In the beginning by Rick B.
In the beginning, there were simply funny pages short form comic strips in newspapers. Then some brilliant mind bundled them together creating the first comic “book.” And for the most part the format of comic books stayed the same for decades. Sure, the type of content original vs reprint, size both in dimensions and length varied to all extremes, but for the most part a comic book was a serialized story done in one issue or many stories collected in 1 single issue.
All of these books were never meant to be saved or collected. They were meant to be read then discarded just like the newspapers they spawned from.
Slowly over time, some stories had multiple parts over multiple issues. Then eventually that grew into stories with multiple parts over multiple issues over multiple titles.
Then came mini-series. Special stories that were in their own book but contained characters from other titles.
Then came graphic novels. special more expensive books.
And as we grew up with comics, comics grew up with us. They went from being disposable distractions from the mundane or even frightening real world to highly collectible and sought-after items.
These 4 color pages meant something to us. They comforted us from the storm. They allowed us to extract revenge on our enemies all from the safety of our minds eye. We couldn’t stop evil from happening but Spider-Man could. Neither of us could make the rent but even a nerd like him found Mary Jane! Maybe a nerd like me could find my Mary Jane or perhaps a Becky?
My parents made me split my time between Earth with my friends and Asgard with my father. It was always a constant battle to keep both sides happy, with me stuck in the middle. Just. Like. The Mighty Thor.
And through this love and happiness, we started to keep our comics. And wanting to find the ones we never had. Followed by discovering others kept their colorful treasures too. We could barrow and trade them, growing our collection of happy memories and keepsakes, until finally completing the run.
And as our collections grew and grew… the space to keep them shrank and shrank. At the same time some of our happy memories, were the happy memories of more and more “friends” Making some of these riches, too expensive or hard to find… What to do?
Enter the next evolution of comic books, the trade paperback. Imagine a single book that collected many issues of our favorite stories, all in one handy spot, that took up less space and cost less money? Hurray! All our problems are solved… Or are they? Very soon after the trade paperback became popular, new problems have arisen.
Decompression. Instead of telling the story of Steve VS Tony in 1 super battle comic we started getting 7 issues of panoramic beauty with lots and lots of filler. Was most of the filler good? Yes. Yes, it was, but did we really need it all? Not for me to say.
And that is where this longwinded and boring debate rages on. Do you buy monthly issues or do you wait for the trade? Do you miss out on #1,2 and spend more to read them or wait for the trade? Do you sell your collection? Or move into a bigger home? Or wait for the trade? Or only buy the trade and save money and space? Buy both? Moving 100 long boxes never beats moving 100 trades.
Me personally, I buy singles 99% of the time.
I can barely wait the 4 weeks between single issues to read the next one. I can not understand how you can wait 6 months in between the trades.
Yet, sometimes I can barely remember what happened 10 minutes ago much less 4 weeks ago. With a trade you usually get the complete story in hand and can just go back a few pages to remind yourself of who Brian killed.
No matter where you come down on the debate… the correct answer is to keep reading. Never stop reading and enjoying comics. You are only a few pages away from the next incredible moment that will be with you forever.