Thursday, November 21, 2019

Collecting Comics

I collect comic books. I didn't. Not for a long time. It was something that I had done as a child and a young man. I always enjoyed reading comics, but as I grew older, comics went from being a form of escapism to being a form of entertainment.
I have plenty of ways to entertain myself. Movies, video games, TV shows... Comics as just another form of entertainment got lost in all of that. My collection became just an accumulation of "stuff." That's why I stopped.
A few years ago, that changed. The sister of a friend got me some comic books for Christmas. It was very unexpected. She really didn't know me that well. She had heard that I liked comics and she had come across some while organizing an estate sale for someone.
The comics that she gave me were some early Captain America issues from the late 60's, early 70's. Some of it was Lee and Kirby stuff, and all of it was in beautiful condition.
They weren't "priceless" collectibles, but they were precious enough, and remember that as I carefully flipped through them, a wave of emotion washed over me. I remember, I visibly shook. It was then that I knew that I needed to collect comic books again.
Why? What happened? What was different now?
It was the memories that these comics invoked. These old comics took me back to the child that I was, and that meant something. That is something greater than mere entertainment. But what was next?
I set to work documenting every comic book that I could remember reading as I was growing up. I was going to reconstruct my childhood by means of my comic book collection.
I knew that if I was going to build a comic collection, I'd need a place to put them. (I really don't like comic boxes. While functional, they are unsightly and very heavy.)
At the time, I had a bunch of game books on this little prefab bookshelf. It was a 3' x 3' square shelf, divided into a 3 x 3 grid of cubbies. Each individual compartment was a foot wide, a foot tall and about ten inches deep.
I decided that I would use this shelf for my comic collection. Each cubby could comfortably hold about 100 comics. I had 9 cubbies.
I went out on the internet and began researching. I wanted to get not just the comics I had, but also the ones that I'd missed. Growing up, my collection (now long gone and lost) had been a disjointed hodge-podge of super market finds and 7-11 impulse buys. I wanted to spackle over the holes, fill in the gaps. I came up with a collection that was just over 1200 issues in size. My childhood dream collection.
I had room for 900 comics, so I began the painful process of pairing back. Ultimately, this process proved too painful and I opted for plan B. I went online and found another square 3 x 3 shelf that was identical to the one I had.
Now, I can accommodate 1800 comics! (I've since added about a dozen issues to each cubby and brought the planned total to an even 2000.)


Adding to my dream collection proved to be much more enjoyable than taking away from it. It wasn't long before I had an "intended" final collection in mind. I recorded where on my shelves each new comic would go and kept a list that I update with each new comic that I collected. Right now I have more than 1000 comic books (over halfway to completing my dream collection!)
I've been working on my comic book collection for about 5 years. Perhaps in another 5 it will be done. But even if it's not this process has already proven more rewarding and enjoyable than I could have anticipated.
Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go read some comics.

Jeff

(Originally shared on Facebook on July 17th, 2019 -- my 54th birthday.)

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