The Long Farewell – Giving Away Comics

Last week a friend of mine emailed me saying that she was helping collect books to be sent to the troops. I emailed her back asking, almost begging, if I could donate comic books, and she got the response, “Absolutely!  Comic books and graphic novels are very popular!” (Update: the outfit we worked with is

Suddenly, it was game on. Suddenly, the decision that I had been putting off for a few months now had to be made, and I only had a few days to do it: which comics would I get rid of….forever?

I’ve gotten rid comics before, of course. I gave away all of my Ultimate X-Men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four books to the the local Boys and Girls clubs earlier this year–not a difficult decision for me to make (though there was one issue of Ultimate X-Men that David Finch drew that I really hoped I kept somewhere).  So, this was the second time I was getting rid of books, which meant I was getting rid of books that I had just decided were worth keeping a few months ago!

Once read, comics become a real estate issue. I am sure all of us have our own stages of storage (my first article was about this), but eventually, there’s a final resting place–a comics crypt. Some folks have a garage, others an attic, some pay for storage…me, I have my closet.  In my apartment. Where shoes used to go. (I have to put my shoes in one of those hanging box things that I hate so much.)  However, comics reproduce like rabbits, and eventually the crypt becomes too small and you have to start making some difficult decisions.  

In the end, I was able to donate three long boxes of comics over three days, including one night when I took out all of my long boxes and went through each one (it took a few hours).  That’s a lotta time and a lotta comics. How did It do it?  Here’s a glimpse into my rationale:

It’s the art, stupid.

The top reason for keeping a book, time and time again, was because I liked the art. Case in point: X-Force and, later, X-Statix.  I don’t love these books, but Mike Allred’s art is worth keeping. Indeed, I kept a few books because I liked the cover art so much. I thought that was kind of interesting, because it’s not like I am going to go and frame any of these issues and hang them somewhere. For whatever reason, though, I couldn’t let go of the art.  

Then there were books that I didn’t really realize how cool they were until much later. Like, I have many of the Vertigo Pop! books and apparently some of them were drawn by Philip Bond. I didn’t really know how much I liked the guy until much later, so it was a great thrill to rediscover these books.  I could go on and on, but the first thing I thought of when appraising the title was the art.  (I was thrilled to see I still had Beautiful Killer from Phil Noto, whom I like a lot–I just had to mention that.)

Even my favorite creators are not necessarily safe.

I love Ed Brubaker. I love Michael Lark. And…I got rid of most of their Daredevil issues…and kept the Bendis/Maleev issues. This decision surprised me, because, I mean, I treasure Michael Lark.  I liked him before I liked him, you know?  But when I thought about it…like, what really has happened in Daredevil since my two favorites took over? Kingpin! Gone! Kingpin! Back! Daredevil! Happy with a girl! Daredevil! Sad without girl! I just did not want to read those stories again.  I mean, I did keep a few–I liked the Kingpin when he was hanging out with that girl and the kid, that was good–but, in the end, I had to say goodbye.  But when I think about the Bendis/Maleev run, I just had a more emotional bond with that book–and I think that is mostly thanks to Alex Maleev’s amazing art.  Regardless, it wasn’t even a contest. (For the record, I kept all of the Brubaker Criminal and Incognito books, and I did keep the most recent Daredevil issues.)

Event comics? Big crossovers? They don’t always hold up.

I first got back into comics during the Batman: Fugitive event, kicked off by the Batman: 10¢ Adventure.  I gave away all but that first issue, out of nostalgia. Like, for that kind of thing, it just doesn’t matter–I mean, it wasn’t that good (or I don’t remember it, which means it wasn’t good, probably) and the status quo just went back to normal…before getting changed completely again this year (more effectively).  So, all that stuff–gone.  Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Detective, anything that dealt with that storyline–gone.  That being said, some event books I had to keep just because they represented something (good or bad) in comics at the time.  The Ultimates comes to mind.  Like, the first volume of The Ultimates, and to some extent the second, really represented a shift in what Marvel was doing. Hate it or love it, it is a piece of history. Same thing with the Azzarello/Jim Lee run in Superman.  Like, I looked at it and I still have no idea what happened; all I know is that they made an Absolute version of it for some reason and I know I will need to check it out again to see just why everyone hates it so. I have all of the Civil War books in a single short box, and I thought about giving them away, but I figured I could hold off on that–it’s hard when it’s a whole box of an ongoing storyline, you know? But seriously, were any of the spin-offs good?  Nope.

Books that everyone but me likes?  Gone.

I got rid of every single of X-Men I’ve bought since 2001, except for a freaky annual which I love because it was almost an anti-comic.  Like, I realize it now, as much as I like Ron, the standard X-Men titles (I am not counting Astonishing) have just…I mean, seriously…nothing stood out.  I admit it, I bought it often because I felt I should, that I would “get it” later.  I also got rid of all of the older Amazing Spider-Man issues I had–but I kept all the issues starting with One More Day, just because after that tumultuous event, Spidey got awesome again.  Weird, and maybe a mistake, but then I remembered I was sending them to kids who in the middle of the desert with people shooting at them and said, “They need Spider-Man, immediately.”

I love being able to see creators get better.

I gotta say, I apparently didn’t know anything about comics until I started hanging out with the iFanbase.  Seriously, I went over some comics and realized that I had some real gems from creators that I really care about now.  I kept a bunch of stuff from Michael Turner, just because his passing was the first comic book loss that I actually experienced in real time, so to speak.  I realized that I wanted to keep books because I was able to track the careers of these amazing storytellers, that, in my own small way, I was part of their creative journey.  This was a new realization for me.

Single issues and shorter runs are more memorable (and not just because they are easier to remember).

There were quite a few issues that I picked up where I was like, “Oh wow, I love this issue.” Not so much with longer arcs.  Like, I love love love the issue of New Avengers #26 where Hawkeye looks for Scarlet Witch (despite the cover, which could be better, left). I just love that issue, it’s haunting and, for me, a hint of perfection. Same thing with so many of the one and dones that Paul Dini did for Detective.  There were some really good runs in Superman/Batman series as well–I will always remember that moment when, after a pretty crazed adventure, when Batman actually fell in love with this otherworldly femme fatale, Superman leaving to see Lois, and Batman just standing there, back to the camera, alone.  Like, there was no Batman: Lonely Guy event–it was just a moment in a nice story arc.  I kept all of my Superman/Batman issues because I think that, overall, it is has been pretty underrated and there are some gems in there, including the heartbreaking issue that featured the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale story after Mr. Loeb’s son died. 

Trades are the ultimate safety net.

It felt good to get rid three long boxes.  I mean, sure, I have several more in my closet and I still have to keep that hanging shoe box thing, but at least I was able to let go of some of some books that, when it came down to it, I just didn’t need anymore.  Yes, I got rid of some “good” books, I know that.  But I didn’t throw them away, you know?  I gave them to some people who I hope will really enjoy them.  And besides, if I really want to get them back (I am thinking of the Brubaker/Lark Daredevils), I can always get the trades, right? And, maybe, later, I guess I can get them on PDF and watch them on TV (please gimme a second while I run to the bathroom to throw up).  

Getting rid of stuff that you paid for gets easier as you get older, I think.  Like, I used to think that maybe I would give my comics to my kids (if I have any, or maybe to my friend’s kids), but, like, really? Would I really do that?  Who knows, maybe, but I can see myself hovering to make sure they didn’t tear them up or cover them with crayon scrawls, as I did when I was a kid.  And, anyway, a big part of giving stuff away (or just recycling, whatever) is keep the other stuff. You can’t take it with you, the saying goes, but you can keep the stuff that inspires close by, for return visits to a time in your past, to linger in the glow of discoveries past.  What will I do next year, when I gotta get rid of a few more boxes?  I don’t know.  I am not going to think about it now…I am going to post this and then go check out that Philip Bond art.

How about you–have you had to get rid of some books? What kinds of criteria did you use? Did you find something you totally forgot about it?  Do you regret giving any of those books away?

Mike Romo is an actor in LA and still needs a bigger closet.  Go ahead and tell him he was crazy to get rid of ____ by emailing him at, berate him on twitter, or poke him silly on facebook.  By the way, he’s stoked that Superman is getting back into his costume and flying back to Earth.


  1. I would love to donate hundreds of books to get them to the troops. Where do I send them?

  2. "comics reproduce like rabbits"- brilliant comparison Mike

    question: how often do you ever go back and read your old individual issues? I asked myself that question and the answer was never, so now i keep nothing. I give it all away to my brother who can’t always afford comics and if i really feel the need to read it again, i buy it in trade (which is always the more practical storage solution). It’s not the cheapest solution though…

  3. When I got into comics again, I decided that I’d read my comics and pass most of them on to my co-workers 5-year-old son, who’s a big fan of comics. I want to hang on to my Spider-Man and Daredevil titles. And then reality crashed in on me. X-Factor, X-Force and Invincible cannot be passed on to a kid. I may pass on some of my Iron Fist books to him but that’s kind of iffy as well.

  4. I took a box of roughly a hundred comics to my local library to donate them.  The gentleman at the circulation desk (a fellow comic book fan) proceed to open the box up and start riffling through the stack.  He kept saying, "That was a good series." or "I liked that trade." or "There is some really nice art in this issue."  It was like he was trying to convince me to take them back. 

  5. I’m taking the week after the Baltimore con to do this very same thing. I’ve got at least 25 long boxes that at one time were orderly, but now are just crammed with comics in no particular order. I’ve got to get rid of some of these – if I can empty 5 boxes, I’ll be happy. I set the number low because, in over 20 years of collecting, this is the first time I’m getting rid of books. Too much emotional attachment.

    The plan right now is to divy up the stash into three piles – ongoings that I’m still buying, series that either have ended or I’m not buying anymore, and stuff to ebay/donate/trade (I’d like to at least make a half-hearted attempt to get something for them – I’m not expecting to get what I paid anymore). The only problem I forsee is the wave of nostalgia I’ll get going throgh the boxes, stopping to look through issues, and keeping stuff I really shouldn’t. I am lookiing forward to it, though – well, everything but the wife complaining about the dining room being taken over for a week.

  6. I’ve passed on a lot of Amazing Spider-Man to my girlfriend’s nephew. I’m with Nilcam. It’s really more about content than anything else.

    It’s also nice to see some X-Statix love. That’s one of my absolute favorite comics, thanks in no small part to Mike Allred.

  7. I give away 50 to 100 comics every few months.

    Trades are definitely the ultimate safety net.

  8. Mike- great article. PLEASE post the info for sending comics to troops!

  9. Soon we’ll have the Longbox program for the books we only kind of want… save me so much money…

  10. I’m fortunate enough that I can afford to buy both the single issues and collected versions of the same series. As stated above by others, the storage issue factors heavily into what I keep in collected form. I keep my single issues alphabetized, so if I want to go back and re-read some Ultimate Spider-Man, I have to move five or six boxes off the top of that one particular box…or I can walk over to my bookshelf and grab the hardcover. Much easier. Also, I find it’s easier to turn people onto comics if you hand them a trade or hardcover, versus handing them a stack of bagged-and-boarded issues with advertisements in them. So I use the single for my personal enjoyment/collection, and collected versions to induct new people into this wonderful little cult of ours.

    As far as giving away books, I sold about 300-400 to a local vintage store owner. I’m getting married next year, so I wanted some extra money to put towards the wedding. My criteria for getting rid of stuff was essentially "Will Iread this again", "Do I have this in collected form", or "I forgot I had this…in a good way". So long every-Chuck-Austen-book-I-ever-bought!

  11. @RoxxonCEO  

     I’ve donated several hundred comics to our troops at  you sign up, then search the forums for ‘comic books’ and you’ll find a lot of requests.   i fill up a priority mail box and ship them off.


  12. If I had to decide right now what was essential to keep it would be anything by Bendis, anything with an X in the title, anything by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Art Adams, Frank Cho, Frank Quitely, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland, anything I have in HC, any Marvel cosmic books from Annihilation forward, and anything I have a complete run of. Brian K. Vaughan and Brian Wood would likely make the cut too, and so would anything from before 1980.

    With that criteria in mind, could I really let any John Byrne FF go? Probably not. Thank goodness I don’t have to make these decisions right now.

  13. In the past, iFanboy has organized comics to send to troops via Operation Comic Relief.

  14. Any comics I gave out and never got back have always haunted me. To this day I still harbor grudges…. 😉 

    In event of a fire and I had to choose the keepers, I’ld probably save my oversized HCs. Ultimates, Invincible and the BKV Runaways stinck in my mind. And the one volume Bone – come to think of it it’s probably my "desert island comic."

  15. Brubaker Daredevil is something I’ve been wanting to get rid of as well.  It’s not going to re-read well.  The Bendis/Maleev re-reads great, much more exciting.

    Civil War tie-ins that were good: All the Spider-Man books, Wolverine (on a mission to kill Nitro), Ms. Marvel (surprisingly good, not usually a great title) New Avengers, Iron Man (2 issues), and of course Civil War: The Confession, one of Marvel’s all time greatest one shots. 

  16. I use short boxes instead of long boxes and keep myself limited to about six.  The unsorted stack next to the boxes was getting a little meaty, so I did a big purge and cleared out two boxes’ worth of books I had no attachment to, nor would I ever read again.  I was pretty happy with the experience.  

     It’s also a pretty good excuse to buy eventual omnibus releases.

  17. I get rid of things pretty much upon deciding to drop them from my pulls, which is an easy call.  I just got rid of everything Jeph Loeb did to the Ultimate Universe–now that it’s over, I can safely say I would rather eradicate it from my memory…or at least rid myself of the evidence it exists.

    Mostly, though, I have been trying to keep myself at the current number of long drawer-boxes, so I go through every few months and judge books by whether or not they’re worth being the reason I had to add more storage space.

  18. hi guys–

     I got the outfit that does the book donations:

    the person you may want to talk to directly about it is andrea [at] operationpaperback dot org.

     great discussion guys!!

  19. I have a box full of comics in the trunk of my car, just in case the opportunity to ditch them presents itself. I might just abandon it in a school parking lot one day.

  20. @Jimski – Maybe you should abandon it in a Boys and Girls club parking lot instead.

    OR you could drop it off at your local meth lab:  (WARNING! Hilarious mugshots in link.)

  21. Mike Romo you are a big hero in my book! thank you so much for writing this article and for donating. is going to be so thankful for your donation. Having a best friend in Afghanistan, it certainly warms my heart to know that there are people like you in this world making their stay in the desert a little more bearable. 


  22. I just wanted to say that giving comics away is a great idea, whether it be to a local organization or to the troops abroad.  I’ve got stacks that I’m going to shuffle through and send off.  Thanks for the motivation!  OO-RAH!

  23. Really good article. I’ve been giving away or trading comics for almost ten years(ever since my X-Men purge), it’s a great feeling, every now and then you regret something but it’s always easy to track down. Recently my 12 year old brother has taken an interest in comics which is great because it gives me a definite ‘audience’ to my hand me downs. It’s also made me look at some books closely while deciding if they’re suitable. All this has produced a new dilemma of handing down books that I might not think are the best and feeling guilty about that but then I remember that if I was 12 it wouldn’t matter what is in the stack of free comics because it’ll be exciting regardless.

  24. This was a really great article. It was an interesting read as well as doing something great for all the troops. I would have a lot of trouble choosing comics to get rid of though, except for a few bad decisions I’ve made in my buying history (especially lots of the Black Panther issues that I stupidly bought on impulse). I have to disagree with him on one thing though, and that when he says the art is ultimatly the most important. Sure, its always good for the book to look nice, but when it comes down to it, the book has to have great writing. I can live with a sub-par artist is someone like Robert Kirkman or Garth Ennis were writing the book, but I have a lot of trouble reading books with great art, but sub-par writers.

  25. So, I have to ask:

    If I made a digital copy of every comic I ended up giving away, would that be wrong?



  26. @Diabhol:

    Legally and ethically speaking (and by ethically I mean from the perspective of most fanboys): yes.

    My personal opinion?: no. You bought them you can do whatever you want with them so long as you do not SELL these new copies(read further for details discrediting that last sentence) you could claim it’s for an art project (educational or otherwise) or it could just be to generate a page clip like so many websites do *ahem*ifanboypulllistcovers*ahem*. I remember reading up on copyrights and ownership of physical materials purchased years ago and never found the "reproduction" illegal so long as you aren’t distributing your comics for profit. It has to have a legitimate reason though so you may not want to openly tell the public you’re making copies of comics you "gave away" though. It’s a very flip-flop/wishy-washy subject but from my perspective it’s a "hush-hush" kind of thing someone does.

    note: I’m not one to condone it. This was simply an evaluation on that subject.

  27. Working at Diamond was the thing that broke me of my collector mentality. When you have more comics to read than you can keep up with and it costs you nothing or very little, they slowly lose any value other than the moment of entertainment they provide you.

    That and moving every year or so and having to lug short boxes from apartment to apartment. I now own only two boxes of actual comics – one full of my George Perez collection which took me the entirity of my teenage years to assemble and one of work I’ve actually had published. 

     Trades and hard covers are as Mike says "the ultimate safety net":)

     Take care,

    Filip Sablik
    Publisher, Top Cow Productions
    It will change the world.

  28. @Mangaman:

    I figure it’d be no different than everyone who digitized their CD library and got rid of the physical CDs (some of you even sold them back to music stores!). As long as my digital copies are for my personal use (never to be distributed for fear of lawsuits) and I paid for the originals, I don’t see the harm.


  29. Hi,

    In past i gave given a load of 90’s trashy marvel / image comics to local hospital children’s wards.

    I remember as a kid (12 i think) being in hospital and being bored as hell / depressed, then my mum bought me in some comics – not exactly what i would buy but still bought a smile to my face and i sat and read these and drawed from them to whisk away the time. i remember it was West Coast Avenger 1986 issue when the Thing joined briefly and some random comics i don’t remember.


    To give comics to a kids hospital ward and hope that a nurse will put a stck on comics for them to read puts a smile on my face.


  30. See if it comes to a piece of art you love but don’t like the writing, this is where a scanner comes in handy. 

  31. @Diabhol – Of course you can make your own copies.  Why you’d want to scan for weeks and weeks straight, I’ll never know, but do it.

  32. Hospitals are an ExCELLENT idea! I know my hospital (in Brooklyn, where I work) often times requests gentlyt worn childrens books as waits in the ER can get out of hand. Boys and girls clubs are also great ideas!!

    Anyway you can pass good books along and create a new generation of fanboys is a great idea!!Sort of like johnny appleseed but planting little heroe seeds;]