The best format to read and collect comics

Single issues, TPB, Hardcovers, Omnibus. So many options! We explain you each of them

By Eric Santos | 2018-07-07

Comics in a shelf

It comes a time in the life of a comic book reader where it needs to choose in which format is going to read and collect comics. It’s a hard question and there are no wrong answers. Let’s review the options we have:


  • Monthly issues: I used to buy monthly issues when I was a kid, but eventually I got bored and lost interest because it felt like nothing happened in 22 pages and you had to wait months to finish a story arc. It was different in the 60’s 70’s when you had a complete story from beginning to end in one single issue. You don’t believe me? Go check Fantastic Four by Lee and Kirby.  The benefit is the art of the covers that deserves to be in a portrait on a wall rather than hidden in a cardboard box.  
  • Trade Paper Backs: mostly known as TPBs, it collects in a soft cover a series of issues that completes one or several story arcs. It might vary from 120 pages (maybe collects the first 5 / 6 issues of an ongoing series) to 400 pages and more. This is my favorite format because it has the thickness of a book, but it feels like a single issue. Also, the price here is important. Is cheaper than buying all the issues and let’s be honest, it looks good in a library. The con with this format is that you must wait to have the TPB of an ongoing series and you might miss the hype. Personally, I don’t care. There are so many good things to read that you can never be up to date.
  • Hard covers: Same as TPB but with a hard cover and sometimes a dust jacket. I don’t like this format. Is a little bigger than a TPB but a little expensive also. In addition, I don’t like to read comics with hard covers. For me, comics equals soft covers, if it doesn’t bend isn’t a comic. Sorry. Another important thing is that I found different hard covers with different heights and this annoys me, because you might buy by mistake an oversized hard cover. The TPBs have same height making your library look cool.
  • Omnibus: Hard cover beasts with over 600 pages. They look absolutely cool in your bookshelf but is impossible to have in your hands for more than 2 minutes. Is too heavy, you need to read it on a table. ​​​​​
  • Deluxe Editions:  Extra sized hard covers with the best quality paper.  In this format you can find gems like Alex Ross Kingdome Come, George Perez Crisis on infinite hearts, Watchmen. You don’t get everything published on Deluxe Editions.
  • Electronic format: What is this shit? Can I break it? I tried to read comics on my iPad but I didn’t like it. Is not for me, maybe a digital native finds this the best way to read comics and protect the environment and thinks I’m a primitive ape. Reading comics for me is passing the pages, smell the book, is like an object of worship. 


 I chose a mix of Omnibus for Golden Age / Silver Age comics, TPB for everything else and I might even consider reading a couple of issues in an ipad just to check if it is worthwhile buying a paper copy. From time to time I buy some stupidly beautiful single issues, those that even a not fan stares at with delight, to rotate in a wall.

There you have it, is your decision now what format you choose to fill your library. I wish you good luck!

All images courtesy of

Tags: comics omnibus tpbs hardcovers