52Q | #55: Play It Again And Again

Back by popular demand, Comic Book Daily asks the question and the crew (and special guests) give their answers. Tip of the hat goes to Scott VanderPloeg for this week’s question.

Do you buy material you’ve already read or own when it’s released in a new format? Examples would be Absolute editions, printed web comic collections and the like. Why or why not?

Shelley Smarz

In a nutshell, it depends. I’ll buy printed collections of webcomics that I read. I like supporting the creators and I love reading the collected works in one go. I don’t know what it is, but having the physical book in my hands to read adds so much more to the experience.

As for Absolute editions and hardcover rereleases, it really depends on the title and the format and whether or not there’s any value (for me) added to the rerelease (e.g., bigger format, bonus material, better paper, etc.).

Ed Campbell

No – I don’t buy re-released editions of comic books I already own.
Yes – I do buy re-released editions of books I have already read (but never owned).

I don’t buy new versions of comic I already own because, I already own it.  I don’t see the point of buying multiple versions of the same comic.  The story is the same, just the pictures may change a bit.

If I own the floppies of a comic series, I don’t even buy the collected editions of those comics.  An example of this is G.I. Joe.  I own most of the comics from the Marvel run in the 80’s/90’s.  When they were re-released as collected editions, I didn’t re-repurchase the new trades because I already own the comics.  The only collected editions I have bought for G.I. Joe have been the couple books from the original run that I didn’t own.  It turns out to be cheaper to buy the trade paperback than trying to buy that one comic I’m missing (which those books are $15 to $30 each).

I would rather spend my comic money on something new I don’t own versus another version of something already on my shelf.  Unfortunately my rationale doesn’t apply to Super Hero movies.  I have purchased new versions of movies I already own (Fantastic Four Extended Edition, Daredevil Director’s Cut, The Punisher Extended Version).  In those cases the new version is superior to the original version, and the plot and feel of the movie is different than the original.

Chris Howard

Same here. I admit that a lot of the webcomics I come across I file away to come back to. Then at TCAF or such I’ll stock up on printed versions of all those comics I’ve seen. (And a ton I haven’t let’s be honest, TCAF is something I save up money for). I like having the printed versions, and I feel it’s a duty to support my fellow creators, have for 20 years now. If I go into a new comic shop, I always look to see if they have local small press stuff.

I think I partially answered the second question last week. While I would love to have those prestige versions, it’s rare that I can justify the expenditure. I am still making the transition from buying things in floppy to buying only collected volumes. Terry Moore’s Echo I bought in singles, skipped the 6 issue collections, but bought the complete book. For his new series Rachel Rising, I’m not going to buy the singles, and haven’t committed yet whether I’ll buy the interim collections or wait till the final big book. Bone I’ve bought several times. The original comics, a few of the black and white collections, the complete black and white book and now the three in one hardcovers of the colour versions.

Laura Thomas

Maybe and yes. For the first part I mainly will buy a new version of material I already own if I either love the story so much I want have it a few times over (gotta catch em all) or I like the newer format better and know I will reread the material.

For webcomics I definitely will buy them if again, I know I will reread the material. If I enjoyed reading it enough that I want to have easy access to reread it again, than I will definitely buy it.

In the end it comes down to how much I enjoyed the material. Working where I do means I could literally read any comic, graphic novel, or manga for free, but I still buy a lot of stuff. If I really like the material I am going to want to own a copy of it, both to support the creators, but also because I’m a big rereader of books.

Jill Nagel

I find myself re-buying a lot of material that I already own in floppies. It may not be cost effective but it’s easier to pull a hardcover collection off of a bookshelf than go through my boxes to find a specific issue. I love hardcovers but I also love the rush of reading my weekly comics so for certain series I buy the floppies knowing I will pick up the trades later.

I’ve realized I have a rule when it comes to buying special edition formats when it comes to series: If I don’t already own 50% of the material in another collected format I can justify buying the new edition. I own all of the Fables trade paperbacks so I can’t justify buying the hardcovers, but I only have the first 3 Y: the Last Man trades so I’ve started collecting the over-sized hardcover editions. I would like the complete Alias collection but I have all 4 smaller trades so I won’t buy it. I only have a few New Avengers trades so I started buying the large hardcover collections. Of course, this all goes out the window if I could afford the Absolute Sandman collections. I love those books and would love to have a shelf copy and a reading copy. My wallet cries when the cover design or format changes in the middle of a series too. I will go back and re-buy so that everything is the same (I have 6 different copies of 1 novel because they keep changing the covers as the series goes on and I want them to match…also I’m crazy).

Kevin Boyd

Yes. All the time. As a person that made the shift to collected editions and graphic novels over a decade ago, I’ve been gradually paring down my comics collection (from 80 boxes to 22 currently) and I’ve been able to do this with few regrets because the material that I would want to keep and have available for re-reading and as reference material has been reprinted in formats that I prefer to have on hand.

I compare it to having a movie taped from television versus having the special edition blu-ray release or a high definition digital copy.

For example, last week I picked up four books: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING HC BOOK 06 (which collects Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues I’ve purchased previously in single issues and long since sold), KILL SHAKESPEARE TP VOL 02 (which is new material to me), FANTASTIC FOUR BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 (I’ve bought this material before in single issues and sold and still have the trade paperbacks), and finally The EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES ADELE BLANC SEC HC VOL 02 which is the first time I’ve read this material. This week the books I have coming in are FLASH THE ROAD TO FLASHPOINT HC (first time I’ve bought), GREEN LANTERN WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS HC (some of which is the first time I’ve bought the material – some of the Mahnke GL issues were bought as new releases), LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT MARSHALL ROGERS HC (previously enjoyed as single issues and 2 trade paperbacks Dark Detective and Strange Apparitions), ZATANNA TP VOL 02 SHADES OF THE PAST (first time), MARVEL ART OF JOHN ROMITA JR HC (first time), MW GOLDEN AGE ALL WINNERS HC VOL 04 (first time) and BACK ISSUE #52.

If there’s nothing about the old version I think makes it worth saving then they move along and out of the library. For example, of the books listed above, The Batman: Dark Detective trades go into my for sale boxes as do the Green Lantern issues being collected, while Batman: Strange Apparitions and Fantastic Four Visionaries John Byrne Vols.1-8 go into a box to go up north to the cottage library for someone to enjoy when we’re up by the lake.

Sometimes I’ll buy books again if I want the larger format and keep both copies in the library — such as in an Absolute Edition. For example, I have two editions of Kingdom Come (the ltd. Graffiti Edition and the Absolute), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (In Complete Frank Miller Batman and the Absolute — actually I think I also have the first print mini as well), Identity Crisis (the hardcover edition is signed by the entire creative team incl. the late Michael Turner and the Absolute), and Crisis on Infinite Earths (the ltd. Graffitti Edition and the Absolute). I’m buying Darwyn Cooke’s Parker books again next week in the new Martini Edition and I’ll keep my first editions of the Hunter and the Outfit which are signed and sketched in.

Brent Chittenden

Some great answers so far, I kind of side with Shelly in the “It depends” category.

I am replacing some of my floppies with trades or with hardcover versions or my biggest pet peeve in all of comic trades/hardcovers: Paper Stock.

For instance, I’m currently in the midst of moving in with my girlfriend who is also a bit of a comic book nerd. We have a few duplicates and thus starts the discussion of “Which copy we keep”. In the case of Watchmen, there was no discussion at all as she has a newer copy then mine (mine is a fifth printing of the trade) and the paper stock in the recent versions is much better.

Beyond that, I pick and choose basically out of love. All of the early Grendel comics I own were converted into trades some time ago. Last year my girlfriend got me the first two volumes of the Hellboy library editions hard covers and I fell in love with them. Unfortunately the first five volumes of my trades are signed so until Mignola comes back to TO, they too will stay on the shelf. I have chunks of the Walt Simonson Thor run but never had the entire thing in either trade or floppy so the recent omnibus cleared out some of that.

By the way, Kevin Boyd’s my new hero for having a comic book library at the cottage.

Anthony Falcone

Some of you will remember that my entire collection of floppies is never more than a single half box and my trades are never more than 2 shelves.

I regularly sell my books to maintain these collecting parameters but only on very rare occasions have I repurchased floppies in trade or hardcover format. However, there are some works, such as the Long Halloween, where I bought the issues, then the trade, and now I only have the Absolute edition on my shelf.

My rule is that if I don’t read the trade within a 2 year time period I don’t need to own it. And there are some works that I read every year: Long Halloween, Year One, Alan Moore Swamp Thing, Transmetropolitan, Sandman, and Bone.

Because I read them so frequently, I have often thought about upgrading to Absolute version of Swamp Thing and Sandman, but the overall cost and fear of having some volumes go out of print have stopped me. Also, until Scott and Pete led the hardcover revolution I was pretty down on giant hardcover version of things.

Peter DeCourcy

I’m actually having this problem right now. (Obviously I don’t consider Absolutes to be rebuying because you’re paying for the excesses that Absolutes drip with.) It’s more ‘ultimate’ editions – where they combine complete storylines; books that were previously broken up into 2 or 3 books into one twelve issue book.

I usually end up picking them up – especially if my books are ‘well read’ and kind of falling apart. Brubaker/Lark’s upcoming Daredevil collections will definitely be picked up, but I’m okay with having the three Death of Captain America books versus the big oversized hardcover. Now if they did that in a softcover things might be different.

I am still trying to convince myself to pick up the just announced Final Crisis Absolute. It started off a beautiful book, but then it fell victim to rushed fill in artists.. I’d be very tempted if they got JG Jones to finish the whole book. That said I did love the hell out of that book so who knows.. I do love the idea of seeing the ‘How Wonder Woman met Frankenstein’ panel in glorious Absolute!

Stanley Jon

I do not buy anything that I already own. I personally prefer reading comics in the floppy format. I would only buy the TPB or hardcover if I missed the beginning of a series and it is hard as heck to find the early issues in the back issue bins. Even if an Absolute or Ultimate edition comes out, I won’t buy it. I love the concept of these hardcovers. The collector in me wants it. However, there is no point in me buying something I already own. I just do not have the space to store it.

I also do not buy anything I already read. Normally, these are comics I get from the library. If I liked what I read and want to read it again, I can take it out from the library again.

Scott VanderPloeg

Oh Stan, you’re so practical!  I generally don’t buy material I already own, unless the new format is head and shoulders above what I already have.  Larger formats are all about the art so I’m looking for recolouring, better paper, extra material: the deluxe treatment.

Comic Book Daily Staff

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