Do Comic Collectors Do It Differently To Graphic Novel Readers??

Do Comic Collectors Do It Differently To Graphic Novel Readers??

Yes I wholeheartedly apologise for the click bait style title, but this article has nothing to do with the bedroom antics of comic fans, rather whether they prefer their reading in floppy or hard format (sorry!)

Recently I had a WhatsApp message from a friend showing a picture of the collected edition of Doctor Strange Surgeon Supreme he’d picked up in WHSmith at the airport and that he was looking forward to reading it on the sun lounger on holiday. 

Over 20 years ago when I first met my friend he had just discovered Thor in the pages of some Marvel UK reprints and after being shown some of the American issues he embarked on a collecting spree, regularly picking up as many Thor and Journey Into Mystery issues as we could keep in stock and occasional other titles we could recommend to him.  I doubt very much that any of those issues found themselves packaged up in a suitcase and re-opened around the pool or on the beach when he reached his holiday destination back then, but almost certainly they were read with enjoyment.

The reason his purchase of Doctor Strange resonated with me was not that he hadn’t picked up a collected edition of Thor, nor that he might be interested in getting back into comic collecting (I hope that he does), but rather the question of when you should buy single issues comics or graphic novels and which is the best format to read comics?

In The Comfort Zone

Like my aforementioned friend who bought a graphic novel at the airport shop there are probably going to be times in your life where you opt for comfort and practicality, as it’s unlikely, even if he did still collect monthly issues, he would have taken the time to bag and board a six issue story arc and pop it into his suitcase. 


As as teen I spent a month in France as a summer holiday (my parents were both teachers) and I recall carefully transporting thirty issues of Amazing Spider-man to read whilst away, one per day.  Although they never went anywhere near the beach or sun, as they were read in the tent, I’m still amazed that my formative collector mentality allowed me to risk the wear and damage to those precious issues by taking them in a rucksack, across the Channel and to a campsite in Brittany! 

These days it would be a graphic novel every time and even then read carefully to allow for a re-sale if it wasn’t worthy of keeping for a re-read. All that said, if you are looking to read something outside the confines of your own home, graphic novels are the best option.

Are You Invested?

I would think that most single issue comic readers at some point think that they will pick an issue (or issues) off the shelves that will give them a tidy profit if they were to re-sell it on eBay.  Perhaps not valuable enough to cash in and pay off your mortgage or put kids through college, but a doubling or trebling of the cover price at least.  Do that multiple times and you might start to  banking pounds!

Sadly, aside from a few out of print graphic novels, or special editions like the gold covered X-Men Age of Apocalypse trades, you’re not going to retire on your collection of graphic novels and most will only re-sell for a fraction of their retail price on the secondary market.  And that’s even if you’ve carefully read them and haven’t rounded the edges or creased the spine!

Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width

Twitter Comics Influencer @BillyHynes feels the question of one format or another is largely irrelevant as both single issue or collected format offered by the major publishers are of poor print quality.  The exception to that is his ‘King of All Formats’, the rarely seen these days Marvel Hardcover collections.  15 years ago the likes of Bendis and Maleev’s Daredevil and Morrison and Quitely’s X-Men got the uber hardcover treatment from Marvel and they looked beautiful.  They were so revered that they were even picked up by collectors who had already read the single issues!  Hynes does go on to say that he prefers to buy his independent comics in single issues as supporting smaller publishers on a monthly basis helps sustain the continuation of the series.

Bingeworthy Bingeing

Are you happy waiting a week for an episode of Mando to drop on Disney+ or do you want all episodes of The Boys available at once so you can embark on a Homelander & Billy The Butcher marathon?  Whatever your preference with your streaming services you can find similar buying patterns with comic readers

For years comic shops have had regular business from their weekly (or Wednesday) warriors desperate to pick up their weekly pull list and read the continuation of their favourite monthly titles.  Then there are the more casual readers who want to pick up a story arc or series in graphic novel format and the newbies who want a Spider-man, X-Men or Batman graphic novel as a potential gateway into the world of comic reading and collecting.

There’s no right or wrong way to read your titles and inevitably there will be times when those single issue buyers pick up a graphic novel and those who prefer the harder format will grab an issue which may have a particular significant event or first appearance for posterity or speculation.

I am unashamedly a single guy and there will always be titles I read monthly (Knights of the Dinner Table, Amazing Spider-man, Moonknight, Conan and X-Men) but occasionally there comes along a title that bucks that trend - I’ve never ever read a single issue of The Walking Dead, but as a six issue story arc in collected format it fulfilled all my post-apocalyptic zombie needs in half an hour.

Whatever your preference, comics or graphic novels, soft or hard, keep on reading and enjoying!