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minimalism in a nerdy world

5 ways I’ve minimized my comics (or “how I learned to stop worrying and love the pdf)

When your prized possessions start to weigh you down

Look in my direction, I’ll be round, I’ll be round

-Beatles (“And Your Bird Can Sing”)

In the past five months I have cut my comic collection by about 2/3rds, mainly in trade paperbacks.

I got rid of the floppy comics about 10 years ago. I have 2 short boxes, one of which is just New Universe. My rational for that box of New Universe is:

  1. I love the New Universe
  2. very little is available digitally (and likely won’t be)
  3. If I get the urge to read a print comic, I have that reserve ready to go

In fact, aside from small press, which is most of the other box, the only floppies I’ve bought in 10 years was the Planet of the Apes/Star Trek mini-series.

What has motivated me to so heavily reduce my print collection is that I thought about what I really value.

Firstly, enjoyment. And secondly is to support of the artists and art form. Ownership of the artifact doesn’t really factor into either of these.

I have continued to trim and cull, using the below as leverage. As for what I am keeping, there is a select few comics that are honestly better in print, or are just not available (yet). In the former category are the works of Seth and Ray Fawkes, which use the physical form of the work as part of the artistic expression. The latter, works not yet available, unfortunately include almost all of the work of the founder of the American graphic novel, Will Eisner.
Here then are the five ways I’ve used to minimize my comics:

A good tablet

I like the resolution of the retina display, but frankly the physical shape of the ipad (and the cost difference) had me stick to Android tablets for digital reading. I have a 10.1″ widescreen Android table which is quite close to comic size and shape.

Anyone I know who says they “can’t” read comics digitally, I honestly assume they have just tried with the wrong tools. My tablet is the same size, shape, and weight of a six-issue hardcover and holds thousands of comics. And with the right settings I get little to no eye strain.

I will say that the tablet does not make for great outdoor reading, but I have that stack of New Universe comics to keep me company.

Digital is my final format

How many times have I bought and rebought Sandman over the years? Singles, trades, new trades when a roommate got my first set, Absolute editions.

Time to call it quits. Digital is my final format.

My comic purging started with this line being drawn. My first cull was material I also had on Comixology and through other means (more on that later).

No more “better” editions or extra pages or replacements, the permanent version is on the tablet.

Swap hard copy for digital (if you can make some money on it)

I avoid rebuying unless there’s a strong chance I can net out with extra money. I did so on my Punisher collection, as well as Preacher and Walking Dead.

Swap hard copy for digital later

The long-game version of swapping is to sell it now and rebuy it much further down the road. The price of digital comics is only heading downward and availability of free or “streamed” comics is heading upward. If I sell off my hardcopies now, that money can go to work on my debt while I wait for the right time and price.

If I don’t think I’ll read something again soon (or ever), I am kind of ‘holding up the queue’ by hanging onto it. I could sell it, or give it away and someone else can enjoy it. Holding on ‘just in case’ now feels selfish to me.

Bundles of joy

I love the Humble Bundle. The book bundle changes out weekly and often it is a pile of comics in a couple of digital formats (usually pdf and cbz) which are legal, give money to charity, and give me an inexpensive way to try out many different series.

My first pass that I mentioned above was to remove more than two dozen hardcopies that I had also gotten in bundles in the past year. Once I had that momentum, it got easier every step of the way.


I hope this helps. Move those hard copies out of your storage room and into someone else’s hands.

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1 Comment

  1. That’s a great way to minimize your physical collection and still have it!

    I have a ton of my dad’s old comics to go through. He passed away two years ago and was a huge comic fan as a boy and young adult.

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