Culture

Graphic Content: Collecting 101

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Normally people try to create New Years resolutions for personal betterment.  Maybe it’s working out or help out at a shelter.  You know what happens to resolutions like that?  You don’t do them.  Why?  Because they’re lame!  Who wants to go outside and run three miles when there’s freezing rain cascading down?  Which is why this year instead of making false promises to my body and to my self, I’ve made realistic goals for 2011.  One of which is to try and collect every Hellblazer comic published.

Collecting back issues seems like a tedious task.  It’s so much easier to buy the trade paperbacks than sinking money into collecting each individual comic since the series’ inception.  But I personally prefer collecting comics.  I think this need for completeness started when I was a wee lass playing Pokemon.  Where my brother was all about breeding the best fighting team he could, I concentrated on catching every single Pokemon there was in the game.  I still do this in more current video games.  I have to complete every side quest, every little mission possible; otherwise I see no point in playing the game.  Comic collecting is the same way.  It’s so easy and physically convenient to buy a series of trades, but I feel like I’m cheating.

There’s something to be said about reading a series comic to comic.  You build anticipation and longing for each upcoming comic, and if you like the series can become a devoted follower.  Yes, it can be an expensive process but if you cut some corners it won’t cost much more than purchasing the trades.  Thus I’ve created a simple list of tips for comic collecting a modern series that should help out some newbies to the concept:

— Check out your local comic book store

Many comic shops carry back issues of Modern Age comics, most of which are back stock that the store couldn’t sell.  Some have a huge selection which could include some variant covers (we’ll get to variants later), others may only have the past couple of months.  But make your local store your first stop for your back issues.  Depending on how old the series your collecting is the back issues can get a little pricey.  However stores offer seasonal sales on back issues to clear room for new material and are featured on the coolest coupon sites (ahem, Groupon).  And if you really do your digging you can even find stores that offer dirt cheap back issues on the regular.  For example, I go to Challengers Comics in Chicago for all my Hellblazer issues when I can since all of their back stock are $0.99 a piece.  Saves me some extra money and catches me up all in one stop.

— When in doubt, eBay it.

What doesn’t eBay have?  I’m pretty sure I could buy a pony from that site.  Comics are no exception.  For those harder to find first issues or rare side issues eBay is your best bet for a fair price.  If I went to my local shop for Hellblazer #1 or even John Constantine’s first appearance in Swamp Thing (issue #37) I would drop maybe $30+.  On eBay I could get the first issue and probably a couple other comics for 15+ if I wait.  If immediacy isn’t an issue eBay’s a good resource to look in to.

— Unless you plan on selling your collection, forget variant covers.

Variant covers are cool because it’s a different take on the cover art.  But that’s about it.  They may be worth more in the long run, but it’s expensive to collect them all.  I usually forgo collecting variant covers all together unless it’s a super cool one, such as Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #9 where the Green Lantern gets owned.

— Proper storage means every thing stays pretty.

I’ve heard of people going to crazy lengths like reading their comic books with surgical tweezers.  Why the hell would I buy a comic book if I can’t read the damn thing with my bare hands?  Most comic book stores or eBay vendors will sell you back issues with a back board and bag.  But if you don’t have enough for all your books invest in some good acid-free back boards and bags, and a solid comic book box.  From personal experience, don’t buy those boxes with a pull-out drawer.  They may look cool but your comics will slide all over the place and get bent up.  A simple box with a lid is fine.  And for the love of God don’t put your comic book box where it can get wet!  That’s just stupid all together. Would you keep your treasure in a poorly guarded shack?!  Hell no.  You’d lock that shit up.