Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Do You Buy Certain Comic Books?

Over the last two weeks, before all of the OYL Anniversary celebrations, I've been asking a series of other comic book bloggers why they buy certain comic books - whether it was the writer, artist, genre, etc. We've heard some great stories from a variety of bloggers, including:
There was also the three follow up guest posts answering the same question by the following:
So there’s the responses of 8 bloggers (plenty to chew on), but I’m interested to hear why YOU buy the books you do?

Some of you already gave me some or all of your reasons in the comments of these guest posts, and I thank you for that, but, for the rest of you, feel free to share your thoughts and reasons on why you buy certain books.

I'll be spotlighting a couple of follow up answers from other bloggers, who were inspired by my question and the other guest posters last week, and I, personally, will be collecitng your thoughts and ideas, similar to my What I Think DC Is Doing Wrong posts, and posting my own reasons on why I buy certain books at the end of the week.

So, what are your reasons for buying the books that you do?


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14 comments:

IslandLiberal said...

I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, and Spider-Man: The Animated Series, so those were my main portals into the comics world.

I bought some graphic novels here and there (my memory isn't exact, but my first may have been, believe it or not, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v.1, because I liked the look of the film trailer), my first regular superhero comic was Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men (being both a big X-Men fan and a Buffy fan).

I skew towards Marvel in terms of current ongoing titles, but DC and Vertigo dominate the trades I own. I suppose I'm more of a Marvel fan (looking at those 90s animated shows, it was 2 on 1), but I enjoy both companies greatly.

Kelson @ Speed Force said...

For most of my comics-reading life, I've followed characters. I'd pick up The New Teen Titans and stick with it. I'd follow that to Flash, Hawk and Dove, Deathstroke, Nightwing, etc.

Sometimes it would be a concept. I'd take a look at, say, Darkstars, and think, "Hey, that sounds cool!" and pick it up. Or more recently, Welcome to Tranquility.

These days, I find myself following writers. Astonishing X-Men was far from my first comic, but it was my first X-Men comic -- not counting the crossover with New Teen Titans back in the 1980s -- and I picked it up because it was Joss Whedon. I'll check out almost anything mystical written by Bill Willingham. I rarely buy Batman, but you can bet I'll pick up Neil Gaiman's story. And I'm beginning to get to that point with Jay Faerber -- Noble Causes, Firebirds and Dynamo 5 are hard to beat, and I resisted picking up Gemini, but finally gave in.

Like some of the respondants, I also have trouble letting go. I kept reading various incarnations of Titans for over a decade (everything from "Titans Hunt" to Infinite Crisis, minus the Jurgens series) even though I no longer really liked the book -- just occasional stories. After being bitten over and over, I finally wised up and walked away. I've gotten much better at that lately.

Anonymous said...

Because the chicks dig it.

Kevin D. said...

I initially bought comics based on characters Batman, X-men, Wolverine, etc. Which I still continue to do as I will buy Nightwing, X-Men, Wolverine, JLA, etc. no matter how bad the previous issue was.

In the 90's I, sadly to say, did buy books based on artists, with no real care who the writer was. I know people hate him, but when I was younger I loved me some Liefield art. I also would buy some comics based on cool covers (foil/hologram/die-cut/etc., as it was the speculator times and I did sell some of these to buy more comics.

Lately, along with my habit of buying comics based on characters I have been following for years (I still can't believe I have over 200 issues of X-Men), I have been following certain writers, such as Brubaker, Aaron, Millar, Bendis, Johns, Morrison, Fraction, and will buy pretty much anything they write. Furthermore, I am also a sucker for the event comic and buy pretty much any tie-in, yeah I'm that guy.

Andrenn said...

Hey, Kirk, thanks for this opportunity. I wrote a lot down for this, so instead of posting it here I posted it in my blog New Age Comics with Andrenn. You can get to my blog through my profile (though you probably knew that) to see it. If you'd like me to post it here, since that may be easier for you, I can.

Dave said...

I grew up with Adam West as Batman and the cheesy '60's Marvel Super-Hero cartoons and Spider-Man. Since then, comics and animation has gotten better with time.

I still have my Batman comics. I've tried picking up a Batman comic. But after a number of the Batman-family wide events, I just can't bring myself to. The only thing I can say about Batman, R.I.P. is the Alex Ross covers look pretty cool. The best Batman comic that I've enjoyed has been the animated series comic.

I was reading Zero Hour, and out of the blue I decided to give Starman a try. It was the best book to come out of Zero Hour and one of the best Zero issues.

I've read a couple of issues here and there of vaious Spider-Man titles. Out of the blue, I decided to give Ultimate Spider-Man a try.

Green Lantern is another character I like, but I never thought DC would ever get right. The book was pretty good in the '90's, but then Hal became Parallax, and that was it. I bailed when Kyle discovered his girlfriend in the fridge. I'm back with Johns - and...loving it.

Those are the two titles I'm sticking with while all of the events play themselves out.

mrpeepants said...

reviews and word of mouth. if its good then I'll read it. The quality of the material should be able to pull in the reader regardless of things such as not knowing the character, not buying superhero or non superhero stuff, buying from a certain company, subject material, etc.

I don't understand why people buy or get behind iffy stuff when there is sooo much good stuff out there. This is my stance for all media - movies, games, music, books. Then again I think I may be one of the more open minded people I know and I'm a reviews hound. Its not that I don't venture out on my own and check stuff out if it peeks my interest, but I'm not gonna buy and continually follow crap book by crap artist by crap writer just because I'm interested.

And I do follow many series but I'll drop it when it turns, loved Ultimates 1&2 and was pining for more Hulk smash! but didn't even attempt to read Ultimates 3 or (red) Hulk.

Tyler said...

Tyler Kes

I buy comics based on characters that I like. I rarely follow a certain artist around, but I'm likely to drop a book if i can't stand the art. There are certain writers that I like, and others I hate but I'll give everyone an equal chance if its on a title I enjoy. I also listen to what other people are saying about stuff, and will give it a shot if it looks remotely interesting. Its how I discovered Atomic Robo, Avengers: The Initiative, and Green Lantern. I'm almost guaranteed to follow Spider-man, The X-men, and Nightwing anywhere, (Winnick and the art team chased me off of titans after 2 issues, which is a shame. I really like the titans.) I like Bendis and Geoff Johns a lot, but usually wait to see what the consensus is on their stuff before checking it out. Peter Tomasi is the closest I've gotten to buying something based on the writer solely. I'm generally a wait and see kinda guy. I generally buy marvel, but I own a lot of DC trades.

Hikerman said...

When I was younger, I watched the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman Animated Series, and loved all those characters. I knew that they where based out of comics, but I didn't know of any shops nearby my house, and I was too young to really fully understand what was going on in the story lines. However, there would be random events that I would go to and they would being selling comic books, so I would buy in bulk went I was there.

Right around the time that Batman Begins came out, I really started to get back into comics, reading what I could on Newsarama and IGN comics. But it was right around the time Civil War started that I began to pick up comics.

I picked up (to start) Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Captain America (my dad's favorite hero). For branching out on the DC side of things, my branching out started (very sadly I may add) with Countdown. I found characters that I liked and started to pick up their solo books. Some choices were good (Green Lantern) and others...not so much (Green Arrow and Black Canary). For Marvel, I did the same thing, but with the Avengers books instead of Countdown.

As for now, I mainly follow writers. Artists are important, but not crucial to me. I really like good stories, so I may even go out of my way to pick something out if it is a good story.

And that is why I buy certain comic books, but more importantly, why I buy comics in general.

Anonymous said...

As a nerd growing up, comics were something that always intrigued me, but I never cared to get into buying them. I had little enough money as it was, and certainly couldn't keep up with many comics, if I was even allowed to get them.

So the first time they really piqued my interest was when Civil War came out. I'm extremely politically informed, and so the themes of Civil War had a lot of appeal to me. I still treated it mainly as a curiosity though, and didn't really get involved.

The first time I actually bought anything comic-related was around the time Spiderman 3 came out. I got an email from Amazon recommending a product that claimed to be the entire run of Amazing Spiderman on a DVD for something like $50. I discovered there were a number of others like it, and after a couple weeks' deliberations I purchased that, Fantastic Four, and Uncanny X-Men. I read them voraciously, and a couple months later bought the Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America the same way.

This method of reading comics quite appealed to me. I wouldn't want to just jump in with current stuff because I wouldn't understand all the backstory, but with these DVD's I could read them from the very beginning. There were certainly gaps from various crossovers, and those were frustrating, but for the most part I got what I was looking for.

Then in November or December Marvel announced its digital subscription service. I signed up for that as soon as I could spare the time to immerse myself. It was one of the best investments I ever made.

In the past few weeks I've bought my first trades. On Kirk's recommendation and the few issues of it put up online I picked up the Annihilation books. I also picked up the The Other Spiderman trade, the first Ultimates volumes, and the 3 Black Widow minis they have all or part of online. All of these were items I read online and very much enjoyed, enough to want physical copies of.

And there we get to why I buy what I buy. I buy the stuff I've already read and loved. Marvel has gotten my money twice over for most of these things, and probably will continue to as they put more stuff online and I continue to make money.

DC hasn't gotten any of my money. They're just not as accessible.

-David Kleppinger

Randallw said...

As a child I had lots of comics but back then they weren't a big industry, like now, or my parents just gave me the occasional thing they took off a shelf, so I don't have any real runs or series. What I did get were BW reprints of stuff, the occasional Superman or Batman, a few LoSH, some Teen Titans and not knowing any better thought all comics were BW, not worthy of colour. In fact once I grew up and discovered the reality of the pre-crisis world I discovered what the point of a magician pursuing Batman after Superman dealt with him meant. Anyhow, back in 1985 I was in the UK at the time Secret Wars came out Such a thing would have no market back where I lived, at least not back then. I suppose to keep me occupied as we toured I was allowed to get each issue, even when we went to continental Europe a relative collected them for me. Pity we came back to Australia before it finished. I eventually got the ending in a trade collection.

Anyhow after that I grew up and no longer collected comics. When they had Age of Apocalypse I loved it but being a student couldn't really afford all the issues.

A few years back I was an adult, had a steady income and an interest in alternate history. Quantum theory and all that, Germany wins WW2, the Man in The High Castle etc, when I discovered Exiles. I recognised Blink and the idea of a comic series that showed different history to comic events was intriguing (even if I wasn't really up on those original events). I started collecting Exiles (and ordered all those issues of AoA I could now afford) and from them on branched out when interesting things came out. JL when the Crime syndicate turned up, Avengers dissasembled.

At first it was only stuff that interested me off the shelf, but soon I was turning to books like Watchmen, Kingdom come, and stuff like that. Writing that really gives a message and entertains (even if I did re-read KC the other day and decide Superman was a self righeous bully)

As my experience grew and I became more interested myself in comics as a means to carry across an idea I made a note of the writer and followed their work, or checked what the name was of the artists whose work I liked. I don't collect everything I like, I haven't got that much money, but increasingly I've been getting trades of acclaimed stuff that I only vaguely noticed the first time. It's sites like this that discuss comics that shows me what people think, gives me a chance to express my opinion, and hear of works that might be worth a look.

I would say I prefer Marvel over DC. There is stuff said about Marvel and DC being at opposite ends of the Realism/Idealism scale, so I'll admit I prefer realism. Sure Superman can fly around, no one can beat him, and he defeats the bad guy without sweating, but I prefer Batman. A bit of psychology. DC's no killing doesn't strike me as sensible, it's suitable for children I admit,but as an adult I prefer Marvel and the message that if there is a threat you deal with it. For good.

I'll finish by covering my current subscriptions.

Exiles: I still like that Alternate events stuff, even if it's not been so great lately, but I have hopes it'll pick up.

LoSH: I like the interplay of a group of heroes working together, and I suppose I sort of hoped it'd be like the old early 80's Legion I used to read. I've also given JL and Avengers chances but they lost me.

Thunderbolts: The idea of a group of people with powers with their own agenda and arguments is appealing rather than a bunch of do gooders who fly about without thinking for themselves.

I recently picked up WW3 and Black Adam: the Dark Age. I like Black Adam. He's like Superman, but not tainted by the boy scout behaviour.
He can see that a heavy hand is needed to deal with things. Sure he killed Bialya but he had a reason, and who are the so called super"heroes" to tell him what he can and can't do. They talk about doing good but in the end it just comes down to whoever has the most strength is the one who gets to impose their ideals on others.

An interesting idea I noticed is that having powers lets you transcend common laws. International law, sanctions, and competing armies create a balance. Law, and the threat of punishment, creates peace, but what happens when some one, seemingly at randomn, gains the ability to lift a tank over their head, or is invulnerable. Basically that person can say " I disagree with you and you are powerless to force me to obey you". I know the publishers need a status quo but I think there is something missing that they have worlds that are basically the same as ours but have people with superpowers. Realistically the existance of people with abilities that rises them above the norm should overturn everything we take for granted about the world. Rising Stars covered it a bit, but I think of Miracle Man where he tells the world leaders his ideas to make things better. Margaret Thatcher says they can't allow it, to which Miracle Man says

"Can't allow it?"

It's the ability of comics to make us think about the alternatives to what we take for granted that makes me a fan.

Bill said...

I follow a bunch of writers and at least try out almost everything they do (Bendis, BKV, Brubaker, Kirkman, Jonathan Hickman, Jay Faerber). I try to find people (or websites) with similar tastes and look at what they're reading and see if it sounds any good, which is how I've become hooked on Manhunter. And I'm always getting Batman and Detective Comics kinda regardless, cause I'm a sucker for Batman even when Morrison's torturing me.

Then I get latched onto a series, and usually stick with it until it irritates me enough to drop it (like I'm sure the Ultimates will at some point soon).

mq1986 said...

I have to admit that as much as I enjoy comics, I'm not really devoted to them. I don't have a pull list; I don't subscribe to anything; I simply walk into a comic book store on Wednesday, read through what's new, and then buy whatever I really enjoyed.

I do not buy everything by a single writer, regardless of how much I enjoyed their past work. If I feel that something else they’ve written is not very strong, then I simply don’t buy it. I also do not buy every issue of a single title. I enjoyed Justice League of America’s early run, and collected it avidly for a while, but when the writing went sour, I stopped buying them. I do not buy any comic based on art alone at all. In my opinion, beautiful art is poor compensation for terrible writing.

On any given week, I buy maybe one to three comics. I’m not a huge fan of individual issues since I think they can really strain your pocketbook. I’m a great believe in trade paperbacks because I feel they give you a lot (quite a lot, really) more for your money, not to mention they’re easier to organize and keep clean.

I believe in using my purchasing power as a way to make an individual contribution towards supporting certain titles and writers. Since I really like Final Crisis, I’ve been buying every issue (including, I admit, the various covers) as well as all the tie-ins. If I can financially communicate my support for a title, then by all means, I will do it. I can also communicate my lack of interest in a title simply by not buying it. Since I happen to like DC more than Marvel, I am more likely to buy individual DC issues. With Marvel, I generally wait for the trade. With independent companies, it could go either way, depending on how much I enjoy the title--if I really love the title, then I buy the issues, but if they only give me surface pleasure, then I wait for the trade.

And that is why I buy certain comic books—it’s as good a reason as any, I suppose.

Andrenn said...

All right, just in case, since I have a planned steady flow of posts for the week, I'm gonna post my thing here as well, in case you can't find it later on my blog.

Why I buy comics
By Andrenn

This is a response to Kirk Warren’s “Why do you buy certain comic books?”

Before I get into why I buy certain comic books, I think I should give a little back story as to why I buy comics in general.

Not to tell you my life story, but I think the start of it all begins with my father leaving my life at a young age. My estranged relationship with my father from then on lead to a gap between us, but one of the few ways we connected, even with me as a young child, was through comics. Often he’d send down big boxes full of old comics. Mostly Marvel, some DC of course, but for the most part it was Marvel. My first ever comic that I read was the first ever issue of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man. (Volume 1)
In a way, I connected with my father through Spider-man and Hulk, all characters he was a big fan of. It may sound odd, maybe even a little sad, but it was the only way we truly connected as I was growing up. He’d come down and we’d rent Batman or Superman movies and watch them all night.
So, with my father’s help, I grew up with several characters. Most notably, Spider-man, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and later on, Spawn. These characters where a form of entertainment, but also a way to remember my father. Since his passing, my enjoyment of comics has only increased tenfold.

Now that we have that out of the way, why do I buy certain comic books?

Well, characters are definitely one aspect to it. The best example of that is Spawn. I grew up reading lots of Spawn, and other Image comics, so I have a bond with reading these stories about the character and his stories. It’s been similar like that with Spider-man and the Hulk, even Ghost Rider. All characters that I look to for good stories, since I grew up reading great stories about them.
I guess the best way to put it is that the nostalgia factor is heavy. I love talking about old Spider-man comics with my friends, reminiscing of when I was 6 and in my garage reading how Spider-man has to take on the Tarantula. It takes me back to simpler times, seeing these characters. So characters and nostalgia go hand in hand on this part.

While characters have been important, the creators behind these stories have felt more important as I grew older. I began to appreciate John Romita Sr.’s art more, and enjoy reading anything that Frank Miller was writing. I grew different tastes, different likes and dislikes as far as story and art are concerned. No longer was it “Oh, a Spider-man comic! Awesome!” No, now it was “Hey, Spider-ma-oh wait…it’s written by that one guy whose writing I don’t like, and that artist who doesn’t appeal to me. Never mind”
Of course there are certain exceptions; Spawn for instance is the best exception. I was worried when David Hine, this guy I’ve never heard of, was taking over Spawn but I kept with it because I’m such a big Spawn fan. Then again, there’s only one Spawn comic, and a dozen Spider-man comics.
Writers definitely have a certain standard nowadays for me. No longer do I just want action and some brief dialogue. No, I appreciate when writers like Warren Ellis can blend great scenes of action, but give us great moments, dialogue or not, that just shine. While not every writer is good at that, most writers are able to write in great moments for specific characters.
One thing I’ve heard a lot is that Art isn’t as important as writing. I disagree. Comics are very much a visual medium. The whole point of a comic is to have this story that we don’t have to spend 20 pages reading to describe a 2 minute fight scene. Art brings the story and characters to life, it helps add the momentum to a fight, or how the visuals can add to the dialogue in a great moment. Art is a very important aspect to comics, because if there was no art, then comics would just be short stories, or novels.
When it comes to artists, I have a bit more varied taste and liking than with writers specifically. While I love artists who have very distinct styles like Jim Cheung and Clayton Crain, that doesn’t’ stop me from enjoying artists like Ed Benes, who’s art is a little more closer to the certain tone of DC comics. I can still enjoy a good artist no matter what the style, but if a style can really stand out on it’s own and I can pick out that artists art even if I’ve never seen that page/cover before, and identify it as that artist’s drawing, then that means the artist is bringing a new style into the medium.
The comics medium is always growing, there will always be new styles of art and storytelling, no one artist is exactly alike the other, no matter what. Every artist has at least some little thing that helps vary him from the crowd, the more they stand out, the better they are. That’s how I see it. Andy Kubert and Jim Lee may be great artists, but all too often are they copied nowadays. While the copies are never on the same level as them, it’s still frustrating that up and coming artists don’t try and vary themselves from the popular big name artists.
Then again there are artists like Greg Land. He’s changed his style…for the worse, it seems. Looking aside from the accusations of tracing other artwork, his current style is incredibly inferior to his previous style of art. For the sake of comparison, I saw an old image of how he drew Talia Al Ghul. She looked gorgeous, but that’s also how Talia should look. Now looking at how he draws Emma Frost, she looks…well, like every other woman he’s drawn with his new style. Most notably like Ultimate Sue Storm. His art just doesn’t’ appeal t me. But I loved his older stuff he did for DC, it really was great. It’s a sign that not all artists where bad, or great, in the beginning.
All right, I spent too much time talking about Greg Land…anyway; my point is that while I may enjoy most artists, there are artists I don’t like. While I’m thinking about this, I’ll just quickly list some “popular” artists that I don’t care much for.

John Cassidy: I don’t see the entire Messiah like praise to his art. It’s good, certainly, but it doesn’t stand out too much to me. I think he’s okay at best.

Brian Hitch: Again, I just don’t see the praise. I think he’s okay, and he definitely has his good moments, but for the most part I think he’s meh.

Steve McNiven: While he’s done some impressive moments, and I loved his Civil War stuff…his Amazing Spider-man art was horrendous. Proof that he’s not a perfect artist.

All right, sorry about that. I’m not trying to bash these artists, I’m just pointing out that I can’t see what’s with all the praise and love they get. Their fine artists, but I don’t see beyond that.

Anyway, now as for certain comics for characters nowadays. Despite my rather poor thoughts on Skaar #2, I’m still buying this series because I’ve been waiting for this since November 2007. It’s been my most anticipated comic of the year, and I’m not going to drop out when I’ve still got hopes that this will reach greatness. There is still potential under the rocky start, and since I was so looking forward to this series, I’ll stick around for now.

So there you have it. I have many factors into why I buy comics, from my past with my father, to huge anticipation for a new series. That along with the fact that I just love reading comics. I love going into my local comic shop, hearing the guys talk about the latest issue of this or that, and sometimes joining in on the conversation. I love the atmosphere of a comic shop, and I enjoy comic home, lying down and reading all the comics in the brown paper bag on my coffee table. Comics and me have a great history, and I have a feeling we’ll also have a great future. And that, Mr. Warren, and to all of you who may read this, is why I buy certain comics.

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