Comics/Graphic Novels

Let’s Get Physical: 5 Reasons to Buy Print Comics

Melody Schreiber

Staff Writer

Melody Schreiber is at work on a nonfiction anthology of premature birth. As a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C., she has reported from nearly every continent. Her articles, essays, and reviews have been published by The Washington Post, Wired, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, NPR, The Toast, Catapult, and others. She received her bachelor’s in English and linguistics at Georgetown University and her master’s in writing at the Johns Hopkins University. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @m_scribe.

I have a comics-buying addiction, and I’m not the least bit sorry.


Art by Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire

I love reading digital editions, webcomics, single issues, library copies, and review copies. But I don’t stop there. The comics that really capture my heart or strike a particular chord, I go out and buy in print. In fact, I keep a list of series I loved just in case if I’m in my LCS and want to treat myself to a favorite.

There are also some series I know I will love before I’ve even read them. As many newbies do, I started reading Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, and letterer Fonografiks, when a friend shoved it into my hands; I didn’t even finish the first trade before I went out and bought all of them. Same with Alex + Ada (by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn), Pretty Deadly (by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, and Jordie Bellaire), and Sex Criminals (by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky). They came so highly recommended, I knew I would love them. And I knew I would want to keep them on my shelf when I was done.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve still got mad love for my local library and for my e-reader. I am an equal opportunity reader. But there is just something about buying books that fills a special need in me—or, to be more specific, five needs.

Are your reasons different? Weigh in in the comments!


Faith Erin Hicks (writer and artist) and Cris Peter (colors)

1. I’m supporting creators and publishers.

I am a firm believer in voting with my wallet. This is especially true of comics by or about women, queer people, and people of color. I want the creators to know I’m in their corner, and I want the publishers to know I will buy more of these books if they publish them. I also take a particular pleasure in buying volumes that were original released as webcomics—Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks, and Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag are just a few of my favorites. Nothing says “thanks for your free work” like money!

ODY-C Volume 1

Matt Fraction (writer), Christian Ward (art), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

2. I enjoy art IRL.

I often read digitally—whether through a subscription service like Marvel Unlimited, ebooks from the library, or review copies—but sometimes a comic is just better when you can see the full layout. I bought the trade of ODY-C even though I have a digital copy because the colors are stunning and the layouts often take up both pages. ODY-C can’t be read like a traditional novel or even like a comic strip. The experience is immersive, chaotic; when you’re looking at a page or a spread, you take it in all at once. (In fact, fellow Panelteer Josh Corman has a great explanation of how the art of ODY-C changed the way he reads comics.)



Nathan Edmondson (writer), Phil Noto (art), and VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters)

3. I like to collect issues (and fulfill my obsessive/completest tendencies).

I love reading first issues. It’s such a rush to find a series that I know I’ll love. But when I find a series I want to latch on to, I either begin reading it digitally or simply wait for the trade. I want one copy of the story I can hold on to—in one format, all in one place. For instance, I read Lumberjanes #1 (by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, Maarta Laiho, and Aubrey Aise) as a single issue, and I was immediately hooked. I’ve since kept up with the rest digitally as they are released (because I can’t resist!); I will also collect each trade paperback. Likewise, I caught up with Black Widow on Marvel Unlimited, but I wanted physical copies of the trade to compare notes and flip through.

walking dead

Cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. Written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Rus Wooton.

4. I can lend them to friends (if they ask nicely enough).

One of the best parts about owning books is having a home library that reflects my interests and passions. Books are my friends, and I love showing them off to my real-life friends when they visit. They are the best conversation starter I can think of. (Especially Sex Criminals.) And, if my real-life friends ask sweetly enough, I can lend them my copy of my favorite comics. That way, we’ll have plenty more to talk about in the future, and I’m able to spread the gospel of good books. Win-win!

5. Stories are the best stress relief.

I love being surrounded by stories. I like knowing that at any point I can dip into a story I’ve already enjoyed and find myself suspended in a familiar moment. Re-reading often sparks the same feeling I had when I first read a story—whether that feeling was joy, wonder, understanding, even pain. And I like knowing that there are good stories I haven’t read yet just waited to envelop me. (Hello, Walking Dead compendium 1.) Sometimes, when I’m feeling stressed out, it’s enough just to run my eyes over the spines on my shelf and see how many paths there are to other worlds–just waiting for me whenever I need them.

What about you? Why do you like collecting comics?