Before we get started with this article I wanted to point out one key thing-this is about READING comics not necessarily just buying them. I will be doing a separate article regarding the rules I try to follow collecting comics. What I hope this does is show people a way to get into the medium without the fear of finances.
There are typically two main factors stopping people from reading comics: Time and Money. Until flux capacitors are created there is not much I can do regarding the time issue but there is plenty regarding the money. There can be this belief that comics have to be this hobby that drains your wallet. In order to feel apart of it, you need to consistently spend the big bucks.
However, the truth is just the opposite. It is easy to have the ‘gotta collect them all’ syndrome when you want to keep up with everything. When you want to read everything related to your favorite titles or characters. With crossovers and major events that can get pricey. The thing is there are ways to read everything you want to read without it costing you nearly as much as you would think.
Let’s look at a few.
Local Comic Book Stores
This may seem obvious right? Of course, your local comic shop is a place you can get comics–assuming you have a local comic shop. Still, it is worth repeating as it is more important than ever to support local shops. Plus if you do it right they can be one of the cheapest places to get your books.
Go to https://www.comicshoplocator.com/ to see what shops are in your area and see what different types of offers they may have. From dollar bins to pull list discounts, you may be able to read comics for much cheaper than you realize while helping a small business along the way.
If you do start a pull list make sure to never order more than you can afford and do not ghost shops after they purchased the books you requested. Perhaps start with an indie series or two. That will cost you less in a month than many people spend on coffee in a day. Follow them on social media or join their mailing lists so if they do have sales you can take advantage.
If you do not have one near you many have mail-order businesses as well. Personally, I have ordered from shops like Comics and the Green and State of Comics with great success. There is also the added benefit of a community that comes along with a good LCS. Being able to share the things you enjoy with people who feel the same way makes the experience even sweeter.
The key is to know your limits and do not feel obligated that you need to read everything. Patience is key and that book that you are thinking about reading will be even cheaper or even free later. A good comic shop can also point you in new directions to books you might like. Not all shops are equal and there are plenty that are plainly not worth your time. Those tend to let you know pretty quickly who they are the moment you walk into the door.
Shop around. Ask questions. Do not let distance be a barrier.
Everyone knows about Amazon but there are also retailers dedicated specifically to comics like Discount Comic Book Service. You can end up saving a lot of money the downside being you will not get that sense of community or chance to help a local small business. Also to really save you need to know what you want ahead of time which is not always easy.
There are places like eBay, which is a much better place to sell books than buy them because prices can get crazy fast. However, if you look hard enough especially for local shops that have their own eBay stores you can find some deals.
Some social media platforms are being utilized more and more to sell books like Instagram or Facebook marketplace. I advise being cautious with those as there are always scammers waiting to take advantage. I would always advise buying from an actual store to limit getting ripped off. Since Covid, a lot of stores have started doing auctions as well, which can be fun and allow you to get some sneaky good buys if you play your cards right. One I would recommend checking out is AlterEgo comics.
Another option is something like Kickstarter. That is not a retailer but another online option. I find Kickstarter to be a great place to get into something on the ground floor. Most Comic Kickstarters are inexpensive as well especially if you are fine with just getting a digital copy.
Be mindful of scams. Avoid larger retailers when you can. Use the tools social media has given us.
Up to this point, I have been pointing to places where you can buy comics, however, you do not have to buy comics in order to read them. And no I am not talking about stealing. Digital subscription platforms have grown a great deal over the last few years. Basically, Netflix for comics except for no one ever Comixology and chills. At least with other people.
Comixology Unlimited, Marvel Unlimited, and DC Universe all provide their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking to get into comics Comixology is your best bet as it has by far the most variety. Not only does it include Marvel and DC books but a lot of independents including Image, Dark Horse, Archie, amongst many others. Even their Manga section is growing. The downside is their catalog does not seem as steady compared to Marvel or DC. Similar to Netflix something that is on it one month may not be on it the next.
Your best bet is to try the trials for each and see which one works best for you. It is like the ultimate comic buffet where you have an endless amount of comics you can give a taste of the medium. Great way to try new things and find new creators to follow.
There are few places I love going to more than the library. That may make me sound old, nerdy, and a bit dorky and I am okay with it. Truth is libraries have been a secret geek mecca for some time now and people are just starting to clue into it. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see the amazing books, comics, video games, and movies I pick up from my local library on the regular. The best part? It is all free.
I know not everyone has easy access or even has libraries depending on your location. For those that do, I hope the one thing you take away from this is realizing how great of a resource they can be with your comic reading, and how the lack of a price tag can give you a reason to try books you might otherwise pass up.
Covid has shutdown a number of libraries, however, some are still offering drive-up services. Also even if their physical location is closed there are still ways to get books.
Sometimes your library may not have the book you are looking for and know it cannot hurt to ask. Librarians will often order a book for you or get it from a neighboring library. You are not limited to what is on n the shelf.
Also, check to see if your library uses any type of online platform like Hoopla or Overdrive with its Libby app. They are similar to the programs like Marvel Unlimited but once again—and I cannot stress this enough—it is all free.
There are two key factors when it comes to reading comics on a budget; patience and control. It can be annoying when a single issue jumps in price to $10 but know that price is not forever. I know many try to save money by not buying single issues and waiting for the trade. That’s a good strategy as well but can also get expensive real quick.
Personally, I have found the best luck trying to take from each idea. Libraries are especially helpful for those massive graphic novel hardcovers that can get very expensive. Online subscription services are a nice filler. If I am looking for something new or to do a deep dive into something I have not read before I’ll turn to Marvel Unlimited or another platform. Of course not leaving out local comic book shops that give you the thrill of buying and owning the real book.
There is no right way or wrong way. (Except for stealing) Comics are a medium any human can enjoy. Whether it is the stigma of what people think comics are or simply the price barriers can keep people away. My hope is I did a small part to chip away at one of those barriers.
Comics are for everyone, the key is finding the right one. Happy reading.