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LJ Idol week 18: jetsam

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.***

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That really is a lot of comics! I've been more of an X-Men/Marvel girl, I think in part because I liked the 90s' animated series. I bought a huge chunk of back issues a while back and still haven't got around to reading them all. At least I'm not continuing to buy them! I find the graphic novel versions are easiest for me to get through, though.

Also, I have a friend back home in Australia who probably follows more stories than you. I used to go with him to the big comic shop in the city sometimes, and he'd always have a huge collection waiting for him to buy (special orders/issues set aside for him). Now he owns and runs his own comic book shop in the town I used to live in. I visited it over Christmas. He's actually doing really well for himself with it!

Edited at 2011-03-22 08:00 am (UTC)

So many comics. I think my being mostly a DC/independent girl was for two reasons - 1) finding the Titans first, and 2) when my allowance went up in the 4th grade I was going to start buying a new title (2 comics a month!). And I really wanted to read X-men because Storm was pretty and I thought Nightcrawler looked cool. But there were at least three X titles out and because the characters kept crossing over I couldn't figure out what one read, or if only reading one would be enough. So I just never started.

I have a pull at my local shop so I don't miss issues of some titles. I suppose if I keep going opening my own shop would be one way to store everything I own, but I'm hoping it doesn't get that bad. Good for your friend though, for taking a passion and making it a career.

I'm always looking at the comics but the huge issue numbers always turn me away since I know I wouldn't be happy unless I could start at the beginning.

THIS! I am the exact same way!

My brother is a big collector of comic books. He has most of his in bins in his basement now but some are on shelves in the living room, others in the spare bedroom snd still a few boxes back at my moms house. He hasn't stopped buying them, but I think he's slowed down at least!

I think all comic collectors learn to spread them out so it's less obvious to those around us exactly how many there are.

Believe it or not, only following eleven titles right now is slowing down for me. It's not my fault such great new stuff keeps coming out.

My comic life was all about the underground stuff... R. Crumb and his buddies, Zap Comix... that's where I was at. I even tried to draw comics for a while.

This was great! You definitely have my vote. :)

The first time I walked into an actual comic book store instead of Waldenbooks my mind was blown. I'm grateful they're collecting people like R. Crumb these days so folks like me who missed it when it was happening can backtrack and appreciate the history as well as their brilliance.

Thanks so much, I had been meaning to write about my comics anyway so this topic was timely.

I can just imagine your excitement at finding a dedicated comic bookstore!

I know how hard it is to let these things go, even when you realise you've not read them for years, and are probably unlikely to... good take on the prompt :)

Comic stores are heaven.

It's strange because I have given some comics away over the years so it seems like there should be fewer left. I suppose it makes sense that as I keep reading the boxes to keep accumulate too.

There are worse addictions. And at least someday they may be valuable. You could gamble, drink, collect bottle caps or matching salt & pepper shakers, Al least comic books lay flat and pack easily. I'd seal the boxes and find a place with an attic.

Nicely written

Edited at 2011-03-23 07:20 am (UTC)

Heh. These days my comics are all bagged and boarded and live nicely in their cardboard boxes. Sadly for them to be really worth anything I'll have to hold on to them for a while, stuff from the 90's isn't going up in price yet, especially with the graphic novels out there. But maybe I'll tell J they're an investment the next time we move them.


When I was little I learned to read with comic books. I think Little Lulu was my favorite. They used to cost 12 cents. I was really upset when my mother threw them out when we moved.
Really enjoyed this entry. Wish I had answers other than 'don't get rid of them!'

That first comic book I bought was 65 cents. These days most are three to four bucks. Sigh.

I figure anything I seriously think I'm going to re-read I keep. But the longer I collect the more I want to re-read - heh.

My almost 10 year old son is CRAZY about comics and our local store. His collection is very small so far since he doesn't get much in allowance.

He loves the Teen Titans, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc.

I bet if you decide you have to narrow your collection, you could sell them at your local store. I know our store here sells used comics.

You could also sell them on ebay?

I read only one title for years and years because that was all I could afford on my allowance. I remember finally getting enough a week that I could buy two comics a month and I felt rich indeed.

I haven't tried the latest iteration of the Titans, and I should for nostalgia if nothing else.

My store does buy back comics, but I haven't had anything long enough yet for them to really be worth anything. Though I suppose $20 and an emptier closet isn't a bad deal.

I've never tried selling on ebay - I'm afraid. But if I got really serious about dumping them it'd be an option.

This brought back so many memories and I'd have so much to say on the subject that I know I'd hit the LJ word limit on comments. Perhaps some day I'll post the whole story of my comics fandom. In a way it fits the "jetsam" theme as I let so many titles go when I couldn't afford to buy four Spiderman comics a month just to follow one hero's storyline.

I remember Teen Titans in the 80s, the death of Tara was one of the best story arcs of the era, with the betrayal and giving us Nightwing.

There was a time when about the only comic I bought was Hellblazer. I followed Constantine from his first appearance in Swamp Thing to roughly around when he beat cancer.

Woot - fellow comic book geek! High five!

I didn't start reading X-men in grade school for exactly that reason, my allowance had gone up enough for one more book and I couldn't figure out which X-title to read.

I was lucky to have stumbled on a great comic to start off with, I remember crying when Tara died. I loved that the characters actually grew up.

I've gone back to read all of Swamp Thing in collections which is amazing. The arc where John gets cancer might still be my favorite in all of comics. At the very least it's in the top five.

I'm on the fence with Morning Glories, but I do understand the addiction. I tried to give up in college so I could appear more "studious," but it didn't take.

I've started but not yet finished Morning Glories, so I'm withholding judgement. These days most new titles I try in graphic novel form just because they're easier to lend and store unless it's an author I already love.

Heh - I had the studious thing down in college, instead the comic books gave me some much needed edge.

That is a LOT - hold on to it!! I parted ways with a lot of stuff and regret it a lot

The current plan is if I'm still interested in re-reading it in the mythical someday then I keep it. So many friends have stories about Mom's who threw stuff away that I sometimes feel like I have to make up for it be keeping as much as I can.

If you find a solution, let me know. I stopped collecting a couple years ago after twenty years of it and I have boxes and boxes and boxes in the apartment. I really need to just get rid of them. Jeez.

Heh, if I figure anything out I'll pass it on. I want to know how you managed to stop - my collecting has ebbed and flowed over the years but I've never been able to go cold turkey. We could work out a trade though it wouldn't lessen either of our loads I suppose, just mean we had new stuff to read.

I was never as hard core as you guys, but I read a lot of Marvel books plus Batman and Superman. The New Mutants was probably the last thing I read an extended run of...but I do love the medium.

I really wish I had read more Marvel over the years; I sometimes feel like I'm not a real comic book geek because of it.

Wow that's a weighty comic book addiction. I wonder if Betty Ford has a wing for that? :-p

Honestly, I think it's a good thing. I've never read a comic but I know a lot of people that do. And they all say the same thing about it... it helps fire their imaginations. I think that's a really wonderful thing. And to be able to pass it on to nieces and nephews? That's a great thing. Unless you're physically out of room, why throw them out? Why not share that love with the little ones? Sure, you could probably stand to purge some here and there, but those are treasures waiting to be discovered by others. And that can't be wrong! :-)

Most of my comics I won't be able to give to my nieces and nephews until they're around 16, I tend to prefer more adult stories. But passing them down would be fun.

I'm not out of room yet, so I'll keep hanging on to things for the time being, loaning out my favorites. Hopefully attic space will become available somewhere in the next few years.

I never got into comics, too visual I guess. I did like going to the comic book store with a friend though because of how excited she used to get to purchase the new ones.

New comic book day is like a mini-holiday, and it comes once a week!

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