The Cost Of A Comic Book Hobby

by Connor Relyea

I have been a major comic book fan since I first got to college. There I was introduced to the Marvel NOW! lineup and the New 52 lineup; both started new series with new first issues, so it seemed like the comic book industry was beckoning for me to take up the hobby. More recently, I’ve stuck to digital comics because the nature of my life is mobile. I travel the country a lot and it makes sense for my computer to be the main access point for my hobby since it goes with me everywhere and that means I don’t have to rely on having a physical bookstore nearby.

Recently, the comic portal that I buy all my titles from, Comixology, changed its interface to count how many titles a user has in their library. I was actually shocked to see the number of comics I have bought. According to Comixology, I have bought over 482 comic books in the past five years. This of course doesn’t include the 13 physical trade volumes I have in my library at my home, which brings the total amount of comics I own up to 495.

I wanted to know how much money I had spent during my time as a comic book geek. According to comic book site Newsarama, the average price of comic books is $2.99, with larger issues priced at $3.99 or $4.99 depending on the size of the issue. I decided to use the $2.99 standard for the issues that I own, since it is the most standard price for comics that I buy. Also, note that I did not include any sales tax for these items as Comixology does not include sales tax as part of its purchasing platform.

Now to the numbers for a five year period:

  • Single issues of comic books I purchased: 482
  • Average price at $2.99, amount spent on single issues: $1,441.18
  • Per year average: $288.24
  • Per month average: $24.02
  • Per week average: $5.54
  • Per day average: $0.79

After I figured out the average I had spent on single issues, I decided to use the accurate pricing for the volumes I own since it was easier to collect that information. Below are those numbers:

  • Volumes of comic books I purchased: 13
  • Prices for those comics:
  • 4 Volumes of Bone ($9.99): $39.96
  • 4 Volumes of SAGA (14.99): $59.96
  • One Volume of MAUS: $14.95
  • One Volume of Children’s Crusade: $34.99
  • One Volume of Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale: $13.20
  • One Volume of Serenity: Those Left Behind: $13.47
  • One Complete Collection of Watchmen: $11.99

Total amount spent on volumes: $188.52

So the total amount I have spent on comic books over the past five years has been $1,629.70. Of course, because that number is largely based on averages, I expect that it is actually higher due to the purchase of single issues that cost above the average price that I used.

This number originally astounded me. In my life, I have never felt like I had $1,600. For most of the time that I have been reading comics, I have been working minimum wage jobs that don’t generally lead to a person accruing wealth. My money is tied up in other expenses like bills, debt and groceries — things that are necessary to live.

I wanted to see how this amount of money measured up to other parts of my life, so I sat down to figure out how many of these common items that I purchase I would need to buy in order to reach the amount I spent on comic books. Those numbers are below:

  • Starbucks Peppermint Mocha (Grande, $4.65): 350.47 mochas
  • McDonald’s Ten Piece Chicken McNugget Meal ($6.49): 251.11 meals
  • Garnier Fructis Daily Care 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner (WalMart, $4.49): 362.96 bottles
  • Bic Sensitive Shaver (12 pack, WalMart, $2.57): 634.12 packs of razors
  • Gasoline (Shell, $2.41 as priced in Illinois): 676.22 gallons

With some of these items it would actually be fairly easy to reach the amount I spend on comic books in one year. For example, if I bought a Peppermint Mocha every day for 11 and a half months, I would reach the amount I spent on comic books. That is a little excessive, though, even for someone who loves Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks as much as I do.

Even though I am staring this number in the face, I am not moved to stop my comic book spending. I figure that, no matter what, I’m going to continue buying comic books because I love the medium and I really admire the writers and artists that work within it. Now I just have a stronger idea of what I am actually doing with my finances.

Connor Relyea is a freelance writer and editor living the suburban life in the Chicago area. He is currently the Comics Editor at Fangirl Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CRelyea12.

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