Giving Up Comics?

By | Monday, June 25, 2012 2 comments
I generally like Tom Spurgeon's weekly "Five for Friday" posts. They're kind of quirky and fun, but more interestingly, they make me reflect on my own relationship with comics. And with so many diverse topics, I've found myself delving into long neglected memories and analyzing modern themes that I might not otherwise have considered. Plus, when Tom posts them all on Sunday, I can see how other people think about the same subject. I try to participate in those "Five for Friday"s as often as I can, but I often find myself travelling on Friday evenings and don't even find out what the week's theme is until the next day after he's closed submissions.

This past weekend's subject was "Name The Last Five Comics-Buying Impulses/Strategies You'd Give Up." I was actually sitting around the house Friday evening, but I decided not to participate. I was reminded of an informal poll Valerie Gallaher conducted a few years back, right after the recession kicked into overdrive. One of her questions was:
2. Rank the following in the order of (top) would drop last to (bottom) would drop first, if you had to save money:
  1. Comic Books
  2. Video Games
  3. Collectibles
  4. Cable TV
  5. Music
  6. Internet
  7. Medication and Medical Procedures (assuming you aren't covered for them, includes dental care)
  8. Movies (either DVDs or going out to theatre)
  9. Eating Out For Dinner
My answer was that I already had cut everything, except my internet connection. This was down from a $30 per week budget on pamphlet comics. Down to nothing. The decision was not "should I drop Fantastic Four titles before or after I drop Warren Ellis books" -- it was "should I drop comics or eat".

(I should clarify, I suppose, that I only gave up "comics I had to pay for." At the time, I largely switched over to webcomics that were freely available online. And, since my financial situation has improved since then, I've gone back and made many purchases from webcomic creators whose work I particularly enjoy or appreciate.)

It's an interesting notion to consider hypotheticals like that, but I'm wondering how realistic this particular one is. I mean, do people actually cut back in the ways that are suggested in the various responses there, or do they simply stop buying comics altogether like I did, or do their purchasing strategies become irrelevant because they're no longer viable (when a creator stops producing new work or when they complete the collection one of their strategies was targeted at)?

I'm sure fans change their purchasing strategies all the time, based on any number of changing variables. But the suggestion inherent in Tom's theme was that you had to whittle down your comic purchasing habits more gradually and deliberately. My question is: does that actually happen? Do people have purchasing strategies that, for whatever reason(s), they slowly chip away at over time?

I don't know. I don't know if my approach is unique or common. I don't know how other people go about deciding which comics to buy or not. What do most comic fans actually do?
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Matt K said...

Good question. I know that I don't spend much on any of these things, these days, though realistically I'm not sure that I've spent much on them for a long time if ever.

Comics are the big exception; I don't think I was ever quite spending $30/week but 10 years ago I was definitely at the store every Wednesday buying new items. This year, I might spend $150 on comics, and that's if I make a big purchase at some point; we're nearly halfway through the year and I haven't made even one online back-issue purchase yet.

Otherwise, I don't spend much on any of those other items except f and g, which would be the last items I would cut back on (not in that order). Never had cable TV. I guess books could count as "collectibles," kind of, but then most of the ones I buy are secondhand purchases for like 50¢ apiece.

I've found that spending, or not spending, seems very much a habit. I think either one is kind of difficult to break once you get used to it.

I should probably clarify. I don't take any medication to cut, so that was kind of a non-issue for me.

Wouldn't want to give the impression that the internet was more important than my well-being. :)