• Matt Ligeti

SAVE MONEY: READ MORE COMICS!


Would you read more comics if they were cheaper?

If you don’t read comics, I get it. Maybe you think it’s nerdy, or maybe you hate reading. Maybe it’s the gatekeepers, telling you that you wouldn’t get it or don’t belong. Maybe you just don’t have an accessible way to learn more about them, or individual issues are too expensive.

If it’s those last two, I can help you.

Below, I’ll list out a few affordable alternatives that can help make reading comics a little easier on you and your wallet.


Trade Paperbacks

What Are They? Collections of single issues of comics.

Often, these are either sequential issues of a single title or multiple different titles coming together for a single event. They usually cover one or more story arcs and are often about 5 or 6 single issues.

An “omnibus” usually collects more issues and is often bound in high-quality hardcover. These will often cost much more, but you still save money vs. collecting single issues. To further reduce price, these may also come as a paperback edition without color.

How Much Do They Cost?

  • Trade paperbacks are most often around $10-15

  • An omnibus can run you anywhere from $70-125

  • Used physical editions can save you some money

  • Amazon is often cheaper, but local comics shops will sometimes have loyalty programs to save you money when you buy these

Pros

  • You can still support your local comic book shop (if you buy them from there)

  • You can read an entire story arc at one time instead of over months, and it’s collected for you

  • Cheaper than single issues

  • Can still read physical copies instead of relying on a device

  • Look nice on a bookshelf

Cons

  • A typical trade usually comes out awhile after its collected issues, so you’ll be reading this awhile after the issues’ original publication date

  • While it’s cheaper than buying single issues of comics, it can still be very expensive to read and collect trades as a hobby

  • Often, publishers like Marvel & DC only look at single issue sales, so if you don’t buy the single issues, the title might be canceled by the time the trade paperback is published

  • They take up space when you start collecting them

Where Do I Get Them?


Marvel Unlimited

What Is It? An app where you can read a large chunk of Marvel comics digitally (most commonly on your phone or tablet). It’s basically Netflix for Marvel comics.

How Much Does It Cost?

  • $9.99 a month, $69 a year OR $99 a year for their premium “Annual Plus” membership

  • Price is often discounted for first time customers

Pros

  • You can read most comics published in the last decade or so, and many from before that

  • If you read 3 issues a month, you’ve already saved money

  • No limit to the number of comics the app allows you to read

  • You can download 12 issues at a time to your device, so you can read offline

  • You can browse comics by title, creators, big comics event and more, depending on how you like to read them

  • Marvel updates the app weekly with new and old issues

  • No limit to how long you can have titles in your library

  • Can read each page as the whole page or panel-by-panel, helpful for reading on your phone

  • You can purchase digital copies directly from the app

Cons

  • It’s only Marvel comics

  • There’s a 6 month delay from when a comic hits markets to when it’s available to read on the app

  • Still missing many issues from Marvel’s backlog, so you can’t just read, for example, all X-Men titles published in the ‘80s.

  • Marvel Max titles (for adult audiences) aren’t available

  • Resolution for older comics isn't as good as other digital comics platforms

  • A lot of people prefer physical copies of comics, and this is only for a digital medium

Where Do I Get It? On Marvel’s website • On your device’s app store


DC Universe

What Is It? An app where members can read a curated, growing list of DC comics, watch new and classic DC movies and TV shows, and more.

How Much Does It Cost?

  • $7.99 a month or $74.99 a year

Pros

  • You can read a good chunk of DC's comics library (more than other apps offer)

  • The fact that it also offers movies and TV shows puts it ahead of other similar apps right now

  • If you read 2 issues a month, you’ve already saved money

  • No limit to the number of comics the app allows you to read

  • You can use their app and comics reader on your TV, mobile devices and casting technology

  • Members have access to exclusive merchandise

  • Can read each page as the whole page or panel-by-panel, helpful for reading on your phone

  • You can get a 7-day free trial

Cons

  • It’s only DC comics

  • Not all comics have made it into their available pool yet

  • A lot of people prefer physical copies of comics, and this is only for a digital medium

  • It's still a new app, so I need to dig into it to find out more!

Where Do I Get It? On DC’s website • On your device’s app store


Hoopla Digital

What Is It?

A digital extension of your local library.

How Much Does It Cost? It’s free with a local library card!

Pros

  • Again, it’s free

  • Tons of comics, as well as ebooks, audiobooks, movies & music available

  • Some comics are available the day they hit comic book shops

  • Great variety of titles and publishers

  • It downloads each item to your device, so you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to enjoy it

Cons

  • You can only check out 10 items a month (this includes non-comics, too)

  • You can only borrow each item for 3 weeks

  • A lot of people prefer physical copies of comics, and this is only for a digital medium

  • Does not work with all libraries, and you need a library card to use it

  • Picture quality isn't always as good as Comixology

Where Do I Get It? On your device’s app store


Comixology Unlimited

What Is It? Another all-you-can read comics app through an Amazon owned comic book aggregator.

How Much Does It Cost? $5.99 a month

Pros

  • Free for the first 7-30 days (depending on how/where you sign up)

  • It offers some options you can’t find on other apps

  • Carries a lot of comics from Marvel, Image and other publishers

  • Their user interface for reading comics and image quality is probably the best of all the apps

  • You can purchase digital copies directly from the app

  • Can read each page as the whole page or panel-by-panel, helpful for reading on your phone

  • If you read 2 issues a month, you’ve already saved money

  • No limit to the number of comics the app allows you to read

  • They often have really great sales if you want to purchase any digital comics

Cons

  • The “Unlimited” comics are mixed in with the regular Comixology comics you have to pay for

  • Can be difficult to navigate if you’re only looking for free/Unlimited options

  • Depth of Marvel titles is good, but only one tenth of Marvel Unlimited

  • Slightly more expensive than Marvel Unlimited

  • Even though it’s owned by Amazon, you don’t get this service for free if you have an Amazon Prime membership, and it's separate from their Kindle Unlimited membership

Where Do I Get It? On Comixology’s website • On your device’s app store


Humble Bundle

What Is It? Part website, part charity. They have heavily marked-down media, from comics, to books, to video games. It’s often the best price you’ll find for each of those things, but it’s only for a limited time.

How Much Does It Cost? It depends. You can always pay as much as you like, since it’s partially for charity, but there are often tiers of the discounted media – the more you pay, the more you get.

Pros

  • You can often get great deals on digital copies of comics for a fraction of the price you’d usually pay for them

  • You get to keep the digital editions – no expiration date

  • Comic files can be downloaded in multiple formats, depending on how you like to read them, and you can send those files to friends if you want

  • You often get a good selection of titles to read whenever you get time

  • You can name your price and how much of that money goes to the comics publisher, the Humble Bundle people or a charity

  • Items are often DRM-free, so they don’t control how many devices you access your downloads from

  • You can justify your spending habit by telling people (and the IRS?) you’re donating to charity

Cons

  • Sometimes, they don’t sell comics, or you’ve already read their selection

  • The deals stay up for a week, so you have to wait awhile for it to refresh

  • Because prices change and there are tiers to each sale, it’s hard to budget for these comics, vs. other options listed here

  • Image quality can vary per file

Where Do I Get It? The Humble Bundle website: www.humblebundle.com

Other Notes

  • I’ve read that the Scribd app offers an “Unlimited” option for comics, but I’ve only been able to find ebooks, magazines, audiobooks, sheet music and some documents on it. If they offer comics, they’re buried amongst other media, and the $8.99 a month they ask in order for you to use their service is more expensive than other options represented here.

  • Please don’t torrent or steal comics. The creators don’t make a million bucks an issue – many make less than you would think – and stealing comics hurts them.

  • If you feel guilty for borrowing a library version for free, do the creators a solid and write a review for them on Amazon, or something. And tell a friend how much you liked it.

  • Some publishers, like Panel Syndicate, put out their own comics on their websites for pay-what-you-want prices, and the creators are often extremely talented (especially the Panel Syndicate ones). While you can get all their comics for free, you should probably throw at least a little money their way.

  • There are other app options, like Comichaus or Line Webtoon that offer free or affordable libraries of indie comics from less well known creative teams.


A big thanks to ComicBookHerald.com for being such a great reference for this article and in general for comics. Click that link for a deeper dive into these options, tablet recommendations and some good starting points for new comic book readers. They’re also a phenomenal resource for reading order suggestions for Marvel & DC events and series.

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©2018 by Matt Ligeti the Comic Book Yeti.