Cold Comix Turkey

I bought and read a number of comic books while growing up.  (And had to sneak them into the house past my Mom, who thought they were the next-worst thing to porn.)  Quit when I started college, and didn't start again until 1985, when the bookstore Hilde and I frequented added a comics section and several titles caught my eye.  (WATCHMEN and the Ted Kord version of BLUE BEETLE, in particular.)  I've continued since then, usually buying 3-4 titles per week.  That bookstore went under, eventually, but I continued buying comics, now at comics specialty shops, and have been shopping at the same vendor for over fifteen years.

DC Comics announced a few months ago that they would be relaunching their comics line, with new #1 issues of 52 different titles.  The stated purpose of this was to give a new generation of readers a jumping on point to start reading comics.

But this also meant that a bunch of the old titles were suddenly cancelled in mid-storylines.  That hasn't made the old generation of readers happy.  The last conversation I had with David, the owner of the comics shop I shopped at, I said, "This could just as easily be a jumping off point for the current readers."   He told me that a number of his customers had already cancelled their standing orders for DC titles.

Another reason for DC's relaunch was to start promoting increased digital sales of comics, rather than the old-fashioned paper-and-ink versions.  Not good news for comics shops owners.

David's shop had already been hanging on by its fingertips, with a lot of customers cutting back or stopping completely in the wake of the general economy's weakening in the last several years.  When you cut back on non-essential spending, things like books or movies or comics are among the first to be cut.  He'd come close to losing the shop about a year before, only staying open when he'd been able to renegotiate the shop's lease at the last minute.

So I wasn't too surprised when I went back a few weeks later to find the store's lights out, the doors locked, and a notice from the landlord taped to the door.  (Man, that's gotta hurt for David.  He's started working for the store's original owners as a teenager, then bought the store from them about ten years ago.  Hopefully nearly twenty years of retail experience will let him find another source of income soon.)

So there I was, suddenly cut off from my usual source of comics.  (There are other comics shops, but all considerably farther away and in the wrong direction from my usual travel patterns; David's shop was less than a mile away.) What to do?

What I've done is... nothing.

I have to admit that I've thought for a long time that the cost-to-benefit ratio of buying comics is a negative one.  I can buy a comic that costs $3 or (usually) more, and get ten or fifteen minutes reading pleasure from it.  Or I can buy a paperback novel for about $8 and get hours of reading from it.  (When I bought my very first comics, as a kid, they were still twelve cents apiece; they've increased in cost 25-fold.  My first paperbacks, a couple of years later, averaged sixty cents; they've only risen 12 to 13-fold since then.)(Yes, I'm old.)  I've kept up the habit of buying occasional comics mostly from... habit.

So I've gone cold turkey on comics.  So far I haven't missed many of the titles I was following all that much.  And I'm saving about $40 to $50 a month in expenses.

(The one title I've missed the most has been T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, one of the titles cancelled by DC in their relaunch.  It's been an interesting update to the original series from the 1960's, with some unexpected twists.  Googling for this post, however, it seems enough people objected to losing that particular title and story arc that DC may put it back into production in a few months.  I'll have to think about that one....)

(I also wanted to note that the relaunch of Superman reportedly involves some changes to his costume; it's now going to be a type of "Kryptonian battle armor".  Say what?  I say, "Bullshit!" to that.  Everyone knows -- KNOWS -- that Supe's costume was made by Ma Kent unravelling the blankets that swaddled Kal-El inside that rocket and weaving the uniform from those threads.  These are immutable truths about Superman:  He can fly.  He has super-strength.  He's invulnerable.  And his mother dresses him funny.)

No comments: