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Out From Under the Covers: A Desperate Quest to Be Current, Part Two

I am trying to get my sub list under control.  In fact, I have been outright ordered to get my sub list under control, and it is a long, silent ride to the comic shop, because this shit is serious.

Greeting me at the counter upon my Sunday excursion are Dario and Mark.  You’ve already heard a little bit about Dario.  Mark—and this is every time I enter the store—never ceases to lovingly ridicule and feign shock at my appearance.

“WELL, WELL, WELL, WHO DO WE HAVE HERE?!” he shouts, always loud enough to gather the entire store’s attention.  Mark is your quintessential comic book guy.  “Lord Vertigo,” we call him, because I’m fairly certain that to this day he owns every issue of every Vertigo title so far published.  He’s also like a big teddy bear that you just want to jump over the counter and hug—a boisterous, sarcastic teddy bear.  And after making fun of you, Mark will always offer you a brownie/cookie/whatever treat of the day happens to be on the counter.  Sundays at our store have a “morning crowd”—a group that comes in as soon as the store opens.  A part of this crowd is one of the kindest gentlemen I know, named Ron.  Ron likes to make us treats.  Usually it’s some type of cookie or muffin, but once in a great while you’ll get a heaping bowl of homemade chili that you just can’t. Stop. Eating.  Suffice it to say, everyone looks forward to Sundays.  Today, our treat is a plate piled high with sugar cookies, and Mark eagerly motions for us to have our share.

The Fiancé has driven me here and led me face-to-face with my sub box.  I am shocked if not impressed by the fact that the cubby hole marked with my name has not yet broken under its own weight.  He pulls everything out for me and hands me the startlingly heavy stack, and I take them to a back table to wade through about 2-3 months’ worth of stuff.  As I’m doing this, my subscription list gets printed for me before I can even make the request.

God help me, I have to actually cut things.

I go through the list, Fiancé peering over my shoulder like some watchful gargoyle.  “Do it.”

I start with the easy stuff.  Since Fiancé is already buying them and I can just read his copies, Batgirl, Justice League Dark, Ultimate Spider-Man, and The Walking Dead all get cut.  Nonplayer, which hasn’t come out since the first issue debuted in 2011, is still on my sub for some reason.  I have zero faith that I will ever see another issue of this mini, so that is emphatically cut.



“That’s it?” Fiancé asks.

“Well I’m going to drop Batwoman as soon as this arc with Wonder Woman in it is over,” I tell him.  I’m finding that I want to likeComics, comics Batwoman a lot more than I actually do like Batwoman, and sacrifices must be made.  Ed Brubaker is done with Winter Soldier, so I drop that too.

“Okay,” he says.  “What about the rest of this?”  My sub is two pages long.

After some deliberation, I wind up cutting:

Batman, Inc.  I struggle to get through this title, and again, as much as I want to enjoy it, I have to admit that I really don’t.

Captain America
  I was buying this for Bucky, Natasha, Ed Brubaker, and Butch Guice.  With the current incarnation and John Romita, Jr. on art, it’s kind of a huge buzzkill.  I know this might be blasphemy, but my distaste for JR, Jr.’s artwork is unlike any other.  It just does not work for me on any level, at all, ever.

  The existence of this on my list is shocking in itself.  I’ve always been kind of a Gambit hater, but lately have been a lot softer on the character.  I read the first couple of issues of this title and didn’t mind them—I LOVE Clay Mann’s artwork and that alone had pretty much sold me.  But then, there isn’t really any room on my list for things I just “don’t mind.”  That said, I’ll definitely come back and pick up the issues that feature Rogue, because Rogue is my home girl and my love for her knows no bounds.

Story continues below

Sword of Sorcery  I guess this just got cancelled anyway, so no big loss here.

Wonder Woman  This one … oh, this one.  This was … this was agonizing, guys.  I could get into all the reasons why, but I would just wind up writing you a novel, so why don’t I take the lazy way out and let the incredible Kelly Thompson do all my talking for me.  It really can’t be said any better than that.

X-Men Legacy
  Not a Legion fan.  This title pretty much ruled my life back when Mike Carey was on it; these days, I’m apathetic.



I feel a sense of accomplishment.  Fiancé looks at me expectantly.

“What?” I say, baffled.  “MORE?  No.  No—I can’t.”

I explain that I’ve already cut more than I’d predicted and that I need baby steps.  He relents, and we go up to the counter.

“Mark, can you delete the stuff I’ve crossed off, please?”  He skims through my list and smirks, all too happy to get rid of what he sees as the garbage that’s permeating my pull list.  “And, um … can you please add Young Avengers, Ame-Comi Girls, and FF?”

“What?!”  Fiancé is upset.

I anticipated this.

I cut Supergirl in a meager attempt to make up for the additions (which, honestly, I’m thinking I might wind up re-adding later).

Mark starts grilling me on why I am purchasing FF.  He, for some reason I cannot comprehend, hates it.  The humor and the fantastic artwork, I thought, would make it right up his alley, but I am stupefyingly wrong.  We get into a friendly argument.  Dario comes to my defense.  It’s a fun book, it features a team that’s 3/4 women (with SHE-HULK!), and it has beautiful, colorful, wonderful Mike Allred art.  This is a fucking BUY, we say.

Mark concedes begrudgingly.  I appreciate his attempt to be the guardian of my sub list.  When he hands me the heavy brown bag packed-to-bursting with comics, I begin to understand his and Fiancé’s tyrannical approach to get me to cut things.  Somehow, after all I’ve dropped, I’m still walking away with a ton of comics.

As we walk out, Fiancé informs me that this is far from over.  “Read up.  Catch up on what you have and decide what you do and don’t like.  We’re doing this again in a couple of weeks.”

Titles Dropped:  14
Titles Added:  3
Exasperated Looks Thrown My Way:  Too many to count
Comics Read Since Last Post:  54!  GO ME!
Comics Accumulated Since Last Post:  76…ish?  FAIL.

*Edit:  I just realized that Thunderbolts and Captain Marvel are not on my sub.  Also, Fearless Defenders came out this week.  Also, Brian Wood’s X-Men and Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men are starting up soon.  Feeeecccckkkkkkkkkk.


Ah, I know this well. Too damn much good stuff coming out lately. I’m trying to go through my own pull list (and stuff I pick up regularly) and catch up with everything I’m behind on, and figure out what I can trade wait on.

It’s so difficult!

The way I see it, though, is that it’s my only vice, so I rationalize it that way. Plus, they have at least SOME resale value, whereas other vices don’t, generally.

Yeah, it totally makes sense to me!

Yeah, I totally understand–it is hard, and I sometimes find myself feeling like “I’ve got history with that character; even though the current run isn’t great, maybe it will get better,” etc. (sigh) And for each that I think maybe I will drop, there’s one or two to add. But when I’ve got piles I haven’t gotten through reading, and some where I’ve lost the enthusiasm and am not even sure I want to read… I realize, yeah, I probably could have made some better decisions.

I’m trying to cut back, too, but I face an added layer of difficulty in that I have no local shop. I order mine online, meaning I order way in advance. So when trying a new book, if I wanted to give a book one arc to impress me, by the time I’d have to order the next arc I’ve only read one or two issues. But order in to the second and the completionist in me wants to continue. If I don’t pre-order and then turn out to want to continue, it opens another headache of having to go back and add books into older orders that aren’t actually filling yet…so when something like Marvel NOW! occurs and starts launching interesting new title after interesting new title, it’s making for some difficult decisions.

‘Course, double-shipping also complicates things. One month it seems like my list is out of control with tons of books billing and shipping, then the next it seems like I’m only reading a handful of books.

how distressing. Si Spurrier is writing the hell out of Legacy, more so than Carey ever did (sadly).

I feel really lucky that my pull list is only 3 books- Hawkeye, Daredevil and Saga. I’ve only gotten into the habit of reading comics monthly as a store only opened in my town about three months back and I have yet to identify the plethora of books I NEED as opposed to those I merely WANT just yet. I am sure in time my list will grow but for now I am subbing at a manageable level, and one that doesn’t eat up all my meagre funds.

Good luck in continuing the purge, and remember it is for your own good.

I only collect two Marvel titles after dropping Winter Soldier and Cap and (insert character name) was cancelled. That just leaves Cap and Daredevil (which I will drop when Waid leaves.) The best thing about New 52 is that it’s let me drastically cut my DC pull list. Superman titles gone. Batman titles (including Nightwing and Detective) gone with only Batman, Incorporated, and Batman & Robin remaining. They’ll be let go when the current creators move on. Green Lantern – still hanging on, but seriously pissed after the lack of resolution after Third Army. I’ll probably cancel that after First Lantern. At the moment Justice League and Aquaman are keeping me interested in DC but once Arthur gets cancelled and thrown out of the League I’ll drop them.
I’m a big Dynamite Comics fan but now trade-wait because the trade paperbacks are cheaper, and have so many extra features. Still, I can’t wait for Flash Gordon and need it on a monthly basis (hardest thing I’ve done recently is wait for Shadow to go tradepaper back.)
Walking Dead – its on the “let’s see if this gets better” list. If not, it’s gone. Star Trek ongoing – gotta keep that one.
I think I’ve gone from about 50 titles at the end of last year to about 10, and hopefully that’ll dwindle to just a handful. Personally, I’ve been having more fun completing bronze age runs from the 50c bins.

I’ll never have a pull list. I like to go to my store and see what is new that week. I’m dropping 6 titles this month and keeping just 4. I’m more into trades. It is cheaper and I can read a whole arc or part of it. I know the wait is too long, but I don’t mind it.

Having this much trouble cutting down a pull list when it seems you barely even read what you have is kinda past pathetic….and just sad.

Everybody goes through this, right? (Well, maybe not Matt.) Every time a new batch of solicits comes out — like, hey, this very week — I open up the text file where I keep my list of dibs, start adding to the “Possibilities” section, take a look at what’s coming to an end in the near future, consider what I have and haven’t been enjoying, factor in what is no longer shipping regularly versus what is shipping too frequently, and try to get the list back to a manageable level. So far, “manageable” works out to be thirty comics a month. That’s probably still too many.

Point of Impact and Multiple Warheads both wrapped recently. Remender’s Secret Avengers did, too, and I won’t be trying Spencer’s relaunch. Godzilla: The Half-Century War has another ish to go. Hickman’s Secret and SHIELD are on indefinite hiatuses. So, there’re some available slots on the list. East of West and Sex start in March; Wood and Coipel’s X-Men in April. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting the latter in singles, as the “women of the X-Men raise a new messiah baby” concept doesn’t seem that appealing, although I’ve been reading everything Wood writes in singles lately. The Bounce and Catalyst Comix are slated for releases sometime this year, and I always like to be in on the ground floor for Casey comics. The Green Team and The Movement came completely out of left field this week, and I’m tempted to try both. Plus, there’s always the looming launch of Killjoys, which will be a must-buy.

Too many options. It’s a good problem to have.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to cut someone ELSE’S pile of stuff down? I can throw out my husband’s old magazines and clutter with utter ruthlessness. And vice versa of course. But cutting one’s OWN piles is terribly hard.

You do of course, have to read Young Avengers.

The only way I ever managed to really cut my pull list was by making it less about titles and more about money. I gave myself a limited comics budget for “floppies” and a larger budget for trade paperbacks down the road.

It soon became clear what I *really* wanted every Wednesday or so and what could wait for the trade. If I wasn’t interested anymore by the time the trade came out, well, that told me something too.

Figure out a target **number** of floppies you want to bring home each month, figure an average of $3.50 for each issue, and add, say, $7.00 more (two “extra” floppies for some flex). Plan next month around it, budgeting for each week using Previews or a shipping list.

For me, at least,. that’s how to cut down a pull list. If the money is always there, the single issues will keep on getting bought out of habit even if they’re going unread.

Totally feel your pain. I’ve been agonizing over a few titles on my pull list as well. Batwoman, Swamp Thing and Animal Man are all books I really want to like more than I do. Animal Man is on the firmest footing with me, but the change in creative teams on Swamp Thing and JH Williams leaving the art side of Batwoman may be enough to push me over the edge on buying both.

Wonder Woman I also go round and round on and always come back to my love of all things drawn by Chiang. The insular feel of the book has helped too, as I haven’t needed to keep up with the rest of the “New 52″, which is fine by me as overall I have massively disliked DC’s “New Universe.” As long as WW keeps reading like it’s doing its own thing and telling its own story, I’ll be buying.

Worlds’ Finest is safe too as long as Huntress is featured and people like Maguire, Perez, Ordway, and Kitson keep drawing her, and my recent addition of Batman Beyond Unlimited has proved a wise investment, with 40-pages of comics for $3.99 and every issue has been a great read (plus- Breyfogle art!)

I still read Fables and Fairest, but in trades, so with Hellblazer ending (boooo!) next issue, that will be the last monthly Vertigo title for me since Vertigo began in 1993! *Slow clap DC on your handling of Vertigo in recent years*

As for Marvel, only X-Factor and FF have survived my culling (plus Daredevil, which I buy in hardcover). I was hesitant too on FF, and honestly the first issue didn’t win me over much, but Fraction’s story and Allred’s art are just off kilter and smart enough to keep me coming back for the foreseeable future. It could be the new “X-Statix” for Marvel. I dropped Winter Soldier after Bru’s departure (and depressing finale) and Dark Avengers got kicked to the curb as soon as Songbird and Luke Cage did. I like Jeff Parker a lot, but even his writing isn’t enough to keep me interested in…whatever the heck this new group of characters is supposed to be.

Indy titles on my list have proved the most safe, as that is where most of my interest is these days, in the non-superhero books. I’m still saddened that Sergio Aragones’ Funnies has been missing from the marketplace due to his recovery from surgery, and Paul Grist’s Mudman has finally just returned after too long a stretch of being MIA. Hack Slash also helps the budget by ending in a couple issues (though a crossover mini with Army Of Darkness is supposedly coming out after that). The Shadow has proven to be a solid read, even after Ennis’ storyline, and Image, Boom! and Dark Horse have combined to publish a good chunk of my monthly and trade reading lists these days.

Great piece, Melissa. So relatable. As fans we all go through this I suppose – my situation is shockingly similar to yours (though my pull list is smaller at this point I think) – and when I make it through my stack of back reading I think I’m going to cut mercilessly, and go to digital for most of my books, and pick up trades of those I adore. Living in NYC I have a space problem ALMOST as much as a money problem.

Good luck, Melissa – and enjoy Young Avengers (and Wood’s upcoming X-Men) – it absolutely needs to be on your list – exasperated looks be damned. :)

I buy Comixology (after price drops, which puts me several months behind on Marvel and one month behind on everything else), and I’ve just now gotten to itemizing the comics I’m actually reading. It goes like this:

-Action Comics
-Batman Incorporated (how could anyone not love this?)
-The Unwritten

-Manhattan Projects
-Morning Glories

-Amazing Spider-Man
-Fantastic Four
-Invincible Iron Man
-Journey Into Mystery
-Uncanny X-Force
-Wolverine & the X-Men

My Marvel bias shines through. Post-Marvel Now! (or when I catch up to that point) I’ll be reading slightly fewer Marvel books, I think, not because there aren’t a wide variety of Marvel Now! books I really want to read, but simply because I don’t have any money. So I’m following most of the writers I like onto whichever books they’re on that have the most compelling art team (Gillen from JIM to Young Avengers, Hickman to Avengers, Fraction to FF) and dropping Rick Remender and Dan Slott’s work entirely. Meanwhile, Action Comics, Happy and Batman Incorporated have end dates, and Secret’s in limbo, freeing me up to pick up a few more indie series as they come along (mostly from the same writers I’m reading superhero stuff from–Satellite Sam, East of West, Über). If the money ever starts flowing I’ll add a few more Now! books and catch up on some of the things I’m supposed to be up on–Sixth Gun, Prophet, Dial H.

i feel your pain for i have done the cutting list lately now mostly my list is just the xmen books and wonder woman and the bat books minus birds of prey and batman and robin. and red hood and the outlaws

i feel what you are going through for doing that myself mostly down to only a few marvel books and the bat titles from dc other then red hood and the outlaws and batman and robin. plus only other dc book still on my list wonder woman

This is the first time I’ve ever said this, but reading this post actually makes me glad I’m divorced.

Thanks for the great comments, everyone! Hearing all of your experiences is comforting. I honestly feel like the culling would be a much easier task if Marvel in particular weren’t making it so difficult at the moment. This is by far the largest my sub list has ever been, and the majority of it right now is Marvel.

@Ian – You’re right, it is a good problem to have. I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about this many titles before.

@Omar – That’s a really smart approach. That would probably work wonders for me if I could get myself to stick to it. I may try and give it a shot.

“Having this much trouble cutting down a pull list when it seems you barely even read what you have is kinda past pathetic….and just sad.”

But still nowhere near as sad and pathetic as feeling the need to make a comment like this.


But yeah, it’s definitely a good problem to have, and Omar’s plan would be good if I could keep to it.

I’m finding that I want to like Batwoman a lot more than I actually do like Batwoman…

In recent years, I find myself saying this about more and more titles. I’ve been collecting for about 30 years (with a long dry spell around the time of my divorce) and will always buy monthlies. That being said, I think my pull list is down to Fables and Saga….and I just had time to sit and read the first EIGHT issues of Saga and probably have DOUBLE that in Fables waiting for me!

My 9 year old son’s pull list is longer than mine…Super Dinosaur, Young Justice, Green Lantern Animated, Superman Family Adventures, and Spongebob….with half of those about to end!

I’ve been waiting for another installment of this series for a long time. Your experience with your pull list reminds me of my own. I don’t make it to my shop nearly as often as I used to, sadly. I have around $300 worth of books to pick up, and I hardly have the time to read as I used to as well. I finally ended up telling him to stop pulling books. Now I just gotta find time (and money!) to get over there to pick up the rest. Good luck on catching up on your books. It can be a pain after getting behind.

You’ve put perfectly into words exactly how I feel about Captain America, and Batwoman for that matter. Agree with you one hundred percent

When my wife and I were first combining our fiances, this was difinitely something I went through, having to cut my comic book buying down to what “we” thought was “reasonable.” Six years ago, when I told her I’ll only be buying comics that had Kitty Pryde and Lockheed in it, it narrowed my list down to like two titles a month (if I was lucky). Nowadays, I added Magik (as she’s back and that wasn’t a real possibility eight years ago) and now I’m buying like six or seven titles every month.

Ultimate X-Men
Wolverine & the X-Men
All New X-Men
Now I’ll be adding Uncanny X-Men and X-MEN to my list and that makes five monthly titles once X-MEN comes out. And that’s not counting double shipping or when she shows up in X-Men Legacy.

But its still around $20 a month buying habit and I make a big point of rereading my titles and showing how much I’m enjoying them, but I worry about if they ever raise the prices, then I might have to cut again.

I have a part time job at a retailer, Hastings, so I save like a dollar off every title so that’s how I’m keeping it under $20.

But before I cut the titles down, I was buying so many comics. It was by far the worst break up I ever had.

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