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Comic Culture: The Impulse Buy

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I would like to think that under normal circumstances I am not a very impulsive person. Thinking about what I need versus what I want before acting on a purchase is usually a top priority for me. More often than not, I am pretty good at turning down things I don’t need, or don’t have the funds for. But, once you throw comics into the mix sometimes things get a little fuzzy (and I’m sure I’m not alone). This week we’re going to talk about impulse buys on Comic Culture and maybe shed some light on why they happen, all too frequently.

Recently I was trolling eBay looking for old issues of Chew. I am currently reading the book in digital singles through comixology, as well as collecting the hardcover Omnivore editions. So, realistically I have no reason to be looking for old issues, but that withstanding, for whatever reason, I’ve always wanted a #1. At first I thought I wanted a first printing, that was also graded, but as I saw the prices I realized that maybe the cost wasn’t worth the price of admission in this case. So, I then downgraded to just a first printing that wasn’t graded, but the price for that was still a little steep too. At that point I really thought about it and decided that the printing wasn’t really that important to me as much as just having the book (without selling my soul to do so).

This is what I "thought" I wanted...until I realized how expensive it really was.

This is what I “thought” I wanted… until I realized how expensive it really was.

So, after all that reasoning and decision making, the search continued, but only for a short period of time. Because, lo and behold, I was able to find an auction selling a near mint fourth printing of both Chew #1 and #2 for only $20. (Why get one issue when you can get two, right?) Without hesitation I purchased these books and ended my search in triumph with a grin on my face and a measly $20 out of my wallet. It would seem like all of this transpired over a few days, but to make it clear, for those following along, all of this occurred in the span of one day. Not multiple days, one day. So, in the end this was definitely an impulse buy, but a steal nonetheless.

This is what I got...and am more than happy with.

This is what I got, as well as a #2 issue (both fourth printings) for only $20!

Now that we’ve covered an example above, what makes impulse buys like this so common? The answer to this question is bound to be up for debate, but I think we as comic readers and collectors are partially to blame because it seems like we always want more. More books, more trades, more posters, more prints. More. More. More. Our appetites never seem to diminish; they might go dormant for a bit, but they are always there waiting in the shadows ready to take us by surprise. It’s like we are in a constant battle with our comic “peers” of who can have the “bigger” collection. In the end it doesn’t matter whose collection is bigger, just that what you own you enjoy and don’t regret spending your money on either. There’s bound to be a few cases of buyer’s remorse, but that will never go away.

On the flip-side, the comic industry itself may also be to blame for the “impulse” phenomena. The publicizing and relentless nature of all these variant covers and subscription incentives, as well as company-wide and line-wide crossovers sometimes makes it hard to cut back on what you’re buying. I try to stay away from all of these things as best I can, and I do a pretty good job. But don’t get me wrong, some of those variants can be quite gorgeous and enticing. Comic companies are in this business to make money, so they need to release as many items as possible, across different platforms and genres. We are constantly bombarded with new and shiny things, so of course it’s going to be hard to say no sometimes. In the end it all comes down to willpower. No one is forcing us to buy anything.

Being impulsive isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you know your limitations. Sometimes you’re going to find a great deal (that you may not have been planning on) that will be too hard to pass up. So, leave yourself a little leeway, just make sure you can always find your way back to shore. The comic industry is definitely a fun one, full of a lot of imagination and cool things so it can be easy to get carried away pretty quickly. In the end eating is probably more important than a rare variant or a signed piece of art. There is always a middle ground, so I urge us all to find it in our own comic collecting habits.

Before signing off please feel free to chat with me about your impulsive comic habits: What are some of your best impulse buys? Are they expensive? Are they cheap? What are they?

Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Until next week.

Happy reading.

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