I’ve been keeping track of the comics I buy and the money I spent since 2005 (actually, I did it for some years earlier than that, but I lost that list and stopped for a few years prior to 2005), but I think I’m going to skip that in 2014. So I figured I’d break down some numbers, and, as I often do at the end of the year, I have a nice think about dropping some books. It’s not pleasant, but it has to be done occasionally! So yes, this will be a dull, largely navel-gazing post. Aren’t those fun?
Let’s begin at the beginning. 2005! Back then, I didn’t keep track of the trade paperbacks and original graphic novels I bought, so I was spending a lot more than these numbers will show. These are just the new comics I got every Wednesday. I tried to keep track of the back issues I bought, but I didn’t always succeed. I know I made some errors with these, so these aren’t exact numbers, but they’re close enough. I would say my final totals aren’t off by more than $5 either way. The totals for the number of comics I got also include free comics that I received in the mail.
The back issues in January are from a sale my comic shoppe had. The July miscellaneous is the stuff I got at the San Diego Comic-Con.
The free issues in January and September 2011 are from credit I used at my store. In January I got every comic DC published, and in September, I got all of the “New 52” issues. May and June 2011 were the two months I spent in Pennsylvania, so I bought all the single issues when I got back to Arizona and don’t know when they shipped. The high numbers for the TPs/OGNs and back issues reflect the fact that I had a bit too much time on my hands.
Gosh, that’s a lot, ain’t it? If we extrapolate out for the five years I didn’t keep track of the trade paperbacks and original graphic novels I bought, I would expect those numbers to double, bringing my total for the nine years close to $40,000. Prior to that, I had bought comics for 16 years plus a few months of a 17th. Comics were cheaper then and trades weren’t as abundant, but I don’t think it’s too crazy to think that I’ve spent close to $100,000 on comics in my life, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it were more.
My buying habits are remarkably consistent, though. Here are the total number of issues I bought, with no other adornment:
That’s not too big a deviation. Obviously, the glory days were in 2009-2011, when I got the three highest totals, but it’s still pretty consistent. In the past few years, I think the DCnU and Marvel NOW! has made it easier for me to drop single issues from the Big Two, which accounts for that drop (I didn’t count the 99 issues I got for free in 2011, you’ll note). Maybe that’s it.
Anyway, the monthly totals are also fairly consistent. Let’s check those out:
January: 334; 37.1 average
February: 393; 43.7 average
March: 372; 41.3 average
April: 401; 44.6 average
May: 358; 44.8 average (this does not count 2011, because I’m not sure what issues I bought in May or June)
June: 376; 47 average (ditto)
July: 435; 48.3 average
August: 445; 49.4 average
September: 395; 43.9 average
October: 431; 47.9 average
November: 440; 48.9 average
December: 395; 43.9 average
Some of these numbers are skewed by fifth Wednesdays, of course – in July and August of 2011 I bought over 60 issues each month, and while July was just a big month, August 2011 had five Wednesdays – but it’s interesting to compare. January is by far the smallest month, which isn’t surprising – after the big year-end spasm, without looking at data January seems to be a slower month, and my numbers, at least, back that up.
I’m also curious to see how many of each publisher I’m buying in each month. I’m limit this to DC (plus Vertigo and Wildstorm), Marvel, Image, and Dark Horse, because even though I buy a lot from other publishers, they tend not to ship as much as those four do. Plus, it’s my post, so I’ll do what I want to! Here are the numbers:
The death of Wildstorm in August 2011 is reflected, of course. I did not, however, add the 99 DC issues I got for free in January and September 2011, so there’s that. The numbers from October 2012 to March 2013 for Marvel are slightly elevated, too, because of the Marvel NOW! thing, but as they didn’t do it all at once, it was harder to track. So if we subtract about 45-50 of the Marvel issues, it will probably be closer to the DC total. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m a DC hater or a Marvel hater, and I think the numbers don’t really back that up. Of the issues I bought, 14.7% were DC comics, with another 8.7% from Vertigo and 4.3% from Wildstorm. If you want to count those all as DC, then 27.7% of my comics were from DC. Granted, a lot of those were Batman comics, because I dig Batman, but they’re still DC books. Meanwhile, 22.1% of my books were Marvel comics, and I didn’t consider whether those were MAX books or Icon books. So those numbers, while possibly lower than many people (I have no idea – I think I’m somewhat eclectic for a guy who still buys a lot of mainstream comics, but I don’t know that’s true), don’t really prove that I hate the Big Two.
Anyway, let’s show just the totals for each year, because it’s pretty dramatic (the numbers in parentheses are trades/graphic novels):
DC and Marvel have given me great opportunities to switch to trades, so I’ve taken them, as you can see in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, I’ve been a fan of Image for years, but in the past two years, they’ve really stepped up their game – in 2013, about 37% of my single issue purchases were from Image. Even Dark Horse has picked up the pace, both in single issues and in collections.
But it’s the end of the year, and I like to cull my list a bit. Some comics just aren’t doing it for me, even though I had high hopes for them. I have to pre-order quite a bit from my retailer (he’s gotten more varied in the past couple of years, so that I can usually get issues from the “Big Four” without pre-ordering them, but it’s still not guaranteed), so it’s hard to simply drop a book because I have to be a few months ahead of time, but I’m still doing it! Let’s check out my pull list as of this moment (these are only ongoing series), with comments:
Astro City: I love AC. I will always buy it.
Batman ’66: As long as Parker writes most of these and they keep getting good artists, I’ll keep buying it.
Black Science: Only two issues in, but it’s good so far. I have mentioned that I trust Remender less the further he gets into a series, so we’ll see about this one.
The Bounce: This hasn’t really grabbed me yet, but I trust Casey. It’s on a short leash, though.
Chew: One of the best, if not the best, series right now. It’s staying.
Dark Horse Presents: Good-to-excellent every month. Even if the stories aren’t great, the art usually is.
Deadpool: I’m sure Marvel will reboot this once Duggan and Posehn leave, and that’s probably when I’ll jump ship. I don’t know how long they’re hanging around, though.
Detective Comics: I’m bailing after issue #29 (I think that’s Layman’s last issue). I’ll get the trades, probably, but DC kept the price $3.99 when they eliminated the back-up stories, and that’s just douchey.
East of West: One of the best series right now. I think I’ll keep buying it.
Fatale: I’ve liked Fatale from the beginning, but this year it got better, so I’ll keep buying it.
Hawkguy: This is a really tough one. I like some issues, and overall, it’s a good series. I think the constant love it gets from everyone makes me think it ought to be better, but it’s not. It’s solid, though, so for now, it stays.
Lazarus: I liked the first issue, but the next few have been kind of dull. It makes me sad, but I’m done with it.
Letter 44: Only two issues have come out, but it’s pretty darned cool. So I’m keeping it.
Li’l Gotham: Ending with issue #12. I probably would have stopped getting it, but I might as well make it a complete set now.
The Manhattan Projects: Still very good, although not as good as it was last year. I’m still on board, though!
Manifest Destiny: Surprisingly excellent. It’s this year’s Witch Doctor – creators I’ve never heard of kicking ass!
The Massive: I’ve been on the fence with The Massive since it began, really, and I think I need to cut the cord. I can see myself backsliding, but I’ll try to be strong!
Mind MGMT: One of the best series coming out right now. Yeah, I’ll keep getting it.
Mind the Gap: I’m still intrigued by this, but it’s not as gripping as it was last year. It’s on a short leash.
Miss Fury: Ending with issue #11. I’ll get it until then.
Morning Glories: It’s still trucking along quite nicely, even with some bumps in the road. I’m committed for now!
Pretty Deadly: This is another tough one. After two issues, I was ready to drop it, but #3 was better, so I’m torn. I’ll probably take it one issue at a time for now.
Rocket Girl: I’m just not that interested in this. Saga: I’m going to get issue #18, and then I’m done. I want so much to like this more, but it’s just not working for me. If you can’t get me hooked after 18 issues, that’s your problem. The only downside is that I won’t be able to argue with Kelly Thompson about it any more. So sad! Satellite Sam: Fraction is having a bad year, in my mind.
Sex: Another one by Casey that I’m sticking with. I like it more than The Bounce, but it’s still not great. We’ll see.
Sex Criminals: Oh, Matt Fraction. So sad!
The Sixth Gun: One of my favorite comics. It might end this year (or maybe next; I think 50 issues are planned), and I’ll be there!
Think Tank: After the next issue, it’s going into limbo, but Hawkins promises that it will be back later this year. We’ll see.
Über: This is getting better with each issue, and I trust Gillen, so I’m keeping it.
Umbral: Excellent first two issues, and I’m looking forward to more!
Velvet: I’m on the fence with this. The first two issues were interesting, but it feels very familiar. It’s done very well, but still familiar. We’ll see.
Wasteland: Still a fine series, and winding down as well, possibly this year. I will be sorry to see it go.
Watson and Holmes: This is another series I want to like more, but it’s just a middling comic. I might keep buying it, but right now, I think I’m done. Young Avengers: The next issue is the last one, so that’s that.
Zero: I really like this series, so I’m going to keep buying it!
Not too dramatic, I know, but I’m not crazy! I currently buy 37 titles, and I’m dropping 11 of them right away or in the near future. I’m sure I will pick up some new ones, but that’s why we cull – to make room for the new stuff!
So that’s the money I spent on comics over the years. Far too much, probably, but I dig the comics, man! I won’t be as complete this year, but I’m going to at least keep the receipts so I can see if my totals go down. We shall see!