Wednesday Comments – Collecting Comics

Getting older isn’t always fun. Stand up comics love to riff on the trying aspects of growing old. Your body declines. Your hair falls out. You get grumpy. The world just isn’t as fun as it used to be.

But one thing that’s never addressed is comic books.

I’ve been collecting comic books for decades. I’ve got 27 long boxes full of comics plus probably a couple more long boxes worth of strays. And that’s not even counting my various trades and graphic novels.

I’ve got a ton of comics. You could probably make the case that I’ve got too many comic books. But I’m always looking for more.

And that why getting older kind of stinks. Because I’ve been buying comics for decades most of the additions to my collection are new comics, which arrive every week like clockwork. And as much as I enjoy them, I do miss the pleasure of finally getting to read something that I’ve heard so much about or wanted to read for a long time.

The thrill of collecting is something that I’ll admit to enjoying. So tracking down back issues is as much for me as collecting monthly adventures.

I first got the taste of the back issue bug when I started reading comics. Green Lantern was my first title and I started with #181. So whenever I’d hit up Tucson’s own Fantasy Comics, I’d check out the Green Lantern back issues and pick out the my issue based on two criteria a) how cool was the cover and b) if it had a Tales of Green Lantern Corps back up.

Of course back in those days (see how I’m really selling the “old man” bit?) there were editors boxes in comics, which would alert you to a previous issue that might have an action or conversation that was relevant to the book you were holding in your hands. It was a great tool that I used in my collecting quest.

Over the years I’ve branched out and had some real triumphs collecting. I’ve managed to piece together complete runs of Starman, Sandman Mystery Theatre, DMZ and The Invisibles. And I’m also pretty sure that I’ve picked up all of the Secret Files & Origins.

Finding that last few issues that you’re missing from a title can be an awesome feeling. When you’re looking throw a long box and you’re going through the issues and you’re two away, then one away. And then boom, there’s the issue you’ve been trying to track down. There’s really nothing like it.

But lately it’s been harder and harder to find books to collect. So much so that I’ve begun collecting Sandman and Preacher in trades, just so that when I attend a comic con, I don’t come home empty handed.

Still, I’ve been thinking about what to collect now and I’ve come up with a few options.

Enginehead was a shortlived series. In fact it was a eight issue miniseries that was actually cut short to six issues. I’m interested in reading it to see if I should be offended or relieved that it ended early.

Since I jumped onto Hellblazer at just before the halfway point (#146), I think that it might be fun to backtrack and get the full run. At over a hundred issues, it’ll be biggest undertaking I’ve done in terms of collecting a title. But it’ll also provided me with something to look for, for quite some time.

I’ve recently come to the realization that I love Ragman. He’s quietly one of my favorite characters. I prefer old school Ragman to Post-Crisis mystical Ragman, so I’d like to track down all of his appearances. I know there aren’t that many of them, but I’d really like to do it.

And of course you can’t go wrong with The Flash and Green Lantern. Though I’m a fan both of these characters, I haven’t really tried to track down those back issues. I’ve got the aforementioned handful of random Green Lantern back issues, but I haven’t really tried for the complete run. And I’m pretty sure that I could manage to put together a complete run between #100-200 if I really tried.

The Flash is trickier. I’ve got Barry’s last issue and that’s it. It would make for more of a challenge, but I don’t really know if I’m up for it. Still, I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Still, this is the least likely title that I’m going to collect, which means I’ll be doing it in like three years.

And naturally there’s always Harley Quinn, but I don’t feel like being aggravated right now, so I’m not going to get into that.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on collecting back issues? Do you do it? Do you enjoy it as much as I do?

Well, it’s Wednesday, so go out and buy some fresh new comics from your local comic shop.