Born in Birmingham, raised in Detroit, born again in the Spirit & lives in Chicago. Post-Crisis nerd. Christ-Follower.
Questioning the Sub-List is a segment in which I go through my comic subscriptions to decide what goes, what stays and what I anticipate purchasing based on the newest, monthly solicitations.
Comics are expensive nowadays, right? Forever gone are the days when the cover price for some of our favorite comic books were 75¢. I’m dating myself; but oh how I’d love to go back to those days as a kid-consumer of all things comics.
The Pulp of Comic Books’ Past
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Romancing a 30 year old price-point aside, today’s comic books are not that cheap any more and for good reason. The quality of the paper is a cut above the pulp of comic books’ past. It’s glossier, sturdier and holds colors and ink better than before. Even the ink itself, its transfer to paper, the binding and the digital processing all contribute to a far superior product. But you may know this already. Distribution of books to retailers greatly factor into prices also. Lastly, creators have to get paid what little many of them receive for their hard work. Though their due is unfortunately tied to sales at times and to how their publishing contracts are structured, it too plays a role in the cover prices. That said. I can’t buy everything.
On New Comic Book Day, often I select certain books from the shelves and purchase them at cover price that I may find interesting or may have heard about. At other times I rummage through the discount bins for books I may have missed or wanted to read, but didn’t buy when they were solicited. Trade-waiting is also popular among some comic book fans who wait for the trade paper-back editions of some of their favorite creators, comics and/or story arcs. However, it is subscriptions and pre-orders that publishers, creators, distributors and retailers really rely upon when one breaks down the cost of comics. This is another discussion for another time, but I can’t state any more clearly how important it is to pre-order comics when you can.
Can’t Buy Everything, Can Pre-Order
A subscription guarantees the pre-order of the comics I enjoy without doing so monthly. So, what am I currently reading from my sub-list as I contemplate pre-ordering books? I recently added JLU to my subscriptions because I thoroughly enjoyed reading July’s issue #11. On the heels of DC’s two-month Convergence event where many books ended, many new books began and many creative teams got shuffled around to other books, JLU is the best of both worlds. Aquaman, Swamp Thing and Animal Man were all books that I enjoyed reading in the pre-Convergence New 52. Jeff Parker, who wrote Aquaman joins artist Travel Foreman who shared his talent on Animal Man. Add Mera, Animal Man and Swamp Thing to the mix and what a surprise hit. The art all around was beautiful thanks to the colors of Jeromy Cox. It was just a well-done book that got my attention in its first pages, though initially I was on the fence at the time of its solicitation. I have to buy issue #12 from the shelf in August, but I’ve pre-ordered issue #13 and beyond with a subscription.
Currently, Marvel’s Daredevil and Ant-Man remain on my sub-list as well as S.H.I.E.L.D.. With October around the corner (and October solicitations available now) I’m curious about the creative teams shuffle. Come November, writer Mark Waid will have wrapped up stellar duties on Daredevil with star artists Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson. He also will have bowed out of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Waid will have left those books to write All-New, All-Different Avengers with artists Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar.
Writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney are solicited to tell a brand new story in Daredevil later this year. The CW’s Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim will join Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with artist Mike Norton. I’ve been a fan of both Matt Murdock’s and Phil Coulson’s respective interpretations in the comics (along with Secret Avengers by Ales Kot, Mike Walsh and Matt Wilson). So I’m looking forward to see how their characters develop with new creative teams.
Speaking of creative teams, so far I’ve been a little disappointed with Aquaman since Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons left the book. The new story line developed by Cullen Bunn and Trevor McCarthy along with Guy Major (colorist) and Tom Napolitano (letterer) – not to mention a few fill-in artists for issue #42 – strays from the lighter, hopeful and chivalrous adventure prior to Convergence. It is confusing and dark. My guy at the local shop where I buy comics assured me to wait a few more issues. However, Aquaman is “on the bubble” and near being dropped. As for Cyborg, I am looking forward to continuing with David F. Walker on this book. I hope to stay plugged in with Victor Stone and artists Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado (inks), Adriano Lucas (colors) and Rob Leigh (letters). Walker on this book guarantees Justice to and a direction with this Victor Stone that is well overdue for a solo book.
Stay Plugged In
Subscriptions are important. The more you can pre-order the books you enjoy, the better it is for the creators. Some local shops offer discounts for pre-ordering also, so the advantage goes to readers in the pricing game. However, know what you like to read. Try out different writers and artists. Browse the shelves for indie comics and local creators. Ask how to pre-order them if they interest you. Check out different creative teams. If it weren’t for Nick Spencer on Ant-Man, I would not be pre-ordering Astonishing Ant-Man or Captain America: Sam Wilson. Lee Weeks (whose art I like a whole lot) attracted me to Superman: Lois and Clark, with the promise of a pre-New 52 Superman I’ve been eager to read. Though the title alone should attract any Superman fan, the addition of Dan Jurgens sealed the deal for me. The premise in Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughn (Saga), Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman) and Matt Wilson (Daredevil), of Halloween, aliens and middle school aged adventurers got my inner Goonies going. Hence, I’m interested in what may be a great coming-of-age story set in the late 80’s.
Comics should be an enjoyable experience and not one burdened by the pocket book and poor storytelling. Everyone has their likes and dislikes.
Yet, there are lots of great comic books out there.
Be aware of your personal favorites and try others from time to time.
Finally, PREORDER. Maybe you’ll thank me for it later.
Michael Carter is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Michleecarte