Random Musings 9-18-2009

I’ve been reading and collecting comicbooks since 1981, but the ever increasing price (up to $3.99) has made me cut back on individual issue purchases and go more and more toward a “wait for the trade” mentality. Those trades not only collect a storyline in one volume, they also often cost less than the combined cost of the individual issues being reprinted.

The pitfall of “waiting for the trade”, of course, is if everyone does it, and thus doesn’t pick up the individual issues, the book will be canceled and there won’t be a trade.

On a related note, in a recent issue of Comics Buyer’s Guide, columnist Beau Smith wrote that the sales of both trades and monthly comics should grow together; and that trades should serve as jumping on points for new readers. I agree. In theory, it’d be great if someone who picked up a trade ended up getting the monthly comic. That happened with me with Bone, a great all-ages series by Jeff Smith that remains in print in 10 volumes of trades, a complete omnibus edition (both in black and white), and volumes in color, published by Scholastic Press.

In theory it’d be great if a trade purchase leads to regular purchases of the associated monthly comic, but like I said, the rising prices have made me change my comics shopping habits. I’ve already gone to trades only with both Fables and Jack of Fables, leaving Buffy and Fallen Angel as my only monthly purchases.

And with regard to Fallen Angel, writer and co-creator Peter David recently decided to stop the ongoing series, and launch a series of mini-series. I asked him about that on his blog last spring and he told me, “I think the sad fact is that we’ve reached a point where, between trade paperback collections replacing back issue sales and reader attrition the longer a series goes on, that there is simply no reason to continue ongoing numbering on a series.”

I hope he’s made the right move, as I enjoy Fallen Angel, despite the $3.99 price tag. I’m buying the individual issues of the current mini series, but may wait for the trade when the next storyline comes along. We’ll see.

The comics industry needs an influx of new readers to survive. And making comics more accessible would help. True, Borders does sell various monthly titles (as well as trades), but for the most part, buying a monthly comic requires a trip to a comic shop (i.e. a destination stop). I used to buy comics at drug stores or 7-Eleven, places where they were seen by more of the general public.

Recommended science fiction reading: The Orion series by Ben Bova. Orion is a hunter created in the far future by advanced humans known as “Creators.” They send him to various points in history to make sure the space-time continuum remains to their liking. They also encourage humans from earlier time periods to believe they’re gods. The one who specifically created Orion, whom Orion calls “The Golden One” has been known variously as Ormazd, Apollo and Yahweh.


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