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Tips

How to Shorten your Pull List

Does this sound like you?

“Gee, there are so many exciting comics coming out every month!  I want to keep up, but I don’t have the time or money to read it all! I need to spend less and make room for new comics on my pull list.”

It sure sounds like me (besides the infomercial-like tone).

For a few months now, I’ve been satisfied with the selection I arranged with my local comic book store. My pull before the change

Since The Sandman: Overture doesn’t release monthly, this averages out to be less than $20 a month (including tax and markup).  Compared to many on Reddit, I’m not spending all that much, but it fits in my student-sized budget comfortably.

Then along came some interesting ongoing/upcoming titles to make me second guess my pull list, yet again.

So I had to figure out which titles to drop and which to pick up, all while staying under budget.

But there’s so much to consider!
“What if I stop reading one thing, then it starts to get good?  I’ll miss out!”
“How do I know I’ll like the new book?”
“B-bu-but I’ve been reading these books for so long! I can’t stop now.  Not while the story hasn’t reached the ending yet!”

I boiled these concerns down to five basic questions.  As you’ll see below, it made the decision process easy for me.  I hope this helps you too.

So write out your pull list and let’s get started!

Note: I will be harsh on these comics (because my wallet said so).  If a book doesn’t make the cut, it doesn’t mean I don’t recommend you read it.  This depends on your personal preference.

Am I genuinely interested in the story concept and characters?

One of the stars of The Multiversity, an Obama-like Superman of Earth-23!  Colour me interested. (From DC's The Multiversity #1, art by Ivan Reis)

A Barack Obama-like Superman fights a multiversal threat?  Sounds good to me! (From DC’s The Multiversity #1, art by Ivan Reis)

If you don’t answer yes to this, you might as well remove it from your pull list even if you are currently in the middle of an arc.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype when people say the writer is a “fan favourite” or the book is a “best seller”.

Instead, consider both the characters and the story.  Even if the series stars Captain America, that doesn’t guarantee the story is good.  There will always be more Captain America stories.  Ask yourself if, out of all the Captain America stories, this will be one of the best.

Also consider for how long this will stay in your pull list.  Will you stick around for the entire run, the whole series, or just one arc?

Add a star to each book you think you’ll like.

My Pull List

The Sandman: Overture  +✪
Miracleman  +
Batman  I’m tired of superhero origin stories, BUT in these last few issues, Gotham is a post-apocalyptic natural ruin like in The Last of Us.  I love that kind of setting.  I won’t give this a star, but I won’t cross it off either.
Swamp Thing  X  I’m happy with the issues I have now (#19-31).
Earth 2  X  I love the concept of Golden Age heroes in a post-apocalyptic world, but I’ve been buying this for far too long without much sense of satisfaction.
Moon Knight  +
The Multiversity  +

Would I like the writer’s work on this series?

Doc Ock in Spider-man’s body.  Dan Slott turned what sounded like a bad Freaky Friday rip-off into this big hit series. (From The Superior Spider-man #1 Variant Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli)

No matter who the characters are, what really makes a story good is the creative team behind it.  No one has greater control over the story than the writer.

Making an informed decision based on this requires you to read that writer’s work, if you haven’t already.  Check out your local library if you have the time.  If not, google him/her.  It tends to be a good sign if the writer has an award or two (but not always).

Also, consider how the writer will be delivering the story/stories.  Will the writer make it interesting issue-to-issue, or is it written for the trade?

My Pull List

The Sandman: Overture  ✪+✪
Miracleman  ✪+✪
Batman  Scott Snyder‘s stories tend to be written for the trade.
Moon Knight  ✪+✪  I haven’t read enough of his stuff to have an opinion, but Warren Ellis did win a lot of awards.
The Multiversity  ✪+✪

Do I like the artists?

The writer might have a lot to do with the story, but comics is a visual medium. The artists tell the story, especially the penciller.

Ask yourself, “Do I like the art style? Would I stop and admire at this stuff for ten minutes?  Does the art disrupt my reading experience?”

If you haven’t seen their work, a quick Google Image Search should point you in the right direction. Add a star if you like what you see.

I'll let this speak for itself (From Vertigo's Promethea, art by J.H. Williams III)

If you love how this looks, J.H. Williams III is your guy.  If this confuses you, you might not like the rest of his work. (From Vertigo’s Promethea, art by J.H. Williams III)

My Pull List

The Sandman: Overture  ✪✪+✪  J.H. Williams III is one of my all-time favourite artists.  I wrote about his technique and style in another post.
Miracleman  ✪✪
Batman  +✪
Moon Knight  ✪✪+
The Multiversity  ✪✪

 

Would I re-read it?

Figuring out what just happened in this story took a few reads, but it was fun to do.  (Cover of Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery by Frank Quitely)

This story was a fun puzzle to unravel.  (Cover of Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery by Frank Quitely)

What’s the point of owning a book if you don’t think you can enjoy it again in the future?  Why not borrow from a friend or the library instead?  The sad tendency of comic books is that they would be read once, then left untouched in a box for the rest of eternity.

You can enjoy a comic a second time for any number of reasons, depending on your tastes. You might like re-living the action/drama. You might want to ogle at the art some more. It’s a bit more than the writing, art or subject matter, but how it all comes together for you.

Personally, I like going back and spotting foreshadowing, themes, small details and character development, stuff I don’t see the first time around.

My Pull List

The Sandman: Overture  ✪✪✪+✪
Miracleman  ✪✪+✪
Batman  ✪+✪  Lots of character development.  Lots of foreshadowing.  Lots of symbolism.  I’m already re-reading issues and the arc isn’t finished yet.
Moon Knight  ✪✪✪  I have no idea how re-readable this will be.
The Multiversity  ✪✪+✪  Morrison writes very strange stories.  You might read a second time because you don’t understand much of what happened.  Third time through, you’d see all the intricacies and details.  That’ what I enjoyed about Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery.

Can I avoid buying extra comics and still keep up?

This question embodies two tricky problems.

Catching Up

If you add a new book to your pull, you might be starting in the middle of an arc.  You won’t know what’s going on because lots of stuff happened in issues prior to where you jumped on.  You need to start reading from the nearest jumping-on point.

Issue #1 of the series is usually, but not always, the best place to begin.  It can also be the most expensive and time-consuming.

Imagine you want to catch up on The Walking Dead.  Issue #128 comes out next month.  Unless you can catch up on the trades from the library, you could be spending hundreds of dollars.

There’s no simple way to find the closest jumping-on point.  According to Google, you can start comfortably with #127.  Be careful, though!  Most results giving this kind of information are comic book reviews.  They could contain spoilers.

Crossovers

Creator-owned comics don't usually cross over.  Looks interesting though.  (Covers of Chew/Revival; left cover by Rob Guillory, right cover by Mike Norton)

Creator-owned comics don’t usually cross over. Looks interesting though. (Covers of Chew/Revival; left cover by Rob Guillory, right cover by Mike Norton)

Here’s what I don’t like about mainstream comic book.  When other series’ cross over with your book, you don’t get the full story unless you read that other series.  DC’s Justice League books (including Justice League of America and Justice League Dark) often cross over with other books like Aquaman, Constantine and Forever Evil.

Check the solicitations for any crossovers in the coming months.  Watch out for spoilers!  If two of your books crossover with eachother, great!  If you see no cross overs, also great!  Otherwise, you might want to make room in your budget.

 

Add a star if you don’t need extra comics.

My Pull List

The Sandman: Overture  ✪✪✪✪+✪
Miracleman  ✪✪✪+✪
Batman  ✪✪+✪
Moon Knight  ✪✪✪  #4 comes out next month.  I need to catch up on issues #1-3 before then.
The Multiversity  ✪✪✪+✪

 

Results

Take a look at your list and fit the highest-rated comics to your budget.  Keep taxes and markup in mind.  Your list should be smaller, but with a higher concentration of good stuff.

Here’s what I got.  (Pricing here includes tax and markup.)

What I'll be buying for the foreseeable future.

What I’ll be buying until July.

The Sandman: Overture ✪✪✪✪ – #3 releases in July.  No info yet regarding #4’s release date.  $6.20
Miracleman ✪✪✪$6.20
The Multiversity 
✪✪✪✪ – Starts in August.  $6.20
Moon Knight ✪✪✪$4.96
Batman  – I’ll drop this at the end of the arc (July).  $4.96
Swamp Thing $3.72
Earth 2$3.72

My Monthly Maximum = $20

Catching up on Moon Knight = $14.88

Monthly totals starting next month…
June:  
Miracleman + Moon Knight + Batman = $16.12
July:  The Sandman: Overture + Miracleman + Moon Knight + Batman = $22.32
August:  Miracleman + Moon Knight + The Multiversity = $17.36

Looks like I’ll drop Swamp Thing and Earth 2, then switch Batman out for The Multiversity in August.  Given that The Sandman: Overture doesn’t make releases most months, this averages out nicely under my $20 monthly budget.

I need to catch up on Moon Knight this month.  If I go for the month-end sale at my comic book store, I’ll spend only $11.90.  I can avoid buying coffee for a few days, so it’s not a problem.

If you love Earth 2 and Swamp Thing with all your heart, I hope you don’t feel disappointed by those scores.  They’re honestly good books, but not what I’m looking for in a monthly comic.

Now that I’ve made my decision, I can go to the comic book store and change my pull with confidence.  I hope you can too.

Do you have any more tips on making your pull list?  Did I make a terrible mistake dropping Earth 2?  Leave a comment below!

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