Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Return of the Comic Purge

This week I ran into a massive amount of maintenance for my car. It needed to have new points and plugs, was due for a full check up, the air conditioner had died. The bill was rather extensive since I needed a set of tires and new brakes (including rotors). This caused me to have to decide to get a new car or just do the maintenance. The numbers played out that in the long run doing the maintenance is the best deal and should buy another 45,000 miles on my car without major work. This caused me to rethink all of my expenses and look for ways to shave down some of my bills and my entertainment bill is way too high. So I pulled out my extensive list of books and hacked away again. I’m still at around a hundred titles a month, but it is getting better and better and I hope to get it down even further as time goes by.

I thought I would share why I took off what I did and wonder if more and more fans may start to see things the way I do or if perhaps my over analytical and former CPA mentality is just my view of the world.

First up I dropped the Complete Dracula from Dynamite. It is an interesting project and a nice idea in how to adapt a novel into a comic book, but two things jumped out at me. First if I want to read the novel I should read the novel. My own mind’s eye can fill in the pictures. Second if this is a well done project I can “wait for the trade” as a novel would read better in that format. Therefore it was redundant to waste money on it and you know if I wait a year or so the Baltimore Comic-Con will have somebody selling it for half price as a trade.

Next up was Conan the Cimmerian. This was a hard one as I enjoy Tomas Giorello’s art and Tim Truman does a great job writing the stories, but I hit saturation points with certain characters. I notice this happens to me with Conan from time to time and I need to go away from this title and come back in a year or two and see what is going on at that time. Plus I have so many trades of the old Marvel run to re-read and therefore I have enough Conan for right now.

Another difficult one to drop was the “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” the 24 part reprinting of Phillip K. Dick’s work put to illustrations. This is a wonderful project, but it was pointed out to me by my retailer that I would end up paying $96 retail for a $7 paperback. Economically it makes no sense to buy this in this type of format. I hated to let it go, but the cost benefit did not work.

Firebreather from Image was another book I let go, but this was easy as I had never really gotten deeply invested in the character and based on the publishing schedule they may have cancelled this on me before I took it off my list. For a reader like me one way to fall off my list is to have an inconsistent publishing schedule. I can tolerate this with some creators on certain projects, but not for a series trying to win me over as a long term fan. See Chew, Jersey Gods and Proof for the way to do it right.

Unwritten from Vertigo is next. This went from being a great first issue to just losing my interest at record speed. Now I may decide to pick this up as trades down the road, but the book was not holding together for me as a monthly series. I think the reason was that this is a very different take on a continuing comic and the monthly format was not working for me as there was almost too much happening at once.

Poe from BOOM was also dropped. It only had two more issue to go, but it was just not working as the story went from straight crime to more supernatural and almost felt too modern for the time it was occurring.

Punisher Noir and Luke Cage Noir from Marvel was a double hit. Both of these books were a pure price point decision. They are both $4 for 22 pages of story and art. Both were good reads and interesting, but not worth $16 for a four part story. I have to keep reminding myself to multiply the price for the entire mini-series when making a decision on whether to keep getting a book. Sure it maybe a decent story, but I have plenty of other decent stories that cost less. In the grand scheme of things all of these price increases has caused me to actually spend more this year then last and I would be happy spending a little more, but now I want to spend the same or maybe a little less. I’m only one person but hopefully more and more people will not buy the $4 regular size comics from Marvel and they will stop producing them. Of course I have a theory that this is all a prelude to pushing people to digital comics down the road and cutting out the printer, distributor and retailers except for a small print run of books, which would then be $5 or more.

Anna Mercury 2 from Avatar. Some of Ellis’s series take way too long to come out and I will wait for reviews and the trade of this type of material. Plus a lot of these stories do read better as a whole.

Last is North 40 from Wildstorm. It was a story of a town overrun by a Lovecraft type horror theme and I realized that I read enough of this material also. I also realized that I should go back and read more of Lovecraft stories as they are very good and better then the derivative stuff from other writers.

As you can see this was not a major purge by dropping Marvel or dropping Superman titles or something like that, but I have made it a tougher game for books to stay on my list or even for me to try out a book. I’m skipping Red Tornado from DC and may skip the Torch from Marvel this coming week for different reasons then just money, but the dollars are certainly a factor.


  1. I think you made a mistake dropping "Androids". I don't think it's a fair comparison to just say reading the novel would be the same as reading the comic version. Sure, the text is the same (which is AWESOME), but I think the pictures add to the whole story (especially for those of us imaginatively challenged.) It's not that I can't "see" what the author is writing, but I can't maintain it. So when the next chapter starts, I'm no longer "seeing" how the character looks unless something changes in the plot. Plus, given your impressive but barely-cracked-spine collection of hard-covers, are you EVER going to get around to reading the novel? At least as a monthly comic -- you WILL read it. And as a prestige format book with more text in one issue than some whole 6-part mini-series -- it's a real bargain at $4 per issue. It would be a $6 book at Marvel for sure. Maybe you should do a panel per issue comparison or a word per issue comparison.

    You'd probably do better cutting back on your more $$$ purchases, since you rarely have time to read them. But, I understand the felt "need" to get some of these collections, especially when you see them sell out and increase in price. For example, I want to get the Bruebaker Cap and DD Omnibuses and sell my original comics, but already the Cap Omni is going up in price. I feel I'll be more likely to reread them in the HC format.

    My list has dwindled to almost nothing and I'm constantly second-guessing myself on what I'm buying. When I wait for the trade, I rarely actually get the trade. Although IDW's Byrne books have been the exception. I won't even get and IDW monthly, because their trades are done so well at usually the same cost as the original book.

    I do a lot of my supplemental reading at the Howard County library, which has monthly comics and a good collection of graphic novels. Just this week I finished the first Beetle Bailey collection -- very funny!

    Still, we all have to purge, especially in the cruddy economy and it's a good example that you're setting, but you shouldn't have retired Androids. :)

  2. Matt - Dropping Androids was a difficult choice and now I will have to rethink it as you are right I will have a better chance of actually reading it as a monthly comic.