Beauology 101: How To Buy And Enjoy Comic Books

"Yes, I am Beau Smith And I am Cold."

“Yes, I am Beau Smith And I am Cold.”

by Beau Smith

I’ve been marketing and writing comic books for over 25 years. I’ve worked for most every major and minor publisher during that time and continue to do so today. Every week for the last 25 plus years I’ve talked to retailers, creators, distributors, and just about anyone that is related to the creation and sales of comic books and related items.

I’ve seen changes. I continue to see changes.

Change is a good thing. If there’s not change, then there’s no growth. The comic book industry is lucky enough to have some of the greatest variety in choice of comic books right now. If you really take the time to look through Worlds of Westfield, Diamond Previews, or your local comic book shelves, you’re bound to find something old, new and different that you’ll enjoy. With the internet, you have even more tools to find reviews and previews of more comic books that you may enjoy. If you add in all the comic book related items such as toys, magazines, art books, DVD’s and such, then there’s no reason whey your spare time shouldn’t be filled to the gills with entertainment.

"Once, Spider-Man Was Amazing."

“Once, Spider-Man Was Amazing.”

One thing you cannot do is jam your own gears and bury yourself in the mud of dissatisfaction. If you find that you no longer enjoy reading a certain comic book, then remove that comic book from your pull and reading list. Nobody knows what you like better than you, so go out and find something different and give it a shot. Just because you have 200 consecutive issues of Spider-Man doesn’t mean you are obligated to buy the next 200 issues if you don’t like them. Don’t do that to yourself. Find a similar book and add it to your list.

Keep this in mind, using the above mentioned Spider-Man as merely an example for this column and my point, if you started reading Spider-Man at the age of, say, 12 years old, and it was on issue #213, now it’s on issue #345 and for the last few years you haven’t truly enjoyed the book because the character isn’t the one you came in with. Well, don’t sit around and keep spending your money waiting for “your” Spider-Man to return, it’s not gonna happen.

"Will He Still Be Amazing?"

“Will He Still Be Amazing?”

Through my years of reading and collecting, I found myself in that trap with many mainstream Marvel and DC characters, I finally realized that it was costing me money that I could’ve been spending on comics that I would enjoy and worst of all, it was causing me to build up resentment for the character and the publisher. That’s never healthy with a hobby. A publisher will find out that you don’t like a particular book once the sales trend down. Now I’m not saying they will return Spider-Man back to the one you loved, but maybe the new change will be good and you can start spinning story webs with Peter Parker again. One can hope.

Also, when you find yourself in the situation where a character is no longer the character you used to love, go and search out older issues and trade paperbacks of the issues you don’t have from that era. One thing that I did was I started searching out and collecting issues where the character I liked guest starred in other character’s books. I stayed in the time period I liked and the character was in new adventures that I could discover. It also helped me hook into new characters and story lines that I would not have discovered if I hadn’t branched out on my hunt. As I’ve always mentioned in my columns, for me, with comics, most of the fun has been in the thrill of the hunt.

Publishers outside Marvel and DC Comics, such as IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, BOOM! Studios, and Image Comics, offer a wealth of variety. Just within the publishers I mentioned, you can find a wide range of genres such as superheroes, fantasy, licensed, humor, kids, adventure, horror, adult, crime, and much more. Depending on your budget, it could almost be one stop shopping for you and your whole family.

One of my favorite things to do is to hunt the clearance, sale and % off sections of the, local comic shops, and conventions to find all sorts of great buys on items that I may have passed up or didn’t even know about. It’s a great way to try out new comics and take the risk factor down on the amount you’re spending on comics. I’ve gotta say that I have had very few choices that I have not been happy with. It’s also a great way to pick up gifts for those friends and family members that will truly enjoy that gift of comics.

"Daredevil #15.  It Got Me Hooked."

“Daredevil #15. It Got Me Hooked.”

There are just so many ways to make comic book reading even more enjoyable for yourself. Growing up in the 1960s, I was a HUGE fan of Daredevil. He was my core, go-to character up until about issue #75, then I started to fade out. It was changing and not in a direction I was liking. I was in the old trap that I mentioned above; I kept buying the issues and not enjoying them. I blamed the character, the writers, the artists, the publisher, but the fault was my own. I finally realized that after way too much money and time were spent.

"Mark Waid's Daredevil.  It Brought Me Back."

“Mark Waid’s Daredevil. It Brought Me Back.”

So I stopped and went on to other books. Daredevil became an old friend that I just didn’t talk to that much anymore. Then, a few years ago, Mark Waid grabbed me by the collar and made me shake hands with my old friend, Daredevil. Mark’s writing on the book not only recaptured some of the old enjoyment I used to get from Daredevil, but he added a new layer that increased my pleasure in what Daredevil was all about, including the much missed traces of humor that only Daredevil was capable of . I am now back on track with Daredevil and looking forward to his move to California.

"Hawkeye, The Sideshow, Not The Big Show."

“Hawkeye, The Sideshow, Not The Big Show.”

On the other end, I had a similar experience with the character, Hawkeye. Growing up, Hawkeye was always a side character for me. He was okay, he had his moments, but never really evolved much from his “I’m pissed off at everyone” personality. Then decades later, writer Matt Fraction surprised me and put an entertaining slant on Hawkeye that, like the Waid Daredevil books, got me hooked. I never thought it would happen, but it did and I’m very thankful for it. Not only do I enjoy it, but I can recommend it to others with confidence. It’s always nice to be the go-to guy for others.

"Matt Fraction Hauled Hawkeye To The Spotlight."

“Matt Fraction Hauled Hawkeye To The Spotlight.”

I understand that there are lots of blogs, columns, and advice that you can read and take in, but I hope this episode of Beauology 101 will get you to take the time to try new things, old things, and take a few low risks on comic books that you may just enjoy. I’ve been doing this a long time and have my ear to the voices of comics (not excluding the ones that get by my tinfoil crown), so please trust me when I toss out some of these words of near wisdom on comics.

Remember, if I were running all of comics, you’d be really poor…. happy, but really poor.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch


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