Let’s look at my previous comic buying habits, as they stood pre-baby, hell even pre-marriage, and it might give us some context.
I used to have a rough standing order of about a dozen comics per month. It’s nothing massive by any stretch of the imagination. I had room to wiggle with minis coming out or the odd title I wanted to try out. I also manage to pick up the odd title in trade only and try to make it so I can do this as soon as the trade hits.
My budget for each month is set at $60 but routinely blows out to $80 (don’t tell the wife). We both have/had good jobs. It’s not taking money from anywhere else in the budget. I think it’s reasonable and yet still completely enjoyable. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t smoke, and since becoming a boring married person I rarely go out on the bottle either. Life is simple, life is fun, life allows me my stories.
But then a baby started to grow and I knew I had to be an adult about it. I could not justify $80 a month when so many other things needed to be purchased; cots, bassinets, prams, not to mention the daily money pits babies are. I knew I had to reevaluate my stance on the monthly budget. I had to set a very strict number, plan three months ahead with previews, and then grossly stick to it. There’s be no fancying anything on the racks, I’d go to the counter, ask for my order, pay, and leave. It’s sad, because I love a good browse on the racks, but the temptation would be too strong. I would have to do my browsing online, three months in advance, and hope I didn’t miss anything.
I let my list stew for a few months, I knew I had a 9 month deadline, give or take, so there was plenty of room for procrastination. I put it off, I thought about it while trying not to think about it. It was a terrible time inside my conflicted mind. I wasn’t sure exactly what to do but then another factor all but made up my mind. My wife and I, a month before the baby was due, found a home we wanted to buy. We went through the processes, got lucky, and bought into a lifetime debt of closer to half a million dollars than I would have liked to think about. Money was suddenly a commodity that would be fought over with teeth and nails, if necessary. Finally, I manned up and made the new list for the new regime.
I won’t go into what went and what stayed, a true gentleman never tells, but I will say I made my cuts and I was brutal. I made my peace with the new world to come but then out in the distance, like a white knight at the eleventh hour, a stay of execution was ordered from two sources.
Gestalt Mash. He said he liked my work and hoped I could contribute a few things. He also said he’d pay me for the privilege. It was an interesting offer and now I’ve slowly seeded some work his way. It’s different stuff, articles I probably wouldn’t have written for this site.
Then Tim Callahan, a reviewer and comic writer I greatly respect, announced, via his podcast The Splash Page, that he would be vacating the review team on CBR. I had a quick chat with him and asked if the opening was going to be filled and if so how and when? He said he’d put in a good word for me and bingo bango, within the month I had the job.
Now, this is important because CBR pay for each of their reviews. I more than make my money back for having to buy the comic in the first place, and then I turn a profit. It was a glorious day for me, but it was better for my pull list. All terminations were quickly rescinded and nothing was lost from my stack. In fact, a few extra things were added.
So, here I am, a nice and full weekly stack coming in steadily. Some extra cash coming my way and I write about what I love. I know I am not the normal case. I know I am lucky or blessed, hell, maybe even talented (probably lucky). I know it doesn’t always go this way and that’s why I want to celebrate the one time it has. I can’t take this for granted, not in the slightest. I appreciate every week I get to read comics.
The lesson I took from this was a) I made the cuts, I had my list down, I can man up when necessary, and b) all my persistence and hard work writing gonzo here for a year has paid off. Someone noticed and they respected what I have done. That’s kind of nice, in both ways I feel like more of an adult. And I feel like I’ve learned some lessons I can pass onto my son, and his future weekly stack.
Comics are not a commodity that is necessary but if you want to enjoy life it might just be the one thing you want. It’s important to find that life balance. Have you ever had to give anything up to make room for comics in your budget? Have you ever had to make any cuts in your budget as other priorities force their way into your wallet? Please, let me know in the comments, I love to hear your story.