Trade Paperbacks vs Monthly Issues


Honestly, I have no idea why people buy comics month to month. I see them there buying them by the dozen month after month whilst ignoring the collected trades of the same issues sitting on the shelf and it makes no sense to me. Let me explain why…

1. ADVERTISING

When’s the last time you bought a book and found that every second or third page was an advertisement for a video game, or sports brand? Never, that’s when. Yet comics have them. In recent years Marvel and DC have both added more pages to their monthly books without adding any more space for story. Those new pages exist solely to house advertisements. Back in the day the advertisements were limited to one or two pages at the back of the book, but now they are spread throughout the issue with artists and writers given a strict limitation on how often they can include an image that spreads across two pages (for the major publishing houses that limitation is ‘you can’t have any’) because it inhibits ad space.

Trades and graphic novels don’t have this problem. More often then not they don’t feature advertisements at all, sometimes a page or two at the back promoting other comics.

'The Return of Bruce Wayne' trade paperback.

As it appeared in the original monthly issue.

2. CONTINUITY

This is how I don’t watch a movie – one scene each month. When you have a self contained story you don’t want it in bite-sized morsels but in one sitting and since the vast majority of comic stories are written as long narratives not intended to be told in one issue the best way of enjoying it is in one sitting. Instead you have to read it one small section at a time before waiting a month for the next few pages.

Trades remove the frustration of waiting for constantly delayed issues by giving you a contained story in one volume to enjoy at your own leisure.

3. STORAGE AND DURABILITY

Whenever I see folks buying monthly comics I also see them buying large cardboard boxed for storing their comics, because the flimsy blighters won’t sit on a shelf and stacking them is impossible when keeping them in plastic covers. Graphic novels have enough spine for them to support them themselves on a shelf in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner allowing for easy browsing.

Trades are also better printed with better durability so they don’t require a plastic sleeve to keep them pretty. You’re going to get much better rereading and reselling value out of something that doesn’t visibly degrade every time you read it. Plus there’s the dreaded Sellotape snag when putting the monthly back into a sleeve.

4. COST

It’s cheaper. Do I have to explain the benefit here?

There is a flip side to the coin though – everyone reading the monthlys get the story before you do. But that’s only a problem for the first few months, after that you’re getting reading material with the same consistency as they are. You’re not missing out on anything, just delaying it a little. Considering the benefits outlined above, I think it’s a sacrifice worth making.