Geek Economy: Comics & the Market

Today I come back with a subject that affects my pocket regularly, and possibly yours too. Of course, comics; I never have enough. I do have a double problem with this subject because I buy comics for research, and because I want them. So being practical about how I invest my earnings on this respect is pretty important and has defined the way I collect comics.

I was never into number serials. It never felt like value for money: just a few pages for all my weekend money. The economy if a child is limited. In addition, most of these comics were – and still are – superheroes. I still have the same problem with these. I don’t buy superhero comics much these days, except very specific stuff. My dad owns lots so I guess I never really felt the need to buy some, I could just grab whatever he had at hand. In addition, we have such a great culture for Francophone BD in Spain that a lot of the comics that ended in my hands at a very young age were volumes rather than serials, therefore the stories were pretty self-contained. I think it made more sense for me to purchase/read these even though periodically as it felt I was getting more value: longer read, usually cheaper price, easier format to keep – better “vol.1” than 100 “#1-#100” stacked up in a precarious way somewhere in my room.

But the thing is, comics are more expensive than books chums! Or at least here in the UK. Why? Well, that would be the full colour pages and what not that increase the cost of printing, producing, etc. So I decided the consuming of these products had to be coherent. For the last 7 year I haven’t bought a single #XXX of anything. I have become more and more keen on stand alone comics, of individual graphic novels. Even omnibus – as much as they are a pain to read, and the fact that you have to wait longer, of course, moneywise it goes easier on my bank account. I did also give us on hard covers a long time ago. Granted, some comics are just published that way, but unless it is something pretty special, I am happy with just cardboard and paper – story is the same inside, you know?

I have definitely become very selective with the stories I buy too. I used to just be happy with anything that looked cool – I mean I believe I do own an Ultimate Elektra because Salvador Larroca was drawing it and Elektra was always one of my favourites. But at the price of £10 or more per piece, you start becoming selective. I had the great fortune that my university library does have a relatively decent comic book selection so I could test waters with many titles I was unsure of and that perhaps I would have regret spending my money on. Some other i read and 3 hours later I would have got my own copy – these things happen. But there is a significant difference between reading for the sake of entertainment and for appreciation and immersion – a bit like with video games. So these days, I do thorough research before I commit to the purchase of a comic book series. As it happens, the actual ongoing series I am collecting at the moment are all Image products. And I think this is because I have moved away from superheroes and I want something else.

Interestingly enough, many of my stand alone or single volume purchases have come from smaller indie publishers, or non-American prints. I think there is a bigger culture for that kind of publication outside of the USA. I have also taken advantage of Comic Cons and such events to give a go to pretty obscure creations: I think MCM 2014 was probably the one that has given me better results on that field – came back home with 3 new things, for no more than £5. (Last years was rather disappointing).

So I think, as a general et of rules, what I have figured is the way of not spending all your money on comics follows this way:

-Be dedicated. You can be dedicated to many topics/series/characters. But keep that dedication up and try not to deviate.

-Do keep things consistent: there are thousands of comic books out there. I mean, as of the early 2000s France produces so many BDs that over a third of these titles get exported elsewhere because the get missed in the stores amongst so many others of the same type. Try to stick with a few titles until they are completed. These things are periodical, it is unlikely they will all come out at the very same time.

-If your budget is limited, inform yourself. Many things Look the same. Many things ARE the same. Many series will NOT be finished. A complete collection is always more satisfying than a disbanded one.

-Be happy to go crazy with the less well-known publications: it’s very easy to get stuck with DC and Marvel, even with IMAGE. Archai has been doing some pretty cool stuff lately, some self publishers too. Don’t be shy. Give those comic creators a chance, you may be surprised.

-Use your resources: libraries are a good place to do your scouting. Stores do not charge you for having a sneaky pick while you’re there (just don’t read the entire volume that would just be not cool!). And why not try PDFs? Comixology usually have some great deals, and screens these days will not let you down in the quality of the image. As these volumes are not printed, the cost decreases. I just got something through DriveThrough (Sagas of the Northmen) and it was pretty cool and a great value for money (6 dollars! Not even pounds!!).

Hopefully this way, you can distribute your budget better amongst your many geeky needs 🙂

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