Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my pull list. For those that don’t know, a pull list is the list of comics that a specific individual buys on a regular basis. Though I review comics every week on the main column of Silverwolf’s Den, I read more than one comic or trade paperback most weeks. Thus, I decided to discuss what’s on my pull list, how I organize it, how I decide what to buy and what to drop, and suggestions of how you can make or modify pull lists of your own!
Each week, I visit my local comic shop and purchase a number of titles. For those that don’t know, most comic series are monthly, meaning I’ll only see one issue of each per month. There are a few exceptions, but in general this is the norm for American comics.
Obviously, I want to read every comic I can, but financial constraints mean I have to pick and choose what I think will be best. Usually when deciding on a series to start or keep reading, I keep in mind the creative team first, the characters second, and major events third. For instance, if I see the name Geoff Johns on a title, I’m fairly likely to give the series a chance. As much as I love Superman, I dropped his main series after a few not-so-great issues in a row. Also, as far as creators go, I care more about writing than art, but a name like Jim Lee definitely helps tip the scale in favor of a buy. As for special events, right now I’m buying Justice League and Justice League Dark purely because of DC’s big event, “Trinity War” and will no doubt drop the titles once it ends.
In general, the way I decide to drop a title is if two issues in a row fail to impress me. There are exceptions to this, for instance, such as if the third issue in the sequence gains a new creative team. Also, if enough positive word of mouth surrounds a title, I may start picking it up again. Of course, other people have opinions that vary from mine, but in general I know which other comic reviewers tend to have similar interests and definition of “good” as I do.
How does Silverwolf organize his Current Pull List?
Making a pull list is far from an exact science, and everyone does it differently. Usually, I look at titles in one of three categories: good, decent, and bad. If a title falls into bad two months in a row, I usually drop it except in the instances outlined earlier.
Below are the current comics I buy as single issues, and the categories they fall into. Note that this does not include series I read in trade (we’ll get to that later).
These are comics that are in no trouble of disappearing from my pull list. They are enjoyable and feature stories that keep my attention. Usually, these kind of comics would receive a rating between 4 and 5 on my scale.
- Demon Knights (too bad it’s not around for much longer)
- Green Lantern
- Quantum & Woody (a little early to say, since only one issue is out, but so far, so good)
- Red Lanterns
These are comics that are pretty good, but not amazing. Sometimes, individual issues will climb to the Good category, but overall they fall into this category. Generally, these receive ratings between 2.5 and 3.5 on my scale.
- All-Star Western
- Archer & Armstrong
- Jupiter’s Legacy
- Justice League of America
- Suicide Squad
- Superior Foes of Spider-Man
- Superman Unchained
- The Green Team
- Uncanny X-Men (started picking up this one again, based on positive word of mouth)
These are comics that are, for want of a better term, bad. They’ve let me down. I’m probably buying them because either A. I remember how good they used to be or B. I want to finish up a story arc because I’m a completionist.
X-Men (issue one was great…but issue two was pretty dang terrible; I’ll probably stick with it until the first arc ends at least)
There are also some series that I buy irregularly, like Marvel’s A+X, a series that focuses on team ups between Avengers and X-Men. With different creators and characters each time, I wait to see whose on the book each month before committing to a purchase.
How do you decide what series to add?
A pull list is not a static thing, nor should it be. If I can drop series, you’d better believe I can add new ones. Generally, I don’t add a new series unless I stop purchasing another series, in the interest of not spending all my funds on comics. I’m fairly up-to-date on comic book news, meaning I know what new series publishers are releasing in the coming months. I watch comic news and reviews as well, and consider adding series that get good reviews which I’m not currently reading. I also keep a mental list of series I plan to add. For now, the only ones on my horizon are Eternal Warrior and Captain Marvel (once the current arc wraps up).
What about collected editions?
Each month, I set aside a little of my comic budget for trade paperbacks or hardcovers. These editions usually collect four to seven issues, and sell for slightly cheaper than buying the issues individually. Obviously, this has advantages (reading an entire arc without waiting, cost savings, space efficient) and disadvantages (risk of hearing spoilers earlier, falling behind the main series). Ultimately, there are a few series I follow exclusively as trades, either because I got to them late and am now used to reading trades, or because I feel the series reads better in this manner. Below are the series I’m currently following in this manner:
- The Sixth Gun
- Wonder Woman
Also, while I don’t follow it religiously, I’m looking forward to purchasing Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur once it’s collected. I do dabble in other trades, buying a few here and there when I can either find them inexpensively or hear good things about a particular arc.
Where do I begin?
Getting into comics is daunting. I won’t deny that the years of continuity behind certain series and universes can make certain stories difficult to follow or get into. When thinking about making a pull list, or even just buying one comic or a single trade paperback, lots of people don’t know where to begin.
My first suggestion is to ask your friends and family who like comics. Usually, these people will know what you like, and can lend you issues or steer you in the right direction at a shop. I personally have lent comics to a number of my friends, a few of whom ended up branching out and finding series of their own they liked.
Another good idea is to check out your local library. Graphic novel sections are fairly ubiquitous these days, and you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one or two titles on the shelves that catch your eye. This method also helps you save money, and is a great way to catch up on a backlog of continuity. Without my local library, I would’ve never read Green Lantern which, as you saw above, is now one of my favorite series.
Asking both the employees and patrons at your local comic store, if you have one, will also help you find out about good series. Though some people are intimidated by the comic shop atmosphere, in general most shops are welcoming and inviting, with awesome staff. Some stores also have bargain bins, which is a good way to pick up comics for cheap (though, of course, gems rarely land here).
DC and Marvel also release guidebooks which feature a decent amount of backstory on their universes and characters, making it easier to catch up. Indie comic publishers, in contrast, rarely have this issue since most of these series are self-contained, meaning by grabbing a few back issues or reading about it on Wikipedia, the series are fairly easy to join mid-stream.
As I said earlier, choosing comics to buy is not an exact science. Every person has a different definition of quality and different genres which appeal to him or her. Luckily, the comic market has never been more varied than it is now. While I read mostly superhero fare, there are comics about everything from politicians to spies to robot love stories. Whether you’re updating your pull list or just considering buying one comic, I hope this article has been helpful.
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