The impetus for this blog was my desire to do a major cull of my collection of comic books and graphic novels;a very familiar desire. This is not the first time I have walked into my home,looked at all my things and felt just a little bit sick at the sight of the size and the scope of it all. In fact,I think I’ve been getting rid of things for almost as long as I’ve been collecting comics.
In that time,however,I have been living the life of a yo-yo dieter. I hit a collection size,or weight,that I am unhappy with,cut back,or diet,for awhile to get that size back under control,but don’t make the sort of lifestyle changes necessary to prevent you from gaining it all back and more.
So,since this blog is my serving as a diet diary,my weight watchers meeting you might say,I want to use it to examine some of the origins and patterns of this weight gain and hopefully use that self-knowledge to try to make long-term changes. So first,keeping the tired weight-metaphor going for one last sentence,I want to take a look my history of dieting.
As I said,I’ve been getting rid of parts of my collection as long as I’ve had it. When I first started collecting comics in junior high-school I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to collect. This meant a lot of trial and error,a lot of false starts,and a lot of experimentation. This not only needs to some really cool X-Men comics or the first year of Power Pack,but also to the moment where you realize that you have somehow managed to build up a comprehensive Dazzler collection (I was drawn by the Bill Sienkiewicz covers,especially the Michael Jackson/Thriller riff) that you have fairly quickly outgrown.
Those first sell-offs mostly involved getting rid of early experiments that I no longer needed. And this was back in the day of schlepping the books off to a store to learn that they have no more of a desire for them than you do (the Dazzlers quickly returned to the car after being rejected by Barbarian Books). I think I had a little more luck with Swap Meets where a comic for a dime meets with a more interested audience.
I went through two major sell-offs right after college. These came about because of an image in my mind that I was now an adult and needed to start getting rid of the more youthful aspects of my collection. I was all about Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge and Dame Darcey now;there was obviously no more room for an X-Force or an Alpha Flight or even Power Pack. For a brief moment nostalgia could be overcome by a growing sense of “maturity”,even though I was going through the phase four years or later than the typical male.
These sell-offs weren’t to stores anymore,as it was now the early-90s and the internet was here. I did one experiment auctioning comics off on usenet,which got rid of my unwanted X-Men related books,but which took huge amounts of time as I had to manually manage each and every auction in these pre-Ebay days. Plus,I somehow managed to miss-send huge chunks of the winning books,but luckily had understanding winners who were actually willing to re-mail comics to each other. After I moved to Chicago I changed tactics and sold about two-long boxes worth of comics in one massive sale,one-winner take all. Getting rid of that chunk really felt like taking a huge step.
But it wasn’t like I actually stopped buying comics after any of this and within 5 years I needed to do it again. Sure,every year or so I would take a big box of comics to my local shop,Chicago Comics,who at the time would give me $0.05 each for whatever I brought them. But I had still managed to gather more than I thought I needed,about 4 longboxes in my closet at the time. Additionally,while I had a collection with me in Chicago I also had multiple long-boxes still in my parents basement.
So,around 2001 I did it again. I transported everything from my folks house back with me and did my first steps into Ebay. And I thought I was cutting my collection to the bone. I mean,I was getting rid of my complete run of Sandman (minus the first 8 issues which I should really keep for historical purposes,oh and the gallery one shots,oh and #50 because of P. Craig Russel,oh and maybe the last issue,oh and,oh forget it). So I spent a good four to five months online,selling this off in chunks. And it felt good.
But I backslid and fast. I went to the Chicago Convention that summer and somehow came back with a full longbox worth of books from dollar bins as I suddenly decided I needed to gather complete runs of Nexus and Badger and Swamp Thing and all sorts of other things. The best part was,the day after the convention I got laid off of work. So I had this great,huge box of comics staring at me right in my sad,unemployed face,just laughing its ass off. (Why must you betray me,sweet,sweet Mike Baron comics?)
Since discovering Ebay I have been in an almost constant state of selling off portions of the collection. Every couple of months I find myself going back through the longboxes (which were short boxes now to save on space and fit on some nice Ikea shelves) and putting stuff up for auction. Every time thinking I would convince myself I was cutting the collection to the quick;making the really important reductions that would cure me forever. But I was still buying new material,and the occasionally depression fueled Ebay buying spree,so no real progress seemed to be being made. Plus,the book collection was growing,as I’d replace a run of comics with a collection,so any progressive was counteracted elsewhere.
That is the cycle I want to break. I want to see the collection go down and find a way of maintaining that lower size. I don’t want to immediately build it up again. I want to make cuts that are large enough that they make a difference. And I want to control the intake of new material so that while I continue to bring new things in it is in a slow,healthy manner.