As I look over the insurmountable stacks of monthly titles that have compiled throughout my small one bedroom apartment, I’m no longer seeing interesting stories to be read, but a horrible mistake that I can’t stop making. First off, I work at a comic shop, and in some way my job requires me to read quite a few titles so I can make recommendations and sales, but since I’m not accommodated by the shop in terms of being able to read books without paying for them, I’ve watched a steady flow of my weekly/monthly income become a waste. I’m not old enough to remember going to a news stand and buying a 12 or 15 cent comic, but I do remember when they were a dollar, and that was far more affordable, especially for a spry 10 year old. But now that I’m older and disposable income is far harder to scratch together, I’ve almost exclusively moved to just trades and hardcovers (which as also a sickness of mine, I have hundreds of hardcovers). People, even those who view comics as a priority, can no longer afford to buy them on a weekly basis because of the rising costs of… everything! This is a sentiment that has been popular in the comic industry for a while, and Devin Faraci wrote a bit about it a few months ago; the industry needs to move into collected formats and leave monthly titles behind.

There are a few creators that I’ve been lucky enough to become friendly with, and whether they’re a “superstar” level artist, or a new to the industry writer, they all hope for a move to trade collections being the status quo. I applaud Vertigo for their steady stream of original graphic novels (OGN) that are very high in quality while being lighter on the reader’s wallet. But, with Marvel and DC pushing events every six months, and the decompression issues within those books putting readers off from the monthly purchase anyways, so why not just wait to create a higher quality product? Without a doubt comics would reach the level that every fanboy wants to believe it’s already at, and that’s a viable medium for literary intelligence and importance. While shape shifting aliens and ideas of a multiverse aren’t high art, they can at least be good. Delays kill these books that are designed to make money, and readers lose interest and move on to something else on a regular basis.

As long as the industry is hemorrhaging money the way it is now, we’ll see the prices of individual issues go higher, but we most likely still won’t see comics moving where they need to. When I worked at a regular book store, the area that had to be cleaned up and restocked most often was the Graphic Novel section. There are people out there who are willing to take a try with comic books and graphic novels, but they don’t necessarily have the drive to go into a specialty store (comic book shop) and try to hop into sixty years of mind-numbing continuity. They want to be able to buy a book for a reasonable price that has a beginning, middle, and end. There are quite a few books that put out quality product over a span of six months before it’s collected, but with money being tight, and not having the patience to wait a half a year to finish what is essentially a 100 page story, most people are making the switch. And until the industry follows suit, the monthly sales are not going to be there, and unless they’re prepared, we could be on the edge of another industry crash.

Unfortunately that’s looking to be sooner, rather than later.