Decluttering the Pull List

The Weekly Crisis writes about taking the suitcase test (figuring out what you really need to buy or keep based on what you’d put in a suitcase for a long trip) and applying it to comic books. It’s an interesting way to look at a hobby dominated by completism and collecting for collecting’s sake. I’ve been doing something similar over the last couple of years, with two major changes to my buying habits.


The biggest decision for me was to stop buying event books just because they were events.

I understand the desire to read everything “important” and keep up with the universe. My DC reading practically started with Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I read a lot during the event-heavy 1990s. But after 10 years of annual crossovers, I found myself sick of them. I got sucked back in with the buildup to Infinite Crisis in 2005, but after the weekly Countdown to Infinite Crisis I realized I needed to focus on books I actually liked.

So I bought Final Crisis because it looked interesting and Rogues’ Revenge because I couldn’t pass up Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins on the Flash’s Rogues. I skipped Final Crisis: Revelations, and I’ve skipped Blackest Night so far, because the stories just didn’t appeal to me.

The only exception I’ve made so far is Legion of Three Worlds, and that’s because I run a Flash site and it featured the return of Kid Flash.

Falling Behind

I’ve also started taking how far behind I am on reading a series as a measure of how interested I am in it.

  • Am I a few weeks behind? No biggie.
  • Waiting for a story arc to finish? Maybe I should start buying it in trades instead.
  • A couple of months behind? Time to catch up and see If I really care.
  • 6 months behind or longer? It’s probably time to drop it.

I’ve dropped several series based on this criteria…and I still haven’t gotten around to reading the issues I’d bought before dropping them. I can’t quite bring myself to drop Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though, even though I’m 8 months behind.

At this point I’m reading 12 more-or-less monthly series: 7 ongoing and 5 miniseries. It’s manageable, except when I’m really busy, and keeps my monthly budget around $40 to 50.

What to Keep?

I’ve got my comics buying habits sorted out at this point, but the hard part is figuring out what to keep. The last time I moved, I set myself a goal of having fewer long boxes of comics the next time I moved. Unfortunately I haven’t really gotten around to (a) sorting and (b) actually selling much.

I did, however, put some boxes in storage, and it’s been enlightening to compare the items I’ve gone back for (Girl Genius trades, for instance), the items I keep meaning to go back for when I have time to read them (Sandman), and the items that I just haven’t thought about.

So I guess my suitcase criteria would be reread and research. Anything I’m likely to reread stays. Anything that I may need as reference material for my website stays. (Unfortunately that means I have to keep Countdown for now.) I’m not willing to toss the rest of it just yet, though, which is why I have 15 or 16 long boxes.

Eventually, though, I’ll go through them all and make some decisions.


20 thoughts on “Decluttering the Pull List

  1. Rialtus

    This brings up another question – when you make your decisions, what will you do with the books you no longer want to keep? I assume you are talking mainly about the books you have already moved to storage and you now want to regain storage space.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Eventually I’ll get around to listing a whole bunch of stuff on eBay, and I figure what’s left, I’ll divide up by age-appropriateness and donate to a hospital or charity or something.


  2. fastest

    Wow! It’s really funny that you post this because I have been going through this little comic crisis all summer. I have been collecting comics since I was 12. And basically, I have kept everything I ever purchased. I was up to 2500 comics and many, many longboxes.

    But I’m not the kind of guy who keeps a lot of stuff. Aside from my comics, all of my other possessions pretty much could fit in a suitcase, and I was proud of that. But the comics, oh there were so many.

    So I did 2 things, I shortened my pull list, and I went on a major selling spree. I sold something like 1200 comics this summer on eBay. All that remains pretty much is my Flash and Legion of Super-Heroes collection. Those are my 2 favorite titles, and when it comes down to it, are what I care about the most.

    And I decided, pull list wise, to do something similar. I get all of my Flash, Bart Allen/XS/Boomer appearances, and LoSH related titles, then I get a few others that intrest me like the new Superman stuff, Batwoman, Red Robin, Blackest Night, with the qualifier that about every 6 issues, I sit down and ask myself “okay, how did I like these last 6 issues?” If I liked them, I buy the trade, and sell the issues. If I didn’t like them, I don’t bother with the trade.

    So far, it’s been pretty cool. Comic book collecting, as you mentioned, is pretty much the exact oppostite of this. So to be able to cut half of my collection off, and be okay with it, has been pretty great. I remember thinking that if I ever had to sell my comics it would break my heart, and it didn’t.

    I guess if I had to sell my Bart Allen appearances it would break my heart. That is my collection as far as I’m concerned. I probably have the most complete list of Bart Allen’s appearances in the whole world. I know I have more than the comic book database has listed.

  3. Luke

    I know this crisis all too well. I am always wanting to cull down my already not-that-bad pull list, but I rarely seem to get there. Certain titles (Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, mainly) keep getting that “I’m going to drop these and get them in trade” tag from me but then the new story begins and I am interested again. Really, I should drop them and get them in collection because Marvel does a good job of collecting things.

    I forced myself to drop JSA after Johns left just to give the title a break, and because I know it will be available in collection at some point. But I still look at the singles and think, ‘Man, that looks cool!’

    Some titles I put on the chopping block about two weeks after a new issue comes out, but then they leave that block once the next one comes out. House of Mystery, I am looking at you.

    I really need to re-evaluate the pull list again, especially with some new stuff really catching my fancy (Doom Patrol, the Red Circle titles) and some stuff coming down the road which looks very neat as well (Robinson’s JLA).
    .-= Luke’s latest blog post: Waiting In The Wings — 9/30/2009 =-.

  4. West

    Hey, my comment posted, despite the funky errors I keep getting on the Pre! Yay!

    (I’m on Firefox, now.)

    On-topic, umm… Yeah, I sold a ton of stuff and am now down to 12-15 longboxes and a bookshelf of tpb’s. Hardly sounds like progress, but *shrugs*
    .-= West’s latest blog post: He Lives! =-.

    1. Ben

      More progress then I make on a monthly basis selling items, while still buying a large amount weekly. though if someone is missing a certain issue of DC, Marvel, or Dark Horse Titles or Trades feel free to check out my eBay Business, comichall.

    2. Kelson Post author

      Well, progress is relative, right?

      I’m just hoping I can decommission a box or two at some point. A couple of weeks ago I reluctantly realized I needed a new box for the stuff I had piled up on top of the others…and filled it. 🙁

      Admittedly it was a year’s worth of comics plus some trades I’d picked up at cons or pulled out of storage, but it was still kind of disheartening.

  5. Craig MD

    I have sooo many comics that I don’t need anymore, but for some reason I can’t bear to part with any of them. I’ve been reading/collecting for 20 years now so my collection is fairly big. Right now I’m reading the Green Lantern books (including the Blackest Night tie-ins), Flash: Rebirth, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Power Girl, House of Mystery, Secret Six, Madame Xanadu, Northlanders, Doom Patrol and Superman: Secret Origin. I’ve dropped Wonder Woman and JLA, and I’m not sure if I’m going to bother with the JSA books once the new teams are in place. Also reading Adventure Comics at the moment but I’ll probably drop that once Geoff Johns leaves.

    1. Ben

      Try figuring out what you can get in trade or hardcover, and then sell the individual issues or donate like Kelson plans on doing.

      1. Craig MD

        I’d love to be able to do that, but most of the comics I own have either never been reprinted/collected or the cost of buying the collected editions would cost me more money than I’d make selling the individual issues. I keep thinking I should “wait for the trade” on new series/storylines, but I can’t bring myself to go for so long without new comics.

      2. Kelson Post author

        Maybe I should do that with the original Teen Titans. I almost put them up for sale, but ultimately decided to hang onto them for reference. I could grab the two(?) Showcase volumes and sell the singles as a set. (I *think* it’s complete, even though a lot of them are readers’ copies.)

  6. Jesse

    Kelson, you should really pick up Blackest Night, at least the main series (or at least get it in trade.) It’s very good. The Titans and Superman minis are good so far, too. Actually, good all around. Better than Final Crisis, easily.

    Sorry that you had to keep Countdown. I just got rid of my issues. in my opinion, that was the worst thing DC has done in years.

    I tend to be a completist with a lot of DC stuff, but i did skip the JLA giant issue this week. Thumbed through and it did not look good.

    1. Kelson Post author

      It doesn’t make any difference to me whether Blackest Night is the best comic ever or the worst crossover since Genesis. I’m just not interested in it. And per my new anti-clutter rules, if I’m not interested, I’m not buying it.

  7. The Irredeemable Shag

    Great topic. I recently did the same and culled my list. Similar to what you went through, I evaluated what I couldn’t live without, and what I was falling behind on. For example, even though I enjoyed the Booster Gold series, I was about six months behind in reading issues. Obviously if I was that far behind, the series didn’t matter that much to me. I started culling that way. My list is actually pretty short right now. It’s a nice change!

    The Irredeemable Shag
    .-= The Irredeemable Shag’s latest blog post: Aquaman’s Lament =-.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.