So,to help you understand the scope of my mission,I should first give you a quick tour of the “collection.”I’ve done this in the fashion of the Shelf Porn collections from Robot 6,the Collected Editions Message Board at the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page,the Comics Journal Message Board,and elsewhere on the web. So let us walk through the various shelves in my world,with some slight commentary as we go. These are selected photos,and there will be a link to a full slide show at the end.
We start our tour in the living room with the "Public Bookshelf."I've long obsessed over which books to position as the public face of my collection. The books that people could judge me on:both for my excellent taste and for my not being a hip,sexy comic reader. It is something I've thought about ever since my first apartment in 1994.
As you can see these shelves have a combination of things. Selected "art comics"(Black Hole,Jimmy Corrigan,Omega The Unknown) for the New Yorker crowd;classic comic strip collections (Peanuts,Gasoline Alley,Maakies);art books (such as a collection of books by artists associated with The Studio) and large format books (Absolutes,selected Acme Novelty,Lost Girls). Also,Aliens vs. Predator (can't be consistent all the time).
Also on display in the living room,mixed with CDs and other media,are the public face of a toy collection. Some were seen on the previous shelves,but here we get more Chris Ware related objects,as well as my prized Mr. Natural figure and two wonderful Cerebus The Aardvark models that were done in the early-90s (one professionally assembled and badly painted by myself).
I've fought over keeping some of the more "super-hero"related Absolutes on this shelf,but the size-obsessive in me won out. However,if I get any more,then Authority and JLA/Avengers might end up elsewhere. Also,on the short shelf,see my collection of the recent Concrete collections and Rick Geary graphic novels. The upset there is that,for some reason,the seventh volume of the Victorian Murder series was slightly taller than the others,and so doesn't fit on the shelf standing up. Luckily his other books,such as the PaperCutz Classic Illustrated reprints,are sized correctly.
More big books. I'm very happy that various publishers who have published "Art of Books"over the past few years have somehow managed to size the similarly,so that books from Dark Horse,Image,Drawn &Quarterly,Desperado,and the Steve Rude book can all live side by side (in perfect harmony).
More close-ups. These are the most "public face"of the shelves,with Chris Ware,Seth,Charles Burns,Jonathan Letham,and other books that could be found on a front shelf in a Borders or a fine independently run bookshop. Plus,you got to love Jim Woodring toys.
Catchall for "tall"books. The only thing that doesn't fit:one huge issue of Acme Novelty and the "Sundays With Walt &Skeezix"collection. It lives on the top of a shelf in the other room.
I love my "Love &Rockets"shelf down at the bottom. Plus,a shelf of comic strips (2nd from bottom) and another "short"shelf for various small,horizontal books.
And now "The Library."A backroom whose sole purpose,as of now,is bookshelves. This is the view walking in the door with three shelves containing a variety of themed shelves.
The shelves in this room are "themed"then in other rooms. Grouped by topic,time period,format,and others. Here we can see several groups organized by artist (Eddie Campbell,Warren Ellis,Ted McKeever) as well as "media"adaptations (Star Wars,Conan,other movie adaptations). If I had more room I'd make some short shelves to perfectly fit the Lone Wolf &Cub "Big Little"books,but for now,we stack them.
Various shelves are organized by size of book. Manga sized books and digest sized books. Luckily,most of these volumes come from similar publishers (various Oni Press books),series (Usagi Yojimbo or Empowered) or themes so the arrangement still makes sense. It does remind me a bit of when I was first in college and arrange my CD collection by publisher &color of spine. But as long as your mind knows where to find them,it works.
This is the growing '80s collection. I started reading comics circa 1984,so many of my favorite comics,the ones that first shaped my habits,were the independent books of that era. The works of Comico,Eclipse,Kitchen Sink,and First Comics. Luckily,recent years have seen large efforts from various publishers to collect and reprint many of the most important books from that era. I guess it says something about my age that the nostalgia market now speaks directly to me. But if it gets my high end Nexus collections and the complete Journey,well I'll admit to being old.
These shelves are the Vertigo shelves. It started as a Horror section,but it quickly made sense to have it one of the only publisher based sections,with a few addition horror or mystery themed books. You can also see a set of crime graphic novels at top. Those are again,grouped by size &genre. The rest of the crime section is lower on the shelf.
Here is the remainder of the Vertigo section,which turns into the collection of war,western,and crime books from various publishers. It warms my heart that I can even have a war or a western section.
In the center is the high-end Marvel/DC reprint collection. This is one of the areas where I started to get sucked into the collecting trap. For a month or so I decided to collect every edition of Marvel's recent Premiere Edition series collecting more modern classics. Of course,it becomes important to collected the Direct Market Editions,which contain a consistent trade dress and numbering. And you have to get every volume,not just the ones that matter,because see how nice they look all lined up on the right hand side of the shelf. I think I've managed to stop that obsession before it went too far and will start to weed the unwanted volumes and stop buying new ones. It is too easy to be complete when they number things. Marvel Masterworks,Criterion Edition DVDs,33-1/3 Music Books:the numbering impels collectors to get them all. We should be understood,not pitied.
And the pamphlets;the floppies;the non-graphic novels. Many,they look so much less sexy then a book shelf of nicely designed books &tradepaperbacks.
These are the superhero shelves. Marvel &DC,arranged by character. Mixed in,on the most solid shelves,are Marvel oversized hardcovers. I used to have them mixed in,but the shelves would start to sag and buckle under the weight.
Doesn't a uniform trade dress look nice all in a row. Makes you understand the tantrums I've seen thrown that the first volume of John Byrne's Fantastic Four Masterworks is slightly different (no spine numbering) than subsequent volumes. We demand perfection and consistency.
A skinny shelf of Essential &Showcase volumes. Big,thick,black-&-white books from publishers who know the true importance of producing a complete,chronological collection of every appearance of Dazzler. Truly "Essential".
The "to do"shelf. The waiting room for future reading.
Empty shelves demand I purchase more books!!! These are mostly "civilian"books,mostly non-fiction. That's the giant Gasoline Alley book on the top of the bookcase. The Bone sketch on the wall I got from Jeff Smith in a bar at a convention in Baltimore back in early-'90s. I have a James Owen sketch somewhere from the same night.
And then the shelves in my office. These are mostly alternative,underground,and art comics,as well as certain art books and comics history volumes that I need to have on hand for work.
A shelf of "ferign"comics (kept to a minimum because I love my country) and one shelf of underground and late-80s alternative. Luckily,most of the latter were formatted as magazine sized collections so they fit together nicely.
Close-ups of what I like to think of as my Small Press Expo shelves. I had to drill extra holes in these Ikea bookcases so I could add more shelves and have them set to manga and smaller book sizes. It is more soothing to not have a bunch of empty space between the top of the spine and the bottom of the shelf above. Nicely tight and comfortable.
A recently purchased half shelf,with reference books,the library of books I worked on,and my collection of Fantagraphics Books'Ignatz series.
The shelf on the left is work by my favorite creators. The shelf on the right is more modern independent books:the Dark Horse and Image Comics etc. The half-way between Alt comics and Mainstream comics shelf.
Close ups of some of the shelves of Grant Morrison (including my prized set of Zenith collections),a shelf and a half of Alan Moore,Mike Mignola,P. Craig Russell,Paul Pope,and some others.
I try not to ever buy little statues. This Man-Thing bust is one of only three (along with a P. Craig Russell Sandman and a Rex Libris) that I have bought over the years. It and my Modok keep me company while I work to pay for all these things. The strip was a gift to my Grandfather from his cousin,Frank King.
A slightly elegan display of small Sandman figures,and the Howard The Duck that I had to buy a Silver Surfer figure to get.
And that’s it for now. Click on any of the thumbnails below for even more photos. But this should give you a good idea of why I felt I needed to start to examine this aspect of my life and reprioritize things. I may have fondness for each and every one of these objects,but they have obviously taken over a part of my life and need to be better controlled.