Friday, March 25, 2011

Why I Can't Step Into An LCS Anymore

Hello. My name is Sean and I'm a recovering comic collector.

I largely stopped buying comics in mid-2008. Entirely for financial reasons. My divorce from the year before left me with a huge chunk of debt and, although I've been paying that down diligently, I've mostly only been able to pay that down thanks to eliminating non-essential spending. As in, no vacations, no eating out, no movies, no comics. I've largely gotten used to not purchasing anything except food and gas, and I kind of like not being much of a "consumer" any more and that I'm able to keep myself more than busy and entertained for free. (Well, technically, I'm still paying for electricity and internet usage, but I'd be paying for those anyway and I'm not really paying anything appreciably more to surf entertainment sites. Like a couple cents' worth of electricity, maybe?) There are PLENTY of great webcomics available for free online!

But I am human and I've slipped from time to time. I have actually bought a few books, but I have been able to limit that to maybe one book every few months. (The vast majority of reviews I do on this site are books that were gifts, prizes or comp copies.) And the ones I do buy, I tend to focus on indie self-publishers where I buy directly from the creator so I can at least justify it to myself a little more easily. ("I'm helping such-n-such creator! Yay, me!")

Anyway, it got into my head recently that I should swing by a Local Comic Shop to pick up some mainstream-published comics by some friends of mine. Same basic premise of supporting them financially as best as I'm able.

But, long before I stepped foot in a shop, my head ran through, "Well, since I'm in there already, I should also pick up that new FF book that came out this week. It'd only be a couple of extra bucks." In and of itself, that doesn't sound too bad, does it? But you know exactly where that leads, don't you?

"That first issue was pretty good, but it ended with something of a cliff-hanger. I'll just pop in to get #2."

Two issues becomes three. Three becomes four. Four becomes five. It becomes a habit again, hitting the LCS once a month.

"Oh, look. This story crosses over into this other title."

"Oh, look. This writer I really like is working on to this other project too."

"Oh, look. This artist I really like is moving over to this different project."

"Oh, look. A new book by this older creator I always liked."

Before you know it, I'm in the shop spending $20-$30 every week again. It really is something of an addiction. I'm sure many addicts (of all stripes) will tell you that it's much easier to just stay the heck away rather than torment yourself with what well be considered "reasonable" limits.

"It's only one more. How much harm can it do?"

One more, of course, isn't the problem. It's when one more is added on top of the one more you already partook. Which is one more on top of the previous one more.

Once I get this debt paid off (a little less than two years away at this point) then it might not be an issue at all. A quick calculation suggests that I'd only spend about 2% on comics what I'm putting towards paying off debt right now. So once that debt is paid off, it frees up a lot of my cash flow that could be put towards comics.

But I'm not there yet. That money is, for my practical purposes, tied up for the next two years. And, frankly, I don't really trust myself to step into a comic shop for "just one more" comic.

3 comments:

Matt K said...

"Hi, Sean!"

:-)

Good luck, man, keep on the wagon. Debt sucks; I feel very fortunate that I've been able to avoid it to such a large extent in my life so far.

Michael Mayne said...

I have a similar problem.
Low cashflow, all of which could be better spent on numerous other things that could actually help my life run a little smoother, if only a bit duller.

My LCS (and I use the "L for local" very loosely) is about an hour away, so I only get in there once ever month or two. That tends to help cut down on quantity purchased, but the TPBs and one-shots still get me.

Ah well. Hopefully I'll learn to curb it before I'm in the red...

Sean Kleefeld said...

Yeah, I don't recommend debt if you can avoid it at all. Though I can't blame anyone who falls into it. My understanding is that most major debts people have come from one, huge, unexpected event -- often stemming from a medical issue. So even after I get rid of this load of dingo's kidneys, I expect I'll be squirreling away most of whatever "extra" I'll be making in case I get hit by a bus or something.