Since starting my comic book collection nearly two years ago, I’ve been slowly building to this respectable size. Comic books can be a very personalized [and expensive] hobby, allowing individual readers to select and choose which stories to read in a pool of nearly infinite stories. In many ways, I like to think a comic book reader can be deeply characterized by their choices in their favorite comic books. After buying a range of comics from Batman to Fables to Y: The Last Man, I’ve learned that different stories are tailored to different peoples or even different moods. Violence lovers will enjoy Kick-Ass and Wanted, love story romantics will adore Saga, and EVERYONE will enjoy Batman stories.
Anyways, today’s post marks the beginning of summer’s make up posts for the first quarter of the year lacking updates and content. In today’s post, I share with you all my comic book collection as well as some things I’ve learned about being in the addictive comic book purchasing business. As usual, feel free to drop me recommendations and let me know what you guys think!
Some Essential Terminology
The world of comic book purchasing and tracking is one that isn’t very clear to newcomers. Over my years or purchasing, I’ve learned a number of things when it came to how to properly buy comic books.
Issues: Issues are what most people think of when it comes to comic books. They’re, smaller, staple bound and contain the smaller price tags in the corner of the covers. Issues are often released on a monthly basis [depending on who is publishing] and is for those who simply want the latest on the stories as soon as the writers and artists can pump them out. Commonly priced at 2.99 per issue, these books are often collected and placed into ‘long boxes’ which are pretty much large tubs [since they don’t have a spine containing their name].
Hardcover Volumes: Volumes are the compilation of several issues. Hardcovers are often released after a story arc wraps up for a comic book. They’re often sold at a price of $15-20 per volume, due to their durability. Hardcovers have spines and can be placed on shelves. As you can tell, I have a number of hardcover volumes.
Trade Paper Backs: Trade paper backs have essentially the same content as hardcover volumes, except that they are of course, paperback. Paperbacks are often cheaper than their hardcover counterparts, ranging from $9-15. The drawback is that they are often released several months after the hardcover volumes. So if you’re waiting for a continuation of a story, it’s almost painful to wait several more months to pay $5-7 bucks cheaper. Most of my collection consists of trade paper backs.
Deluxe Editions: Deluxe editions are the biggest brother of the hardcover volumes. I’ve found that deluxe editions are often released after a series has wrapped or long after it’s been released. Deluxe editions can often range from $17-25 and contain a plethora of extra features [though it’s hard to identify what those are, because you often don’t have the basic version to compare it to]. They’re fancy, often having sleeves, a fancy introduction, as well as a ton of concept art and original scripts in the pages before and after the main stories. These suckers get expensive though, especially for long winded series.
Graphic Novels: Graphic novels are slightly different from comic books. They contain the same words and picture format, but are defined a little bit different. The actual definition is vague, some saying it’s a collection of stories, or a compilation of different stories, etc. The way I liked to interpret is that graphic novels are often a self contained story that have a start and finish. A lot of non-superhero comic book adaptations are taken from graphic novels such as: Wanted, Watchmen, or V for Vendetta.
Digital: These days, comic books are often released digitally to those who wish to have their stories in the palm of their Kindles, phones, and computers. Digital is a great way to save space, and getting ‘subscriptions’ to series is probably the cheapest way to stay up to date with the most current stories. [Aside from pirating.]
When putting my collection together, organizing them was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Unlike book collections where they’re often sorted by author, comic books might end up being even less organized by doing this. After doing some research, I’ve found that the internet does not have one conclusive way to organize comic books. Some people organize by publication date, others by date of purchasing, or by publisher. Many of these organization techniques have a system similar to a FOR loop [for the computer science junkies]. A FOR loop is kind of the only way I can really describe how I organized my collection. I guess in layman’s terms, it’s a tier system that is combines publisher, character/series name, alphabetical, then chronological.
For example, I first organized them by publisher name: Dark Horse, DC, Icon, Image, and Vertigo [note my lack of Marvel specific titles :P, Icon doesn’t count lol.]. After being sorted by publishers, this is where a lot of freedom can be exercised. Currently, I have them by character and title. For the DC section, Aquaman is the first series which is then organized by chronological volumes. For multi story characters like my incredibly large Batman section, I’ve organized them by alphabetical name of story arc. This can begin to get muddy when things like continuing series like “Dark Victory” and “The Long Halloween” are not correctly placed alphabetically but rather chronologically. I’m still debating other options such as publication date or even fictional time line. If you guys have any specific way of organizing your comic books, please let me know.
Not Pictured, the Unfinished, Growing Broke, and Going Digital.
There are two primary books that aren’t featured due to their sheer girth and inability to fit in the same row. Hellboy Vol. 1 is not pictured due to how monolithic that book is as well as the graphic novel Black Hole. As I buy more, I’ll expand into a second row where I can then include these two guys.
If you’re familiar with the series I have, you’ll see that a lot of my collections aren’t up to date or finished. I’ve got over a dozen Fables volumes left [I’ve decided to stop buying Deluxe Editions so I don’t go broke]. If you have a keen eye, you’ll see that I only have one volume of The Goon, one volume of Powers, and one volume of Hellboy. Unfortunately, I only have X amount of money to buy all of these volume at once. In the future, I do intend on attempting to finish these series, once I get more disposable income :D.
You’ll find pretty quickly that this is one of the more expensive hobbies you can have. This is a field that is both addictive and expensive, one of the worst kinds of combinations. I mentioned the types of comic books because the versions you chose can help you save a significant amount of money. I’ve already moved to avoiding hard covers and deluxe editions, even though during early comic book career, I tried to exclusively get hardcovers.
The ultimate way to save money, as mentioned above, is to go digital. Unfortunately, I have this insane idea of having a grandiose collection in my mancave that I want to show off to people. So that’s the primary reason I won’t go digital, because I’ve always enjoyed the idea of having a hard print version in your hands. So even though it will be more expensive, this is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
To Future Comic Book Collectors
This post was meant to give you all an idea of how to grow and organize your comic book collection. I know this wasn’t a very good post on which comic books I would recommend [that’s for a later time]. My recommendation to start reading comic books would be to 1) use the internet (particularly Reddit) to find which comic books/graphic are really worth your time and money. These lists are generally large and can appeal to a wide variety of tastes. 2) Start with graphic novels. Graphic novels aren’t as much of a money sink due to being able to get the entire gist of the story without having to keep coming back every couple of months to purchase the next chunk of the story. 3) Before you even buy your books, maybe consider checking them out in the library. Your library is your best friend and can really open the gates for what you might be interested in without having to buy your first books. 4) Support your artists and writers. Pirating would be really easy. This goes without saying. Everyone has been guilty of pirating, but comic books are a niche enough area where you can actually be proud of supporting. 5) If you do buy some and it’s convenient, go to a local comic book store. I’m guilty of purchasing through Amazon, but now I’m seriously considering doing a 20 minute drive to my local comic book store. These guys are often the nicest people on the planet who are more than willing to share their wealth of wisdom to get you the comic book best suited for you.
That’s all I’ve got for now, let me know your thoughts in the comments!