Can I Afford Comics?

I was broke last week and couldn’t buy my books.

It was a big week, too–lots and lots of books that I just couldn’t get it until I got paid this week.  I knew this going into the comics section of the site, and it was a strange feeling, I knew that I was going to be missing out on the podcast, I knew I was going to be missing out on the discussions and I knew that, well, I wouldn’t have any new comics to read over the weekend.

And I have a job, you know? What would happen if I found myself in the position to spend no more than 2-3 comics in a month.  If I were unemployed or going back to school, I might have to drop to even less of a budget–I mean, my average weekly comic book bill is $20, which translates into a good number of tacos.

The ability to buy single issue comics is an incredible luxury. Given the amount of real entertainment a single issue provides, I think most of us agree–they can be pretty expensive, depending on that specific issue, especially when you consider that most of the time you just read the issue once.  We’ve already talked about the problems we have with “filler” issues, where you spend $3 and you find that the overall plot line has not been moved that much, or you get an artist who is not as good as the regular one, or you get an issue where there are a lot of two page spreads and, to speak to an old complaint that I had, spends an inordinate amount of time on some fight that doesn’t really mean anything, plot- or character-wise.  

When you take a few seconds and consider that floppy comics, when compared to the heartier trade, are flimsy, frustrating to store, and packed with ads, you can start to understand the looks you might get when you talk to non-comic book people about you weekly habit.  I know that when I was talking about San Diego Comic-Con at my high school reunion with some guys who owned places down there, they definitely had no idea what I was talking about, that they hadn’t really thought about comic books in possibly decades.  It’s just not part of their personal economics. Condos by the beach, yes. New Avengers…no.

The value of comics, in fact, probably comes from one’s history with comics and the characters than the actual value of the issue you are getting on Wednesday afternoon.  If the book is part of an event, it is helping add more texture to an event.  If it is a particular artist or writer, it is work you look forward to because you appreciate that particular person’s take.  There is a legacy, both personal and narrative, that you bring with you each time you open that cover.  Even with a book liked Red Herring, which is totally different and has no pre-existing characters or plots, many of us saw the Phillip Bond art and bought it solely because we love his work.  

Conversely, you take a non comic book person into a comic book store and show them a copy, they might comment on the art, or remember how they used read that book when they were a kid, but when they look at the actual price of a single comic book, 90% of the time they will say, “That’s $2.99?? What a waste of money.”  If you admit that they can get as high as “$3.99” they’re gonna ask you if you are still reading them, if you buy them regularly, and if you tell them you get them every single week of the year…they will think you are crazy, and not care if you are getting 20% off or that they are saved for you.

Trades are easier to stomach for the regular person. They have fully fleshed out beginnings, middles and ends, and don’t have any ads. They fit in bookshelves, they tend to be on good paper, they are natural keepsakes. Comics, by and large, look and feel disposable. Yes, I know, the interior paper is better than they used to be. But even so, the covers are basically the same, so the perception is still there. And still, we understand what paper does to the experience of a book, but, “normal” folks just see something that you buy a kid to get them to shut up for a road trip.

I have never been able to get someone to pick up regular comics. Trades, yes. I can sell the crap out of trades. I let people borrow trades and they pick more up. I never lend out floppy comics, mostly because almost no one asks and, if they do, I stress out that they might ruin them somehow, or, worse, that they will never get them back to me.  Much easier to just give them the trade.  So, while I am doing a pretty good job of getting people to investigate and enjoy comic book stories, I am doing a crappy job of getting them into comic book stores to actually go and buy comics.  The perception that one is paying too much for too little is too hard to rationalize when there is such a good chance, from an objective return on one’s investment point of view, that the perception is correct. I feel pangs of this whenever I buy my comics using cash (I always use my card to pay for my comics). It’s one thing to enter in your PIN for $23 worth of comics, it’s way different when you are handing over a $5 bill and a $20 greenback.  

(I think that the best comic book stores understand this, by the way. The ones that seem to be really rocking it cater to both audiences. They carry a vast selection of trades and weekly comics and are able to suggest floppy issues that a trade shopper might like and vice versa.)

Back to my original thought, though. If I could only get 1-3 issues a month, would I give up single issues? Is it possible to enjoy comics when you are only getting 1-3 issues a month?  Sure, of course it is, but it’s not gonna be easy if you read websites and listen to podcasts.  You would almost have to disassociate yourself with the comic book scene and just follow the books and enjoy it.  Possible, yes. Difficult, yes, especially in the beginning. Depressing, I think.

When pressed, if I had to, I think I would stick with Amazing Spider-Man, because it features a variety of really good writers and artists, like the variety of the creators really speaks to me. Oftentimes it captures the essence of what comics really are all about.  But since it is 3x a month, I’d be stuck with only that book.  If I had to go with 3 separate monthly books, I think I would go with Criminal (because you get all that extra stuff in the back that is not included in the trades), All-Star Batman and Robin (this is being written with me assuming that Frank is coming back soon) and…jeez… Daredevil? Not sure. Flash, probably. If it lasts as an ongoing. Green Lantern’s way too involved with other books, so that’s out. I really like Chew, but like so many other books, I could just save up for the trade.  I just..I dunno.  I have no idea what I would do.  It might just be too frustrating to go into the shop and not get the other books, I think I would have to do a mail order service or something. But in the end, I think I would cut out entirely and just go trades. I think that’s what would happen.

I get accused for over-thinking things a bit, and I admit, perhaps I am over-thinking–or over feeling–this particular topic, but I bet there are a lot of folks out there that drive by a comic book store and wish they could afford to get back into comics.  There are a lot of us, right here, right now, that are not buying as many titles because we just can’t afford it, in the long run. Yes, we can get by with getting that new issue of whatever that is, but are not buying, say, every X-Men book that is out there. Like, is anyone really excited about Web of Spider-Man? I’m not. I liked buying one Spider-Man book–I would like it even if it only came out once a month.  I don’t really want to buy two issues of it–and I probably won’t, truth be told.  

How about you?  

Mike Romo is an actor in LA. Despite his last two articles, he really likes comics a lot. Really. He just gets worried about stuff, you know? He can be reached via email, and he does his best to keep things lively on twitter.


  1. Yeah i feel the same way about Web. I would rather they take the important stories that will effect ASM and make them back ups because i just don’t care about spider-girl, at all.

  2. Great article and it now has me typing something I thought about when I first came to this website.

    How the fuck do most of the ifanboy users afford their books?

    I make decent money and I have never had a pull list over twenty books a month.

    Some of you must be coming close to forty books a month . . .

    My comic book budget takes into account that I really only spend money on music and books for entertainment.

    I am consistently getting rid of books that don’t average about a four rating from me because I only want to read quality books regardless of title or character.

    I justify the pricetag (which is high when you think about it) because it is one of my only forms of entertainment and I actually use comics at my work.

    I do have a Great Depression Remix backup pull list. I definitely think I could enjoy the Walking Dead, Criminal, and Jonah Hex on a monthly basis.

    Great article.

    And iFanboy definitely leads me to increased spending. I’d have to cut out all the supplemental comic stuff and just read my three monthlies.

  3. I completely understand what you’re talking about, Mike.

    I use the library a lot to save money, but it does mean that I’m not part of the discussion online like you mentioned, because they only have trades.

    I find myself in funny situations deciding what comics to buy, because I know the library will only buy certain trades, and thus I might actually purchase a comic I like less than another just because I know this is the only time I can get it.

    And I use to buy comics knowing I would sell them back to the shop at some future date for a little credit. (I rarely keep any of my comics nowadays.)  I would think of this as RENTing the comics, since I would get part of my money back (and I received a store discount as well). But as of earlier this year, my local comic shop no longer buys back comics, because there just isn’t any money in it with trades and the such (even for the prices they were paying). So now I’m not getting a little money back, making my purchasing that much more difficult.

  4. Great article. I’ve dropped all my floppies, as it were. I’m currently relying on 3 local library systems to get my reading in. I’m very lucky to have a library that gets tons of trades in, as well as floppies. I do have to travel about half an hour to get to a well stocked library, but it’s well worth it, in what I save.

     I still listen to the podcast, and have a membership, and love all the articles and contributions of this site.  It just got to the point where other things in my life have taken priority over the books (stuff like paying off credit cards, and getting things for my wife and son.) I look forward to the possibility of getting comics cheaper, online, so I don’t have to wait for the trade, and can still keep up with the podcast.  

    I have a feeling that Josh is probably going to want to drop some books too, once that little one shows up, kids sure aren’t cheap. 

  5. I afford mine by working at a comic warehouse for in-store credit.  That cut’s my actual costs down dramatically.  That’s how I afford an average of 15-20 book/week.

  6. I’m totally with you on this one, Mike. Even with my wife getting a job recently, I’m not rushing out to spend more than $20 a week myself on comics. Most weeks, I spend even less than that. My job is at the mercy of the local voters with a levy vote coming on Nov. 3rd that will make or break it. I’ll admit that attending a local con and the Top Shelf sale a month ago did bust my budget, but occasionally, I think that’s okay.

    I do like being "in-the-know" on certain comics these days when I’m reading in the monthly format. Reading in trades is great, but I mostly know the stories before I read them since they’ve been talked about online for months before I get them. Getting the story fresh has been a lot of fun.

  7. i just this last month, made the transition to trades only.  The only exception is ASM because that has been the only title that i have been collecting straight through for the last 17 years (crap has it been that long).  So i am down to only 3 books a month (sometimes 4 if marvel is feeling frisky).  I am going to check out Web.  I am giving it 1 issue to wow me.  This was actually a pretty easy decision for me to make.  I find that if i am going trades, i can still listen to the podcasts because by the time the trades come out (especially for dc) i have pretty much forgotten what was talked about.  I am just recently catching up on Green Lantern and just last night finished Sinestro Corps War.  I remember listening to the podcasts a couple years ago but the reading experience was great.  it didnt ruin it at all. 

  8. Heck, I would give up television, internet and most other entertainment that really does nothing for me just to get my comics.  They have been my major entertainment for nine years and are fast becoming the only things I really enjoy.  So, my question isn’t can I afford comics, it’s more on the lines of: Do I give a crap about anything enough to give up comics?

  9. @ScorpionMasada – I share your bewildernment. I didn’t know there were 40 monthly comics worth reading. At my best I was pulling maybe 10 books a month (plus a trade every other week), max.

    I’ve had to cut my monthly comic budget down to about $15 (until BPRD 1947 and I Am Legion are done with, then I’m down to about 10 bucks! Whoohoo!). The titles that have managed to make the cut? Criminal, Glamourpuss, and just recently, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fantastic Four. I’d been wanting to check both titles out and seeing that they are some of the few $2.99 titles left at the house of ideas, I figured it’s now or never. If I had to cut one off of that to make it a list of three, I’d say g’bye to Glamourpuss. :-/


  10. Ya, I finally started trying to prune my pull list down and keep track of my expenses more.  The first thing to go for me would be the more mainstream titles that I don’t have to worry about going away and feel that finding trades for them at a later date would be reletively easy.

  11. I’m with you on this Mike.  When you said that comics give you a limited amount of entertainment for your dollar…I guess i knew it, I just didn’t want to admit it.  I’ve been getting less and less enjoyment out of my monthlies and more and more out of the trades i’m reading.  And 10 minutes of reading and art for $3-4 is not a good ROI.

    I’m trimming down from about 6 books a month to 2 (GL and GLC) and 2 event books (Flash:Rebirth and Blackest Night with none of the tie ins)  Once F:Rebirth and BN finish i’ll just be getting the two Green Lantern books which are what got me back into comics, but even then i’m not sure how long i’m going to stick with it in singles.  At first i thought that i’d hand down the singles to my son, but now i’m not so sure.  I can buy the digest size Marvel Adventures books for him when he’s ready and the trades for the more "mature" titles will always be there.  Beyond seeing adverts for outdated products, there’s no difference.

    I still enjoy the discussion of stories and whatnot weekly but as zakcaldwell said, by the time i’m reading the trade, i’ve forgot the discussion and i enjoy the story.  I was still able to get a few gasps out of the first two Brubaker Daredevil trades even though the singles didn’t come out THAT long ago.

    I’m sure getting back into video games hasn’t helped my feelings of spending too much for too little on floppies, but i get a lot more entertainment value out of a game than I do a few floppies and i never pay full price for games…well almost never. 

  12. Its always hard to fork over real cash at the comic shop.  Plastic all the way.

    Great article Mike!  I have had to cut back since wife is outta town for the next couple months.  Its really quite liberating to put some comics on the chopping block.  It’s hard to have a discussion about price and not bring up digital comics, but all I’ll say is I can’t wait for them so I can save cash.

    But if I had to cut it down to three books a month, heres what I would go with:


    -Invincible Iron Man


    Really tough call, but those are my babies

  13. The other thing i’ve noticed after reducing my monthly book count is that my LSC owner treats me very differently.  He used to be happy to see me or at least welcome me to the store.  Since i’ve downsized he doesn’t acknowledge me and when i ask for my pull list it’s like it’s a burden.  I mean he could just be a dick, but all his actions are doing is pushing me away even more to getting only trades from AmazonIST or counting the moments until Longbox hits.

  14. Take solace in the fact that your shop owner will be out of business within the next couple years.

    And if it isn’t, his customers are basically going bankrupt to support their habit.

  15. Well it doesn’t make me feel good, and i’d rather try to support a local business when i can, but that’s usually because they have superior service.  This is not the case.  

  16. Buy less read more.
    And screw you Drake you know I’m right.

  17. Whoa, whoa, Mike… who let you into my head? How did you translate all of that from my brain directly into YOUR article?

    But seriously: great piece. I like that iFanboy mixes up the actual discussion of content and industry news with the discussion of the comic-buying culture. That’s fascinating to me.

    And right now, I don’t feel so alone. I go through this same predicament. The bills stack up, and then I look over at the stack of comics teetering in the corner, and I think, "do I really want to fill my house with all this paper? Am I really enjoying ALL of these that much?" And then I use the Previews guide (which which i place my order with my comic shop) to scour the listings for comics I can cut from my weekly habit. 

    I’ve played that game before. IF I could only get three comics a month, what would they be?

    I honestly don’t know. Unwritten, maybe. I’m totally enjoying the issues on that one. Criminal. What else do I consistently enjoy and get excited for every single month? Detective? Iron Man? It couldn’t be any of the Avengers book, or it would have to be ALL of the AVengers book, y’know what I mean? I might’ve picked Iron Fist, if that was still an ongoing. Always enjoyed that one, and it never tied into any events.

    Man, I hate this game.


  18. This is a really depresseing article.

     I have found myself really looking into what I spend with comics since I am now saving for engagement right, apartment, and wedding but I realize that it’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most.

    Most weeks I find myself picking up 6-7 books  but last week I had 12. Midtown Comics discount surely helps but it does add up if you think about it and once your done reading the book I just throw them in a box in the closet. I have found myself dropping books that really aren’t keeping my attention. I recently dropped Secret Warriors, Nova, Might Avengers just to name a few.

     Also, the trade argument has a lot of merit. I just have more fun sitting down and reading a trade. I just read the first volume of Fables and I thought the book was amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on the other volumes. I also just finished volume 4 of ex machina and it was also good. I can’t help to think that the trade format does make reading the book more enjoyable.

    I know part of the reason that I haven’t gone completely "trade" is because of this website. I enjoy keeping up with the latest event, hearing everyone’s opinion about what’s going on and listening to the podcast. If I cut my weekly spending, I would eliminate my weekly pull list, podcast, and just checking the site on a weekly basis. It would be tantamount to reading comics in a vacumm.

  19. I also want to comment on the more positive aspect.

    So, if you’ve GOT The disposable income… there’s something really FUN about walking away with a whole stack of issues. It’s like an anthology book in that way, I guess. If you’re not critiquing every book to see if it makes the cut, I would guess that a lot of us really enjoy that thick, diverse stack of books. Batman, X-men, zombies, spaceships… it’s cool that you can get ALL of that on any given Wednesday. 

    I think the only time we get depressed over this is when we’re really forced to examine on a microscopic level jut how much we spend and how much enjoyment  we derive from each individual product.


  20. I have often thought about many of these things over the past few years. I know that I’ve made sacrifices over that time just to try and keep up with my weekly obsession, but still fail to make it on Wednesday every month or so because of payday. The thought of switching to trade isn’t much of an option for me however, because it’s more than just the stories themselves that I love about this hobby.


    The legacy section of this article really spoke to me, but it’s not just a legacy with the characters/artists, it’s a legacy with everything about the hobby.

    Online discussion and interaction (as you mentioned) is only part of that.

    Work just seems to go by faster on Wednesday when I know I’m getting my books;

    I’m a "Wednesday Regular" at my shop, and hang out with other regulars each week. We have all grown to become good friends, with something that started out as casual recommendations and epic "comic shop debates", it’s obviously grown into something more. The Wednesday tradition is our common thread. As I type this, I have the day off, but have no interest going to the shop until 5 o’clock because I know everyone is still working.

    Then we get to the floppies themselves. It may seem odd to some, but I’m very proud of my collection. Sure they’re readily available, cheaper, more durable and easier to store, but I’m old school and to me, trades just have no soul. Anyone could pick up the first trade of Ultimate Spider-Man at any time and get the first full story arc of the title, but I can dig through my long box, pull out my first issue and reflect on not just how much I enjoyed it, but also take pride in the fact that I was one of the few thousand people out there that gave it chance right from the beginning. Or, I could dig a little deeper and pull out my McFarlane Amazing Spider-Mans, marvel at how nicely I’ve kept them over the past 20 years, smell the paper, feel the pages, and lose myself in the memories of how I felt when I was first introduced to Venom, or ASM 306 where they swiped the cover from Action Comics #1, or Todd’s take on Captain America in the Assassination Plot story. With the single issues, I’m holding a piece of comic history in my hands. There’s something almost poetic about that. I own Star Wars: A New Hope on DVD, but my brother can still say he saw it opening night at the drive in. Catch my meaning?

  21. Finally someone addresses the financial aspect of buying weekly comics! This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and when it comes down to it the simple reason I can’t check out many new books or stay current with Marvel AND DC is because I can’t afford it. I can’t fathom buying as many weekly comics as the iFanboys and many others do…must be spending around $200-300/month alone on single issues. I just don’t have the budget to do that. Not to mention that I also like to spend disposable income on CDs, records, books, and DVDs…there’s only so much room for comics.

  22. Really great conversation, guys. Perhaps it is the rain, I dunno, but it’s been a sobering and frustrating couple of weeks and I guess I am heartened that there are other folks struggling with the same questions.  I mean, yes, I know, it’s "just comics"–but it’s not. It really is not. I sometimes feel like comic book fans are propping up an industry that rarely acknowledges their efforts.  I love comics–I am so happy that I got back into them, they are a big part of my life–but, honestly, when I am paying $4 for an issue that is packed with ads, it drives me absolutely bonkers.  I love–love–the comment @powerdad made about renting comics.  I mean, honestly, that’s kind of what we do, you know? We keep the ones we love (I have two small boxes of "will keep forever" issues) and, eventually, as we run out of space, we either return them for store credit or give them away. The single issue experience, the story we’s almost–it’s so quick, you know? It’s like an injection of Criminal, a shot of Daredevil.  I pay a couple of dollars more and I can get a paperback that last me several days.

    I am sorry about the article being depressing, but I am glad that we can talk about it.  I wish I had a place where I could get those drawer comic book boxes and just have a great reading room that was my comic book cave, where I could write, draw and just hang out.  I don’t. I hope I do, someday, but I don’t.  This is such a crazy hobby, when you get down to it, but the resilience and the passion the iFanbase has is just very inspiring. I feel like you all are making it happen for the creators, I feel like all of us are doing our best to share what comics has to offer with folks, in the face of a maelstrom of uncertaintly and quiet frustration.  We are the front line of fandom, in a very, very real sense. Without us, I doubt Marvel’s films would be so big right now.  Comic book culture comes from our passion to support the medium, to demand more nuanced storylines, to make sure the very best creators have their chance to shine.

     I dunno what’s going to happen. All we have is now, right? We might as well enjoy it.  But I hope that the publishers understand–being a weekly comic book fan is not easy.

    you all rock.

  23. @Animalvader1 As a guy who read Daredevil through the Born Again years and still has all those issues, I absolutely agree.  Sure, you can get a trade and have it all there, and I’ve certainly enjoyed many and caught up with a lot of series that way.. but when I was a kid, it was hard to top the anticipation for the next issue when Born Again was coming out.  It was every bit the experience that living through the heyday of some great albums, concerts, or movies were.

    I think of it like this- you will never forget going to see The Dark Knight on IMAX on a Friday night, with people next you dressed up like the Penguin or Poison Ivy.. plus the feeling that EVERYONE was seeing that film and talking about it.  The mania was omnipresent.  It is not going to be the same experience for your son when you watch the Blu-Ray together.  It’s still special and still awesome, and there’s a lot of convenience to watching a movie in your home, but it’s not the same.

    That experience and also the online chatter is keeping me on issues.  It’s a whole new dimension to the hobby to be able to discuss it online- which I’ve only started recently doing, but it’s been really fun.  I get about half my books from a shop and half online where I get a discounted price.  The tradeoff is- I can keep up with the online buzz about the books I get from the shop.  The other titles are obviously cheaper but I have to wait a while for since they’re in the mail.

    I’m on 4-5 books a week and yes, that number is dropping a little with some minis about to end and a few titles getting the ax.  Might switch to trades for The Unwritten.  I’m digging it but that title is really dense and feels like it would be a better read in trade format.

    I’ll never drop the aforementioned Daredevil, or whatever Conan ongoing is out there.  For years DD/Conan was all I’d pick up during "breaks" from everything else.  From my current subs, if I had to cut back to the bare essentials.. I’d stick with DD, Conan The Cimmerian and Invincible, picking Walking Dead up in trade (only because I think it reads a little better in trade than Invincible).

  24. Just wanted to concur with Mike’s point that it would be difficult to enjoy 1-3 issues a month while still actively participating in the online comics community (i.e., websites, forums, podcasts). I got into single issues in the first place by listening to Around Comics, then iFanboy, but the more I listen the more books I end up wanting to check out, or wishing I had the funds to do so. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship for me…I love listening to others talk about the books they love but curse them for tempting me to spend more money than I can afford (or, as Tom Katers would jokingly say, "Stop telling me what to buy!").

  25. I’m glad I live in a rural area where my cost of living is considerably cheaper than most.  I keep a monthly spreadsheet of all the money I spend to track my spending habits and set up a nice budget.  I can spead $30 per week easily in a comic shop. 

    I’ve been dropping some books but everytime I drop one a new title comes out.  What really hits my wallet is the constant miniseries. For every one that ends 2 or 3 more take its place.  I trade wait were I can and that helps out.

    Mike, I see you brought up the cover price in the article.  I’m not particularily bothered by the price and I’m willing to pay it but I did notice something recently.  Read your comics and look at the ads and what do you see? The answer is not much.  Most of the ads in a comic are self promotion of the comic publisher.  I would like more "real ads" in my books and think that could (not would) drop the price down.  So come on Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, various TV Shows, and movies  buy some ad space in a comic.

    If I could only pick 3 monthly books I go with…

    Jonah Hex
    Invincible Ironman

    There are a lot more comics I could pick but they would be better in trade.

  26. The price of single issues don’t really bother me…because every comic I buy, I pretty much know beforehand that it will be worth $3 or $4 to me, easily. I’m that choosy. And I reread things multiple times in the first week, even. Hell, I’d apy $5 for 22 pages of Morrison’s Batman.

  27. Yes… it is rough… but it is really simple too… JUST SAY NO! If you don’t like how the publishers shake readers down, then don’t buy the books! We all know what one-shots and crossover events are intended to do! Increase sales and suck readers into buying more books! DUH! JUST SAY NO!

    I’ve been trimming my list down for quite some time now. Finally weaned myself off all the X-books except X-Factor, which is the only one I really like… hate saying this, but Uncanny hasn’t moved the status quo forward… and X-Force was only good through the end of Messiah War… I read Deadpool because I love the dark humor… but how did this guy become the king of the X-Marvel universe? My reading is more eclectic than it ever was before… DMZ, The Boys, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? … So I trim my list by being selective and only reading what I want to and what I think will be worth reading. And I’ll pick up the first story arc whenever a new series starts up. I’m not naive about resale value, but I figure the first six issues of a new series is more likely to sell than issues in the middle of continuity. So far, it has worked. If I read something I don’t want to hang onto, I can sell it rather quickly on Ebay.

    Honestly… in my opinion, it is no different from investing in stocks… ONLY buy what you really like to read! 

    To echo your point about business viability–in addition to floppies and TPBs, Mile High Comics in Denver also serves the fantasy gaming market as well. I’m sure that helps make the difference for them. And they’re not afraid to charge what they need to charge in order to stay in business. I feel sorry for brick and mortar stores… the economy and the trends in the industry have really taken their toll. But I don’t have any guilt about buying through DCBS. The smart comic shops have websites or Ebay stores anyway, so if they can’t stay in business by cultivating multiple points of sale, then they shouldn’t.

  28. Horribly depressing but true article.  The reason the price jumped is because they knew we would still pay.  And the reason there’s an industry at all is because people don’t like to wait for trades, but XFactorFab is right: the only way to express our derision is to not buy.  Then publishers will get the idea to not feed us filler issues and wasteful one-shots.  Hit ’em where it counts!

  29. I use to track my finances and it is very very sobering to see four charges of $30 or more each month of "books and entertainment".  My worry about the rising price of comics is this: Are comics going to price themselves out of existence?  My thought is that new readers (read some teenager making $6 an hour) can’t see spending half an hour’s worth of work for a 15-20 minute read.

  30. 3 Books: Green Lantern, New Avengers, Invincible

  31. When I got back into comics a few months back, I started with a small pull list and expected to spend about $40 a month. The next week I went in to get my new books and walked out $60 poorer. This was instrumental in changing my philosophy towards comics. I am selectively collecting floppies – New Mutants and Amazing Spider-Man are the only books I’m bagging and boarding. I’ve subscribed to the other books I read directly through Marvel so that I can save a bundle of money and not sweat passing the books on. In addition to reading these comics, certain titles will be purhcased in hardcover – definitely X-Factor and any story that really blows me away.

  32. Might I add Mike, that I love love your choice of graphic to go along with the beginning of your article.  That sad sack face from the cover of Criminal gave me quite a chuckle.

  33. I was struggling with this just today. I long ago switched to subscriptions and a monthly service for most of my books just because the price tag was getting out of hand. And even though I hate the trade-off of waiting until the end of the month, I had to if I was going to continue buying comics. Kids eat a lot, apparently, and seem to have other needs as well.

    Then I lost my job, and when I went online to order my books today there were a lot of comics that I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anymore. Goodbye Brave and the Bold. Goodbye Green Lantern and GL Corps. Goodbye Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. If things aren’t better next month, there’s going to be a lot more cuts from my list.

    The thing is, even though this is sad, it’s a bit liberating. Getting that huge monthly stack was sometimes intimidating. And keeping up with so many titles often felt like more of a chore than a joy. Halfway through October and there’s still books from my pile that I haven’t cracked yet (hence the cuts).

    Comics are fun and all, but seriously, this is just too expensive.  

  34. Great article. It’s a really relatable subject. I’ve always thought three dollars seems like a lot for a one time reading, but then I realize that if I hadnt read these books, then I would have missed out on great conversations with friends of mine, or just other comic fans on here or on twitter. I guess I’ve always just looked at it in a way that by getting and reading new comics, I’m involved in several other things that I wouldnt have been involved in otherwise.

    And by the way, if I had to narrow my monthly series’ down to three, it would be:

    Walking Dead
    Moon Knight
    Punisher MAX
    (and maybe Green Lantern)

  35. IFanboy brought my interest in comics back.  The expense of monthly issues has caused me to only buy trades and never look back.  I find out what the good stories are by listening to the podcast and reading the articles.  As has been said before, by the time I read most things, I have forgotten what they are supposed to be about and can enjoy them fresh like everyone else.  The only way I will ever get back into the monthly grind is if comic publishers get their digital stuff together.  Even then I’m not positive I wouldn’t still prefer things the way I’m reading them now. 

     This was a thought provoking article Mike.  I appreciate your insights and heartfelt commentary.

  36. On the issue of "renting" comics: When I was a kid, one of my daydreams was of running a comic book store that gave customers options – buy, rent, or browse. They could buy the comics for their very own like normal, or pay a fee to take a set number of comics home at a time (with an umwritten agreement that they would take good care of them), or they could just sit in any of the numerous stuffed chairs I would have around the store and read comics in front of the fireplace. Sadly, I never followed through on this dream. It still sounds cool to me though.

  37. @Paradiddle – excellent point! I think it’s probably safe to say that everyone on this board has picked up at least a book or two because of the podcast and/or site. I know I have. In a way, the comics become part of the cost of the being in the community. That might seem backwards, but community is hugely important. It’s that shared experience.  It’s why people have book clubs and go to concerts or movies together. And part of being in the comic book community DOEs mean keeping an eye on things. No one would want you to read something you hate, but there is definitely something to the exchange of ideas and the shared experience surrounding a group of books.

    @XFactorFan – I just want to point out that — for me — it’s not that I think the publishers are shaking anyone down. I LIKE all the comics I buy. I don’t buy comics I dislike. But Mike’s article actually puts an extra dose of reality in there: if you can’t afford everything you like, you now have to rank it in order to determine what will survive. And this doesn’t even necessarily mean the BEST comics. It may be the three that are most enjoyable in monthly doses.

  38. BTW, if I had to pick only three books a month I could pick up, they’d be Scalped, Invincible, and Detective (as long as Rucka and J.H. Williams are on it). Damn, that was hard!

  39. I think sometimes we’re made to apologize for our hobby.  Honestly, you look at the average Joe, most of them are spending that money on something.  We just happen to be spending it on comics.  I can think of a slew of unproductive things that I could be spending money on, but comics stimulate my imagination and honestly help me through the week.  I’ve had a lot of hobby’s/obsessions over the years, but comics has been my favorite by far.  It’s one of the few industries that I know of that has a little something for everybody.  Friends will ask why I’m spending money on comics.  Then I in return will ask why they’re spending all of their money on cheap weed.  Or why are you spending all of your money on fast food.  We all have guilty pleasures, I just like comics.  It takes me away from the brutal realities that I face in my classroom everyday.

  40. @drakedangerz – haha–I am glad you liked the image, it fit my mood perfectly!!

    thanks for the encouraging feedback, everyone. I am super swamped at work (literally have someone in my cube waiting for me) but I will check in later!


  41. I can’t wait for Longbox to reduce my bills. If pricing rumors were true then I should save 20-30 bucks a month in books I only ‘kind of’ want.

  42. Great article Mike, and I can totally relate.

    I have a budget of $20 a week and it’s still too much for me. My job kinda sucks at the moment and my paychecks have gotten smaller recently. I’m thinking of trimming the fat and dropping a title or two. Most likely Nova and Sweet Tooth to trade only; because Nova has been incredibly medicore and Sweet Tooth just screams trade only right now.

    The best thing to do is to plot out what your week will be for a budget. Advance solicts can be innaccurate in terms of dates, but it can help to know what is coming otu ahead of time. I have a rough idea what is coming out when for the rest of the year thanks to having all the solicts for the year.

    Hopefully I never come to a point where I need to stop reading comics. It’s a good possibility right now cause of my job and I’m so not looking forward to it happening. I’d rather read comics then eat at this point.

  43. @patio – good luck, man.  There are a lot of folks out there that have lost their job and making all kinds of frustrating choices…good luck with the search.

     @zombox –good point on Longbox. I wonder if they will make "Save money!" as one of their marketing messages.


  44. Mike, I have been reflecting on this issue also. ifanboy has increased my enjoyment of comics and buying them on a weekly basis. I think about cutting back, but two things get in my way, one I feel like the comic owner isn’t making a lot of cash and if I cut back it may effect his daily life, and two I was buy something saying, I’ll check this out and get stuck buying the first few issues, for example, the new moonknight, all new batman reborn books, ultimate books, etc. Do I really care  about these characters, no, BUT the story is different and I am enjoying the journey the are taking me through. The question is, how does a comic book fan say NO! when the next big event or story comics out, one ends and the next one begins.

    Thanks for reading 

    Jedi Rob 

  45. "I think sometimes we’re made to apologize for our hobby.  Honestly, you look at the average Joe, most of them are spending that money on something.  We just happen to be spending it on comics.  I can think of a slew of unproductive things that I could be spending money on, but comics stimulate my imagination and honestly help me through the week."


    How much is cable a month?

    How much is a movie for two on a weekend night?

    How much is a concert ticket?

    The list can go on.

  46. Frankly I have nothing else to spend my money on. I’m not married or have kids, nor have huge bills to pay for (still have student loans and the usual bills, but nothing major). I guess I could save it or invest my money, but what’s the fun in that?

  47. I avoid $4.99 books like the plague(DAMN you Giant sixe OLD MAN LOGAN!!)

    I also learned to visit my LCS only about every 3 weeks then its more fun playing catch up!! Ialso have a cap on how much I will spend on said,visit dropping titles on the fly!!

    Another dilemma, $3.99 mediocre floppy or $9.99 trade(Northlanders any one?)

  48. @Jedimasterrob: You make really great points. It’s tough for a comic fan to say no. I can remember so many times being in the comic shop and buying an issue I had heard so much about even though I knew I couldnt afford it at the time. Also, like you said, I always feel bad when not supporting the local comic shops. I hate it when I dont get around to visiting one shop or another for a while, just because I feel that I am hurting the personal welfare of the owners.

  49. Does anyone ever get this from their signifigant love one? (Whether wife, girlfriend, parents, etc)

    ‘Why don’t you stop buying comics all together? You’ll save money that way.’

    It seems like they don’t realize this is more of something we love then just a simple hobby. Which is why it’s so hard to decide to save money by buying less.

  50. @TNC yeah, you’re completely right. Comics are more of who we are than what we do. I really dont know where I’d be if I wasnt reading comics. Even if I didnt have the money to be buying them, I dont think I could stop. They’re too much of a part of who I am to just up and stop reading them.

  51. @scorpia I don’t think you’ll get away with taking out the date related expenditures;)  "I have to get my comics this week", usually doesn’t translate to a girlfriend that wants to go out.

  52. Nice article, Mike. I’ve been debating on how i digest my comics lately. I started to do the wait then buy trades system, but I didn’t really go and look for the new trades to come out beause I still buy serveral titles per week. I remember when I just buy mangas, it was so much easier to find the volume. However, it doesn’t feel the same with comics. I think it has to do with the price of a trade: it’s still too expensive. That’s why I brought up the question (on episode 200) of if the American industry can follow a bit like the Japanese format might have helped to reduce the price of trades. More people would have interested without worrying the price tag as much.

    Overall, I only follow a few monthlies now and that’s all i can get when even the trades are cheaper. I just don’t have the time to write a list to look for them a few months later, when the disscussion of these books die down.

  53. Personally, I’ve found that going into college has made it easier for me to pick up a few more books each month. True, my funds are a lot more limited than they were when I was still at home, but that also means I want to be able to get something less expensive in the sense that if I need to drop a few books to meet costs, I can. I used to buy lots of video games and read a few books, but it’s a lot harder to justify the fifty to sixty bucks on a new game (even when I go in on half with my roommate) than it is spending that same funding on comics. I can get a small weekly fix and share in that love of comics with my friends.

  54. I got into comics initially by way of trades.  Preacher, then Sandman, were my gateway drugs.  I didn’t know exactly when a new volume would be coming out, so I would just wait a few months or so in between trips to the store and hope for the best.  (Man that seems strange to me now, what with the Internet making it possible not only to know what’s coming and when but if you don’t shield yourself well, entire upcoming plotlines.) 

    Gradually, I started to want more than just 3 or 4 trades per year, so I gave another series a shot by picking up a trade at random (SIP #5 I think).  That gave me another few back volumes to seek out and another book to look for once or twice a year, but it still wasn’t enough, so I grabbed another trade, then another….

    That went on a few years and worked pretty well, partly because I like rereading stuff too, so my growing collection lasted at least double its natural span.  But I kept going to the store more and more often, impatient for the next trade to be released, and then it was pointed out to me how I could get books every month rather than waiting so long in between doses.

    Nowadays, a week where I spend less than $40 on comics feels like a very small week to me.  I usually come closer to $50.  Granted, I live alone, have no kids, am wholly independent and so don’t have to justify to anyone else where my money goes.  Also, I am fine with eating tuna and crackers several nights a week and don’t own a car.  So I guess I’m lucky to live a fairly low-maintenance lifestyle in general that allows me to nurse this fairly high-maintenance comic book habit!

  55. @JMS74– Thanks dude. Glad I’m not alone. Guess what I was trying to say is that: Comics aren’t just a hobby or disposible piece of entertainment, they’re also an experiance and a social outlet for like minded people, and reading only trades would make you miss out on some of that. You can’t keep up on the buzz when you don’t read issues, you almost have to go on media black out to avoid spoilers when you miss a week, waiting 6-7 months for trades would be unthinkable. You would have to give up the whole sub-culture. Think that’s the big difference between a comic reader and a comic fan. I love living in the moment when something major happens to the characters I care about. Everyone’s talking about it, you can read or listen to other people’s takes on it, then even add your own two cents. after a while, when you come across that book in your collection again, it all comes back to you. That’s why I say that trades have no soul, sure you can read it and get the story, but you lose the interaction that makes this hobby so much fun.

    And I’m with you dude: My trades are all collected stories for issues I already own (Kraven’s Last Hunt), or for books I missed the first time around so I could catch up to issues (Hellboy).

  56. Hmm, but trying to cut back to 3 titles a month?  Frigging impossible to consider.  Could I instead pick 3 writers to keep following slavishly, buying everything they put out?  🙂  If so, Christos Gage, Bendis, and Peter David.  Though the thought of going trades on Invincible makes my stomach do little twists!

  57. Only 3 titles?

    Criminal (definitely). After that it can be pretty much anything on my pull list.

    As a student with no job, I’m really careful about my purchases but I still have 20+ titles on my pull list. I just made a hard cut recently (Resurrection due to the release schedule) but I do make sure my pull list is awesome. As soon as I’m not excited by a book, I give it a short leash, and don’t hesitate to let go. 

  58. I would drop all of the big 2 (marvel and DC) because there is too much to follow and just impossible to do so with only 3 books.  Espiecally Marvel.   I would just pick up Walking Dead, Invincible, and Fables.  But Unwritten is really close to cracking that top 3.

  59. I am unemployed at the moment so my reading of comics has been from going to the store and flipping through them and then listening to podcasts. Whenever I get employed I will probably end up going to trades. Especially since I got rid of 90% of my single issues before I moved. Great article mike!

  60. My three would be titles that I don’t think my library would buy when they’re available in trade. DOOM PATROL, SUPERMAN/BATMAN, and whatever FLASH book is out.  That’d be it for me.

  61. My comic book buying will be taking a serious hit soon. With a baby on the way, my disposable income has taken a huge drop. I went from having something like 50-60 titles on my pull list to about 12. Right now, I’m going to be down to Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, daredevil, Fantastic Four, X-Factor, Justice League of America, Batman and Robin, The Flash, Doom Patrol, the Lone Ranger and Irredeemable. (along with the odd title here and there.) 

    If I had to pick 3 titles, I’d go with Fantastic Four, Iron Man and The Flash. 

  62. See this is where I don’t understand how going to trade only is a good idea. Sure buying everything at once is nice so you can read everything at once. But what happens if a bunch of trades you want to read come out at the same time?

    If Deadpool, Incredible Hercules, and Batman & Robin trades came out of the same time (impossible right now but go with me on this) then I couldn’t afford to buy them all. Buying one trade is hard enough as it is considering what the prices are now a days. I would have to stop reading comics if I had to wait for trades.

    I don’t see how anyone can read trades only and afford it.

  63. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @TNC – That’s not likely to happen every single week, so you stagger it. Buy one of two the week they come out, wait and buy another on a week where none of the new releases interest you.

  64. @Paradiddle: Finally someone addresses the financial aspects of buying comics?

    You must have missed this one:

    "Comic Book Prices: How Much is Too Much?"


  65. @Paul: But if let’s say I could buy two of those trades; how can I afford anything else for the week?

    Hardbacks are usually in the $25 range; so that means I have to spend $50 in week to enjoy about 5-6 issues of a comic per week? Considering how quickly you can read books now a days that doesn’t seem very smart. Also if I wanted the tradepaper back instead how long could we realistically wait for that? Now a days it takes a good 4-6 months for Marvel and 1 year to 1 1/2 years for DC to put out paperback. If I had to wait by that timeframe then I would be bored out of my mind for the waiting.

    People with either bad paying jobs or average salaries couldn’t afford something like that. No offense but unless your job is to read comic books then your pretty much screwed on buying trades all the time.

  66. @TNC: It’s way cheaper to read in trades than in issues. If every single trade comes out on the same week then, yes, that would be a problem. But they don’t.

  67. Another aspect to add to this conversation is back issues. We enjoy reading our monthly pull list of 25 + books, but what about those great stories in back issue that you may or may not enjoy. I recently picked up all back issues of ironman demon in a bottle for less then the trade, but when you add this total to your monthly pull list- well let’s say our spouses may not be happy with that and the new problem is whether to buy every new book or cut back to read great back issues? Read only 3 books a month is not enough, 45 minutes of you whole month is set aside for comics- seems short- 45 minutes a week- not that bad.

  68. @conor: Sorry I forgot to react to you post.

    I don’t see how buying trades is cheaper. For example:

    Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk as a hardcover is about $27 after tax. But I could’ve gotten all six issues in floppies for about $8 less then in a trade form. So how exactly am I saving money there?

  69. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I very rarely plunk down over 20 dollars for a single volume of anything. I mostly read paperbacks, and if those venture above the 20 dollar mark at retail, I order them at a discount online. 

  70. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @TNC – Marvel hardcovers don’t count because they’re ridiculous. 

  71. Paperback seems to start getting a trend of being on average of $17-20 dollars now a days. I very much doubt Marvel/DC are willing to drop prices if it ever becomes a trade only world.

    Of course that’s probably not going to happen; but the more I think about it I just don’t see how it can be affordable. Even with sites like

  72. I never pay retail for my trades.  Online discounts all the way

  73. @Paul: How could they not count? They get released and people buy them; hardly think they don’t count.

  74. @TNC:


    ULTIMAE HULK VS. WOLVERINE in issues: $17.94

    Trades are, 99% of the time, always the cheaper option. This is a well established fact.

  75. @conor: So everyone has internet access and can afford those prices?

    Also, you forgot to mention the tax AFTER the amazon price. That means the true amazon price is about: $17.64. So it’s about thirty cents cheaps. Wow what huge savings there 🙂

  76. @TNC: Your arguments aren’t making any sense. If you can afford $17.94 then you can afford $16.49. If you don’t have the internet, then I can’t really help you find cheaper comics. Should I worry that comics are too expenseive for the homeless, too?

    And I said they were cheaper, I didn’t say how much cheaper. The amount of savings varies from book to book. If you wanted to read your comics only in trades then I imagine you would opt for the much cheaper softcover over the over-priced (especially from Marvel) hardcovers. 

    I’m sorry, but you can’t argue with facts. (Well, *you* can, obviously).

  77. Can I afford comicss? NO

    Do I buy comics? YES

  78. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @TNC – I’m saying you shouldn’t use the Marvel HC’s as an example of a reasonable trade program. They’re premiums and buying them in that format at retail is not the only option. 

  79. @conor: I’m not saying I can afford these.

    I’m talking about buying trades at that price and not the normal $2.99 price you see all the time. I can afford about 4-5 comics at a $16 price because at the end of the day: I am buying several things and not one trade. If I wanted to buy one single trade at this price a week then my readings would be boring as hell. Why the heck would anyone just want to buy one single trade a week? Judging from all of your buyings you would buy about 4-6 trades a week. So how can I afford six products at $16 dollars a peice?

    Answer that and try to not sound like a pompus jerk when you do.

  80. I’m sorry that last comment sounded extremely harsh and hostile. I didn’t mean it, it just came out that way.

    For the sake of argument I’m just gonna stop posting here so it doesn’t turn into another hateful posting spree by me. Carry on ladies and gentlement. I also apologize to conor about the post, I didn’t mean to sound that harsh.

  81. Good article.  I have a $20 a month budget.  I save by waiting for the comics I don’t mind waiting for and pick them up from two shops in my area that a few times a year have great sales one has 60% off all back issues the other all back issues are $1 if you have a pull list with them.  So far I have been able to find everything I want that way, with only occasionally having to search a third shop for a missing issue.  I got the first six issues of The Mighty for $6.  I also use the library and conventions for trades.

  82. I spent about $35 at my LCS this week.  That is $140 a month.  I can’t afford that.  I generally spend about $20 a week.  That I can handle. 

    I know I’m in a better situation financially than may others and feel blessed, but I still feel like I can’t buy as many books every week as I would like.  That is human nature.  Scarcity is our only natural predator.  Even if books were 99 cents we would spend as much as we could and still want more.  We are greedy by nature.

    @TNC (and anyone else strapped for cash) – I (or someone else on the site) may have suggested this to you before, but libraries are an excellent way to check out trades and ongoing books to see if they are for you.  I just read the first trade of Fear Agent via interlibrary loan and plan on buying the trades ASAP.  I also used it to check out Proof and was very disappointed (the art didn’t work for me).  That may help you save a little money on trades.  There are also stores that carry used trades (Hastings, for example).  You should check those out, as well.  I got a Hellboy volume for $3.  There are ways to enjoy this hobby without spending too much.

  83. @TNC: You’re making the same mistake that I see a lot of people who have this discussion make.

    Okay, you say you buy 3 issues a week. For the sake of argument, let’s say that is a constant figure. That means you by 12 comic book titles. Under the new trades-only market those titles would come out twice a year in trade form. This means that instead of buying 144 issues a year you are buying 24 trades. That averages out to 2 trades a month, not 3 trades a week as you were claiming before.

    Two trades a month = very, very affordable.

    I see this mistake made all the time. "I buy ten comics a week! How can I afford to buy that many trades a week?!" People think that if comics went all trades they would be buying the same number of trades per week as they currently do issues.  That would not be the case unless you suddenly started buying a hell of a lot more titles than they do now.

  84. This was a great and timely article Mike as I just cut my pull list down to 3 issues today. I got back into comics after a long absence earlier this summer, thanks to ifanboy, and was spending anywhere from $20-$50 a week on issues and trades over this time. Fortunately, my wife and I have good jobs and have the disposable income to afford many comics. I still find myself preferring trades over single issues for the following reasons:

    1.       I tend to buy my comics and sell them on ebay as soon as the current story arc is finished. I hate collecting things, especially after I moved a few years ago and found out how hard it is to move books and comics. Trades are cheaper on Amazon than single issues at my LCS, as pointed out by Connor in his comments and article listed above. I also find trades tend to sell for more on ebay than single issues of the same story.

    2.       I found myself forgetting what happened in previous issues while juggling multiple monthly issues and story lines. Maybe I am just stupid, but this doesn’t happen when I read trades.

    3.       I don’t really care about being part of the conversation, which seems to be one of the biggest arguments for buying single issues. I’m content listening to the podcasts and fast forwarding if I REALLY don’t want a certain issue to be spoiled. Fortunately, I find that I forget most of the spoilers mentioned by the time I buy a trade, although it would still be nice if the podcasts contained less spoilers.

    4.       I can wait to see how good a story is before I buy it. I hate getting burned paying $3-$5 for issues that are not very good. Trades allow me to read reviews, much like I do before going to a movie, and buy only the most well rated stories. This also helps me avoid impulse buys at my LCS.

    I love my LCS and will still get a few issues every month but will buy most of my comics in trade format online in the future. This is unfortunate but I just think it will be more fun for me in the long run.

  85. I thought I posted this a second ago, but I guess not:

    Just to add some dollar figures to Conor’s very informative post:

    144 issues (12 issues of 12 ongoings) at $3 a pop is $432 a year

    24 trades (2 trades of 12 ongoings) at $15 a pop (and you shouldn’t be paying more than $15 for a softcover trade) is $360 a year.

    I considering making this transition myself, but didn’t want to miss out on the lively and timely discussions on this site. 

  86. My local Half-Price books is godly for trades.

     So far I’ve decided to read Umbrella Academy, Resurrection, Astro City, Runaways, Northlanders, DMZ, Powers in trade. It’s paying off. I’m considering buying Proof and Sweet Tooth in trade only also (most likely I’ll just double dip on Proof though). 

    Overall though, it’s comics in general that is expensive. So just read in the format you like.

    I prefer Walking Dead in issues. I prefer Northlanders in trade. So I get em in that format.

  87. To put it another way, the only way anyone would be buying 3 trades a week is if they were collecting 72 titles. And if you’re able to afford that many titles then 3 trades a week would be no big deal.

  88. @stuclach-The main reason I have yet to switch to trades entirely is because I love talking about comics.  Both here and other places.  Digital can’t come soon enough.

    Mike, for the nicest staff member on iFanboy, you caused quite a ruckus today 😛

  89. Being new to comics, I’ve been just buying trades myself – not due to pricing (though it is nice that this is the cheaper route) but because of the things Mike and Conor have menioned… easier to collect a full story or run, looks great on the shelf.

  90. @conor – Thanks for pointing out your article from last November, I guess I indeed missed that one.

  91. @Stuclach-Have to agree with you on the used book thing.  I found the first three Immortal Iron Fist trades at Hastings for half off and still comb it regularly hoping to get lucky.  Missed out on the half-priced Secret Invasion trade once, and kick myself for not grabbing it since $30 dollars for a PB is out of budget.

    Great article Mike but all it did was depress me.  I already feel likecrap every time i go to the store cuz it’s hard to justify my habit when i’m currently back in school, jobless, and married with two babies.  I have found it easier and easier to just let go and wait for trades (which is what I was doing anyway) but since I just got back to comics, it’s hard to figure out exactly what’ll be worth keeping up with.  So far I’ve managed to stick with mostly top-tier stuff and since it’s mostly mainstream, I don’t have to worry about finding trades later.  The only frustration is waiting on DC’s trade program to put out the stuff I want.  If only there was a way to buy issues and somehow convert or trade in to a nice trade. (Sorry if that sounded redundant.)

  92. @conor: That makes much more sense. I guess I was failing into the same trap as other people against the idea. Although the idea of waiting still bugs me. I don’t think I would have the patience to wait just to read six issues of Green Lantern. Plus this site and others wouldn’t be doing much if they had to wait for trade. @drakedangerz is right, we love talking about comics too much to wait longer then a week for new content.

    @stuclach: It seems we talk about the library quite a bit, I need to get going on more titles showing up there. Cause my library is not up to date at all with the titles they usually get.

  93. I spend maybe 10-15 dollars a week on comics and buy about 3 trades a month.  Most of the books I buy in singles are event books or books I’m trying out or those that I just "kinda" like.  The ones I’m most passionate about, like Walking Dead or Fables, I’ll just wait for the trade.  The great thing about sites like iFanboy is that they help me decide what I spend my money on and in what format I want to read them.

    As we speak I have boxes upon boxes on comics in my basement that I have not looked at or even thought of in years (Well hello there, Bart Sears’s run on X-O Manowar!).  I can’t sell them, and I don’t want to give them away (mainly because they’re just too damn heavy and awkward to be moved).  I think about all that money I spent on them and it makes me micro-vomit.  My trades, however, sit nicely on a shelf and I’ll thumb through them frequently. 

    To be honest I don’t even like hardcovers and especially Omnibi/Absolutes that much.  I’m afraid to damage them and with the large editions they’re just too cumbersome to read comforably.  I like the trades; I can leave them sitting on my bathroom floor or loan them out.

    Great article, Mike.

  94. If I had to cut it down to three titles a month, it’d be Iron Man, New Avengers and Uncanny X-Men. 

    But, man, this article made me rush to my store’s website to see what I was going to cut from my pull list. 🙂


  95. I like comics but they are not worth $3 or $4 to me. So, about 10 months ago I stopped buying comics. Now, I read more comics than ever and spend nothing. I would happily pay $1.25 for a proper digital comic but the major companies refuse to offer me that option.

  96. There are too many variables to make a valid argument on either side. The three titles a month, or even a week, idea is nice for an example but for most comic buyers those ideas are fantasy. A $20/week budget is buying about 6 issues a week, so there would be more trades to buy in a year. The price shifts for both formats depend on where they are purchased. Retail prices, online discounts(30-40%, sometimes including a shipping tax), shop disounts (15-20%), and comics shows where one can find trades and individual issues for a variety of prices, mostly (in my experience) far below retail price, especially for individuals.

    Another part of the debate is waiting for  the actual product to ship. Delays suck for everyone and for people who follow a series that becomes plagued by delays I would like to know who is affected the most: trade-waiters or issue-buyers?

    Another part is there is always a good trade to buy. I find it hard to believe that someone out there is at a loss for a trade to purchase for a week or two. There are quality current arcs that are put out there amongst the (immense) back catalogue of TPBs, HCs, Omnibus editions and Absolute editions.

    Which goes to why I would pick up a trade as opposed to floppies. Quality, price point, HC, paper quality, size. If all those properties converge together in a servicable manner, then I will pick up a collection. Right now, the majority of my spending money goes to issues which I get discounted and the rest goes to cheap collections (HCs and TPBs) that I find for about $7-8 at local shops/shows.

    From my experience, I find it difficult to justify a jump to collections-only for the quality and timeliness of my comic reading experience.

  97. And to play along with 3 titles a month, I would go with Ed Brubaker’s Icon output (since one title takes a break for the other), The Walking Dead and Fables.

  98. I already buy 4 titles only. That’s my cap. Iron Man, Flash, Mighty, Blackest night. I’ll be dropping the Mighty at 12 to pick up Kid Flash. I can afford 3$-4$ a week. That’s two or three mornings a week that I skip Tim Hortons. No big deal. The foruth title will be The Question if it features Vic Sage (here’s hoping) 

    With those four titles, I’ll be a happy clam.

  99. I’ve been asking myself this question so many times the last few weeks. Money is dire, and trades would be cheaper. But being part of the discussion (especially at my store) is also important to me. So I guess I’ll have to endure the single issue route for a little while more, until Apple releases their tablet and we all life in a happy digital world. 

    For three series I’d have to buy monthly:  Invincible Iron Man, Batman&Robin and Criminal. 

  100. I’m not sure that enough people are checking out the library, as far as trades are concerned. I read the full run of Y: The Last Man, All of Strangers in Paradise, The Walking Dead, Preacher, and a slew of other trades, and they all came from local libraries. Guess I just don’t feel the need to own the trades and keep them forever, especially, because I can just check them out again from the library. I did buy the trades for Fables, and once I was done with them, resold them on ebay, and they ended up costing me just over the cost of one issue to read them, then resell them. I get wanting to have a book you love, to reread at some point, but I have to really love it to buy and keep the trade. I’m not saying that all these books were really easy to find at the libraries, I have 3 library cards for 3 different library systems that are local. One for Kansas, One for Missouri, and one for a locally run library, just get on the net, and search for the libraries, in the area. Even if they’re not in a local branch, they will transfer them to that branch, and hold them for you to pick them up. Not sure that I’ve ever found a limit to the books you can check out, I took the complete run of Y: The last man, all at once, and read through it.  I just finished the first 2 books of Sleeper, and currently have Local (Brian Wood) waiting for me at the library that’s a block and a half from my office, so I’m looking forward to picking that up.

    Even if you find your local library doesn’t carry that many graphic novels, just talk to them, and ask them about it, they could get the books via interlibrary loan, if they don’t carry them. Also, they could start budgeting money to buy graphic novels, if they think that people are going to read them. I’m pretty sure they want everybody to read, and a savvy librarian should be able to figure out that comics aren’t just for kids.

    As Far as I know, Ron is a big supporter of the library as an outlet to read comics, so do some digging on the net, and find yourself some reading materials at the library.


  101. @Tmacken and stuclach I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved due to trades at the library.  I would dare say prices go into the hundreds of dollars.  Plus, you get them for 3 weeks:)  I don’t really think that my local library will ever get preacher though.  The ultra conservative tax/constituency would never approve of a graphic novel series that has the offspring of Christ throwing their own poo.

  102. @vadamowens – If you are indeed in the Dayton, OH area, the Dayton Metro Library owns two copies of the first hardcover PREACHER series, which has the first 12 issues of the series.  It’s cataloged as PREACHER: BOOK ONE or you can just do a search for Ennis, Garth.  It should pop up.

  103. @vadamowens – My library splits their trade collection.  Anything that is even remotely young adult friendly gets put in that section (Fables in down there with all the superhero stuff) and the more adult books (Sin City, Y, etc) end up in the fiction section with HUGE adult content labels.  We have a very cool, open minded staff.  They take my requests for trades very seriously and are quick to get me a first trade so I (and they) can give the series a try.

    Oddly enough, they have Walking Dead in the young adult section.  I guess a little boob in Y is more adult than cannibalistic feasts and beheadings in TWD.  Oh, what a world.

  104. At my LCS, as long as you read 10 titles a month, you get a 10% discount on your books and on trades.  Its not much but it helps bring down the costs a little.


  105. @vadamowens, 3 weeks is definitley plenty of time with the graphic novels, and all of my libraries, have online renewal up to 3 times, I believe. So that’s a couple months with the book, if you need it. I was surprised with what the library would carry. I’m not sure how well they check over the content in the books that closely, I think there’s the assumption, that it’s a comic, it must be kid stuff. Glad to hear that other people out there are saving money, and using the library.

  106. @JeffR Thanks.  I live in Centerville, so I use the Woodburn/Centerville libraries primarily.  Luckily, I own all of the Preacher trades, but I think it’s a travesty that readers are denied Ennis’ brilliance due to his crass and unorthodox writing:(

  107. @stuclach I’m not too sure Fables belongs in a young adult section;)

  108. I wish my local library would get this kind of stuff in, but they refuse to. They got one graphic novel, (Blankets, by Craig Thompson) and of course, since it was a comic, put it in the childrens section. Some parent got ahold of it, saw something inappropriate to a child, and caused a huge uproar in our town. Ever since, our library has not gotten anything of the such.

  109. Fantastic article, mainly because it hits on a subject that I think about more and more.  I love the weekly buzz of comic book reading and I’m not looking to distance myself from it soon.  It’s one of life’s escapes, and one of the ways of getting through the working week.  There’s a nice social element to it which is encouraged by my LCS, and in return I feel happy to support them with weekly purchases.  However, it ain’t cheap.  Over here in blighty there is no cheaper option either.  For example, I couldn’t start reducing my bill a little by maybe collecting certain titles through an online store, because there’s no equivalent to the likes of DCBS.  The closest is Amazon, and I am a regular customer there for my trade needs.  In recent years I’ve been hit by the travel bug and there are many places my family and I would like to go.  And to be honst we could work through that list a lot quicker without my 100 quid a month issue habit, but as I say they are one of my weekly ways of getting through the daily grind.  And there’s just so much damn choice…

  110. I try to limit myself to 6-7 issues a week but there are some weeks like last week where I had 13 books. I am employed, do ok for myself, don’t have a family, and have gotten raises every year, and I have still cut back on my comics.

     Firstly, I just started buying too many comics. I would have comics left over from the week before that in all honesty I just didn’t want to read so I asked myself why am I buying this? So I cut out the fluff. Now, every book I pick up has to give me some sort of excitement when I read it or it’s cut.

     I have started to make the transition to trade especially on non marvel/dc stuff just because of the big events I want to be a part of. The only indies I am reading now are Chew, Unwritten, and Sweet Tooth, once the first arc is over. Also picked up Haunt and may give that a try in trade if I like the next few issues. Overall, I think it’s easier to go trades on indies and floppies on marvel/dc b/c of the lack of the "big event" in indie titles. Indie titles also seem to be much cheaper then marvel/dc stuff in trade.

    For example, I just ordered volume 5 of ex machine in trade for$7 plus tax on Amazon. I mean how can you beat that? Also ordered X-men Forever Volume 1 for 11 bucks…much better than paying $4 an issue.

  111. I stopped buying single issues a couple months ago while in the process of moving with plans to go back and catch up later.  I didn’t move when I thought I was going to, in fact, I’m still waiting for paperwork to go through… but anyway, I’m not going back.  Buying comics weekly, I realize now, was basically a rut I was stuck in.  The only book I was reading in issues that I don’t think would have the same or greater impact in trades is Amazing Spider-Man.  Getting a dose of Spider-Man every week or two is great.


  112. @vadamowens – I fairly certain it doesn’t.

  113. I loved this article.  Well said.  Everything about it.  You would think in this world class recession some things woudl be done to accomodate the comic book collectors of the world.  As it is I have taken a good half of the comics I normallly collect off my pulllist and am still spending an absurd amount I think.

     Trades work so much better in these days and times.  for so many reasons.  But for those people who just can’t stray from the classic comic book, what are some of the ways one can assess which stories to get trades and which aren’t?  

    I for one tend to go with the writers.  Bendis for example tends to write sotrylines that sometimes lag in the middle despite his amazing dialogue.  House of M was a prime example.  I always hate when I spend a crap load of money on a Wednesday and one of them seems pointless to get. Sometimes they tell one story in one issue, that could have been included in a previous chapter, effectively reducing the number of issues it takes to tell a story.   

    I would say really go back and assess the writers for each story you’ve collected.  If  you find certain stories have a lull in them at times and there is a consistency with the writers telling those stories, maybe those are the writers you make sure you buy trades for.  I’m not knocking those writers.  Bendis is great and one of my favourites.  I just bought Secret Invasion as a trade and loved every minute of it.  But I can definitely tell this is something I would have hated collecting seperately. 

  114. I’ve been fortunate to have the budget to handle the books I want each week.  Some weeks, I’ll spend 30 bucks.. others I’ll end up with a 60 or 70 dollar pull.  Almost all of this is in single issues.  I’ll buy trades to read an old story or to catch up for an event.  If I can help it, I only buy trades online for a discount or when I can find a good deal at an LCS.  My only entertainment dollars while I’m on the road are my comics, so I’m lucky that way.

    I’m with a few others in the thread in that I buy my comics because I love to read them, love to talk about them and it gives me something to do when passing the time at night on the road. (i know. i know.. there’s always free porn, but there is no forum.. at least I don’t think there is.. off to check.. damned client internet filters..) anyway.. where was I?  Waiting for trades would leave me better off financially, but it wouldn’t leave me any happier.

    If I had to pare things down to just a few comics?  Iron Man, Invincible and Nova would be my choices.  

  115. @TMacken I totally forgot to mention the glorious library system. I was turned on to the over-sized HCs because of them and having already checked out the Absolute New Frontier and Hellboy Library Edition while currently reading the Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibus editions I cannot support and spread the word about the library system enough. Just be mindful of checkout limitations and late fees!

  116. If this article has thought me anything it’s to use the library!

  117. What would this site be if it went to trade only for all readers?

    Probably less hectic to all the writers that’s for sure…

  118. The dude’s got a point.

  119. @RocketRacoon – I, for one, am happy to hear that. 🙂

  120. I told someone that my pulllist averages to about 30-50 a month and they flipped out.

  121. Well since I no longer have a job and now I’m at an expensive film school I can only really afford 3-4 titles a month  and maybe a trade or 2 cause most of my money goes towards films right now.

    Still reading 


    Invincible Iron Man

    Green Lantern (Don’t ask)

    Whatever Batman title I feel at the moment.

  122. This is one of those issues where I look and see the immense temptation to pirate. It’s quite difficult when you decide to cut back on some of your favorite books. I remember my first month of trying dcbservice. I had to first decide which books were worth the single issue price and which weren’t, and boy it was grueling.

    Someday though, I’ll live just down the block from dcbservice headquarters (in Fort Wayne, Indiana) … that’s one of my longtime goals in life.

  123. Well, I buy a ton of creator owned books and I think a lot will hit Longbox, so that makes me happy. Totally hope Proof does.

     Seriously, Longbox. When is it launching? Ron knows, I know he knows. I’m so excited. 

  124. Mike,

    I been collecting comics for over 40 years. I never been ashame of how much they cost because this is what I love to do. When I started to collect the comics was 10cent and I worked to buy my favorite comics Superman, Legion of Superheros, Batman, Fantact Four, and Avengers. That means I need 50cent to pay for them that was a lot so I worked to get them to me my comics was my reward for working. Just like some kids at the time collected baseball cards,or bought the latest records. These same people like me spend money to buy baseball cards and now CD’s or downloads are spening more now then they did as children, but they have the same enjoyment because it’s something they love to do.

    I remember when comics when from 10cent to 12, 15, 20, and so on but I still bought them. No matter what they cost  then one day I went from a collector to a dealer that means I bought for my store and I still paid for them and told my customers who complained about high prices that this is something they loved so price is something they could live with. It didn’t matter what title it was the enjoyment of comics that you have to see that is why you collect. Once you start to just look at price then you are not a collector of comics you are a reader of comics. Like reading a paper no real enjoyment.  In the last 40 years I have collected a lot and sold a lot of comics but I always loved them regards less of price. I have paid a 10cent of a comic to over $1000.00 and never regretted what I paid if it was for a comic title I wanted to have. To me comics are still my reward for working at jobs many time I didn’t like.

    For those people who thought I was crazy to throw my money away on comics well it was my money and I worked to get it and as long as I paid my other expenses. I ccould what I want. Then when i became a comic store dealer they thought I was crazy to sit in a store full of comics and deal with comic geeks. I would tell them I am one of those geeks so I was where I should be. So for all of you who complain about price ask yourself. "Am I a comic collector or a reader"


  125. @tomato321– I’m right there with you brother. I’m a comic fan/collector through and through. In these trying times, I’ve given up a lot so I can keep getting my books, and I never looked back. I know several people who feel the same way, just not on here. It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m also glad to hear you’re living the dream, I would love to have my own store some day too.

  126. Mike, I appreciated the candor in your article and emphathize with your plight. I’ve been in the fortunate position to not really have a comic budget per se for a good number of years, but it’s never been lost on me how superfluous and extravagant the hobby really is. If I were to lose my job, I wouldn’t hesitate to cut comics for the very reasons you articulated (and this is from someone that has bought comics regularly for almost 30 years).

    That said, I’m seeing a lot of talk back and forth around the "affordability" of trades versus comics. In point of fact, they’re priced comparably by design. Hardcovers and premiere editions are more expensive by design, capitalizing on the collectability of those treatments, whereas softcover TPBs are priced tightly with the total page count included in relation to the underlying per issue price. 

    One of the things I found hilarious was the absurdity of those who reacted to the move to $3.99 cover price with a declaration that they would, "move exclusively to trades." The fact anyone thought Marvel and DC wouldn’t raise collected edition pricing in lockstep with the per issues just didn’t understand how these businesses are run. Sure enough, as the $3.99 issues started to be collected, the price of the trades rose in lockstep.


  127. @Wood: Of course the price of trades went up with the issues, that was never in doubt, but they are still cheaper than issues.

  128. @Conor quite often they’re cheaper on a per issue basis, but they try to include extras in the trades that beef up the page counts which frequently offsets the ‘savings.’



  129. @Wood: I’ve never seen an example of that. Every trade or collection I buy or look at is cheaper than buying the issues.

  130. @Conor: In most cases that’s true, but mainly b/c the blended cost of the HC & Trade equals out. If you’re patient and willing to wait for the softcovers (usually 6-12 months after the issues hit), you will save a bit on a per issue basis. But the HCs are usually more than the cover price of the issues.

  131. @Wood: Only if you buy them at full price from a comic store which, considering the multitude of discount sellers available, is insane.

  132. @Conor: But discounting applies to both. I would never buy single issues at retail, just as I (and most book buyers) would never pay full retail for trades and collected editions. If you’re going into an LCS with a pull list, chances are you’re getting the same discount on whatever you buy (e.g., 20% off your entire order). 

    You have to compare apples to apples here. The suggested retail cover price of a trade versus the cover price of the constituent single issues. Yes, you can buy a $14.99 trade from Amazon for 35% discount, but then you should also be buying your single issues for that kind of discount, or more. 


  133. @Wood: I know more stores that don’t discount their single issues than do. Way, way more.

  134. @Conor: But that’s just being a poor consumer. Why someone would never pay full price for a trade but is OK doing so in single issues is illogical. I realize a vast number of comic fans fit that bill, but that’s just plain silly. Before I went to mail order for my single issues 7+ years ago, I always demanded (and got) a discount from my local stores. In fact, when I would move to a new area and walk in to start a new pull, I would insist on a 20% discount at a minimum or take my business elsewhere. That said, I’ve always bought a lot of comics (usually 90-100 single issues per month) so it’s easier to argue for a discount when you’re providing that kind of volume.

  135. @Wood: Because not everyone has the option of multiple stores in their area, nor do many people who want to buy single issues want to wait to get them online and not be a part of the Wednesday experience. Online collected edition options are one thing, but you can’t fault people for paying full retail for issues in an era of so few actual comic book stores. They don’t have the option to shop around. If there is one comic book store in a 50 mile radius (which is the case if you’re not in a city) then you can’t exactly make a lot of demands to your store on price and service.

  136. @Conor: I agree, but again, you can’t use the discounted prices available for trades compared against the full price paid for singles. If a person has one LCS and is unwilling to buy their comics online, they’re not getting those trades at a discount either. Apples vs. Apples, trades (softcover) are cheaper than monthlies usually, but you’re waiting a long time. So if you really want that "Wednesday" experience, the discussion of trades vs. singles is off the table from jump street.


  137. @Wood: Sure you can compare discounted trades to full price single issues. It happens all the time and is a real world, not theoretical, difference in price.

    "If a person has one LCS and is unwilling to buy their comics online, they are not getting those trades at discount either."

    This makes zero sense. I know plenty of people who do this.

  138. @Conor: Why would a person willingly pay full price for single issues but only buy trades at a discount? That’s like insisting you get three bids for electrical work but accepting a plumber’s advice sight unseen. It’s incredibly easy to buy comics at a discount, in any form. And while some LCS may differentiate between discounting collected editions and single issues, I can’t think of many. Take a place like Midtown. They give a discount on every $100 spent. Doesn’t matter what you buy with the $100. 

    Either way, this discussion is tangential. You said earlier in the thread that trades are always cheaper than single issues. That’s not true but USUALLY it’s accurate if you’re talking about softcover trades. Hardcover trades of the same material though are usually as expensive, if not more so than the single issues. 

    So it’s all about what the buyer wants. If you want your instant fix on Wednesday’s, you have to suck up the prices for what they are and hope you have an LCS that will give you a discount. If you don’t care about price but prefer the form factor of collected editions, you usually have the option of paying a premium for hardcovers that are put out relatively quickly after an arc is complete. If, on the other hand, you’re uber price sensitive and willing to wait up to a year+ for your stories, softcover TPBs are generally the least expensive option.

  139. @Wood: Trades being cheaper than issues is true 99% of the time. And I don’t say 100% because I assume there are collections out there that cost more than issues, but I have yet to find one, hardcover or softcover.

  140. Umbrella Academy: Dallas

    TPB = $17.95

    6 issues at $2.99 = $17.94

    Locke & Key

    Hardcover = $24.99

    TPB = $19.99

    6 issues at $3.50 = $21

    Daredevil: Return of the King

    TPB = $17.99

    4 issues @2.99 + 1 issue @$4.99 = $16.95

    Batman R.I.P.

    Hardcover = $24.99

    TPB = $14.99

    6 issues @2.99 = $17.94

    Battlefields: Night Witches

    3 issues @2.99 = $8.87

    TBP = $12.99

    B.P.R.D. 1946

    TPB = $17.95

    5 issues @2.99 = $14.95

    And these are just the first few that came to mind…


  141. @Wood – I am an individual who has access to only one store (within a roughly one hour driving distance).  I don’t buy from DCBS because I don’t want to wait and miss out on the discussion on this site.  My local store knows it has no real competition, so it doesn’t discount prices.  I am the individual Conor is talking about.  I MUST compare full price issues to discounted trades, because those are my only two realistic options.  In that case trades win everytime and if it wasn’t for my love of this damn website and the discussions that take place here, I would have made the switch long ago.

    I would love to live in a city with 10 shops competing for my money with discounted issue prices, but that isn’t the situation for many of us.

  142. @stuclach…but you just said it yourself. You want to buy your comics on Wednedays when the come out. So, for you, trades are out of the question. Just as mail order is. If you were willing to wait to buy trades and break the cycle of Wednesday real-time, you would just as easily be able to order your comics mail order.


  143. If I was buying any of those trades, I would buy them on Amazon for 20-40% off cover.

    Who pays retail for trades?

  144. Umbrella Academy: Dallas

    I bought on Amazon for $12.21 ($5.73 cheaper than in issues)

    Locke & Key: Head Games HC

    I bought on Amazon for $16.49 ($4.51 cheaper than in issues)

    Daredevil: Return of the King

    Available on Amazon for $12.23 ($4.72 cheaper than in issues)

    Batman R.I.P.

    Hardcover available on Amazon for $16.49 ($1.45 cheaper than in issues)

    Battlefields: Night Witches

    Available on Amazon for $10.39 ($1.52 more expensive than issues; falls into the 1%)

    B.P.R.D. 1946

    Available on Amazon for $12.21 ($2.74 cheaper than in issues)

  145. @josh I ask the same thing of people paying retail for single issues. I don’t pay retail for either.


  146. I pay retail for issues if I have to. If people want to buy their issues on Wednesday, then they pay what they have to, because most don’t have a choice.  I usually go to midtown, where I get a $20 back after spending $100.  I still think discounted trades from the web would be more cost effective in the long run, and you’d get a more permanent product without any ads.  You’re getting more for your money at the very least.

  147. @Josh But again…if you’re willing to "wait for the trade" you could also easily buy single issues and wait for them. You’re only paying full price b/c you want the immediacy of the Wednesday experience. If that’s not important to you and you’re willing to hang in there until the collected edition hits, then there’s no logical reason why you wouldn’t also buy your single issues online or at a con where you can often get them for $1 a piece.

    I pay, on avereage, 60% of the cover price of a single issue. I pay, on average, 63% of the cover price for a collected edition. I don’t usually care about getting them on the day they come out b/c I don’t have the time to read them that day anyway. 

    Consumers make choices like this all the time. If you want to talk about Lost around the water cooler (BTW…has the internet message board become the water cooler of the new millennium?) then you watch the episodes as they air. If you don’t care about that immediacy and being part of the collective conscience, you are more than happy to DVR it or Netflix the season or buy the DVDs eventually.

    Comics are in the same mode. Some of the best books around are consensus trade books. Even folks who have shows about comics (like you or I) avoid discussing books like Invincible or Walking Dead in many cases because so many wait for the trade.


  148. @Wood – If I were to sacrifice the weekly experience and decide to compare discounted issues to trades, then this is the comparision: A six issue trade at roughly $12 would run me $2 an issue.  I would need to able to buy $4 issues at 50% off to match that price.  I don’t think any site is offering 50% off regularly.  Even if the issues are $3, you need 33.33% off.  I might be able to get a discount at that level, but then you must factor in the regular shipping costs, which I assume you incur more often if you are buying issues, than if you buy trades.

  149. Or I could have actually refreshed my page and just referred to Conor’s post with specific examples.

  150. @Wood – You can’t ignore shipping costs or the hassle associated with the Con experience.  Those certainly increase the cost.

  151. Stuclach…where are you getting your numbers from? Why would you compare 4 issues to a 6-issue trade? You can buy regular issues at DCBS for 40% discount (sometimes as high as 75%). You can buy trades at Instocktrades (their sister site) for 37%-40% off; comparable in most cases, if not higher than, what you get from Amazon. It’s the same level of savings.


  152. I don’t think I said anything about 4 issues.  Everything in my post is for a 6 issue example.

    The $12 trades are from the Amazon prices in Conor’s post (they typically offer trades at $12).

  153. @Conor: For God’s sake man, you’re comparing apples to oranges now.

    Umbrella Academy: Dallas

    I bought on Amazon for $12.21 ($5.73 cheaper than in issues)

    I paid $10.45 via DCBS for the issues

    Locke & Key: Head Games HC

    I bought on Amazon for $16.49 ($4.51 cheaper than in issues)

    I paid $11.38 via DCBS for the issues

    Daredevil: Return of the King

    Available on Amazon for $12.23 ($4.72 cheaper than in issues)

    I paid $9.70 via DCBS for the issues

    Batman R.I.P.

    Hardcover available on Amazon for $16.49 ($1.45 cheaper than in issues)

    I paid $10.80 via DCBS for the issues

    Battlefields: Night Witches

    Available on Amazon for $10.39 ($1.52 more expensive than issues; falls into the 1%)

    I paid $5.40 via DCBS for the issues

    B.P.R.D. 1946

    Available on Amazon for $12.21 ($2.74 cheaper than in issues) 

    I paid $9.00 via DCBS for the issues

  154. Not to belabor the point, but the Green Lantern: Rebirth trade is currently $10.19 with free shipping on  That is 6 issues for $10.19 or $1.70 an issue. or 43% off the cover price of the issues.  If you buy the same 6 issues from DCBS for 40% off, the trade is cheaper.  If you get the issues for 50% off, then the shipping costs MUST be less than $1.19 for the issues to be as cheap as the trade.

    If you get the issues for 75% off then obviously the issues are cheaper, but I don’t see popular issues for 75% off very often.

  155. @Wood: You are no longer making any sense. I’m going to go watch baseball.

  156. @Wood – You are ignoring the fact that some of those trades Conor posted are HC (a signifcant quality difference) and you must take into consideration how much it cost to ship those six issues from DCBS.  Unless you order them in one shot, you paid shipping on those issues six times.

    If we really want to have fun we can take time value of money into consideration and assume you invested the money you would have spent on issues into a six month (or 12 month is you are waiting for a soft cover) CD or other small time investment and actually earned a small amount of interest.

  157. Conor: You threw out the discounted Amazon prices as "evidence" to your mathematical claim. Yet, if you’re going to show what you can pay for a discount to the trades, then it’s only fair to show what you could’ve actually paid for the single issues from a discount vendor. In this case, DCBS. In each of the above cases, that’s what I paid for those story arcs. Most issues were 40% off the cover price, but in many cases DCBS also offers 50% and 75% discounts on the beginnings of major arcs or big issues (for example, Daredevil 500 was 50% off).

  158. Now I have to go teach an MBA class some game theory.  They are dreading it, but will love it when I’m done with them.  Sorry if I got fiesty here.  Just wanted to be as clear as I could be. 

    I apologize for any errors I may have made in my posts and if Mr. Wood turns out to be correct (entirely possible, if he has better data than I do), then I also apologize to him for wasting his time.

  159. @stuclach considering the ZIRP environment we’re in, any kind of nominal risk free return right now is virtually nil.

    As to shipping, the Amazon trades are only free if you’re an Amazon Prime member (which I am) and that costs a good chunk of change each year. 

    As to shipping via DCBS, you have lots of options. The base is $5.99 monthly which doesn’t change no matter the size of your order. When you order as many comics as many of us do, it adds maybe a percent or two back against the savings, which are still massive.


  160. @Wood: You can get your single issues for discount if you’re willing to wait for them, but if you’re willing to wait you might as well get the superior trade format. Either way, you are going to have to wait for your comics. The majority of comic book readers aren’t willing to wait.

    I don’t take into consideration people who order single issues online because that’s a niche of a niche and when engaged in the trade vs. single debate, those are not usually the people who are involved in the discussion. Most people are either going to buy their single issues at the store and/or buy a trade paperback, either at a store or online.

    You can continue to bring up DCBS and other online outlets for single issues, but that’s not what this discussion is about, or has ever been about. The trade vs. issues debate has always been about buying singles at the store vs. buying tradesat discount.

  161. @Wood – Not to get everyone riled up again, but if you are going to argue that you can spread the $6 shipping cost across lots of books, then you must concede that you will likely hit the $25 minimum for free shipping from amazon (without having the be an Amazon Prime member).

    (You could earn a pitiful 1-2% return [depending on how much you invest and for how long] on a CD [risk free].  That comes out to [depending on how much you spend] roughly the equivalent of one month’s shipping cost, so not entirely insignificant.)

    I’d like the thank Mike for writing an article that asks an old question from a new (Mike-centric) perspective that obviously simulated discussion.  Most of Mike’s articles are of a similar caliber and I can only hope that they receive this type of response going forward. [And no, I’m not Mike posing as someone else, I just like his work on the site.]

    That damn MBA class wore my ass out, but I think I succeeded in clarifying why game theory is remarkably important to managers (especially in an oligopolistic setting), so it was worth it.  Off to eat some things, DRINK some things, and hit the hay. 

    Sorry if I hijacked the thread and sorry if my data is wrong.  I enjoyed the discussion. 

  162. [quote]

    @Wood: You can get your single issues for discount if you’re willing to wait for them, but if you’re willing to wait you might as well get the superior trade format. [/quote]

    So now we’re debating which format is better as part of the discussion? That certainly seems to be changing the finish line,especially when there’s no definitive answer. A great many comic book fans live for the single issue and consider it a superior product regardless of when they get their hands on it. And many trade waiters despise hardcovers as a waste of money. While I know still more people who prefer hardcovers and higher end editions like Absolutes and Omnibuses and are willing to pay a premium.

    [quote]Either way, you are going to have to wait for your comics. The majority of comic book readers aren’t willing to wait.[/quote]

    You seem to have a thing for definitive statements. Throwing out "99% of the time" or "majority" is a dangerous game, it all but invites skepticism and critique. And while a good chunk of people get their comics on Wednesdays, it’s hardly the majority. I’m not sure there is a majority in this niche hobby. Some people go on Wednesdays. Some go on Saturdays. Some go every two or three weeks to pick up their pulls. Others still walk in ever now and again. Many order online. Many others primarily buy books at cons and sales. And still more buy at places like ebay and Amazon. Saying any particularly means of consumption is THE majority rings hollow.

    [quote] I don’t take into consideration people who order single issues online because that’s a niche of a niche and when engaged in the trade vs. single debate, those are not usually the people who are involved in the discussion.[/quote]

    A niche of a niche? So are any subset of this hobby. And I’ve participated in quite a few lively "trade vs. singles" debates, and the participants can rarely be pigeonholed into one buying type. I know many people that buy online AND in stores (myself included).

    [quote]Most people are either going to buy their single issues at the store and/or buy a trade paperback, either at a store or online.[/quote]

    This we’ll agree with, because most people that go to a comic store still buy single issues. 

    [quote]You can continue to bring up DCBS and other online outlets for single issues, but that’s not what this discussion is about, or has ever been about. The trade vs. issues debate has always been about buying singles at the store vs. buying tradesat discount.[/quote]

    It’s ALWAYS been that way? Really? So every discussion ever about trades vs. singles has revolved around buying trades at a discount but singles at full price? That’s absurd because I’ve personally engaged in many of said discussions where that wasn’t the baseline. Again with the generalizations. I know more comic readers that insist on some measure of discount than those that don’t, and have been getting discounts as a baseline at LCS’ for nearly two decades. Most stores don’t offer DCBS or Amazon level discounts, nor would you expect them to because of their overhead. But I’m hard pressed to think of many comic fans as fanatical as we all are that aren’t aware of or capable of procuring discounts for their single issues AND their trades.


  163. @Wood: I’m talking about the discussions we have here at iFanboy, not the ones you might have anywehere else. You come here to have a discussion, you have to know what people are talking about.

  164. Holy crap! Someone who goes against the grain in an intelligent fashion.  I love it! Comic debates, be it who would win in a race Flash or Quicksilver, or what do you like better or think is a better value: issues or trades; is at it’s heart, the best thing about this hobby! My hat is off to you Wood. Keep it up guys! I’m gonna get some popcorn!

  165. @Conor: Fair enough. I’m trying to be more active on the iFanboy community b/c I love you guys and think it’s a great community. But I honestly had no idea discussions were limited only to the empirical evidence set forth on the iFanboy community specifically. Duly noted.


  166. @Wood: You came in five days after the discussion began, of course you need to know the context of what is being talked about.

  167. @Conor: I was explicitly reacting to the following statement:

    Trades are, 99% of the time, always the cheaper option. This is a well established fact.

    Obfuscate the playing field all you want, but not only is the "99% assertion" not a well established fact, it’s not a fact at all. How am I mistaking the context here? 


  168. Remember the rainbow chart!

  169. @AnimalVader1 – Flash would win IF Johns is writing him. Otherwise, coin flip. 

  170. @stuclach–LOL I’m a Marvel guy, and I would still say Flash would win hands down every time. He’s got the speed force, which can even make him time travel, while Quicksilver just has a crumby mutation.

  171. Does he still have the mutation or did he lose it on M-day? (As you can tell, I don’t really follow the X-verse all that closely and am more of a DC guy currently.)

  172. He lost it on M day, but got it back again with the Inhuman’s Teregen (sp?) Mist. There were some wierd side effects at first, including limited time travel, but he’s currently on the Mighty Avengers and back to normal powers. I’m not sure how the side effects were handled though. I’m not a big X-fan ether.

  173. Loud noises!!

  174. @Animalvader1 – Apparently I am even more out of touch with the X-men than I thought.  That mist sure sounds handy.

  175. It was all in the Son of M mini from a few years back. I think he may have even been the first depowered mutant to get powers again. The mist has been around for years, it’s how all the Inhumans (Blackbolt, Medusa, etc) got their powers.

    If you guys want a debate, here’s a good one:

    Who would win in a "balls to the wall" no holds barred fight? Superman vs. Thor!

    HINT: JLA/Avengers was watered down.

  176. I think we would win if they were to fight.

  177. Oh, that’s such a safe answer. lol

    Break it down:

    both pretty matched in strength, and durability

    Superman has speed,Heat vision and cold breath

    Thor has an enchanted hammer (Supes is weak against magic), and mastery over weather.

    Superman can fly, Thor throws his hammer and catches it at the last second. His hammer PULLS him threw the air.

    Superman is powered by the yellow sun, but Thor can use his hammer to open portals so they could fight anywhere.

    Thor turns human when out of contact with his hammer for over 60 seconds.

    Superman is effected in different ways by different types of Kryptonite.

    Superman was raised in Kansas by the Kents and has fought several different classes of foes, he also has high intelligence

    Thor is a warrior born with THOUSANDS of years of combat experience fighting everything from gods, giants, and super villians.


    Place your bets gang. My money’s on Thor! Ether way you’re right though stuclach, we would win.

  178. whats’ a trade?

  179. I buy most of my trades online but have no problem buying one or two a month (usually no more than $30 worth) from my LCS because I’m a firm believer in supporting your local business, especially bookstores.

  180. Uh, Battlefields Night Witches was $3.50. So even that is more expensive in issues.