbal says:

    This past weekend I returned from a vacation and I feel your pain. I didn’t have time to read many books from 9/7 so I still have a significant stack from two weeks ago. I still need to pick up last week’s books which will be just as much, if not more, and then there’s more to come this week.

    I like reading a bunch of good comics but whenever my stack gets to a significant size it feels like a chore to catch up so I don’t get behind. It goes from leisure activity to a self imposed deadline. Obviously I don’t have to read them and there are more significant problems to have but it’s still a thing.

    After the DC avalanche I’d like to get down to something like a good 5 to 7 issues a week. 10+ a week is just too much to sustain for my tastes. The problem is there’s just so much interesting stuff coming out right now.

  39. Paradiddle Paradiddle says:

    Late to the party here but all I can say is that I can relate 100%. Since having twins almost a year ago my comics reading now consists of going to the store once a month (if that), picking up the 8-10 titles I’m still following, and trying to cram in reading when I can. I’ve pretty much stopped trying to follow “what’s going on” in the comics world via the Internet, blogs, and yes, even this very podcast, sadly and sorry to say. I’ve also been getting back into my other obsession (music), so my time and budget availability for comics just ain’t what it used to be. Sad but true!