Long Lost Weekend or What I Hate About Comics

This post should be What I HATE About Comics, but after the weekend I just had, I don’t have the energy to cook up a new header. It could also be considered a Pixels Vs. Pigments article as I will look at the good and the bad of both the tangible analog world and the less tangible digital world.

This all started with a plumbing emergency which I feared would involve jack-hammering pavement and spending thousands of dollars. The thought of depleting my bank account just before the holidays or any time for that matter made my blood run cold. How could I cover the costs? I am a lapsed comic collector, and I thought that there might be a potential treasure or two in some of those dusty boxes in the closet. I contacted friend and comic expert Bill Cucinotta for some advice. Previous to this, we had invited Bill over for Thanksgiving. He told me to pull out my comic boxes, and he would be over early on turkey day!

As it turned out, the plumbing situation was less than the catastrophe I envisioned, but the die was cast. I had made up my mind that I was going to look through those comics and rely on Bill’s trained eye to see if I had any treasures.

I thought I had maybe 10 boxes. It turned out to be 18 boxes!

Bill came over and we started going through the boxes. It was fun at first, but as the hours dragged on, it became drudgery. We did come across treasures, but there was much more trash. I don’t know how many times Bill asked me or I asked myself, “Whatever possessed you to buy _______?” I wondered how I ever afforded the amount of comics I had particularly on some of the meager salaries I was being paid when I bought them. There were comics I don’t remember buying much less reading. Maybe there was an art style I liked or a story line that a friend recommended. I don’t really recall most of the whys. Funny books piled up every where.

Thanksgiving dinner was a welcome respite from the endless sorting. We ate and chatted and decided that we were pretty much done for the day. Bill suggested that I go through the boxes; figure out what I wanted to unload; organize some of this massive pile, and gave me advice about online auctions.

He left, and I was left surrounded by boxes and comic books. For the three days following that, I did nothing but sort comics, check values on the internet and tried to maintain my sanity as my life turned into an episode of Hoarders.

As I said before, I am a lapsed comic collector. When I was buying comics and following characters and or creators regularly, I would read a comic and chuck it in a box. I didn’t have that manic zeal that some collectors have where they are constantly organizing and cataloging a collection. I’d read it and into the box it would go. No order except which box had room in it to fit more stuff.

I curse myself now.

Sadly, as I looked over the collection, I found that most of it was garbage. There was quite a bit I enjoyed, but there was a ton of stuff that left no impression on me whatsoever. I was buying particular characters out of habit. A price rise or a character losing his or her powers and/or memory for the umpteenth time is probably what caused my collecting lapse. Fortunately I stopped. I’d hate to think that this pile of newsprint could be worst.

I’ve never purchased digital comics, but I’ve read some of the freebie ones and enjoyed them. I haven’t enjoyed them enough to buy any more unlike regular prose books that I enjoy reading on my iPod on my commute. Maybe if I had an iPad, I’d buy digital comics being that it’s closer to a traditional comic size.

Digital comics like digital music is also much easier to move when you’re jumping from one living arrangement to the next. Fortunately, I’ve never collected vinyl records, but I remember helping friends more than once and cursing their names as I trudged crate after crate of albums up and down stairs.

The problem with digital comics is that you are paying to license some code. You’re buying data that you can’t sell, trade or give away unlike printed books. A digital Dark Knight Returns is equal in value to a digital copy of Sad Sack. That isn’t the case with the printed versions.

…and the problem with the printed versions:

I love comics, but I have a feeling I’ll be selling most of the collection by the pound.

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