At long last, I'm thinning out the collection. Everything must go! Well, OK, not everything, but most of everything. A lot of things. I don't know. It's painful and it's liberating all at the same time.

For the last few years, the bulk of my collection has lived in a 10 foot by 5 foot temperature-controlled storage locker not far from where I've lived. With a baby in the house and a little extra room in a closet downstairs and the need to cut down on some of the monthly expenditures, that storage locker doesn't seem like such a great fiscal investment anymore. Or, so my wife tells me.

So I'm paring it down to the bare essentials. I'm ripping out the stuff I don't "need." I'm moving stuff out of storage and into our house. I'm moving some of it into my sister-in-law's basement for overflow until I have the collection limited to something more manageable. So, thankfully, I have the space to spread things out a bit because, as any collector of numerous years will tell you, organizing a collection means making a bigger mess of it first.

So, for one last hurrah and farewell, I took a brief video on my iPhone this last weekend of what the storage locker looked like. As you can see, it's jam-packed. The standard file-sized boxes hold all the collected editions, while the comics are jammed into all the long boxes and DrawerBoxes.

You can view that video below. It's only a minute long. There is something like 50 boxes in this room. I challenge the Robot 6 gang to issue a "Send Us Your Shelf Porn" challenge for storage lockers -- with video!

Two questions pop up from this now:

  1. What do I get rid of?
  2. How do I get rid of them?

I'm still dealing with #1 right now, perhaps as an avoidance exercise for the harder part of #2. The first step is simple, though: Eliminate duplicates. For the books I have hardcover collections of, the individual issues can go. This includes some fairly popular (and some minorly valuable) works of the last decade. Do I "need" "Ultimate Spider-Man #1 - #96 in a long box when I have eight hardcover books on a shelf in my den already? What about "Ultimate X-Men" #1 - #65? "Transmetropolitan" #1-#60 or "Y The Last Man" #2 through whatever issue I collected it up until? (I read someone else's copy of #1 at the time, so I didn't feel the need to buy it. Ironically, it would be one of the more "valuable" comics of the last ten years in my collection if I had paid the $3 for it at the time.)

Right away, I found five or six long boxes of comics to purge. There is some historical loss here, though. First and foremost, you lose the house ads at the time that helped you place the comics into their historical perspective. Second, you lose the extra editorial material that doesn't always make it into the collected editions. Obviously, that includes letters columns. And I'm not planning on getting rid of any comics I had a letter printed in, so that eliminates an awful lot of comics from the 90s from this plan.

For now. I imagine this won't all be done with a single round of cuts. There will be multiple rounds, each more painful than the last.

Third, there are memories associated with certain comics. While this sounds awfully geeky and almost unbearably maudlin, there are comics that spark certain memories for me, whether it's for the on-line discussions they kicked off or my reaction to the stories at the time, or some faint memory of a visit to the comic shop that week. Or maybe a comic book convention. Some comics still have that in their very fiber. Yeah, it's a weird thing to admit to, but I bet all of you have that to some degree or another with many of your comics. Some of you might even admit to smelling old comics and having memories flood back. It's OK. I know you're out there. No need to raise your hands.

Time wise, there's a drain associated with going through all your comics. It's darn near impossible not to want to reread whole chunks of them as you're flipping through longboxes. Whether it's to see if a book holds up to the test of time or to reread an old favorite, it can be tough to pick something up and put it back down again right away. I've found a half dozen series I'd like to reread for future Pipelines. With any luck, you'll see one of them in the next week or two.

On the bright side, you do find things you forgot you had. I tripped across those five remaining issues of "Quantum and Woody" that were published after the series' first cancellation. I really didn't think I had those, and don't remember ever reading them. This might be fun!

Two things to think about for the future, though:

First, I'm not done buying comics or adding to my collection. For collecting purposes, I plan on sticking more to the hardcover editions. I like comics that look nice on my shelf, in addition to being good reads. DC has an awful lot of those coming out these days, and Marvel's hardcover lineup is a snowball that's still getting bigger.

Sadly, Marvel seems to have abandoned the 12-issue hardcovers that I like for six issue Marvel Premiere Editions or 24 issue Omnibus-style collections. I think 12 issue books are the perfect size for reading and collecting. You don't lose lots of art in the fold in the middle of the book, and you're not overwhelmed by the scale of the thing.

Where do those new books go? Well, they'll add up much more slowly. Space will eventually be an issue, but not at the same rate it became in the last ten years. Second, the wife has agreed to add a bookshelf or two in the house. Right now, there's only two in the house, and I need more.

Something I also realize will come out of all of this work is a new organizational system. My system was always Fit It Where You Can. It led to some odd combinations, but it kept the number of comics per inch maximized. With a smaller number of comics, I'll have more options to organize in a simpler way. Maybe I can go alphabetical? Nah, I doubt it. I like having those two long-boxes of Erik Larsen comics, or that one box of Todd McFarlane's work. I think of my comics in chunks of time and creators, not in strictly alphabetical order. I couldn't do that.

This is something I'll have to think about again once I'm down to the proper number of comics, whatever that number is.

So, what do I do with all these comics? I'm not sure yet. If there's anyone looking to buy a collection of comics in the Northern NJ area and wants to swing by with a U-Haul truck and a wad of cash, call me.

I think there'll be a combination of donation, recycling, and selling going on. I just haven't worked out the details on it yet.

Stay tuned. I'll update as this process goes on this summer.


  • Is "Clock Maker" #1 from 2003 the same format as DC's upcoming "Wednesday Comics?" I flipped through a copy of Jim Krueger's comic to show you what I mean in this YouTube video.

    Yes, the video is sideways. I have a lot to learn about the iPhone yet. . .

  • TwoMorrow's "Comic Book Podcast Companion" book got held up at the printers last week, but should be in stores this week.
  • Yes, there was a Pipeline Podcast last week! I recorded it and posted it on time Tuesday night. Then, sadly, I typoed the RSS feed and didn't catch that until Friday. Still, a podcast is a podcast! Subscribe to the theoretically-weekly podcast here.
  • Can anyone figure out Gareb Shamus' corporate structure? He runs conventions as part of Wizard World, which isn't really Wizard, as well as a convention that isn't Wizard World and so completely disassociated. Now, he's starting "FunFare" magazine, which is published by the Wizard CEO and is influenced by Wizard's "ToyFare" spin-off magazine and comes out through Wizard Entertainment, but is owned by himself, not Wizard Anything. Its first issue of the magazine that isn't Wizard-published but is coming out through Wizard Entertainment is due to coincide with that convention that isn't Wizard World, which isn't owner by Wizard, either. I think.
  • Heritage Auctions couldn't get more than $12 for a copy of "Wizard" #1 earlier this year. I still have my copy, beat up though it might be. I'm keeping it. That's from my prime McFarlane Fanboy years right there.
  • Where did it all go so wrong for "Wizard?" I think a lot of the readers of this column would agree with me if I said that "Wizard" is a lost cause. Its glory days are far behind it, and the continuous stream of employees leaving the building (either by being pushed or running just ahead of the broom) is sad to watch. We can see the writing on the wall. "Wizard" is no longer a market leader but, even worse, it's a product that's unsustainable. The spin-off magazines are dust in the wind. The staff in Congers is all but gone along with the office space. I don't think the unpaid interns even want to work there, and they were strictly doing it for the love.

    How much of that is just the general trend towards on-line news versus print? How much of that is due to the content of "Wizard" becoming so blatantly bad, and sparse, and not comics-related? Yet, a number of good people have worked at Wizard over the years. Many speak of the fights to add solid content to the magazine. But they never won. The magazine went downhill a decade ago and is still coasting into the abyss.

    I've met a few decent people who worked at Wizard, many for a long time. I don't think they tried to sabotage the publication. It's like Microsoft, where the employees don't set out to make an unreliable and insecure operating system. It just happens. Doesn't mean the people there aren't smart. It just means they're not managed well, I guess. Is that where the Wizard blame deserves to be laid?

  • Did you know they had a convention in Philadelphia last weekend?
  • "Captain America: White" #1 is still not published. Nor is Mark Millar's "War Heroes" #3, though it's now on the schedule for August 27th. Full male frontal nudity didn't kill it, after all! What other books with once great buzz have fallen off the radar of late?
  • M.D. Bright gives us the history of "Quantum and Woody."

I promised a Franco-Belgian comic review and I'm going to write it. Next week.

Good news! The Various and Sundry blog is active on a daily basis again. I spent the last two weeks talking about photography, and will continue to do so for the next week, alongside some iPhone discussions.

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com is still going daily, and we're almost at the halfway mark for the year. I've got a new round of pictures taken at the park, with lots of birds, going up this week.

My Twitter stream (@augiedb) is like my public e-mail box. I check it daily, looking for responses and new conversational threads. Heck, you're more likely to hear back from me if you ask me something on Twitter than my own e-mail box.

And there might still be a new blog on the horizon yet. . . Seriously. It's in the works.

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items this week. It's the best of my daily feed reading, some with commentary!

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

Really, are you still reading this? I'm cutting-and-pasting now.

More than 800 columns -- more than eleven years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

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