This is what I’ve been up to lately.
In order to support my local comic book store I’ve been buying bags and boards on every trip. My pull list is only Previews because I can’t guarantee how much comic money there is at the end of the month. I’ve had huge pull lists at stores before and not been able to buy all of them. All that does is hurt the store, and I’m trying to never do that again. I’ll pick up a couple new titles when I’m in. If something is sold out I’m not worried about it. Where I’m going crazy though is the back issues.
I’m more excited over books from the 90’s that aren’t worth anything right now but have a strong nostalgic pull. Valiant, Image, extreme, shoulder pads and pouches. So many titles that I couldn’t buy them all when they were fresh. Now many shops just want to get rid of these books because they were over printed and under desired. As I flip through these long boxes I find other series that tempt me. Lesser known runs from great writers and artists. Cult characters that never caught on. Forgotten titles. Toy tie ins. There’s so much and every time I go in I’m finding more. Now my problem is, what do I already have?
I felt this most recently when I was looking at the Ultraverse titles. Some see it as a failure but I think these were some great characters with interesting stories that got wrapped up in powers beyond their control. Marvel owns all of these characters, maybe, but no one has seen them in near 20 years. They’ll never be reprinted and so the only way to read these titles are back issue dives. This is also the case with Valiant, CrossGen, and a few other smaller presses. For $20-$100 I could pick up every single book some of these publishers ever put out.
But I need to know what I already have though so I’m not stuck with multiple copies. Instead of buying my second or third copy of the same book I could have taken that same dollar and bought something I need to complete another run.
As I take out the packs of 100 bags and 100 boards I’ve been cherry picking what comics I protect. Not every title is worth money. I have too many issues that are worth protecting that are just flopping around in boxes. The additional problem is as I flip through these boxes I’m realizing I have more comics than I realized. More of certain titles too. Fact is, comics look nicer and more respectful in bags and boards than they do loose. I also follow some comic book collectors on various social medias and there are few things my geeky self finds cooler than seeing a complete collection they took years to build. As I started to catalog the comics I realized I’m one shy of a complete run for a title I had no clue I had. There’s a good chance the one I’m missing is here in another box. Once I put all of these together in fresh bags and boards I’m going to feel a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment. There’s only 14 issues in this series I’m talking about (Night Force) but I found them over time in random long boxes and didn’t go on eBay or anything. The hunt is part of this journey too.
Now it’s time to decide if I’m spending even more money on this. Part of me really wants to buy a new Overstreet guide to comics. Yes, comic sales change so much over the course of the year in between editions. I’m not wanting it for prices. I want one on the desk next to me for easy research. For example, I was looking at my Batman comics earlier today wondering if I have any 1st appearances in there. To skim through the Guide looking for a 1:character name next to the issue number would be much quicker than looking up every issue on any site of choice.
Speaking of choice, I have no idea if I’m doing this right or not. I chose to put this list together using a Google Sheets doc. It is connected to the two emails I use the most so I could access this from my phone or other locations. My goal is to have this set up in a clear manner so the next time I look through back issue boxes I can take out my phone and know at a glance if I have or need that comic.
This is how I have it set up now, and I’m already seeing problems. I added the year at first to keep track of series that have started and stopped multiple times. Do I have X-Dudes #1 from 1960, or 1990, or 2000, or 2003? Instead I think I’m going to write “X-Dudes Volume 4”. I was also including if this is a direct edition of newsstand (bar code) copy. Some collectors are starting to treat this corner box difference as a variant copy. Some of these comics do have subtle differences around price or issue number between where the comic was available to buy.
Finally, I included notes. First appearances. Guest stars. Things like that. Problem became, when I set the issues in order by issue number it moved this column. Well, actually this column stayed where it was and the issue number changed. So if the line originally said issue 15… first appearance Super Guy then I set the issues in order that line now says issue 2… first appearance Super Guy. The notes didn’t move with issue 15. I need to figure out how to move all of that with the issue number.
Some of this I want to figure out on my own in order to get better at spreadsheets because I occasionally have to use them for work. But there is also a difference between taking an hour doing something wrong in order to figure out how to do it right, and asking help from the beginning thus saving that hour of time.
Finally, I have to add my wife has been ridiculously patient with me about this. Years ago, before we had a child, we took all of my comics out and organized them alphabetically. Took a whole weekend. Maybe more. Later, I started removing some series I didn’t want any more and sold a bunch online. Now that I have a half full box I combined boxes, thus ruining all of our work. None of these were bagged and boarded when we did this. That may have been even more frustrating for her.
Honestly, if I keep buying bags and boards here and there on comic trips it will probably take me at least 3 years at the speed I’m currently at. I can’t keep this mess out and leave this all unorganized for three years. Not unless I want to pay alimony and child support.
Most of all though, this project is a way to give myself some peace, calm, and zen during the day. I can’t imagine a crazier more unsure time to live in than right now. These comics and organizing them give me an escape for a little bit every day. It also keeps me offline and away from the news.
I’m interested to hear from other collectors. How are you organizing your comics? What programs do you use? What information do you include? I’ll be updating this project here and there for, well, maybe the next 3 years.