WHERE DO THEY ALL GO?
I don’t know exactly how many comics I’ve accumulated by now, but I’m pretty sure it’s passed the 10,000 mark by a fair chunk. I’ve been at it for 17 years now. The small stack of reading material that once took up residence in a few empty envelope boxes (500 count) is now spread out into multiple rooms and two locations. I have a storage locker I rent that’s 10 feet wide and five feet deep. It’s packed. There are eighteen long boxes across the left half (three high, six across) and various short boxes and storage boxes filled with trades filling up the other half. Throw in a couple boxes of non-comics related stuff that I had piled up at Pipeline World Headquarters, and you can understand the space concerns.
This is a problem, since I’m still buying comics. Where do I keep putting them? How can I stack more of them in such a small space? How can I easily organize them for full accessibility?
I think I have stumbled across a solution. The people behind DrawerBoxes sent me some of their product to demo, and I’ve fallen in love with them. DrawerBoxes are super strong stackable comic storage boxes with a twist — they’re front loading.
|Here’s what my five boxes look like when the assembly was completed.|
The boxes are about the same size as normal long boxes, but they’re much heavier and sturdier. Perhaps more importantly, they have drawers you can pull out. In other words, you can get to the contents of the bottom box without having to lift the top boxes off first. And, since they’re so much sturdier, you can stack them higher — up to six high, according to the promotional material.
All of a sudden, those 18 boxes in storage that are six boxes across don’t look so wide anymore. They only need to be three boxes across. The trick is that for stability, the boxes’ makers suggest you don’t make them quite so top-heavy. The formula is that you want x-1 boxes across for every stack x boxes high. In other words, if you’re pushing the boxes six high, you should have five columns of them going across. Even then, it’s important to have them leaning up against a wall or two. Don’t put them in the middle of the room. Start the first stack against a side wall for stability’s sake.
This isn’t to say you’re always going to want to do that. You don’t need to max out the boxes to make them useful. While I plan on packing my storage locker with these boxes eventually, they don’t need to do so much heavy lifting at home. My most recent comic purchases are in short boxes in my bedroom, for example, between a filing cabinet and a bookcase filled with trades. There’s a window above that space, so I can’t stack the boxes higher than three up without blocking the sunlight and fresh air.
Still, I can get three boxes high and three across. That’s enough for my needs right now, and will still give me easy access to the lower two thirds of the stack without having to lift long boxes filled with 300 monthlies every time I want to get to something not at the top. So far, this has worked well. I can easily organize new comics as they come in to whatever box I need them to go in.
One of my bottom boxes, for example, holds Brian Bendis-penned comics. After I read (and/or review) the next issue of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN or POWERS, I can slide out the drawer in the bottom box and file it away. I don’t need to lug out the two top boxes first. This is an amazing time and muscle-saver. It also means I’ll keep up with that organization. I won’t wait until I have a small stack of them to stick in the bottom box. I can file as I go.
Moving this part of my collection from short boxes to the DrawerBoxes was simple.
|Getting these tabs into those slots is not as easy as it looks.|
I was able to combine two loosely-packed short boxes into one moderately tightly packed DrawerBox. It was a quick process, and the included index dividers helped keep things organized. The front of each DrawerBox has a lined rectangular area where you can write out a brief description of what’s inside.
Putting the boxes together isn’t terribly difficult, although it is a little tougher than what you might be used to with standard-sized boxes. You’ll want to be careful when you do so — all that heavy cardboard is murder on the hands. I count myself lucky that I only wound up with one paper cut after putting five boxes together in one session.
|This is what it looks like when it arrives. On top are the drawers. Below that are the inner shells, with the outer shells underneath.|
It’s tricky to learn the new folding process with the first box, but it’s a relative breeze after that. The worst part comes in closing the front of the drawer piece, where two oversized tabs need to be folded over and inserted into the proper slots. It looks simple, but it’s a process I never perfected. I’m still not sure they’re perfect, but they’re strong enough, if slightly uneven.
The boxes come shipped flat and unassembled in packs of five in four by two foot box. The entire package with contents included weighs about 25 pounds. Each DrawerBox is comprised of three pieces. One piece becomes the outer shell. A second is an inner shell to give added strength. The final piece is the drawer, itself. Four extra cardboard flaps there can be ripped apart to become the dividers for your comics. Fold all the pieces up, putting one inside of the other, and voila! You have a new box.
|When fully assembled, you can see the Drawer Boxes are a little bit smaller than the flat boxes they ship in.|
Ordering the boxes isn’t quite as automated as it could be. You need to go to their web site and download a PDF form. Fill that out and mail it into them. (Don’t forget the extra two cents on your postage!) They also have a phone number, but I’m not sure if they accept orders through that. While that would be quicker, I’m one of those anti-social types who’s been raised these past few years on Amazon and the like. Give me a few buttons to push, confirm my order with an e-mail, and let me do the shopping late at night without any help.
Here’s the real catch: The boxes aren’t cheap. They’re about $9 a pop, come in boxes of five, and cost $21 (per box — up to five DrawerBoxes in a box) to ship east of the Mississippi. If you’re used to paying less than half that for a regular long box, you’ll see the sticker shock.
|For comparison’s sake, here’s an overhead view of the Drawer Box next to a standard short and long box.|
I look at it this way, though: I’m spending x number of dollars a month on a storage locker. A one time charge of a couple hundred dollars will see to it that I get 20 – 30% more space in there. It’ll pay for itself in a few months’ time. I’ll pick up a few extra for home, and that’ll grant me easy access to a closet filled with comics right now that are a real pain to gain access to. The boxes are 26 inches deep, so they should fit inside most closets. Measure yours to be sure.
The DrawerBoxes website is handy. It has links to other reviews, pictures of the boxes, and ordering directions. You can even download the directions for folding the boxes up, just to get an idea of the process. The written directions don’t come with any diagrams or pictures. Those would be nice, but I worked it out pretty easily without that.
In the end, DrawerBoxes are an idea whose time has come, but there’s a big tradeoff between ease of storage and fatness of wallet. You’d almost have to think of these boxes as an investment in your collection in order to pay off on them.
If DrawerBoxes seem cheap to you, though, you’ll want a custom built piece of furniture to store your comics in. Stan Pike has the plans!
- We here at Pipeline World Headquarters wish Randy Lander well as he goes into self-imposed exile. In case you missed it, he left comics reviewing last week. Well, maybe. We’ll see how long this lasts.
In any case, it’s too bad. Randy and I came up at about the same time on USENET, and agreed on an awful lot about mainstream comics over the years. In the past couple of years, you can see both of our columns/sites changing. I went more for European comics and more fun smaller titles, while he went straight to the indy black and white scene with the raging curiosity and excitement that we all want from our hobbies. We wish him well as he learns to spend more time with his family, gets out of the office more, and reads for the sheer sake of reading and not with the lingering question of, “How can I write this one up this week?”
- I didn’t read a single comic book over the Christmas week break from work. And I survived. That didn’t stop me from spending $80 the next week on new comics, though.
That’s not as bad as it sounds. $30 came from the new ULTIMATE X-MEN hardcover, which begins the point at which I stopped buying the monthly books in favor of these collections. It’s been a year since I diligently started to wait for the trade, and the dividends in some spots are just now starting to pay off.
- Be sure to read Robert Kirkman’s column from last week in which he seeks to help aspiring comic book writers. It’s brilliant advice, and stuff I can echo 100% from the point of view of a comic book reviewer.
- Fabio Moon wants you to to give GUNNED DOWN a try. It’s a western anthology by a group of Brazilian artists, and it looks very nice, indeed.
- Marvel tasks me sometimes. I talked recently about the insanity of the FANTASTIC FOUR collection in the Marvel Premiere Edition format after three volumes in their traditional oversized hardcover format. I much prefer the latter and will wait for that one, but I don’t know if it’s coming. After they stopped such editions with THE HULK 2/3rds of the way through Bruce Jones’ storyline, I’ve been a little leery. Even worse, I don’t want to buy the same thing twice. I can guarantee you if I picked up the Premiere Edition reprint today, they’d announce the full year collection tomorrow. UGH
An even bigger mystery, though, is the much-derided ASTONISHING X-MEN SAGA. In case you missed it, this is the single-issue comic that came out last week summarizing the entire year-long run on the title from Joss Whedon and Joss Cassaday. The concept was ripe for jokes, and decompressed storytelling took the brunt of them. The book is like a picture book, excerpting panels while sentences stream below to explain what happened. The full package will run you $4.
The complete 12 issue series is also available en toto across two trade paperbacks.
What I don’t understand here is the lack of a hardcover edition. Isn’t this the perfect book for such a collection? It’s a complete 12 issue storyline featuring glorious John Cassaday art with colors by Laura Martin. Joss Whedon fans would glom onto this in no time flat, and would continue to buy it as they found it for months and possibly years to come.
They can’t put out the ASTONISHING HC, but there’s an ALIAS OMNIBUS coming up soon. I’m baffled.
Update: Jonathan S. was kind enough to e-mail me with this Amazon listing that shows an ASTONISHING HC coming in May.
Note the title of the listing: “Astonishing X-Men Volume 1 HC Variant (Hardcover)” Does “variant” mean it’ll have one of those bookstore-friendly cover with Whedon’s name taking up half the space? Stay tuned, sports fans. . .
More one-liners next week!
The Pipeline message board is your source for updates on the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes now, too! This week’s podcast will show up over here this week. Last week’s is forever posted over here.
Don’t forget about the VandS DVD podcast, while you’re at it.
Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, DVD talk, and more.
More than 600 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically.
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