February 14, 2010

Marvel Snapshot: Buying Trends

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Written by: Billy
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Welcome back comic lovers to another edition of Marvel Snapshot. In this week’s column I’d like to discuss people’s buying trends. Specifically, if you mainly buy new comics or back issues? I have some weird trends myself which I’ll be talking about, but I also want to hear from the masses as well. OK, so no more intro, let’s just get down to business!

First off, my personal buying habits have really gone over the top from previous weeks/years. When I went to my LCS (local comic shop) every Wednesday, I used to buy 3 – 5 books on average. Sure there were 8 – 10 weeks, but they were few and far between. Now I regularly get 5 – 7 books regularly. I feel like I save so much more from buying online that, “hey, why not buy a couple of more books at this discount, the LCS would have been a lot more.” I know that’s kind of foolish, but it makes sense in my cloudy mind so I say go for it.

Now, a little back story on my old/new habits. When I first started buying comics I literally only wanted back issues. The first couple of comics I bought were new issues from a bookstore turn-style rack, but after that it was back issue city for me. I really loved going to my LCS and rooting through boxes and boxes of back issues. I would spend hours with my nose buried in those old water-stained long-boxes, just to look at the covers sometimes. Yeah, that’s right, I would sometimes go there even if I was flat broke just to peek at the covers. In my mind, nothing was going to stop me from collecting every back issue until I bought Amazing Fantasy #15. Of course, then I realized that most of the books that were pre-1980 were way out of my price range. So I restrategized and thought, “OK, well I’ll just buy all the ones I can actually afford.”

For the first couple of years (1990-1992), I mainly focused on pre-1990 comics, but when the X-Men storyline “Fatal Attractions” hit the shelves, I was mystified (note to readers, if you haven’t read that arc, pick it up immediately). That story got me hooked on new comics and I tailed off of older issues almost completely. Then in 1997 I discovered in its wondrous glory, the Internet. This discovery led me to find online comic stores. These stores were a fantastic place to find older issues at a much more reasonable price than my LCS. For the first year or so, I only bought from Why only them you ask? Well, it was simple. They had the issues I wanted and a free shipping plateau so I never questioned their prices. They also packaged well and were prompt with shipping times. Not long after that though I heard about and I really liked them to. They were even cheaper as far as price in some instances, and their free shipping plateau was $10 less.

I did take a small break from comics around 1997 until 2001. I still went to the LCS once in a while and bought back issues via the web, but I did lose touch with what was going on during that period. Later on, when I got back into comics full-time again, I really wanted some back issues that were pricey, and also to catch up with what I’d missed during my time away from new issues. That was when I discovered Tpbs (trade paperback). I found that in most cases when older issues were involved, this format was a great way to get older issues for a bargain price. It seems that these days you can get recent issues cheaper on sites like than if you buy the Tpbs. I for one would rather get single issues, but it is nice to be able to sit down and read an entire arc in one book rather than opening multiple bagged comics all day.

So to recap, I have some weird buying trends as far as new issues vs. back issues (let’s not even get into genres). How about you? Are you a new issue reader/buyer or only vintage stuff? Many people I know think all new stuff is garbage, but that thinking is totally not true. Just look at Siege or Blackest Night. Both sold over 100,000 copies last month (ICv2) and from what I’ve read and heard about Blackest night, it’s the best thing in DC for a while. I know personally after only two issues of Siege that it’s better than the last couple of big stories for Marvel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Secret Invasion or Dark Reign hater, but Siege has certainly raised the stakes a lot higher in two issues in my opinion, and also shown more promise for the future.

Let’s hear some trends from you now in the comment section. Good or bad comments are welcome. Personally the bad ones are usually the funniest, so fire away!

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Kristin

    I’d rather get issues as they come out than try to remember to get a TPB. Though sometimes I’ll go TPB, like if I came onto the series really late (Y: The Last Man), or for something like…DC’s 52. Regardless of other reasons, it’s also easier for me to find space for comics in comic boxes than make shelf space for TPBs.

    If I’m hunting down an older series, I usually go for the TPB. Unless it’s significantly cheaper to buy the issues out of back issue bins.

    The exception, obviously is my manga. Manga graphic novels are sort of the equivalent of an American TPB for comics. The big difference being that manga aren’t typically published in single issue format, but rather published by chapter in large, phone-book sized magazines. Then, when there’s enough chapters, they put them together in a tankobon.

    By the way, buying from Mile High Comics or My Comic Shop online…you are pretty much buying from a LCS, because both of those sites are run by brick and mortar companies.

  2. I have been reading Green Lantern: Rebirth, The Sinestro Corp War, and Sins of the Star Sapphire via trades. I really liked it! I am eagerly awaiting Rage of the Red Lanterns and Agent Orange to be released in trade format (I don’t want to get them in hardcover, since they won’t match the rest).

    I have reached the conclusion that I LOVE trades! It’s quicker for me to read a complete storyline, cheaper than buying each issue, and they look nice sitting on my shelves. I am pro trades!

  3. billy

    @Kris-Yeah I read both of their newsletters every week but my problem is that there is only one LCS within 40 miles or so of my house and their prices are not anywhere near MHC or Lonestar’s. And new issues, that same LCS only offers 10% on subscription service!
    @Bill-I love Tpb’s to for their convenience. It’s nice to read a story, especially a big one, in one sitting without all those single issues lying around. For the most part though, I like singles but they are just to pricey (older stuff I mean). Most of the newer issues I can find on CCL cheaper than a Tpb.

  4. Freddy

    I had a trend on the 90s of only buying comics with an X on them. X-Men, Uncanny X-men,X-Force Ect. It was like all of comics consisted on this universe and only this universe. I really didn’t even like all the X books i just had to have this universe. Now i seem to only buy Superhero comics that don’t sell. Brave and the Bold, Titans, Doctor Voodoo Sword, Fantastic Force. Right there have been some of my favorite comics lately and it is honestly because i know they wont be top ten. its like i move towards the low selling book with the idea that i will get a less sanitized story.

  5. billy

    @Freddy-Thanks for stopping by. I was the same way at first but also with Avengers titles. I really like Doctor Voodoo which is done as of issue 5 and that stinks. I love Guardians of the Galaxy to. It’s a book that really isn’t in the forefront but has what I feel is the best writing team Marvel has right now(Abnett & Lanning).

  6. My buying trends have definitely changed over the years but it’s only due to the responsibility of growing up and having to spend money on other things.

    I pretty much only collect trades if it’s a series where the singular issues would cost me wayyyy too much to collect as a whole or if I’m just too far behind and want to catch up pretty quick. Thats actually how I got into Walking Dead since I actually bought issues 30-34 but I wanted to know the whole story before hand so I grabbed Vol 1&2 of the trades. Thanks to my girl liking them so much as well we were caught up in 2 months and owned all 8 volumes. Now I have to get those in trade form just because thats the only way she’ll read them and you can’t stack the single issues on a bookshelf and make them look nice lol

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