I’ve been reading my usual comic books these days. I go to the comic shop every week, pick up whatever comics they have reserved for me, check the shelves for anything interesting, and go home and read them over the course of the week. I haven’t been getting a lot of comics lately. Just three or four new ones a week. With comics costing four bucks a pop that’s plenty.

Some people prefer trade paperback or hardcover collections of comics rather than the individual issues but not me. I like the periodical nature of individual comics. I like the read the story as it’s new and discuss it as a current event. I can always read a whole six issue story arc at a later date but here is only one chance to read it as it comes out. I like that chance and I like that moment.

The other thing I like about individual issues is having a choice of comics to read. If I was to read a collected edition of “Invincible” (which I have collected in hardcover by the way) I’d have twelve issues in a row of it to read. That’s cool but I prefer to look over ten or twelve different recent comics and pick one to read. I say ten or twelve rather than three or four because I like to read my new issues twice before I file them away. So I keep them within an arm’s length for a couple of weeks to have more than just this week’s new comics to choose from.

I haven’t bought any Marvel comics in a few years. I used to buy them a lot as a kid and bought them intermittently as an adult but recently they’ve had nothing to offer me. Marvel comics aren’t terrible or anything like that. I just don’t find them very interesting. I’m mostly an indie comics reader anyway. The one exception to that this past year has been Marvel’s “True Believers” line of comics. That’s their line of dollar reprint comics.

I’ve recently discovered that I really enjoy reprint comics. I think that’s because they are so cheap that there is a purity to them. You only want a cheap reprint if you are going to read it. A lot of people buy comics because they think they will be valuable. They never even read them. It’s even better for the value if you never read it. These days a comic can rise in value just because of the cover. The contents don’t even matter. But a reprint comic is all about the contents. A dollar reprint comic is never going to be worth fifty dollars so you had better want to read it or leave it on the shelf. Plus who want to read a fifty dollar comic if there is a chance you can accidentally turn it into a five dollar comic by slightly mishandling it?

This week I bought three Fantastic Four “True Believers” comics. All three are early issues from the 1960s. You can get all of these issues in collected editions but they don’t interest me enough to get them that way. The Jack Kirby and Stan Lee issues of the Fantastic Four are considered to be classics but they were never my favorites. I still like them though and I am enjoying them as dollar reprints. I like that I can pick a random one up and read it as an individual issue.

In general 1960s comic books are different than today’s comic books. 1960s comic books are meant to be read as individual issues. Today’s comic books are meant to be read in six issue chunks. Each individual issue is only one part of a longer story. There are rarely “Done in one” stories in today’s comics but that was the norm in the 1960s.

Sure a lot of 1960s comics made one big story but you didn’t have to read them that way. Every issue had a beginning, middle , and end. There might be a “To be continued” but the individual issue was still a satisfying read. That’s often not true with today’s comics. A “To be continued” can leave you wanting more but in a good way or a bad way. The good way is like having a meal, feeling full, yet still wanting more because it tasted so good. The bad way is like eating a meal that didn’t fill you up. You’re frustrated because you’re still hungry and you want more but there is no more. I find a lot of modern comics tend more towards the bad way.

I know some younger comic book collectors through YouTube who have gotten into old comic books but they were having a problem with them. They enjoyed reading them but couldn’t get all the way through a big collected edition. They’d start to get bored and stop. With ten or twenty issues of some 1960s comic in a collected edition that’s a long haul. I learned to read those big books one issue at a time just like it was the 1960s. By that I mean one issue a day. Read an issue and then put the book down until tomorrow. Some of them took this advice and liked it. They enjoyed the old comics better once they read them one at a time.

I even bought a few dollar reprints of “What If?” this year. Comics that I already had the originals of. I used to collect the series as a kid and I have a lot of the issues still on my shelf. I hadn’t looked at the issues in a long time but seeing a fresh new reprint of them for a dollar made me want to read them again. I could have read my originals but wanted the bright new copies. Somehow throwaway dollar copies appealed to me more than the already not very expensive originals.

I also bought a reprint of a “What If?” volume two comic that I wasn’t even interested in when it first came out long ago. It was a fun read even though it was a mediocre comic. There is something about it only costing a dollar, with no hope of it becoming valuable, that makes it less precious and therefor more fun.

There are actually lots of dollar comics out in the world. A lot of comic shops have what are called “Dollar Bins.” There are boxes upon boxes of comics all for sale at a dollar a piece. There is a difference between these dollar comics and dollar reprints. The reprints are generally comics people want. First appearances, the start of famous stories, or special issues in general. They fill a need for cheap copies of comics that have become expensive.

The comics in the dollar bins are comics that no one wants. They’re the leftovers. Endless rows of comics that have been printed in the last thirty years that will probably never be sold. Of course one of the good things about dollar bin comics is that there is always a chance one of them will become a twenty to fifty dollar comic overnight. It happens all the time. Of course that’s one comic in a thousand and you never know which one. But there are collectors who love to thumb through dollar bins to try and find treasure.

So as I sit and write this I can look over to my right and see about ten comics in my reading pile. I’ve got some new ones for this week, ones I will reread from the last two weeks, and a couple of reprints. That’s how I like to read ‘em.