Written by J.T. Johnson
For the past six years, I’ve been collecting comic books again after a 16 year hiatus. I finally had access to a comic book store and jumped back in like I had never stopped. Unfortunately, I’ve recently decided to give up on collecting single issues due to many things including financial needs and also a desire to cut back on simply “collecting” things.
However, there is also another reason to stop altogether. Most comic books today write not for single issues but for the inevitable trade that will collect a series of issues into one collection. Therefore, you’ll see big six to seven issue story arcs that will soon be the latest volume of the trades for that particular title.
Back in my youth, when I was initially collecting comics, you could still find single issues that told a complete story. Sure, there were event comics such as “The Death of Superman” or the massive “Knightfall” saga in “Batman”. Beyond these key moments, though, not everything was built for a graphic novel and it even made events such as “Year One” feel special.
I’m not giving up on comics entirely, but I’d much rather forgo getting the single issues in favor of picking up the trades for a complete story. Financially, this is more sound as I get to cherrypick which stories I want to buy and think are worth my money.
Also, even if I was collecting every trade of a comic book, I would still come out cheaper on the other end as the cover price for one trade is less than the six or seven single issues contained within. I’m sorry but, for me, $3.99 an issue just isn’t worth it anymore. One argument that could be made about collecting single issues is that there are variants and special covers that you wouldn’t necessarily find in the trade.
This is a valid argument and if you’re on the hunt for variants, as one of my friends does at my local comic book store, that’s absolutely fine. But I’m not really wanting to collect comics for their collectible appeal. I just want to buy the stories that I enjoy reading and let go of the stories that don’t quite appeal to me even in my favorite titles.
The two consistent titles in my life have been “Batman” and “Detective Comics”. Over the past few years, writer Tom King has taken the reigns of “Batman” and it has been very hit-or-miss since he took over after Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s epic run during the New 52 era. Still, King is telling some good stories and I would definitely buy the trade for “I Am Bane” over the trade for his abysmally boring storyline, “The War of Jokes and Riddles”.
Therefore, if you’re out there collecting single issues and thinking about going strictly to the trades, don’t worry about it. You’re making a very sound financial decision and you’re buying the very things that the comic book writers are writing towards anyway. For me, I’m going to go pick up “Detective Comics” #1000 this weekend and that may very well be the final single issue that I ever buy.
I hate to say goodbye to something that has given me joy in the past. Yet, when other priorities and interests come knocking on your door, then that usually means that it’s time to move on. It’s not saying that the thing you once loved is now bad, it just isn’t for you anymore and that’s perfectly fine.