Collectors are a fickle bunch. Each one has their own system and each system probably says a lot about the person. Comic collectors are certainly not immune to this. Are your comics strewn about your house in haphazard piles? Are they kept in pristine condition in Mylar bags and boards in a temperature-controlled environment? Do you wash your hands before you read them or do you fold them up and stuff them in your back pocket? Do you even know where your comics are right now? Either way, I bet the way you organize your collection is consistent with the way you organize your life. Or maybe it’s completely opposite to the way you take care of things in your life.
Maybe I won’t bet.
I’ll start with what I know – Me. I’m pretty anal. I like my house clean. At work, I keep my work area neat and tidy. Every day I wonder if I should cut the grass. I shovel the snow three times a day even if I don’t need to go out. You know those little dandelion seeds that blow all over the place? HATE them. I’ve probably already given too much information and an uncomfortable view into my psyche. Anyway, knowing that about me you’d probably guess that my comic collection is pretty organized. You’d be right!
My collection is completely organized and logged in a database. Back in the day, I used to use a standard Excel spreadsheet. Referencing the database I know exactly where any comic is. It’s organized by Publisher and then alphabetized. Each box is labeled by Publisher and box number (e.g. Marvel Box 5, Image Box 2, etc.). All of these boxes are piled in a double-door closet in my office in a cross-hatch style (one level is lengthwise and the next level is front-to-back) to prevent the boxes from buckling. These double-doors can then be closed so they are out of the disdainful view of my wife. The agreement is, as long as she can’t see them, they can stay. I’m soon going to have to attempt an amendment to that agreement or I’m going to be faced with the radical decision to *gulp* get rid of some.
My graphic novels are organized (again, alphabetized by series) on a couple of bookshelves. I can get away with them being in plain sight in the office because hardbacks and trades can kind of pass for a library feel. A close inspection reveals a lot of Batman and Spider-Man but to the layman from the doorway, they’re just books in an office.
I use the Collectorz database for my collection. I like it quite a bit, however they do upgrade the program yearly and, of course, they charge a fee for pretty much every upgrade. You can get by for a couple of years without the upgrade but, like anything it seems these days, sooner or later you’re forced to upgrade to ensure you still get the support and the functionality of the program.
The Collectorz Comic Collector Pro program allows you to enter a multitude of information on each issue like the creators, the characters, pricing, dates, titles, story synopsis, cover images, external links and more. I feel like this is turning into a commercial, but I’m sure there are several programs that do the same thing, so if you are interested, do some research and find the database that suits your needs. I like that it allows for so much information. It becomes quite handy when you are searching for a specific character or creator. A quick search will reveal exactly how many comics I have with the Jackal in it (58? Really?). It also comes in real handy for upcoming comic conventions where I can do a quick search and find exactly where a particular book by a particular creator is so that I can pull it to get signed.
Like I said, I’m kind of anal, especially when it comes to my collection. Here’s the typical routine: I read the comic (maybe a couple of times if the story warrants and time allows) and then place it on a pile by my computer. After a couple of issues build up on that pile I start to enter them into the database. I scan the cover (yup…anal), enter all the creator credits and meticulously skim through the book entering every character that appears in the book. Once it’s entered, it goes into the “active” box. The “active” box is a short-box that is just the temporary resting place until they are circulated into the main collection.
The big problem for me arises when I have to cycle the “active” comics into the inventory. Because they are all in alphabetical order, and because boxes are piled upon boxes, I need to pull out every box and spread them out on the floor. Then I have to take the last – say 100 or so – comics and put them in a new box. Then take 100 comics out of the previous box into the beginning of the last box. Then, take 100 comics out of the box previous to that and place them in the beginning of the next box and so on. All the while, I’m updating my database with the proper location of all the comics I’ve moved (Punisher 25 was in Marvel Box 8 and now it’s in Marvel Box 9). In short, it’s a colossal pain in the ass – The pain I go through for a well-organized collection.
That’s the basics of my collection. To say nothing of the pain I go through when they renumber series (do I put the new ones with volume 1 or continue with volume 2?) or how I “count” character appearances (if they appear as a flashback in the story does that “count” as an appearance in the comic?). These are the things that keep me up at night. Just kidding; that would be my kids.
I keep a relatively organized life and my comic collection reflects that. A friend of mine has no idea where his comics are and his life is a mess! Another friend practically sleeps with his comics and he cherishes them more than people! Your collection can reveal something about you, good or bad.
So tell me, what does your collection say about you?