Unless you have more money than Tony Stark, there has come a point in every long time comic book reader has to cut back on the comic books they are reading each month. With so many great titles put out it is easy to blow right past what is in a your means trying to read everything that tickles your fancy. At first it seems simple as you put together a full list of what you are reading and you might be able to scratch a few off without a second thought, but soon you have whittled it down to all the books you really love and every cut is met with multiple second-guessing and you hem an haw over the list for hours trying to find some magical way to not have to cut anything at all. This can all be very frustrating and it has driven more than a few comic readers to throw their hands up in disgust and give up reading comics altogether. I’ve lived a life of major ups and downs, and as such I’ve had to reassess what I am able to read and in order to help old and new readers alike I’m going to share with you my process in both cutting and maintaining a healthy pull list.
5. Determine What Your Budget For Time And Money Is: There are only so many comics you can buy and only so many hours you can set aside to read them. My current rule of thumb is to stick to having 20 to 25 comics in my pull box per month. This helps me reign in the budget and keeps me with a nice tight list that I can reasonably read and keep track of what is going on with just a few extra bucks to spare on the odd comic and/or collection should I feel the need. Note I said comics and not titles, many comics are now twice a month which is something I have taken into account.
On the bright side, a lot of indie/creator owned comics don’t put out 12 issues a year, so that can give you a little more play room to pick up extra titles if you plan it right. Your plan doesn’t have to be as conservative as mine, I live with what I have to work with but if you have more money or time than I do go for it, but always try and bring your budget under your max load possible to allow yourself a little flexibility when needed.
4. Don’t Read Comics You Aren’t Currently Enjoying: If your response to this is a hearty “well, duh” I want you to give yourself a nice pat on the back, but only if you’ve actually never intentionally kept reading a comic you didn’t like. I don’t imagine too many pats are happening right now. Be it some sort of tie-in to something else, the fact that it stars a writer, artist, or character that a person loves, or simply because they have to see how the story ends, I have yet to meet a long time comic reader that at one time didn’t purposefully and without any sense of irony purchase comics they did not like. The sooner you break this habit, the better. Comics are entertainment. If you are not entertained right now, even if it is a book you’ve read for years, why the hell are you reading it? Give it the boot already! Moving on.
3. Most Event Comics Today Aren’t Worth It, So Skip ‘Em: I wish this wasn’t the case folks, but it is. I hear the Justice League: No Justice event whose image I used above is actually very good, but both of the big two are so event happy that little of anything has any lasting consequence before the next event reshuffles the status quo again, and any relevant information to the regular books I’m reading will be briefly explained in those comics, so sorry, I’m not reading it.
Look, I’m not saying that going forward you can never read an event series, but be willing to cut other things out of the budget to accommodate them when you do and stick to the main book. Don’t go chasing the money hole that are tie-ins. For example, I did read the first few issues of Doomsday Clock only to find out I didn’t care for it and cut it without a second thought to help justify buying the 6 week Man Of Steel mini-series/event. I’m also reading the current Mister Miracle maxi-series, a wonderful and very self-contained series that is awesome and I encourage everyone not reading it to give it a shot. Don’t believe the hype, give your wallet a break and lay-off the event comics.
2. Diversify Your Titles: If your a guy like me who wants to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of comics despite limited resources to do so, learning to spread the love is key. Let’s say you love the X-Men and when you whittle down your list well over half your books are Marvel books and a majority of those are X-books. While there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, it does limit your frame of reference to little other than a certain small corner of the Marvel Universe.
Marvel was the comics I first fell in love with as a child and as result my pull list slightly favors Marvel, but I still have a healthy admiration for DC, Image, and a few others so I endeavor to make sure to work them into my existing budget. Not only does this lead to be a more well-rounded and focused reader but it allows you to keep a broader perspective on what is going on in comics at large even though you are reading a limited set of titles. This is such a natural thing for me to do as I always have several interests across multiple publishers, but you are going to have to play around with things and find what works for you. Don’t let one of your interests in comics dominate to the point where it is at the expense of others.
1. Remember, You Can Always Go Back: In the not so distant past comic readers had to scour back issue bins to find those classic stories they’d missed, today even the comics people hate get packaged and re-released in digital and print all the time. Want proof?
That’s right, this is the cover to one of a multi-volume set that you can buy right now of covering the original Clone Saga, one of the most reviled story arcs in comics history. It’s also currently available in a two volume omnibus set if that is more your speed. The comics companies know there are loads of fans willing to plunk down cash for even their crappiest comics so they make sure everything is collected and then released and re-released time and time again because lo and behold, they like money.
I get the thrill of reading a series as it comes out, but collections offer there own unique experience and you might even find you prefer reading some things in the collected format. I recently got into Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West when I picked up one of the comics on a whim a few months back. There are two hardcover collections of the series out right now and for me it is the superior way to experience the series. You aren’t going to miss anything just because you can’t read it right away so calm down and save some things for later. They will still be there when you are ready.
Avengers and Clone Saga images © Marvel Entertainment
Justice League: No Justice image © DC Entertainment