2 Oct 2014

Thought Balloon: Time For More Tough Decisions

Matt C: I don't do this kind of article as often as I could (over two years since the last time); I find that the necessity of it sort of pushes itself onto me when I reach a point where I have to make some changes. And - yep - I've reached that point again and I'm simply buying too many comics. Some have to be removed from the pull-list.

It's not just about the expense (although that's obviously an unavoidable factor in my decision-making) - it's about the time too. With work, family, friends and other hobbies all taking chunks out of each and every day, time is very much at a premium for me, and it's gone beyond the stage where I'm struggling to stay on top of my weekly books, let alone the hundreds of back issues, digital comics, small press books, and the various review requests I get sent. Yes, there's an element of madness in the collector mentality that I've been susceptible to on many occasion, but every once in a while there comes a moment when you have to admit you're buying way more than you can read (possibly ever!). That moment doesn't hang around for too long before the collecting bug manifests itself again, but while it's here (and during the last few weeks it most definitely has been here) it's best that I act on it!

Rough calculations have me currently buying in excess of 40 comic books a month. Which is just ridiculous and way past my money/time threshold. I did think that when I abandoned the DC Universe (and I have yet to be tempted back) I'd be able to keep things down to a manageable level. What I didn't count on is Image suddenly making a huge push forward with their creator-owned content, changing the make-up of my pull-list quite dramatically.

So let's start with them.

IMAGE

When I've done this before, I've listed everything in order and attempted to trim titles from the bottom end of the scale. This time around I'm going to try something different and go from publisher to publisher.

These are the Image books I'm currently picking up (not including any I've no doubt forgotten, of course):

Black Science
Chew
C.O.W.L.
Copperhead
Deadly Class
East Of West
The Fade Out
God Hates Astronauts
Jupiter's Legacy
Lazarus
Low
Manifest Destiny
The Mercenary Sea
Nailbiter
Outcast
Saga
Secret
Sex
Sex Criminals
Sheltered
Southern Bastards
Starlight
Trees

So that's about half of my monthly pull-list right there already! Okay, so Jupiter's Legacy might currently be AWOL but otherwise I can't see much movement with that lot. Let's start with Trees. It's the same problem I had with Supreme: Blue Rose (although I was much swifter making that decision) - I like it, but it's kind of dragging itself along and not really delivering enough meat on the bones, so to speak. And it could end up being another of Warren Ellis' abandoned projects, so I'm afraid it's gone. And, well, that's it! There are a couple there that are just starting out, so it's too early to say if they'll stick (eg Copperhead, The Fade Out), and if I'm being honest I think Chew has gone a bit past it's sell-by date and should be wrapped up long before now, but I'm still feeling that need for completion that's making me stick around (although that could change if there's no end in sight). Other than that... there's not really anything else I want to jettison at this stage. Image are just putting out too many damn fine books these days!

MARVEL

I grew up on Marvel comics, and although I'd never describe myself as a 'Marvel Zombie', the House Of Ideas will always own a piece of my heart. I don't think I could ever turn my back on them. So let's look at what they're currently adding to my monthly haul:

Avengers
Avengers World
Daredevil
Deadpool
Elektra
Hawkeye
Magneto
Moon Knight
Ms Marvel
New Avengers
She-Hulk
Uncanny Avengers

Not as many as I thought, seeing them listed like that. There was a time Marvel would have been the clear winner, but it's my guess that time is gone for good (for me at least). The Avengers titles are the main draw at the moment, although if push comes to shove Avengers World could go (I'll wait and see how this current story arc is resolved). The rest are all 'solo' books, and it's here that I'm going to be more ruthless than I was with Image, so Deadpool, Elektra and Ms Marvel are gone. I like all three but they're ones that don't have the same 'top of the pile' appeal as the rest. I will say Ms. Marvel is a very good book, and I'm glad it's been such a success, but as a middle-aged man I'm not even close to the target demographic so I don't think the lack of my endorsement is going to impact sales on an even infinitesimal level! I'll also note here that Hawkeye is on its way out soon (sadly) but then that stopped sticking with a monthly schedule a long while ago. Oh, and at the time of writing I still have yet to read Thor #1, so that could conceivably be an addition to the list going forward.

ONI PRESS

Okay, only a handful here: they are Sixth Gun, The Bunker and Letter 44, and I'm not even entertaining the possibility of dropping any of them. The newly commenced The Life After is another matter - I've yet to read the third issue and that will be where the decision is made on whether or not it's a keeper.

DC/VERTGO

Unwritten: Apocalypse. And that's your lot. A Vertigo book, and one that's not as good as it used to be (although it has been correcting its course towards its previous peaks recently). The DC Universe is certainly not something I've discounted forever but I haven't found a good enough reason to return as yet. I am hearing more and more positive things about their output (compared to a year ago) so I guess that's promising.

And that's it publisher wise. I'm only getting The Massive regularly from Dark Horse at the moment, so they don't get their own section here, and that's due to wrap up soon anyway. I dip in and out of BOOM! Studios' output, mostly with miniseries, and I don't have anything on my list from them right now (although Wild's End might just make the grade). And, apart from the odd miniseries that hasn't been mentioned above, that's about it, or about it from where I'm sitting at least (I keep thinking I'm missing something major!).

So after all that I've managed to jettison... four ongoing titles! Which is a bit of a rubbish result and a fair bit lower than I'd hoped for, but I think it does highlight just how successful Image's resurgence over the past few years has been. What's worrying is that they show no signs of stopping anytime soon! I think if I want to successfully manage my pull-list I'm going to have to be a lot more ruthless from now on, but, boy - it ain't easy! And who knows how many new books may appear in the next couple of weeks that could turn out to be genuine contenders?

Why not take away from this partially unsuccessful attempt at me saving time and money one simple thing: comics are a thriving, potent medium right now - with creator-owned work more successful than it's ever been - and anyone who tells you otherwise has absolutely no idea what they're talking about!

Now... can anyone spare some change so I can buy some more comics??

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