The iFanboy Letter Column – 10.08.2010

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 –

Inspired by The Onion‘s article “Who Gets a Lifetime Pass?” I ask you this of comic books. Which creators/writers/artists would you grant a lifetime pass — that is, no matter what crap or failed project an artist has produced, they will always be held in the highest esteem for a past project.

For me, Alex Ross. I am not the rabid fan of Ross I was ten years ago and as I’ve gotten older the flaws in his design and overuse of the same three models, but, because of Kingdom Come, for me, he gets a lifetime pass. That book trumps the overexposure, glut of covers, stiffness in his art and uninteresting projects he has done since.

Russell T. (finbarbat)

That’s a good question. There’s already a sort of industry patronage that is happening currently. I mean, Chris Claremont is still going. Even before Jim Lee got put in the DC big chair, he was free to do anything he wanted, and despite a track record of not finishing projects he started, readers paid for it en masse. Stan Lee could pick up a phone any day of the week, and what he says will get published. He might not script the thing, but he’ll get it. A lot of the big silver age guys get work now, if they want it. Alan Moore, should he ever get over what’s he’s all wrinkled up about, could get anything he wants published by anyone ever. He wouldn’t even have to say he’s sorry.

I think Brian Bendis and Geoff Johns are both the most recent entries into the club, from modern guys. Before them, Grant Morrison will get 10 years of flops based on his prior success. Warren Ellis seems to have a lifetime pass. I think Garth Ennis should have one, but I don’t think he wants it. Neil Gaiman can do whatever he wants, but that book money might just be too good.

Personally, Greg Rucka has earned my eternal respect. I’ll check out anything he does. So has Brian K. Vaughan. Those two guys have never let me down, and even when I didn’t love a project either of them did, I still respected the work, and never felt ike they were phoning stuff in. As far as artists go, there are a bunch of guys like, Jock, Michael Lark, Peter Snejbjerg, Ryan Ottley, Skottie Young, Chris Samnee, Eric Canete, Mike Mignola, Sean Phillips, Darwyn Cooke, and probably others I can’t think of. I’ll check out anything those guys do. I might not love the story, but I’ll always at least make an effort to give those projects a chance.

Josh Flanagan

So while listening to an old episode, that age old question of trades or singles came up, but I’ve recently found a new wrinkle to “traders mentality,” if you will. I’ve recently become addicted to dollar bin diving and in doing so I have found many a complete series for cheap, and at least a quarter of the price of the trade, such as the Loeb/ Sale Challengers of the Unknown or Ennis and Equizaria’s Bloody Mary.

So it’s pretty safe to assume that sometimes a trade isn’t always the best way to a full story, right?

Mike (Mikeandzod21) from Buffalo, New York

The “best” is always going to come down to the format or your choice, but if we’re judging strictly on a financial aspect, no, I don’t think it’s safe to assume that because some comics are found in a dollar bin that that somehow trumps the financial benefit of buying comics in trades. I could turn around and give you the example of clearance sales that happen at stores (I’m still bitter about the time I missed out on the 10th Anniversary Marvels hardcover that was going for $10 at Midtown Comics a few years ago) or $5 trade sales on the last day of conventions. Or someone having a tag sale. Or trades for sale at a flea market. But dollar bins, extreme sales, and the like, are not only all examples out of the norm of common, every day buying experience but don’t encompass all that is available in the back issue/trade market.

Not every comic that has been collected into trade can also be found at your local store in the dollar bin, only the comics that your store can no longer sell at a reasonable price (because the trade paperback has gutted the back issue market) are found there. But every book that has been put in trade, and is still in print, is available, at a discount, with just a few clicks of a mouse. So, yes, while you can certainly find certain comics for super cheap in dollar bins, it doesn’t trump the price and convenience aspect of buying a trade paperback.

And that’s not even taking into account the “time is money” angle in which someone spending hours that accumulate into days and even weeks trying to find a run of comics loses out to someone who spends two minutes ordering a trade of the same comics from InStockTrades or Amazon.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Alan Moore gets my lifetime pass. Although, the grumpy old man act is tired.


  2. If digital back issues ever price drop below the $/issue price of a trade, I’m going 100% digital for older non-collected story arcs.

  3. I think the best format is the cheapest format also!!  I love the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SALE when all back issues are on sale!!  Grab some one shots of stuff I’d never pay full price for, pick back up on some titles I dropped a little while ago, pick up the regular covers of books I have the variant cover of, put together runs I don’t even wanna read so I can sell them on Ebay and make a nice profit, etc.

  4. Dollar bins are a gamble, there is no guarentee you will find what you want, or you may be stuck with issue 2, 4, & 6.  Or find #1 and nothing after that.  But if you read Amazing, you can ALWAYS find that book cheap, or Superman, or any of the big sellers that stores get stuck with as overflow.  Some of the smaller books never turn up in the cheap boxes. 

  5. Weird. I consider a "lifetime pass" something I would give to an artist and not so much to a writer, but thats just me. There are too few artists that have the ability to produce at a level of relevance that transends decades in this medium. Its like being a professional athlete. Guys like Brian Bolland, Richard Corben and Joe Kubert are mystifying in their ability to produce at such a high quality now as they have in the past. Not that intangible creative ability can’t be hampered by time, but more that physical creative ability so obviously is with age.

  6. Frank Miller gets my pass, and Stan obviously gets everyone’s. To me it’s not just a matter of looking past their less than the best work, but also their personalities. If Stan wasn’t Stan, the whole "Hey look! I’m playing myself on TV!" thing would have gotten old about 5 years ago. But it is Stan. He can indulge.

    Also Joe Madureira. When he was doing Uncanny X-Men, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

  7. Yeah! Go dollar bins!!!

  8. I think Alan Moore is the hugest example of the "lifetime pass" in the comics world. He hasn’t written a truly great comic in a decade (LXG Vol. 1, for those of you keeping score at home… and yes, I know Promethea was since then.) but yet, as Josh says here, he could legitimately walk into any company in the industry and pitch any wacky idea his magick-filled head has, and be signing contracts within the hour. His name on the cover of a book is enough to sell pretty much anything, and will continue to do so in perpetuity if he deigns to return to the funny book world at some point.

  9. Well Garth Ennis gets one, whether he likes it or not! Ha bloody ha.

  10. This year, one of the local shops in Denver used FCBD as a money-making promotion … they offered complete sets to anyone who purchased $50 or more of back issues through the internet … and placed a limit of two on what you could pick up in the store. Of course, all HCs and TPBs were 50% off, so it wasn’t all bad, but they basically used FCBD to get us in the shop to spend our money.

    On the flip side, I just happened to walk into another shop last weekend during their "24 hour comic challenge" and picked up the entire "Blackest Night" series for less than $1 per issue … really didn’t know about the sale beforehand … a friend of mine and I were hanging out and figured we’d swing by.

  11. I’ve been through all of the dollar bins in my town and it wore me out!  They are all kept on the floor, under the bagged and boarded issues so my knees and back are aching and I’m sure many people have unfortunately got a glimpse of my butt-crack.  I’m sorry for their misfortune. 

    Anymore, dollar bin diving  for me, is fun in very small doses.  But for the most part, if something is collected in trade, I’ll go that route;  saving myself(and others) the misfortune of an aching back and knees/legs and possible exposed butt-crack!

  12. I envy people that live near stores that have these amazing discount bins with complete runs. The discount bins in the shops near me only ever have scattered issues of shelf worn crap from the 80s and 90s that almost nobody would have any desire to own.

  13. Dollar bins may not be the most reliable place to find sequential issues, but I’ve found nearly full runs on books in them many times, with just a handful of issues missing. Also, I don’t think dollar bins are really a big exception to the rule. Nearly every comic shop I’ve ever been in has a dollar bin. Hell, they were my sole link to comics when I was a kid with no money, I MADE them reliable. 

    Really, you just have to think of them like flea markets for comics. You don’t go there to find something you really need, but you rummage around for anything you once had in mind to buy for cheap. And really, rummaging in a dollar bin is half the fun of finding the issues to begin with, for me. 

  14. Never say never, or in this case, always, but I’d say ErikLarsen and Sam Kieth have earned a livetime pass from me. Garth Ennis ist pretty damn close.

  15. trades all the way, amazon is almost always 10-25% off.  Plus you can get great deals at cons and occasionally a local shop will have a sale. To me a key aspect of trade buying is buying ahead of time.  If you know that a certain trade is out of print, and you know that you will be wanting to read it sometime in the future, if you stumble upon it in a store, even if it isnt on sale, it’s worth the buy.  I tried the single issues thing for years, i now have long bozes filled with arcs missing one or two issues.  If i spent all of the money worth of unfinished arcs on trades, id have been a much happier person.

    at NYCC this weekend, i picked up a hardcover Batman Black and white vol1 (missing the dust jacket) for $5, the savings there paid for my weekend pass.

    Basically, know where to look, and be ready to buy those hidden gems.

  16. Most of the time I can get back issues for up to 70-95% less than the trades. So if I could get all 8 issues of say ‘Bloody mary’ for like 4 dollars instead of paying 25 for the trade, I know what in doing.