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.
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.