It all started with “The New Teen Titans”.
I found issue #2 at the grocery store when I was seven. Grandma had offered to buy me a treat and that comic book was it. So it began. I read the 80’s Wolfman/Perez Titans until the run ended. In grade school and high school I bought my comics from the local grocery or book store. I did miss an occasional issue (especially at the start) but I got really good at knowing which stores kept back issues in their racks, and at convincing Mom to take a side trip to the book store when a new issue would be out. In college, everything changed.
In college, there was a comic book store across the street from campus. The first time I walked in, I was overwhelmed, and home. There were so many stories, so much art, and so many characters to fall in love with. Soon I found a group of like-minded friends and we got together every week, meeting at the store on Thursday, the day the new shipment came in, and then eating lunch together.
I quickly branched out from superhero comics – discovering “The Sandman” and “Hellblazer” among others. I learned to follow authors and artists, not just a title. Some titles that roused my curiosity, I never got into simply because there was already so much history I’d never be able to catch up on. Spiderman was in the 200s, and so was Batman. I realized how lucky I was to have accidentally found The Titans at the beginning, and started to read about comics so I knew when new titles would be releasing. I had a full-fledged comic habit.
And I haven’t quit. Every time I’ve moved since college one of the first things I did in a new town was find the comic book store. I am unusual since comic readers tend to be male, but that has worked in my favor as store clerks recognize me after only a few visits. I do my best to spread a love of comic books to everyone I meet.
Today I am reading eleven ongoing titles, some in monthly format and some in graphic novel collections. I also have a few first graphic novels of other titles on my bookshelf to try out, decide if I want to commit to the story. I find new titles based on friends’ recommendations, or the store clerk telling me I should check it out, or just liking the cover art. I am committed to the comic book as a form of storytelling.
But there is one problem. I’ve been reading comics for 30 years. That’s a lot of comics.
Currently my parents have one long and one short box of my comics in their house. I have one long box of comics in the bedroom, along with a to-read pile that is several inches tall, three short boxes in the spare room closet, four short boxes in the linen closet, and another three short boxes outside in the storage space that came with the apartment. (For reference, a short box holds around 150 comics.) All are full, except for the long box which is only about 3/4s full at the moment – when it fills up I buy a new short box and shift things out. Oh and this count doesn’t include the graphic novels that are on bookshelves (at least three shelves full), or the pretty “Absolute Sandman”s.
Last fall I put all of the boxes in one room and went through everything. I came up with one short box of comics I was willing to part with. That’s it. Everything else I’m sure I’m going to read again someday, or maybe a complete collection of “The Books of Faerie” will be worth something, someday.
The worst part is I can’t stop. For example I’m still buying “Hellblazer” every month. My collection starts with individual issue #51, and I just picked up #276. There’s also the graphic novels of (most of) the first 50 issues, along with various mini-series and one shots that John Constantine has been in. I haven’t actually read at least the last dozen issues, probably more. When I do sit down to clear my to-read pile I still enjoy the character, and it’s fun to see what different authors do with him. But realistically, if I’m not dying to know what happens next every month I should stop buying the book. However, the weight of the over 200 comics I already own, the money I’ve already invested, has me trapped. I can’t break-up with John, even if he’s not my favorite right now he’s still cool and he might be amazing again someday and then I’d feel bad. Yeah.
When we moved into this apartment J got his first glimpse of how deep my comic addiction goes. I know he loves me because he helped me move the boxes, first to the storage unit, and then to the apartment itself. But I’m thinking when we move again I have to cut this collection down, find a way to jettison some of the boxes. I suppose if we move into a house it wouldn’t matter, I could fill an attic or a garage with comics for my nieces and nephews to discover. It’s still a lot of heavy boxes though, and if I’m honest with myself I haven’t opened most of them in years. Plus, I’m still buying new comics; eventually the weight could sink me.
Hmm. Well if anyone has suggestions about how I could ease up on my habit a little I'd appreciate it. Mind you, I don't want to stop completely, just... I'm not sure what I want. I guess I need to figure that out. In the meantime, I bought a new title last week called “Morning Glories” that spectralbovine recommended. I should see what it's about.
***This is my entry for week 18 of LJ Idol, the topic was jetsam. Other entries can be found here; there's lots of good stuff every week if you need something to read.***