The iFanboy Letter Column – 08.20.2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means movie night. For others, Friday means pure unbridled hedonism. For some, it’s both. For others, neither.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —


Next year I’ll be starting college, and I was wondering if you had any advice on what I should do comics-wise. The past few years I’ve had a part-time job to help me buy comics, but in college I’ll probably end up a full-time student. So I guess my question is: should I stop buying altogether these next few years? Should I buy one or two titles a week? What are your suggestions?


Many years ago, Conor and I sat down with Conor’s brother, who was in school at the time, and has long since graduated. He had a year or so left to go, and we looked him deeply in his eyes, and said, “Stay. Stay as long as you can. Live it as fully as you can. It will never, ever be the same. If you’re ever in college, and thinking ‘maybe’ go for ‘yes’, because it will not be like that again ever.”

That is better advice than I can give you about anything having to do with comics. But as far as comics go, I can’t answer that for you, because there are a hell of a lot of things I don’t know. For one thing, how many comics are you buying now? Do you have a job? Do you have a lot of other expenses? How much do you love comics?

I can tell you my story though. I didn’t have much money in college. I worked a job on the weekends for a little bit of money for pizza, gas, the phone bill, and comics. College was when I started reading comics again. Conor was a friend of a friend, and he got that guy back into comics, and that guy was my roommate, and I started reading his comics. After I read everything he had, I started reading on my own again, and went to the shop. Eventually, I started going to the shop with Conor and Ron. I never stopped after that, and a bunch of years later, I talk about comic books for a living. So, should you stop reading comics while you’re in college?

Fuck no.

Josh Flanagan

I was wondering what the deal is with all the GCPD blimps that are always shown floating around Gotham City? I do not think I have seen them used very much in terms of story. I recall that there was an early episode of the ’90s Batman animated series with Man-Bat where they played a role, but that was it. Is there a reason the GCPD uses blimps instead of helicopters?

Michael (Greenbillblue) from Houston, Texas

Why does the Gotham City Police Department use blimps and not helicopters? Because they look cool, that’s why.

Honestly, that’s the reason.

This was not a decision made for practical storytelling purposes, this was a decision made purely for aesthetic reasons. When they created the look for Batman: The Animated Series they were aiming for something retro-modern, something timeless, something along the lines of the first Tim Burton Batman film. They wanted to create a world that was modern but also recalled the past and thus they chose tommy gun-wielding criminals in fedoras and a Gotham City Police Department that utilized blimps instead of helicopters.

That unique blend of new and old, that wonderful art direction, was one of my favorite things about Batman: The Animated Series. The subsequent Timmverse shows all recalled that aesthetic, but none did it as well as the original.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Josh’s hair…shudder

  2. I worked a part time job in college to afford my beer, video games and some comics.  When it comes to money in college, I would always recommend spending it on the stuff that you’ll never get to do again when you’re an adult: insane, spotaneous road trips, parties, costumes for said parties, t-shirts, fundraisers, pizzas, girls/boys, etc.  Anything left over can go to comics.

    One of the things I did is I went to a lot of local libraries around my school and read trades and graphic novels.  Some libraries even buy issues and store them in the young adults section of the library.  That’s a way to get free comics without having to download torrents or whatever.  Also, I really paired down what I read, and avoided adding things unless I was dropping something.  

  3. Oh man, Josh, you’re making me miss my college days. I absolutely loved that time period, with all its ups and downs. I wholeheartedly agree with Conor’s brother.

    I fell off the comics bandwagon during that time period, but I kept up with certain things by way of trade readings. It worked well for me and, after a few years out of college, started back on the weekly fix. But hey, do what you can, Danny. And maybe your local public library may be the way to read some stuff for free.

  4. Re Question #1:  I stopped buying comics when I was about 11 or 12 and didn’t start up again until I was in Graduate School, when I was pretty poor, but even less poor than when I was an undergrad.  I think that the best advice that I could give is this:  Money will be tight and I recommend just being really selective about your comics.  If there is a series or character that you absolutely love you should continue to buy the key books for that (Using ifanboy as a reference for instance, I’d say that in this situation Ron should get X-Men and Uncanny X-Men ((and possibly Darkhawk)), Conor should get Batman and Detective, Josh seems to defy this characterization so I’ll just say that he should get Incredible Hulk and back issues of ’90s-era X-men).  Or just drop stuff once it is bad.

    You should also check books out from your local library or (and this might be the best advice I can give) if you are going to work a part time job, consider applying at a book store.  I worked at one all through school and read trades to my heart’s content on every single break I took.  You wouldn’t believe how much this broadens your reading horizons. 

    This way you can keep up with collecting the characters that you love, but also keep up with stories that you like, albeit a little behind the times.

     And Josh, thanks for posting the photo…it is awesome.

  5. Buying comics while in college has always been an issue. It doesn’t help that my last two jobs have not paid me very well. So I have a very tight budget as it is when it comes to comics. My parents keep telling me that I need to stop buying comics for the sake of money…..but I don’t want too! This has been such a great time for me the last couple of years. Comics, while in college, have made me find a community with so many great people and I’ve made so many friends because of this decision.

    If I had to suddenly stop reading comics because I couldn’t afford it then I would be one bored man. It does worry me though that it seems like that idea of not reading comics anymore is getting stronger and stronger with each passing semester. I mean I don’t even know if I’ll have a good enough job after college to continue reading… 

  6. @Neb – Nice work on the second paragraph. 🙂 Great minds…

  7. @JeffR: My brother was the one we were talking to.

  8. Also, who is that man in the Green Lantern shirt and what has he done with Josh? 🙂

  9. I choose not to read comics in University. I just couldn’t afofrd it, and making this choice sucked like hell. I got Trades for x-mas, and i still kept up on events and going ons through websites. I wish i never left, but i’m glad i did, because when i came back it felt fantastic to read comics again.

  10. @Josh & @Danny – Good answer & Question. I would totally agree with Josh on this one. Enjoy college, but also make sure you get good grades. Once you do awesome in school, have fun, you can buy all the comics you’ve ever wanted to (except maybe Superman #1 etc…)

  11. @conor Whoops. Apparently, my reading comprehension skills are all over the place. Still, it was a nice sentiment that you shared with him.

  12. I worked full-time, went to school part-time, and read lots and lots of comics.  I guess I can’t really relate, but the point I have to make is there are many ways to go about life so that you can have your cake and eat it too.

  13. I used to think those blimps were really scary as a kid.

  14. blimps are scary, also probably more fuel efficent

  15. Blimps are awesome.  Especially when piloted by carrier whales (

    I second Josh’s suggestion.  College is the time to do everything (while remembering to study).  It’s okay to borrow a LITTLE money (credit cards) for comics, assuming you are majoring in something that has a realistic possibly of getting you a job. Consumption smoothing is your friend (

  16. If you have to cut back to just the essentials, reading comics isn’t THAT expensive. I tend to spend about $15-$25 a week on comics now. When i was younger, I just read EVERYTHING I was remotely interested in. I would pop into the shop, drop $75 bucks and head home. Now I spend that in a month. Life is expensive. I have a mortgage now, I have bills, I have a newborn baby who needs food, clothing and daycare. These things cost HGE amounts of money. However, if you TRULY love comics, you can always afford to buy at least a few. 


    A comic is only $3-$4 on average. Think of things you spend money on. You may drop a couple bucks a week on candy bars, or sodas from a vending machine. You may buy lunch a few times a week instead of making it yourself. You might do a lot of little inexpensive things that add up.

    From my own life: I used to spend about $5 a day on snacks from the lunch truck at my job. That’s $25 a week. When money got real tight after the baby was born, I realized I had almost no money in my budget for comics. however, If I just stopped buying the snacks off the truck, which I shouldn’t be eating anyway, I would save $25 a week. That is now the money I spend on comics. I read every book I am really into, and books I am mildly interested in that I can’t afford, i just don’t read. I am also much more likely to drop a book I am not enjoying now.

    Anyone with money problems, keep CLOSE track of everything you buy. EVERYTHING. You will be surprised how much money you may be able to spend on something more worthwhile once you see where it all actually goes.  

  17. I think being in spirit with the 30s-50s Future Noir aesthetic of Batman the Animated series we should all be using the term "Dirigible" or "Air Ship"  in lieu of "Blimp" =)

    Its been a while since i’ve watched my DVD’s but i’m pretty sure the GCPD Airships appear in at lest a few establishing shots.  

  18. I just started college this week as well, and asked myself the same question. I’ll probably be cutting back on what I usually buy, but I’m definitly  not going to be leaving comics altogether. They’re too much of something I love to let them just go away.

  19. If money is tight I say drop comics for a few years (at least buying them). Trades from the library are beyond suitable enough to provide reading entertainment and stay up to date with most titles. What little extra cash you have while seeking higher education (not to mention your time not spent in class or studying) should be directed toward the consumption of beer, the pursuit of girls, and any other costs inherent to the general mayhem that should be the best 4 (5? 6?, seriously, pick a major…) years of your life.

     Really it’s win-win. A few years later down the road, when your formerly care-free, self-discovering, fun-loving college self has gone gently into that good night, and your living in the ‘burbs with a job, a mortgage, a wife, kid(s) and a cat, you will be nothing but pleased to have a meaningful hobby to pass the time – none other that searching the back issues, hunting down, collecting, and reading or re-reading everything you missed while you were away… 

  20. Love that Gordon wears a robin shirt

    Even then he knows his place 

  21. That pic is more frightening and hilarious than anything in Piranha 3D.

  22. I’m gonna be a senior soon and I’ve only really been reading comics since junior year. But god damn do I wish I had been reading them all along because I’ve made a ton of freinds at the shop

  23. I like that the LCS states " Comics for Collectors".

    "What? You’re not a collector?Give me back that Youngblood #1 and Spawn#1! Your money’s no good here!Damn comic fanboys!"

  24. That picture. Wow.

  25. I am currently in college and I have been buying comcs prior to being in college. The best advice I can give is get ready to strap down. If you can’t manage a job or work study position, I suggest listening to iFanboy and other podcasts that keep up with current events of comics.

    I have been faced with money problems since entering into college since I can’t get a job or work study. I have cut down my montly issues drastically, and only buy indies or books I need to support whatever the case. I only buy 8 books a month, and during college, I really cut down. I know a few guys who pirate their big event comics to keep current, but they don’t enjoy comics, they just enjoy the continuous universe aspect of things.

  26. Thanks for the advice everybody!

    -Danny (writer of Question 1)

  27. I remember getting back into comics with Jim Lee & Hush during college. I worked a part time job back to get me through so I’d have some extra cash. I couldn’t pick up everything I wanted but I picked the ones I was really interested in.

  28. i love Josh’s answer, " FUCK NO! " priceless

  29. That’s awesome you guys have so much history together.  Old friends are precious commodities that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Thanks for posting that pic.

  30. The idea of using blimps for law enforcement is actually real I think…   *one very quick google search later*


    meh, it’s probably stupid. 

  31. @GingerKid – Hey, I just wrapped up my Freshman year and the comics buying thing was kind of a big question for me as well. My campus wasn’t near any good shops so it made not buying them a little easier, but once every few weeks I’d pop into St. Paul and just grab a few things off the shelves. I completely dropped my pull at my local shop and just bought a few issues here and there. During the summer, when I was working again, I ended up buying WAY more than I should of, but it all kind of evens out. I still listen to iFanboy every week and read all of the articles. I stopped worrying about being spoiled and grabbing books when they came out, but if I heard the guys talking about something that sounded awesome, I’d track it down when I could and give it a read.

    Start a list of books you’ll want to read when you can. Just check them off when you can and never feel rushed. Also, Libraries are a godsend. (JeffR)

    So… yeah, I hope that helps. 

  32. josh’s blink 182 hair is awesome. bring it back!!!!

  33. @Anson17
    That sounds like a great idea, and probably what I’ll end up doing anyway. I get most of my trades at my local library now, so for those titles that I read in trade that will work well.

  34. Everyone has a hobby in college and they find a way to budget around it. For most people that hobby is consuming beer. =) Finding money for comics or whatever else is your first lesson in budgeting your personal finances. I often found it nice to have a reward like that work towards, so you know that besides grades, you get something fun for all your hard work. 

  35. I didn’t buy comics at college, but when I was back home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer, etc. This way there was a big stack waiting for me, which was great, but it also let me think "Hmm, do I want to spend $200 or $300 on this stack or should I weed out the comic I’m not so interested in?"  This method also led me to realize that even some of the comics I went home with were not worth it, when I have a stack of 40+. I didn’t intentionally go that direction, but it worked for me. Then again, iFanboy’s podcast wasn’t around then, so I didn’t have the wonderful weekly delight to keep up with, or the community here that would have had me pining for weekly comics. Now that I think about it, if the podcast had been around then, I would probably spent hundreds more per semester.

  36. man, you took me back with that picture. I used to go to that store, it was great.