My grandmother’s passing last year forced me to confront a situation I’d been kicking down the road for two decades. During the years I lived under her roof, I’d treated the attic as a catchbasin for whatever overflow needed to be shifted from my room — boxes upon boxes of paperback potboilers and old textbooks, obsolete tech-junk, unpainted Warhammer 40K models, role-playing game materials, and the lion’s share of my funnybook collection.
Anything of genuine value had been already cherry-picked and carted off, leaving behind a disorganized mess I was too lazy to inventory but too sentimental to trash…until circumstances finally put an end to my procrastination.
Dealing with the comics was a particular ordeal. It involved digging through a dozen longboxes in the sweltering heat, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff while Lil Bro stood over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t try to skate out of the job. Over the course of the afternoon, I went from conscientious deliberation over each individual issue to tossing handfuls into the discard pile sight-unseen. A full third of my collection was purged, sold off to a local shop for forty bucks in credit (which I passed on to Maura).
The experience got me to thinking about the part of my collection that didn’t get purged, and the long odds that I’d ever revisit any of it. In olden times, I was meticulous about organizing my comics archives and could tell you the exact contents of each longbox. That system fell by the wayside after I settled into the House on the Hillside and would pull favored runs out for casual reading. Our shared storage areas were still in flux, so the comics would go back into any accessible longbox with available space. Some didn’t even make it that far, and got piled up next a stack of records or old gaming consoles by the eaves.
Eventually things got to a point where even getting to the boxes was more trouble than it was worth. I love Atari Force, but not enough to spend an hour shifting a bunch of storage crates around to access them. Or deal with them sliding off the coffee table and getting used as a chew toy by the Rock Stupid Puppy. Later prized finds — such as Date With Debbi or Aquagirl’s debut or signed copies of childhood favorites — coalesced into an entirely separate thing unto itself, stored within easy reach on a living room shelf.
And on top of all of that, I was feeling pretty burnt out when it came to funnybooks. I’d spent the better part of a decade reading, writing, and conversing about comics. A few rare exceptions aside, they didn’t bring the excitement I used to feel. The whole industry drifted away from my tastes, for better or for worse. There wasn’t any point in pissing and moaning about it, so I took it as a sign that it was time to move on.
It was similar to what happened after I turned away from music blogging, when I needed some time to refocus and drastically scale back the amount of mental real estate the subject had actively occupied for a significant length of time. When I did eventually re-engage, it was on my own terms and within specific vinyl-based parameters.
So it happened with comics. After a significant break from the infuriating din, my thoughts started turning back towards certain cherished runs and the urge to revisit them. Collected editions seemed like the way to go about it, especially most of these old (and not-so-old) objects of affection can be acquired inexpensively though discount and secondhand vendors, look better on the shelf, and I already spend too much time staring at computer screens.
The total number of these occasional and perennial favorites wasn’t that large, though it has turned out to be larger than originally expected. I’ve been able to fend off any urges toward “mission creep” thus far, though I have indulged in a few newer releases of previously unavailable material.
Now that role-playing feature has been put to bed, I figured I’d turn my meandering commentary to that ever-growing stack. It might not be as entertaining as Nobody’s Favorites, but it ought to be better than nothing.