BUDGET COMIC BUYER’S GUIDE PT. 1: MISSION STATEMENT & FACING YOUR PULL LIST
By John Dubrawa
It’s a great time to be a comic book reader.
Each week both physical and digital store shelves are overflowing with a rich swath of some of the finest storytellers and artists ever to grace the comic book industry. Be it from the mainstream publishers to the up-and-coming independents, there’s a cavalcade of substance that’s as wide reaching as our imaginations can allow. You want to read about cats as superheroes fighting other cats as superheroes? There’s a freaking comic for that and it’s called Captain Action Cat. Face it fellow comic book readers, we’re hitting the jackpot when it comes to what we have available at our fingertips nowadays.
But just as great power comes with that pesky great responsibility, having a lot of fantastic comics to choose from results in spending more money and frankly, most of us just don’t have that luxury. Luckily, there are plenty of non-nefarious and totally legal means to spread that comic-buying buck. But beware potential budget buyer: buying comics on a budget, like everything else done with monetary restraint, will result in sacrifices and will require a heaping of patience. DON’T PANIC! You’ve made it this far and the rest of this helpful guide is designed to make the transition from freewheeling spender to budget conscious pragmatist as painless as possible. And it all begins with:
THE MISSION STATEMENT
Not all budget comic buyers are cut from the same cloth and nor should they be. Spending less can be a necessity or a healthy practice; either way, it’s important to first establish a goal before ever setting foot in the path toward making better decisions when it comes to purchasing comics. To get started, here are a few questions to help form your own personal mission statement:
- What do I enjoy reading?
You’re in a judgment-free zone right now, so confessing to only reading comic books where cats as superheroes are the main protagonists is a-okay. Comic reading is supposed to be a hobby and a fun one at that, so slogging through a less than enjoyable book because everyone else is reading it is as ridiculous as it sounds, but we all do it. Read only what makes that agonizing wait between monthly releases worthwhile. That could be reading all the latest world-changing events of Marvel and DC, the quirkier underbelly of the independent publishers, or a healthy mixture of both.
- How much can I really read?
We want to read everything that’s available to us but things like work, loved ones, and needing sunlight prevents us from inhaling every comic book on the market. This presents an unfortunate reality that’s one of the cornerstones of budget comic buying: You can’t read everything. So with that in mind, determine a realistic number of comics you have time for (and more importantly can retain) each week. This will make it much easier later on when doing any necessary trimming of your monthly pull list.
- How much do I want to spend?
This is easily the most important question of all the questions in the entire universe ever. It’s also the hardest one to dictate in words. Spend only what makes sense. Comics are truly great but food, shelter, fresh running water, and electricity is even better. Ever try reading a comic in the dark? Or on an empty stomach? Life trumps all hobbies every single time, so as obvious as that sounds, keep that in mind when determining how much you not only want to spend on this delectable hobby but also how much you can spend. Writing down a set monthly budget amount on paper and circling it three or four times has been scientifically proven (read: I saw it in a movie once) to really make it official.
FACING YOUR PULL LIST
Start with a list of all the titles on your entire monthly pull list. Make a note next to each title what it costs per issue and if it’s a title that ships more than once a month, the cost per month. Think of attaching a solid dollar amount to each comic as listing out the calories next to each menu item at a restaurant. You may not necessarily want to see it, but you really, really should. Seeing that Batman: Eternal is costing a hefty $12 a month might just make it seem a bit too fatty for your cost-conscious wallet.
Now, add everything up for the month. Don’t look away! Take a good, hard look at what’s being spent on comics each month and compare that number to the budget set in the previous step (you remembered to circle that number right?). No matter the distance between the two aforementioned numbers, a change in buying habits is inevitable and the later chapters of this guide are designed with that in mind.
For now, make note of a few titles you simply can’t live without. This might seem like a daunting task but think about the books that best reflect the kind of reader you set out to be when designing your own mission statement above. As for those titles that don’t make this prestigious cut, these will be the titles that will require that ominous “change in buying habits” I referenced above. Keep these titles in mind when reading the subsequent chapters of this guide, which will be outing several different methods that can be used to save money. Not every title is going to fit neatly into one method but the goal for this guide is to clearly define what methods to apply to which titles in order to maximize that precious monthly comic buying budget (which you hopefully circled).