The End of an Era
November 10, 2010

I started reading and collecting comic books when I was nine years old.

Last month…I stopped.

Well, the collecting part anyway. 

I used to read a ton of titles every month from a variety of publishers. As trade paperbacks became more prevalent I found that I greatly preferred that format over monthly comics. And, I found that I was buying the trade of issues I already had. Not the brightest thing I’d ever done.

So, about two years or so back I dropped all my monthly books except for Batman and Superman. Batman is my favorite comics character, and Superman (a close second) was a title that I’d been reading solidly since John Byrne relaunced the book back around 1986.

Last month I finally dropped both books. My last two periodical comics.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I still question my decision to drop Superman, just because of the history I have with the book. But, I think I did the right thing for me.

I still love comics and, moreso, the characters. I’ll admit that I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with a lot of modern comic storytelling. In regards to Batman and Superman, I pretty despise (strong words, ed?) what Grant Morrison (and, subsequently, Tony Daniel) have done with Batman and the characters current direction. Superman, on the other hand, has an interesting story arc going on in "Grounded"…but, I’ll just end up picking it up as a trade at some point.

Maybe.

I’m finding far greater satisfaction in picking up trades of older material. Marvel’s gearing up for the Captain America and Thor movies and collecting a bunch of older storylines, which is fantastic! I hope that DC does the same thing with Green Lantern…especially some of the Len Wein/Dave Gibbons run from the 1980s.

36 years of getting comic books every month. Now, it’s over.

Now, to purge those long boxes taking up space in my garage…

 

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Jeff Cope
Jeff Cope has been collecting toys and action figures since he was a wee lad growing up in the 70s, and is still waiting to grow out of it. He's been involved in the online collecting community since he first started writing for Raving Toy Maniac in the mid-90s, and is proud to call AFi his online home.
Read other articles by Jeff Cope.

 

 

 

27 Comments »

  • Toythinker says:

    I wouldn’t say good-bye permanently…

    In my opinion, it’s a phase. I did the same thing and it took several years for me to slowly get back into the game again. I’m 40+ so I’ve got some stories…

    On some books, the writing and the art couldn’t be better. It’s a really good time to be a comic fan.

    In any event, just know that the light will always be on….

    • Jeff Cope Jeff Cope says:

      Nah, I really don’t see me going back to monthly issues again. As I mentioned in the article, I just prefer the trade format better than periodical. I’m also trying to be more selective about what trades I get, too.

  • JuliusMarx says:

    Yeah… I still get a few titles here and there.

    But when I’m back home for Christmas this year I’ve GOT to deal with the 30 long boxes I left back at my parent’s house 14 years ago when I moved out to LA.

    Gotta start doing some research on that on what to keep, what to sell and what to donate.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      Hah, my Mom made me clean out all my stuff a decade ago. I did leave the comics there for a few years, under my old bed. The last to move with me was my bicycle about 5 years ago and that was only because I never had room for it in the car. Bet you find some stuff you didn’t remember you had.

  • Jim says:

    I second those sentiments. I quit collecting comics over the past summer, I’m a DC Comics fan and while I can bash what the powers that be have done to the mainstream continuity of their flagships as I have on other fan forums, I can’t help but hope they may come to their senses and hire better talent for flagship characters. Sort of like you have endure the Schumacher before you can get to the Nolan.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      I have to wonder how some of the writers feel about the direction of the characters as well. Case in point, Roy Harper. Brad Meltzer blazes on the scene with Identity Crisis. Then in JLA, Meltzer promotes Arsenal to Red Arrow, taking on the “family name”, Red Arrow, with Green Arrow pushing him. Meltzer has said in interviews that he felt the Titans should be allowed to move up. Now we have James Robinson who looks at Red Arrow and says RA will only ever be the 2nd greatest archer. So he had to change that and turned him back into Arsenal.

  • Shellhead says:

    Sorry to hear that, Jeff, but I know you’re not alone. I’ve begun to cut back and go the trade route for a few books, but I’m still a weekly buyer. I can’t foresee that changing any time soon. I will see that when comics reach $5 I’m done. I don’t care how good they are.

  • toychango says:

    Dropping a title is like breaking up with someone you really love, isn’t it? There’s that deep connection, a long personal history and a sense of comfort but you just aren’t satisfied. Anyways, sorry to hear that you aren’t satisfied with the current run of the Bat-titles. (The same thing happened with me and Spidey.) I’m not thrilled with the current direction either. I think that the entire “Batman Inc.” arc goes against the essence of the character. Still, DC felt that they had to have a big event to follow up The Return of Bruce Wayne (aside from the miniseries of the same name) DC gets publicity,some new no. 1 issues and an extension of the Bat-franchise.
    I don’t know how far back your collection goes, but there have been some great runs (underrated in my opinion) on Batman that I’d recommend. Gerry Conway and Don Newton did great work on the charcter back in the 80′s. There’s the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle run from Detective Comics. Doug Moench had a very long and entertaining run on Batman as well.
    If I were DC, I’d worry. Long time fans (like you) are their bread and butter and they’ve begun alienating them.

    • Dbratt says:

      Don Newton’s work on Batman in the early 80′s is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I’d love to see some compilation volumes featuring his stuff. Just tremendous…

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Jeff,
    I completely understand. Finances make me reconsider at least part of this hobby every so often. Years ago I made the hard choice to drop my last Marvel title. I too have disagreed with a lot of direction in the DC universe of the past 5 or so years. And I’m on the verge of dropping several titles (and writing a blog about it). I thought I was done before. I’m glad I didn’t give it up. I’d have missed some cool stuff.
    .
    As for trades vs monthlies, I still enjoy the monthly periodical. The trip to the comic shop every week or so.

  • Jeremy SpyMagician says:

    I too have mostly quit. I keep up with news and happenings online, but comics, mainstream books especially just don’t satisfy the way they used to.

    I used to feel that the current comic book story and incarnation of a Marvel or DC hero was “THE REAL VERSION.” But over the last few years I’ve felt the stories and characterizations have become increasingly unappealing, burdened by “realism,” excessive cross overs and “continuity” and in general lost the fun, excitement and heroism that drew me to comics so long ago.

    I’ve gotten to the point that for me the iconic superheroes are much like King Arthur, Robin Hood or other heroes of legend, where there can be a variety of variations and interpretations and no one version is more “real” than any other.

    Honestly, there have been recent films like “The Dark Knight” or “Iron Man” that to me feel more true to the characters than the current happenings in the comics. Certainly I find the Batman of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” to be more appealing than the current death/resurrection stuff in the comics.

    I love comics, but at this point it’s trades and old back issues if anything that feed my need for the mainstream heroes. The monthlies just aren’t for me any more.

    Spy

  • demoncat says:

    i could not agree with you more for also have kind of just gone the trade route and dropped some of the titles i usally wound pick up mostly due to the direction the current teams are on.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I should send in my comics order for January. Between the current material being published and its pricing, I feel it’s time to stop collecting comics again.

    I started reading in 1980. I quit more or less cold turkey in ’86, ’94, and ’02. So yeah, there are phases. But the older I get, the easier it becomes to walk away. I just don’t know…

    • Jeremy SpyMagician says:

      Pricing was a huge factor in my giving up monthly comics.

      At about $4 an issue on average, comics have to be the worst entertainment value for the money.

      It takes what, 5 minutes to read a single issue? That’s 80 cents a minute.

      A toy entertains me indefinitely. A paperback book is about $7 for hours if not day of entertainment. A DVD even watched only once is good for at 90 minutes to 3 hours of entertainment for movies and more for TV box sets. Video Games give hours of entertainment even ignoring replays. A movie ticket is more expensive than ever before but it’s still a good 90 minutes to 3 hours of entertainment.

      But at $4 an issue a comic book is just too expensive for what you get, especially considering what a superior value a trade paperback usually is compared to single issues. And once read, single issues are delicate and don’t lend themselves to re-reading like trades do.

      I’ll never forget the thrill of opening up the latest issue of my favorite comic, of the fun of geeking out on new comics Wednesday. Those are great times and great memories.

      But I’ve just got other ways to spend my entertainment dollar that let my dollar go a lot further than a $4 comic book.

      Spy

  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    I sold my collection (25+ long boxes) about a year ago since I have been a trade only reader for the past 3 and I had already bought in trade everything I would’ve wanted to keep as a single issue.

    The only problem is …

    I want them all back.
    There is literally a “hole” in my house now where the boxes used to be and every time I walk by it, I can’t help but sigh (and cringe a little on the inside).

    I still love reading them all (as trades), but I really and truly regret selling off the collection.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      Sorry to hear you regret your decision. Might I suggest putting a cool toy display in the empty space?
      .
      I keep thinking I will sell off a bunch of stuff, but I just never get around to it.

  • red Ricky says:

    This topic is not new to me. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Big 2 and their “Editorial Mandates” for the last 6 to 5 years. Like Cassandra, I foresaw that the end was nigh when the price skyrocketed, no new fans joined the hobby while older fans left in disgust over poor writing, and even poorer characterization.

    Continuity wasn’t the crutch. It was laziness. The writers were forzing the characters to do stuff and allow things to happen that they normally wouldn’t. Hell… in some cases, even a lesser human being wouldn’t act the way some of the heroes were acting. I still don’t understand how Wonder Woman got away with murder. Or how Batman was/is okay with all that crazy Red Hood and Max Lord stuff. But whatever.

    The die was cast.

    And yet for some reason or another, I didn’t quit cold turkey. There is still some good stuff out there that we all can enjoy. And I love the medium. I tried some “online Comics”, they were just not the same. I love looking at the art on paper. My favorite artist just doesn’t look as impressive on a Monitor, even if the monitor is 32 inches wide.

    So I waited before I bought certain runs and stuff. Like Jeff Cope mentioned, waiting is good because, once the reviews are in, you pretty much know if you are going to like something.

    Also, the secondary market is pretty good nowadays. You can get good deals on trades (and comic lots in general) at Ebay, Amazon & Milehigh Comics. If you’re patient.

    Here’s the stinger though…

    I’ve waited my whole “comic book” collecting life for Hal Jordan and Barry Allen to come back. The same goes for the Satellite Era Justice League. Flash, Green Lantern, and Brightest Day do this for me. Plus it felt like I had waited my whole life for that to happen. So as a result, not only do I want to read those books, but also support them. The issue it comes down to, is the cost of collecting.

    Well, a friend suggested that I look at a couple of “online” retail outlets as an alternative. And you guys know what? It’s worth doing the Math. I currently buy my comics from dcbservice.com, and they offer at least 40% off on DC & Marvel. They also throw monthly specials and sometimes, the discounts go up to 50% and 75%. Shipping is a flat fee of $6.26 and you also save a percentage on taxes. When all is said and done, I pay on average $2.10 for each comic.

    Obviosly, this wouldn’t be worth it if you are only collecting or interested in Batman and Superman. But if you are interested in buying 10 to 12 books (or more) each month; then it might be worth looking into.

    And well… I figured it was worth passing along. It works for me, it might work for some of you, too.

    Hope it all (somehow) helped.

    • Jeff Cope Jeff Cope says:

      Actually, I have been using DCBS for the past two years. Even though I’ve only been getting the two monthlies, I get my trades through them too! Love ‘em!

  • Chuck Jones says:

    I stopped buying individual issues a long time ago, and still haven’t dealt with the longboxes in the basement.

    Went to buying trades, especially the oversized omnibus collections, which I love. Found I wasn’t re-reading anything, and now they are taking up too much space.

    Now I’m getting my comic fix from the public library. This is a great way to go; I’m even reading things that I wouldn’t have before, since I wouldn’t have bought them. And, I’ve borrowed some things that I would have bought, and discovered that I was very glad I didn’t.

    I still plan to purchse trades that I especially like, but I’m definitely grooving on the “try before I buy” aspect of the public library.

  • BAZ says:

    After 20 years of buying comics, I also quit for pretty much the same reasons. Didn’t like where the story lines were going, didn’t care for disrepect of classic charaters, stupid reboots. I found I was buying comics, not because I enjoyed them , but because I had been buying them for 20 years and it was now habit.

    I guess I should mention I quit buying comics in 1987, about a year after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

  • Sidewinder says:

    I’m using DCBS as well, ever since my lcbs closed.

    I’ve been a comic reader/collector since the early 80′s. Never stopped. I find, though, that I like less and less of what I’m reading these days. I buy things more out of habit than anything. I’ve nearly finished my entire Uncanny X-Men run, so I can’t stop getting the new issues.

    As prices have went up, though, I’ve noticed that my comic buying has went down. On top of that, as the stories have gotten less interesting to me, I’ve cut them out as well. I was flipping through some mid-80′s Spiderman titles the other day and thought “Wow, I would love to read a book like this today.”

    Maybe it’s age – nothing can be as good as when you were first hooked. I’m not exactly sure that’s true, though. I started Uncanny around 250, but it was when I got my hands on copies of 126 that I got hooked. Even the stuff later on in the 270′s was a lot of fun to read.

    I guess I just miss the simple “good guy vs bad guy” thing. Bad guy attacks the city with giant robots, the good guys go and save the day. today a plot like that would be something like – after the good guys mindwipe a bad guy, a good guy goes insain and unleashes robots on the city, while the good guys try to do a coverup, all the while lying to the public.

    I read comics to escape the greyness of real life.

    Unfortunately, it seems that no one is interested in reading straight superhero stories anymore. Larson’s take on the Defenders was awesome, but was cancelled quickly. Atlas was fantastic, but ended with Issue 5.

    And don’t get me started on Morrison, I’m not a fan. He did a lot of damage to the X-Men stories/characterwise that is still having to be dealt with today. I suspect Batman will suffer the same fate. In both instances, I do not really understand why it is so important for the main characters (Prof X and Bruce Wayne) to come forward at a press conference and tell their involvement in the large picture. Once it’s said, it’s hard to take it back (unless you’re Spiderman, apparently.)

    Will I give up comics? No. Will i continue to cut back? More than likely.

  • darkknight30 says:

    Anybody looking to donate old/unwanted comics please PM me. Both my wife and I are teachers and have donated a bunch of my older unwanted comics to some schools in the area. Some schools are VERY happy to take them off your hands and use them in a variety of ways.

  • TrekkerGI says:

    Each to their own tastes. In the past couple of years, I’ve found myself heading more and more towards DC, and away from Marvel. The whole Civil War/Initative/Secret Invasion/Dark Reign/Siege mess just left a bad taste in my mouth. It was obvious that Marvel was going for increasing political overtones in their books, and that’s not why I read comics. So somewhat to my own surprise, about midway through Secret Invasion, I just said — enough. I haven’t bought a Marvel since, and I’ve placed most of my Marvels on Amazon.

    I’ve been greatly impressed with what DC has been doing in the Green Lantern universe — granted, he’s always been a favorite — and find their titles to be generally more enjoyable reading these days. But, as I said, each to their own.

  • Norm says:

    I’ve been tetering too. My problem is taht msot of the books display too much violence and gore. And this is coming from DC (mostly) and Marvel. I have to keep my books from my kids. I tend to buy old comics when I get a chance. I like to read those more.

  • Warren says:

    I gave up comics completely in ’98. I was spending wayyyy too much on them and had for months tried to cut back to only half of the titles I was reading, but then they’d do a big crossover and I’d end up picking up the titles I was trying to let go all over again. So… cold turkey. Over the last 12 years, I’d periodically (heh) find myself back in a comic store, where I’d pick up one or two issues of a series I had loved to read, just to get an idea what was going on. While I never regretted giving them up, some small part of me DID miss the excitement of opening up a new issue to see the storyline continued. I have to say, though, that while the artwork has gotten better and the stories more coherent, I feel that the charm of comics from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s doesn’t seem to be there anymore – for me, anyway. There used to be an innocence to them that has been gone for quite some time now. When I think of my favourite characters, I want to remember them as they were, not how they are now. As an example, while I’ve always liked Wolverine, part of his appeal was that he wasn’t everywhere. Now it seems Wolverine IS the X-Men and I don’t like him as much anymore. Can you say, “flooding the market”? Due to the popularity of the character, I believe they’ve even made him an Avenger. Wow. Had you told me in the late ’70s that the creative powers at Marvel would ever make Wolverine an Avenger, I wouldn’t have believed you. Then again, the Avengers aren’t what they used to be either. Same kinds of complaints with DC characters – too many versions, too many reboots. Anyway, I digress… sorry for the encyclopaedia. A friend of mine reads his comics online. I’m not really sold on this idea, however… again, half the appeal of reading a comic was getting that new comic smell and actually feeling the pages turning in yer grubby little paws.

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