About once every 3 months I go to one of the Travelling Mans (Leeds is best for this), and buy a load of back issues of the mainstream US comics that I'm not usually a follower of. I only choose titles that I don't know, and only ones that I suspect may be different or interesting in some way. The images above are of my latest haul. Most cost a quid, some were 50p, plus there were a few free comicbook day ones in there too. Cost me a tenner in total.
As I am not a regular follower of these particular comic worlds I am always surprised, and often disappointed, but it is usually worth it for the gems in there. The mystery is enhanced by (1) the fact that the cover art often has very little relation to what is inside, and (2) by my carelessness in noting down, in memory, no names of the artists, colourists, even publishing imprints of the ones that I like. I know that Marvel are inevitably shittest, DC dull, and I suppose I drift toward Image and complete unknowns most of all, -but they too are still mostly a bit pants.
On average, I have calculated, one third (2 sixths) are complete rubbish to me, and they go to the free shelf in Carlisle station. What's the free shelf in Carlisle station? It is a little battered shelf only ever half full of rubbish unwanted books, and a donation tin on top. Whenever I put comics in there, they are gone before I get my return train, snapped up. Other shelves (eg. Berwick station) have a slower turnover and yet more quality. I like the Carlisle one best, and hope in my imagination that someone is regularly checking it in desperate hope that something sellable will appear. They then grasp at anything half useable and seize it, then try to miserably sell it online. Good luck to that imaginary person.
One half (3 sixths) have some imagery or juxtaposition that appeals to me. I cut it out and scrapbook it. Sometimes I make a compilation of radgey heads, for example, like the blonde one above, out of Betty & Veronica. I take maybe 3% of the paper content of the tome, and keep it.
One sixth, I consider genius, and keep. I have boxes full of indie/small press comics, and these genius sixes go in those boxes too. Of the collection above, this time three and a half made it in and I would not have guessed from their covers. One was Rumble, one was Squidder, and one was v.unexpected, Bad Machinery from Free Comicbook Day. It is not the sort of thing I rave about at all, usually. Not my art style, not my context (school, pff, for kids), not my joking preference (sassy, predictable backchat all the time), and nothing weird or deep or unfinished or whatever it is I like. But it is excellent. Whoever has produced it is cleverer than me. Their sassy backchat is so good and constant, and quick, that even someone like me warms to their characters. And hell, it is good to be reminded that the commercial factories are indeed good at recruiting talent sometimes.
That's the usual percentages worked out, but there is one anomaly, and often is. On this occasion it is the weird Kurt Russell comic. It is somehow great and weird enough to keep, and yet not, it feels, by me. I want to find someone who would like it more than me, and so it will sit uneasily with the genius sixes until I work out where to put it.