Use Quicken To Fully Grasp The Scope Of Your Comic Book Addiction

J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly really likes comic books.

In order to fully grasp the scope of his comic book addiction, and to see how his spending habits had changed over time, he used Quicken:

Tonight I dug through four years of Quicken data to see if my comic book spending habits have changed. (They feel like they have, but I wasn’t sure.) Here’s what I found:

* In 2004, I spent $1640.10 on comic books. That fall, I decided I wanted to eliminate my debt.
* Apparently my finances weren’t a big priority, though. In 2005, I spent $2810.52 on comics.
* My spending peaked in 2006, during which I spent $3,202.91 on my beloved DC Archives and Marvel Masterworks.
* This year, however, I’ve only spent $807.89 on comics!

My worst period of comic book spending came just before I started Get Rich Slowly. From October 2005 to March 2006, I spent $3519.34 on comics — almost $600 a month. (That money would nearly have been enough to fully fund a Roth IRA!) During this time, I was spending everything I had freed from paying off debts — and my Christmas bonus! — to buy comics.

J.D. has curbed his comic spending problem and offers some tips for those of you who want to enjoy comics for less money.

We like this tip:

I purchase only those titles that interest me. This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to come home from the comic book store with a stack of Aquaman books. Aquaman? Good grief.

Seriously, Aquaman is crap.

Using Quicken to Analyze and Correct Bad Spending Habits [Get Rich Slowly]
(Photo:DaddyNewt)

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  1. TechnoDestructo says:

    God damn that’s a lot of money on comics. I don’t think I ever topped 500 dollars in a year.

    That’s one of the reasons I stopped reading American comics, though. They’re so goddamned expensive. 3 bucks for a 28 page pamphlet?

    Not to mention the shitty distribution, and inconvenient packaging. Want to read something other than DC or Marvel superheroes? Hope you have a comic shop nearby.

    They’re serialized in those expensive, fragile pamphlets, and if you aren’t reading a really popular series, you can pretty much count on missing issues if you don’t have a pull list (do they still do pull lists? I stopped going to comic shops about 7 years ago).

    And IF they’re collected in paperback form, they cost at least as much as the individual issues do and are still in that inconvenient comic-book size. AND many series are only PARTLY collected (X-men being a notable one), AND many trade paperbacks only include like 3 or 4 issues.

    Oh, and then there’s the comic shops. They’re often kind of out of the way, and they can appear pretty intimidating to someone not familiar with them. The crowds of overweight, hairy, and sometimes smelly nerds who like to make awkward conversation about weird shit you’d HAVE to be a nerd to be into can’t help, either.

    Christ, I’m AMAZED that there even still IS a comic book industry in the US. It must be all propped up by the hope of making it big in movies.

    This was a series of slow realizations that all crystallized when I saw what it’s like in Japan. Pocket-sized paperbacks for 5 bucks, or around 10 for ones that are in color or on higher quality paper. Wider variations in genre. You can be assured that things will be collected in their entirety. Serialization is in giant, cheap “phonebook” magazines (which has been tried here, but primarily with Japanese imports)…most of which are widely available and pretty much impossible to miss if you’re even looking for them.

    You’ve got to get into weird shit before it even begins to resemble what the industry in the US is like.

    Good thing I read Japanese (and Korean…Korean comics are even cheaper and more ubiquitous), or I’d have given up comics altogether.

  2. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    <—head hanging
    Unfortunately, at its peak, my comic book addiction topped $200/month! Now, I’m down to $10/bucks a week. Thank you Infinite Crisis/Civil War!

    @TechnoDestructo: You’ve hit the nail on the head: the movies are keeping the industry afloat. Fortunately for DC, they’ve got WBros at their backs to pick up the slack when there is some (and there’s some every months). Marvel… not so much.

    Just like the variant cover phenomenon got all these “collectors” to inflate the sales of crappy titles (I’m looking at YOU Marvel), expensive and thinner books, and “events” have soured me on some of my most beloved characters.

  3. hubris says:

    That’s when I stopped collecting, back int he early 90’s; when they started having 50 different covers for every book. Screw that. Oh, and I also wanted to get laid. Heh.

    Poor Aquaman; everyone bags on Aquaman. The man can talk to fish! That’s badass!

  4. full.tang.halo says:

    I’ve had my bouts with starting a book and then have missed reading 4-5 issues and kept buying them, “so I could catch up” when I got some free time, never happenes, so I just end up scrapping the whole book, selling the ones I have to get rid of the temptation to start up again and have to buy back issues.

  5. davebg5 says:

    I clock in at about $150/month on my comics.

    Whenever the wife gets wind of how much I dropped I ask her how much that new pocketbook ran her. That usually ends the conversation pretty quickly.

    Thankfully my shop tracks how much you spend on books and gives you a $20 credit for every $100 you spend.

    WOOT!!!

  6. freshyill says:

    You can save a lot by waiting for the trade paperbacks and buying them on Amazon. The Walking Dead trades are $10.39 on Amazon, and each one contains six issues. That’s a pretty damn good deal. I generally buy trades on Amazon and individual issues at Midtown Comics, where they give the $20 for every $100 you spend. I’d guess I spend $50-$90 a month, depending on what’s good.

    @omerhi: You’re not the only one who stopped collecting when they tried making every comic into some kind of collectors item. It was a dumb idea that they got from the baseball card industry. They still have variants, but not every one is some silly foil and embossed glossy masterpiece.

  7. G-Dog says:

    TECHNODESTRUCTO

    You have been away from American comics for a while. In the past couple years, there has been a huge jump in the number of mail order comic retailers. Now, anybody can get anything they want, no mater where they live, for %30 off the cover price.

    Also, American comics are currently in the middle of a renaissance. Books like Fables, Criminal, and OGN’s have revitalized the industry and reader base.

    Lastly, Manga isn’t the be all end all of sequential art. Every few months I try a new series, after hearing it is the greatest manga of all time by some podcast, only to be disappointed by the generic art and infantile narrative. The last book I tried was MPD Psycho, after reading glowing reviews. It was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read, Manga or not.

  8. G-Dog says:

    I get about $100 a month in comics.

    There is one thing I’ve notice though. The people that say 2.99 for a 22 page, full color book is expensive are the same people that pay $5.00 for a cup of Starbucks and $15 for lunch every day.

  9. jaredgood1 says:

    I wonder if his is counting TPBs in there or just singles? I clock in at about $70 a month (give or take). If I add in TBS (both US and manga), I’ll probably top out at arou nd $1000 a year.

    @FRESHYILL: You should check out instocktrades.com. They are a great place to get your TPBs. I just snagged volume 7-12 of Death Note for a little under $40 (including shipping).

  10. ancientsociety says:

    The 2004 spending wasn’t too bad but 2006 was way too high.

    At the same time though, I’m torn. I mean if you enjoy reading and collecting comic books, then why not spend that type of money on them (I certainly wouldn’t – I’ve only bought DMZ this year)? Do we all need to live compltely spartan lifestyles where we spend an exact $500/yr on things we enjoy, constantly tracking what we’re spending and agonizing over whether we should or shouldn’t spend the cash to enjoy ourselves? If you pinch pennies your entire life, sure you could die a rich man, but did you really live?

  11. yetiwisdom says:

    I think that Mario Muscar would think these spending habits extremely frugal. He’s one of the Geek contestants on Beauty & The Geek and claims to own over 25,000 comics.

    And I know, who watches Beauty & The Geek? What can I say – I needed a nerd fix after The Pick-Up Artist ended, kay?

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    TBP are the way to go. There are some excellent stuff out there (Bendis’ Powers is my current fav), if you’re patient.

    At the risk of encouraging the mangaboys, the quality is different compared to US comics. Pulp paper, less sophisticated printing, etc. No better/worse: different.

    As bad of a rap that Aquaman gets, imagine the indignity of being Aqualad. The only thing worse than being an ineffectual superhero is being the ineffectual hero-worshipping sidekick of an ineffectual hero.

  13. Mary says:

    You know, I can understand the allure of insulting Aquaman, but he is pretty impressive when he’s not talking to fish…King of Atlantis and all.

    If we’re counting TPB and manga, my spending is pretty up there. But the only thing I buy in issue format right now is Buffy Season 8, so I can frame it and hang it up.

    But when I sat down and realized I was spending $100/month on books (of all varieties) I knew I was sunk.

  14. ShadeWalker says:

    you know what also works? reading “graphic novels” for free at a bookstore or… downloading comics… yea it doesn’t support the industry and isn’t legal but it saves you money. so which is more important, that industry or your financial fortune?

  15. I always wonder what the heck will happen to all my comics after I die. That kind of thinking keeps me up at night.

    I spend $50 or so a month because I’ve really had to limit the number of titles I buy. Spider-Man has, what, eight different titles out now? I liked it better when there was “Amazing,” “Ultimate,” at that other one. Now I just limit myself to “Amazing” and “Astonishing X-Men,” which is the only good one left in the “X” titles.

    I grew up in the early ’90s, during that whole “collector’s item” debacle, and I wish I had all the money I spent on Silverhawk and Iron Man “silver foil die-cut embossed” issues. Thankfully, some comics have grown up and the focus is more on the writing and art than on the “collectibility.” Try selling an issue of WildCATS for anything for than $0.25 these days…

  16. SabrinaFaire says:

    Wife of a comic store owner here. Please buy more. :D And yes, we still do pull lists. Which includes getting your comics bagged and boarded and with a discount. Actually I’m amazed at what some folks spend on their comics. But I’m not complaining!

  17. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @omerhi: Being a cute girl who read comics, I had to opportunity to laid quite often. Mostly, I just made the dorks buy me clothes and expensive dinners.

    PS. I love Aquaman. Considering 75% of the earth is covered in water, controlling the seas, animals, and weather is pretty badass.

    @trai_dep: Leave Garth alone… he’s got purple eyes! I loved it when he was ‘reborn’ as Tempest. Thanks Phil Jimenez.

  18. BoraBora says:

    I no longer buy issues, because I would always wind up eventually buying the trades anyway. So, I tune out of the comic book world for a few months, then I buy stuff. I agree that Amazon is a good place to buy trades (my current faves are Fables, Runaways, Astonishing X-men, Y the Last Man) but it’s also great to go to the stores, where you can discover new stuff or the salespeople can offer other great reads.

    Sniff* I’ll be missing Brian K. Vaughn… I guess I’ll have to see what he does for Lost.

  19. BoraBora says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: As another cute girl who reads comics, that’s just evil.

    And funny.

  20. synergy says:

    Did he take into account the amount of space he probably had to rent to house so many comics? I’m imagining just little paths through a tiny apartment or having to move up to a bigger place just so they can have their own room.

    IN other other words, goddamn that’s a lot of comic books!!!

  21. TechnoDestructo says:

    @G-Dog:

    I’m disappointed by the generic art and infantile narrative in most American comics, too. You can’t trust hard-core anime fans recommendations on anything (just like you can’t trust a hard-core fan of ANYTHING’s recommendation on things from the stuff of which they are a fan…but MORESO) because they’ll praise any crap to the skies as long as there are big eyes and spikey hair. They’re uncritical, and certainly not aware of the difference between what would appeal to ANYONE and what would appeal only to someone already indoctrinated into the fan-cult.

    That said…manga in English is mostly aimed at the Inu-yasha/Naruto/Dragonball/Pokemon-watching sorts. The really interesting and unusual stuff is slow to get here if it does at all (just like the good American comics are slow to go the other way). And it’s STILL expensive as fuck, because the comic-inflation of the 90s is still with us, and affects everything, even imports. (They do come in slightly cheaper, much smaller/more convenient formats, though, and it’s easier to follow more completely…but it’s still at least twice what it costs in Japan)

    BTW, it’s not a GUARANTEE of quality, but most of the best stuff is published in Afternoon or Morning in Japan, and most of their stuff, if it gets to the US, is published by Dark Horse.

    I’m not saying it’s the be-all-end-all of the art form. I’m saying it’s the be-all-end-all of distribution models. The delivery is just utterly superior to the US.

  22. amoeba says:

    I sadly have to admit that I spent $300 in Manga Comics in just 2 wks (between my local Borders and Amazon). I don’t know if it is considered comics, but I got into Inuyasha, Cowboy Bebop and other series last year. I am a big anime fan since I was a little girl. But, I learned my lesson after my ex boyfriend told me that I am a spending geek. I do like Batman, He’s Hot!

  23. G-Dog says:

    Techno

    the delivery system is better, I’ll give you that. I would rather buy B&W collections than color single issues, that’s why I like the Essential and Shocase formats.

    And I’ve read lots of Manga, and just like with anime, I what I’ve enjoyed has been from the 80’s. Seems that when Japans econ went south, so did their media. The last anime I’ve enjoyed was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Most everything mondern I’ve seen or read was over dramatic and cheesy, like a bad Final Fantasy game. I’m sure it’s a generational thing. I doubt the guy who wrote Lone Wolf & Cub also wrote Bleach.

  24. G-Dog says:

    Amoeba
    Yes, Manga are considered comics. Sequential Story telling.