The Middle Ground #132 | At knockdown prices
Ah, the joys of comic book sales. With everything that appears in your local store on a weekly basis, you could be forgiven for overlooking some treasures waiting for you in the back issue bins or the graphic novel back stock shelves, but when the sales come along, it can be a gift: Not only a reason to dive into the back pages of things you might’ve missed, but also a chance to get them for less money than you would’ve paid the first time around.
I write this having recently enjoyed my local store — that would be Portland, Oregon’s Excalibur Books and Comics, fact fans — having a run on graphic novel overstock where I discovered a copy of the first End of The Century Club collection to my dual surprise and joy (I’ve written about that book before, here; it’s out-of-print now, but hunt eBay and the rest of the Internet for a copy; it’s great); I’d not seen a copy since I abandoned mine when moving continents a decade ago, and didn’t even know it had ever been issued in the US, but there it was! And for ridiculously cheap!
This sort of thing happens all the time when I visit the sales at comic book stores; I’ll find back issues of things I’ve been curious about but never read (Malibu’s Ultraverse, especially the Steve Englehart stuff; I was – and remain – a sucker for his 1980s DC and Marvel output, so the prospect of not buying a bunch of what he did next, especially for a dollar an issue, was unthinkable), or books I’d never even heard of but discover by accident and can’t resist based upon the cover alone (That was how I discovered Evan Dorkin and Kyle Baker, years ago, finding a back issue of Dork alongside a back issue of Instant Piano and thinking, hey! Why not?), or something else equally strange and unexpected (I continually fight the temptation to buy back issues of DC Comics’ Judge Dredd comics; I know that they’re not meant to be that great, but they’re there and I haven’t read them and when Excalibur has a sale, they’re so, so cheap).
Besides the low price, there’s something wonderful about the sense of discovery that this kind of thing brings, whether it’s rediscovering things you loved but had forgotten about, or finding something all new, even though it’s very old. As important as pre-ordering is – and solicitations in general, just knowing that things are upcoming so you can budget for them and/or stop wondering what favorite creators are working on these days – there’s something sad about always knowing what’s around the corner when you head into a store, if that makes sense. There’s a romance, for me, in that moment of discovering an unexpected joy, of the gift that you had no idea was coming. Jumping into back issue bins are a way to reclaim that, in a way, with the added potential of one day discovering those Destroyer Duck issues you’ve heard so much about. (One day… One day…)