Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Comic Book Suitcase Test

Everytime I pick up a comic, especially a new comic, I take great caution when reading it and especially when deciding whether to stick with it for the long haul or not. First impressions are huge to me, but so is consistency. With the economy as it is, I've been trying to cut down on my books, both to be better organized and to enjoy what I read more.

All of this came to a head recently when I read this article over at The Simple Dollar regarding the Suitcase Test. Basically, the suitcase test amounts to only taking (or, in this case, collecting) what you need at any given time, which would ideally fill a single suitcase.  In regards to comics, a Suitcase Test would amount to the comics that we are buying because we feel they are good and give us our money's worth; not those we buy out of obligation or collector mentality or other misguided reasoning. 

With comics and their rising prices, I think it's important for myself to read quality over quantity and get my money's worth, but I also want to keep up with multiple characters, for multiple reasons. Of course, every reader takes many factors into consideration when choosing what to read, but it typically starts with who they want to read about the most, such as a Spider-Man or Batman.  With that in mind, hit the jump to see what my Comic Book Suitcase, which is made up of the comics I feel meet the above criteria, would look like.

Today's guest post is by longtime reader and commenter here at the Weekly Crisis, Justin Miousse.  He's an avid comic book fan whom you can also follow on Twitter

My Comic Book Suitcase


I've always loved the miniseries and trade paperbacks that Batman has starred in. Long Halloween, Killing Joke, and Dark Knight Returns are the trades I'd keep with me at all times and get spots in my suitcase.

Monthly Batman titles are a lot more difficult to narrow down because of how many books he stars in. Before Batman: Reborn, I'd been reading Batman and Detective Comics on and off, but had stuck with the main title based on Grant Morrison's strong work and with Detective based on Kirk's reviews and Pual Dini's consistency. I'd also been reading Nightwing, as I've always had an interest in Dick Grayson. Post-Batman: Reborn, I've stuck with Batman and Detective, jumped on Batman and Robin, and will start on Red Robin once the artist change takes effect.

Green Lantern

One of the first miniseries I read when I was young was DC vs Marvel, and the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer stuff was amazing to me at the time. Since then, I've tried to keep up with Green Lantern as much as possible, be it Kyle Rayner, Hal Jordan, or whoever else that gets the spotlight. I've loved what Geoff Johns has done with the franchise in the last few years. Good work, sir. As such, the Green Lantern titles all get spots in my suitcase.

Anything Adam Warlock/Magus

When I was young, I picked up 'packs' of comic books at conventions because they were cheap. I was lucky enough to get alot of the Infinity ____ series from Marvel (Infinity Gauntlet, War, Crusade, etc), which had Adam Warlock and Magus playing large parts in each of the events.

Since then, I've always had interest in anything Warlock shows up in and I'm happy that Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning have put him/them (kind of the same person, but not, so not sure exactly how to word that) into Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm hoping, really, really hoping, that DnA's master plan is to have Magus take center stage and get him his own book, either from the villain's perspective or as the recurring villain of a Warlock book.

Captain America

I want say this is all Ed Brubaker's fault and that's reason enough, but the history of Captain America has had me so intrigued in his stories that I've always loved anything he's been a part of. I've always enjoyed the fact that you didn't need to fly, fire beams from parts of your bodies, or read minds to be a superhero, something that both Cap and Batman share. As such, just about anything Captain America gets a spot in my suitcase.


Using the suitcase method, which is a lot harder than most people will think, I've trimmed the fat on the dozens of comics I typically read each month (upwards of 26 books on my pull list in some months) and narrowed it down to what I consider 'essential' to my comic book reading.  using the same method, what books on your pull list would you narrow it down to?  Are you already using a similar method to limit your spending/reading habits?

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Tim D said...

I didn't realize but I've been using the suitcase method all this time!

It's funny, my titles are pretty much the same as yours, minus Cap since that's on/off for me, but throw Criminal in there and I'm set!

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Man, with money tight surely everyone is doing this. At least, I hope they are.

I look at this test two ways:
If my house was burning and a suitcase of titles was all I could muster up, what would make it.
Answer: as for floppy issues; my Daredevil #1, all of my Criminal/Incognito, Casanova, my te issue Strange Tales run from #135, but they're the only serious ones. As for trades, I'd want all ten Y: The Last Man, maybe five DD omnibuses (no 5 could miss out), Pride of Baghdad HC, the 4 trade Sleeper run, The ten Walking Dead's, The Nightly News, and maybe the Gødland celestial edition. I get the feeling that might fill it up, maybe sneak in the first Irredeembale Ant-Man trade in, the second one is not necessary.

As for using the test on what I am buying:
Daredevil and Iron Fist make the cut for sure; The Boys does, Criminal/Incognito is a definite, were Casanova ever to return it'd be there. Viking is teetering on the edge, and I am not won over by the first Spider-Woman issue, but willing to give it some room to move, Maleev deserves that.

Great post Justin, very good work.

Matt Ampersand said...

Ryan, you better have a big suitcase to fit all those trades! Haha.

I don't know what I'd put in my suitcase, I'm enjoying all the titles I currently buy, so I guess all of them. I have cut back on a bunch of minis, and plan to stop pulling them altogether in the future in favor of purchasing ongoing series instead. Some events may not fall under this criteria though.

Kelson said...

I've been doing something similar since Countdown to Final Crisis. The big decision for me was not to buy event books just because they were events.

So I bought Final Crisis because it looked interesting and Rogues' Revenge because, hey, Geoff Johns + Scott Kolins on the Flash's Rogues! I skipped Revelations, and I've skipped Blackest Night so far. The only exception I've made since then is Legion of Three Worlds, and that's because I run a Flash site and it featured the return of Kid Flash.

I've also started taking how far behind I am on reading a series as a measure of how interested I am in it. Am I a few weeks behind? No biggie. Am I a couple of months behind? Time to catch up and see If I really care. Am I waiting for a story arc to finish? Maybe I should start buying it in trades instead. Am I 6 months behind or longer? It's probably time to drop it.

David Not David said...

I pretty much buy by this plan currently. I pick up Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Who and Doctor Who Classics and that's it for ongoings. I will buy minis such as Wednesday Comics, some of the Star Trek ones, Tales of Asgard and the like. I also try occasional issues such as the first Hickman FF but it's been a long time since I felt the need to pick up a new series.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Matt - I don't pretend to be extremely mobile with my suitcase, but it's got wheels so I'll end up somewhere. I can probably empty the books out and sleep in the case while I read. Like a little sleep out, what fun.

brandon said...

I typically spend $20 a week. Some weeks are over and some weeks are under. When I find myself going over a few weeks out on the current trend I cut back.

What I do is group them as A, B or C title.

'A' means I buy them without hesitation - some I've collected for decades like GL and some for a couple of months like Batman and Robin. I have 6 'A' titles now that take up about $20 a month.

My B title are those that if pressed I could drop but ideally want to keep getting. Aaron's Wolverine, GI Joe, Criminal fall into this category. My 'B' group is about $30-35 a month.

Finally, the 'C' group has stuff I buy but could easily like Hulk or a mini series I could live without like Blackest Night. This group is in the $20-$25 range.

However, we dropping for something new is tougher. I wanted to start getting the Punisher so I dropped the GI Joe line altogher. Saving $12 a month for $8 a month.

Generally I find there is a lot more I want to read that I am not reading which I think is a good thing. Means I am starving myself just enough to keep the interest alive.

Mike said...

I'd have to stick with DnA's cosmic Marvel stuff: Guardians of the Galaxy & Nova. Anything else would be older stuff like my Valiant issues, Crossgen issues, Marvel 2099, Defiant...classics I love that nobody else does.

Still, that makes a big suitcase. Can we cheat and make it a shipping container? :)

Radlum said...

I'd stick to the "alternative" titles (Fables, Ex Machina, The Walking Dead, Invincible), Batman and Robin, Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and Captain America; everything else can be dropped.

Space Jawa said...

Wow, it is tougher when you actually think about it. Though maybe it's in part to how I'm not reading that many ongoing series to begin with (7, with an 8th on an issue-by-issue basis). It gets a bit heavier when I add mini-series, crossover issues, and the stuff I save for TPBs, though.

smkedtky said...

I budget myself $50 a week for books (budgeted down from $70-$80) and, still, can't fit them all in my suitcase.


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