Comics are becoming something that you have to be a fan of to get into. There are far too many barriers to entry if you try to go it alone.You have to also have a dealer. You don’t just walk into a comic book store. I wouldn’t be here right now if my friend Landon hadn’t walked me into rebel base those few years ago. I liked comics, and enjoyed stuff but I was out of that world. I can just buy trades and read those. Get ’em at B&N for cheap. I’m predisposed to liking this stuff too. I play video games a lot, I use to live in an arcade. I read trades of stuff. I’m an easy sell, and even without a friend showing me the comic book store I’m not going.
Here’s a little anecdote for to explain my meaning.
I try to get my best friend into comics. I took on the roll of drug dealer. First thing we did was hit up Barnes and Nobles to rack through trades. We found things he likes here and there. We even had him reasonably caught up on a few stories that are ongoing. I did all the research so it was easy for him. Just go and pick up books to enjoy. Who knew? He really enjoys the medium for story telling. He even got caught up with all the hooey and applesauce from the amazingly complicated DC Universe. Then we had to go to the store and start with monthlies. Mmm.
What we found is that if you’re late on a series good luck getting caught up. Due to TPBs (Trade Paperbacks) coming out six months or more after the storyline is finished you often find yourselves a couple of issues late on a storyline.
You can say that you don’t have to get caught up on everything, but are you going to start “The Wheel Of Time” on book seven? There’s very few series of things that I feel comfy throwing someone into the middle of. I mean, bad sitcoms aside how often do you just turn on a tv show that you know nothing about and go? You’re not going to make last week’s “Lost” your first. Even if you watched seasons one through three on DVD you don’t want to just skip to the tenth or twelth episode of Season four. So you have to go at least a little bit backwards, but here’s the rub. That issue from last year that starts this whole Superman kick off. That’s a dollar more than the already $3 book you’re looking at. You think to yourself as someone who doesn’t read comics “Lo, this is a mistake! This thing has gone up in price over time without doing anything.” Stop.
You go to your used bookstore and yup, all the used books are indeed cheaper than their newer counterparts. You go to your local car lot and the cars are indeed cheaper than their newer friends (for now at least). You hit up the local gamestop and the used video games are also, in fact, cheaper than their new brethren. Same thing happens at CD Warehouse!.You are aghast!
You head back to the comic store and think to yourself, “What if this book is bad?” This here is 22 pages of material at $3 and $4. It doesn’t even have a freaking shiny cover. I wouldn’t mind as much if it had a shiny cover, or dialogue on the cover to clue me in as to what the story may have in store for me. (What ever happened to shiny covers by the way. I want those back.) Can’t be helped. We just decide to skip over an arc. They’ll make a trade of it later. Or not.
We venture back to our local comic book shop and we think “What characters do we like most?” You pick out batman, superman, and green lantern. maybe even jonah hex for good measure. He goes to the rack and picks up the past two issues of each cause that’s all the further behind you are in the story. Two issues batman two issues green lantern corp two issues action comics one issue jonah hex (thank you done in one stories) and theres boobies on the cover so one issue red sonja (If only he had waited for the first issue of the Oracle Mini Series. Good God) thank you. That sir, is twenty four dollars.
“Do I really want to do this?” He asks. “Is it worth the price to get these books now?” Know what? It’s not. He can wait six months and get these things for $10 a pop from B&N or Amazon. In fact, if he’s lucky he can even get these from instocktrades.com for %50 off a piece and end up paying $40 for “Batman and Son”, “GLC: Ring Quest?”, “Superman: Escape From Bizzaro World”, and I forget the Jonah Hex trade from those issues. Makes better financial sense. Get more story there all about.
Granted I’m the worlds worst drug dealer. But this story goes much different if we had been able to walk into any of the local comic shops and pick up back issues for less than cover price. He gets used to the idea of reading comics in this format and he’s happy with it. Instead he’s a trade waiter.
So if comic companies make their money off of monthly sales, they’re not acting like it. The entire setup begs people to wait. My friend picks and chooses what trades he wants to get about every three or four months. He’s totally happy. He gets his stories. There are never delays, it costs him less, and the shopping enviroment of a Barnes and Noble is much less claustrophobic and more pleasing to him.