Help! I started buying comics and I don’t know how to stop!
This could happen to you. You see a comic that looks interesting and you buy one issue to try it out. You pick up a few comics on Free Comic Book Day to sample some stories and check out the artwork. A friend highly recommends that you read something that they love. Before you know it, you are visiting your local comic shop weekly and picking up several books at a time. After missing an issue one month, you start a subscription with the store to never miss out again. And then the store starts recommending more titles similar to the ones you already read. Now you need more comic boxes to store everything. You are running out of space, running out of time to read, and running out of money.
Comics are wonderful. They can take you into worlds never before imagined. But there comes a time when you need to cut back on buying everything. How do you jump off? There are a few sensible stopping points to watch out for.
End of Story Arc
If the start of a story arc is a comfortable point to jump on, then the end of a story arc is a logical place to jump off. The story arc is the range of single comic issues that will be republished in trade paperback format. It’s a good place to stop. If you regret the decision later, you can always read the trade following the story arc where you left off.
It sounds simple, but the trick is in spotting the end of a story arc. Stories last roughly 5-6 issues, but can be as few as three or four. Some stories are clearly labelled as Part 1, Part 2, etc. but this isn’t always the case. Beyond this, the story never really ends. The final pages of one story contain the hooks into the next. They want you to keep reading. They will give you a reason to come back for more. You need to recognize the end of one plot and be strong enough to let go. If you can’t spot the soft ending, ask Google or your local comic shop.
An easier place to jump off a comic is when it gets rebooted into a new issue #1. The world changes dramatically across many titles when something big happens in the Marvel or DC Universe. Teams change rosters and individual characters start over again. This is the time to let go of some comics. Jump off before you become invested in the new world order. Even if titles don’t get a numbering restart, after a cataclysmic event is still the perfect time to stop spending all your money on comics. If you really want out, stop right before the event. As soon as you see that an issue is a tie-in to a worldwide shakeup, let go. The events will intrude on the story you’ve been following and the characters might never be the same.
If the superhero team doesn’t change, another jumping off point exists when the creative team changes. A new writer and/or a new artist can make a comic look and feel a bit foreign. Before the new creators get rolling, take a look at your shrinking comic storage space and use the change to jump off a title.
When your budget says no more, jump off. If you don’t like the direction a comic is taking and it no longer amuses you, stop buying it. Nothing says you have to hang on because maybe next issue will be better. After several issues of not getting better, you will wish you’d stopped when you first thought about it. Buying comics is a luxury to add something fun and interesting to your life. When a title stops doing that, think about whether or not you are collecting comics as an investment. If this is your entertainment fund and not your investment, then be sure that you are being entertained by your purchases. If not, stop immediately. Do not pass go and do not wait for the end of a story.
Jump on whenever a comic catches your eye. Jump off whenever the enjoyment ends.
Read what you love and love what you read.