Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Downsizing – The Shift From Trades To Singles

As I transition into 2011, I have noticed a big move in my comic buying habits. I’m swapping trade buying for single issue investment. I’m actively dropping the trades and moving my story consumption of ongoing titles to the monthly format. Hit the jump to see what I’m buying, why, and if it’s working out for me.

I know I need to address the whole Trade V Singles argument, and my quick and simple answer is; you should buy whatever you damn well like. Don’t listen to others and don’t feel guilty, so long as you are putting money down you are supporting that title and its creators. So long as you are enjoying the comic then you are investing your money wisely.

With that out of the way I want to address why I want my fix in monthly format.

I like comics, hell, I love them, and I don’t like to have to wait for them. I have chests full of single issues and I have shelves full of trades in a variety of sizes. I read both and all but I’m trying to make my current consumption more about the monthly format. This affects my shelves, sure, and that hurts me a little. I love the look of a good shelf with a bunch of pretty spines all arranged in size and alphabet but I also like a good story. And I really enjoy reading a story in instalments. I know comic readers can get pretty fanatical about their visual collections, they won’t swap between hardcovers and trade paperbacks for a title, things like that, but for me the story is most important.

Do comics collect well? Generally, hell yeah. Writers make most stories work for the trade so picking up the collection means you get everything in one neat package. That’s cool, but I like the month long waits between each segment of the story rather than the massive wait between trades. It’s like a TV show, I love watching them week to week rather buying the season and gulping it all down over a weekend. I like the time to analyse and chew it over. I like the conversation time it affords. I like the anticipation. This is the way I’m enjoying getting my stories, doesn’t mean you have to agree, and it doesn’t make my shelves any prettier. Though I do love a good box of single issues so that’s always going to still be an aesthetic plus around the house.

There are certain comics I have started reading in trade. It’s usually because I missed the boat on the monthly package and so am catching up. Many of these, now, I am switching to the singles so let’s take a look at which ones.

The Walking Dead

Robert Kirkman made this a very easy choice. The end of Trade Vol 13 took us straight to the start of the next issue, which shipped on the same day. Genius move. It also helps that this is still one of the best comics being created and I just couldn’t handle the wait between trades anymore, even though they came out like clockwork. I wanted this comic as a monthly experience and I’m glad I made the switch because the letter column in this comic is pretty awesome.


The comic about the government operative bigfoot searching out new cryptids is amazing. I bought the entire first season, all 28 issues, in trade form. But once the comic ‘relaunched’ with a miniseries I jumped on the single issue bandwagon. It was a way to show my support, and also a way to get the story straight away, and in the way it was meant to be told and read. I am now two issues into that tale and have no regrets about trading my format.


I haven’t actually made the jump on this one yet because I’m trying to find the perfect time. I need a smooth trade to singles entry point and there just isn’t one. The next trade, Vol 7, collects up to issue 42 but the latest issue to ship is 45. My store doesn’t have back issues of 43 and 44 and so I’m stuck. I don’t want to buy 45 onwards because I’m going to need the next trade to get 43 and 44. It leaves me in a dilly of a pickle. I’m going to have to be diligent in finding out which issues will be collected in Vol 8 and start buying the issues that ship straight after that, which will be interesting because I’ll be buying the issues set after Vol 8 most likely before I get my hands on Vol 8 so I’ll have to make my purchases, store the comics, then when Vol 8 ships have one hell of an afternoon reading. It’s going to require mathematics, skill, diligence, patience, but it should all pay off.

But I want to do this because Scalped is phenomenal and I want to experience it monthly instead of once a year.

Secret Warriors

This was a comic that I didn’t jump on from the start. But I got the first trade cheap online. I read it, loved it, and instantly caught up on the single issues and haven’t looked back.

Then there are some exceptions that prove the rule. I would love to jump onto the monthly experience of DMZ but it’s all about to wrap up so I feel waiting for the trade is something I might as well do. The same goes for Gødland. I have two Celestial Editions and now the comic is nearly done, I’ll just wait for the third and final big hardcover. I don’t mind the wait on that one, though I think Gødland would have been phenomenal in the monthly format.

I like Northlanders but am lazily catching up through the trades so I probably won’t jump into the single issues right now, even though each story arc is so relatively stand alone that you easily could.

The only other trades I really indulge in are for comics, or runs, that have now stopped shipping. Ex Machina and Gotham Central are comics I can’t catch up on except in the collected format. I missed Franken-Castle and Aaron’s Ghost Rider run so the hardcover it is for me.


I am in a mindset now that if there’s a comic I can get in singles instead of trade waiting I’ll try and make the jump. I’ve been satisfied every time I’ve done it so far and I don’t mind not having the shelves all stacked with neat and ordered books. I like my stack of singleson my desk that pile up each month. There’s something comforting about them. However, I must say, being a comic reviewer makes it also more convenient to read books each month, so maybe it works out better for me.

Is there a book you’ve dropped the trade on to catch up with monthly, let us know in the comments.

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Bill said...

Scalped is awesome, but I think it reads better in trades.

Klep said...

These days there are a handful of comics I'm buying in singles, but I still buy those and other books in trades. This way I can get the stuff I'm most interested in as it comes out, but still have the better durability and collectibility of everything I want later.

monopoly said...

I prefer trades, but for some stuff, like the bimonthly Brightest Day, Amazing Spider-Man, and Justice League: Generation Lost, singles are the way to go. On the other hand, certain series(Invincible Iron Man comes to mind) are far too decompressed for singles, so I get them in trade.

Another factor is the fact that it's far easier to get a good discount on trades than on singles. I recently got the first volume of the New Avengers reboot for 4$, the same price I would've paid for a single issue.

Eric in Ottawa said...

Ryan, you hit the right point: just buy what you want in the format you want! It's your money and your reading experience!!

Personally, I like getting both. I just find some series more satisfying in the different formats.

Books I prefer as singles:
- The Spirit
- Jonah Hex
- Green Lantern

Books I prefer as trades:
- Walking Dead
- Blade of the Immortal
- frankly, anything by Bendis

Koottie said...

I get all my books as singles.

E. Wilson said...

I get Detective Comics, Batman Inc. and Amazing Spidey as singles, as well as some assorted one-shots. Everything else is trades.

Max Barnard said...

I find it funny that as you make the jump to singles on most stuff you buy I'm trying to abandon as many series as I possible can and go back to trades.

Singles seem a great way to get your regular injection of your favourite characters when you want them, and are totally the way to go with most DC titles, due to their slightly lackluster trade quality and occasional insistence on not collecting a low-selling series, or even taking FOREVER to release a trade, but I swear, they drive me up the wall sometimes, especially when a new series'll come out, sell out by the truckload and idiots will suddenly think they're worth something out of scarcity value and put em up on ebay for 50 quid.

But then that's me hating the players as opposed to the game. singles are fine.

And despite my moaning I'm still getting Power Girl, Sweet Tooth, Spider-man, Spider-girl, generation hope and anything starring Nomad regularly, so clearly I can't escape singles.

Anonymous said...

I too have recently been dumping trades for singles. I love reading the single issue format. Its light and easy to read. I get so sick of fighting bindings on trades just to see all the art or to be able to lay the trade down flat on a table to read. Plus with online services you can get issues for nearly the price of the trade.

The only trades I buy are for catching up to series/books I have missed.

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