Wednesday Comments – A Collector’s Lament

This past Baltimore Comic Con was sort of a turning point for me. You see I’ve been collecting comics for quite some time and right now I’m at the point where I need to decide if I’m a collector or a fan.

For most of my life the two were indistinguishable. I was a fan of Green Lantern so I collected GL’s books. I was a fan of Wally West as The Flash so I collected his appearances. I got hooked on Jack Knight, so I tracked down every single issue of his saga.

There’s a serious thrill to collecting. Case in point; at the Con I found a copy of JLA: Another Nail #3 for cheap. It was probably the only copy at the Con, and I found it. Last year I managed to complete my run of Sandman Mystery Theatre on the last day of the Con, in the final hour at the last vendor I hit before I called it a day. It felt awesome.

My collection holds several complete runs and I’m proud of that.

But the viability of trades as a delivery system for sequential art is undeniable and I think I’ve turned the corner in terms of how I get my comics. Of the twenty-seven trades that I picked up at the Baltimore Comic Con, only five of them were graphic novels that weren’t originally released as single issues.

For me that’s sobering.

I’ve got at least twenty long boxes, but now it looks like I’m shifting toward needing bookshelf space.

The shift is really a combination of a couple of factors. First is that more companies are collecting more comics in trades. It’s an industry shift that happened years ago as a means of getting “comics” into other outlets like big chain book stores.

But the second is that I’ve reached a point where I’ve essentially picked up the majority of comics that I’ve wanted to read for the past decade and a half. When I wanted to try out a new Wildstorm mini, I did. When I was interested in a Vertigo monthly I snagged it right away.

Of course, little did I realize that my curiosity and desire for instant gratification would have dire consequences in the long term and could possibly derail my hobby.

One of my favorite parts of visiting my hometown, Tucson, is that I get to stop by Fantasy Comics. Fantasy Comics is my original LCS and hands down has the best back issue selection of any store that I’ve frequented. When I go home I’ve been known to spend hours just combing though the back issues looking for gems that I’ve always wanted to read.

But I guarantee you that if I went there tomorrow, I’d struggle to spend $100 on back issues that needed or wanted. That makes me sad.

I guess I should take it as an accomplishment. It means that not only have I been able to afford basically every comic I wanted in the past decade, but that I’ve gotten them too. But instead I’m less than happy that one of the few joys that I have in life is seemingly having it’s light extinguished

As cool as it was finding the first trade for Promethea,, it couldn’t compare to finally getting my hands on R.E.B.E.L.S. ’95 #11.

Ah, I’m going to cut this column short, because I’m bringing myself down and I’m probably make a big deal out of nothing.

Hopefully next week I’ll be in better spirits.

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