The Calculus of Future Comics Purchases

A few days ago I decided I just had to tackle the piles of graphic novels sitting on my living room table. I have reluctantly concluded I must go out and buy another bookcase; the question then will be, where will it go?

One of the graphic novels among the piles was Batman: Gotham by Gaslight Noir, a black and white collection of two graphic novels originally published in the 1980s and 1990s, Gotham by Gaslight and its sequel Batman: Master of the Future, about the Batman of the 1890s.

Cover to Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. Art by Mike Mignola.

I read the graphic novels at the time they were published, I read them again a few years ago when I covered the film premiere of the animated Batman: Gotham by Gaslight movie for PREVIEWSworld. Until Thursday, I had never noticed the one-panel cameo by Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in Master of the Future, but does this make sense in a story that takes place during the Great Hiatus?

I like the Victorian Batman. I have a statue of the Gotham by Gaslight Batman at work. I have a couple of editions of the story, and there is a hardcover edition coming out later this year.

I realized on Thursday: “Oh, I probably won’t get get that.”

One of the advantages to working at Diamond is being able to purchase the products we offer at wholesale prices, like retailers. Effectively, what that means is that I typically pay 90s cover prices (ie., about two dollars) for today’s comics. For the last decade, I’ve bought and read comics that, if I had to pay full cover price, I wouldn’t have bought.

Lose a benefit — wholesale cost on DC Comics — and you have to reevaluate. Is this really important to me? Is it worth buying?

The answer, in many cases for me, is going to be no.

I’d have to find a new source — in this case, a retail establishment — and set up a pull list. Would I feel comfortable, in the current state of pandemic, shopping an unfamiliar store, putting myself at risk from strangers, putting strangers at risk from me?

I’m using the Gotham by Gaslight hardcover as an example. Yes, a deluxe edition hardcover would be nice to have. (I was, I hate to admit, a bit disappointed in the Noir hardcover. IDW Publishing’s similar black and white edition of <i>Bram Stoker’s Dracula</i> is much superior.) But I don’t need it. Paying full price — or an online retailer’s discounted price — for a better presentation of a story I already have, several times over, what sort of sense does that make? There are other things I can spend money on.

That calculus applies to all sorts of things. Do I need Dark Nights: Death Metal? The Arrowverse Crisis on Infinite Earths collection? The Batman: The Animated Series-styled action figure of the Azrael Batman? Even routine issues of Superman and Batman?

I don’t know.

I feel like I may end up saving myself a great deal of money in the long run.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *